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Tasting Menu: West Hollywood’s Eveleigh

L.A. hipsters love a secret, and for now, Eveleigh in West Hollywood is it. Not that it has a secret phone number or that you need to know a Hollywood insider to score a reservation. The new restaurant from Aussies Nick Mathers, Lincoln Pilcher and Nick Hatsatouris is hidden in plain sight — on the Sunset Strip. Yet even armed with the address, I drove past it three times, yes, making three U-turns before I realized that a patch of trees hid the place from view. Once the valets waved me in, I realized the only sign is the valet’s (in small letters), partially hidden by a bush and turned perpendicular to the street. The valet shrugged and said they don’t want a sign.

With the help of a savvy GPS and after several U-turns, my friends got there ahead of me. When we checked in with the host, we were led past the crowded, clamorous bar to an immense dining room that feels like a tent and has a view of the city lights out the back wall, which isn’t a wall at all but open air. Potted trees add to the rustic look, and in the middle of the room is a long communal table filled with a diverse set of guests. Back here, Eveleigh feels festive and fun.

That could be its sole attraction, but fortunately it isn’t. The food from chef Jordan Toft is appealing and very much in the European and American comfort food vein. Think Gjelina crossed with A.O.C.

Pot-roasted clams come in a cast iron skillet with thick grilled bread to sop up the sauce redolent of lemon, chili and parsley. Squid are pale fine rings heaped into a paper bag with a light preserved lemon mayonnaise for dipping. There are pork rillettes for the carnivores and roasted butternut squash with royal trumpet mushrooms and St. Agur blue cheese for the vegetarians. The menu has pasta, chicken roasted with an herb stuffing under the skin, white shrimp with sauce vierge and a sophisticated dish of beef rib-eye cap with chanterelles and fresh horseradish in a Pinot Noir sauce. Dessert is a pretty parfait of yogurt panna cotta, hibiscus Jell-O and pomegranate ice.

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Trendy, maybe. But with a front of the house that’s present and friendly, doing their best to accommodate everyone with the right table or cocktail, Eveleigh is making a promising start. My Italian friend who lives in London found it all very exotic — the long-legged, scantily dressed women on a chilly night, the open-air aspect and the prices, which seemed pretty reasonable to him for such a stylish spot in a high-rent district.

Eveleigh is about as low-key as restaurants come in this part of town. And hey, if you just happen to discover some dressy new clothes in your closet, this is one place where you can test them out without feeling like an overdressed idiot.

irene.virbila@latimes.com


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