Nothing brings a family of artists together like transforming the sterile, corporate interior of a former Coldwell Banker office into an exceedingly warm and rustic restaurant. At least that's what husband-and-wife team Corey and Michelle Wilton discovered when they opened up Four Café in Eagle Rock last month.
Corey is a painter, his father, Paul, is a master machinist and designs glass-blowing studios, and his mother, Leslie, is a glass blower. Michelle is a chef who spent the last six years cooking for wealthy families on the Westside and cut her teeth making pastries at L'Orangerie and Patina before that.
Together they became a Warhol-esque restaurant-creating factory with the end goal being the deliverance of Corey and Michelle into what they saw as the relative safety of self-employment.
"Michelle was working for other people and I was assisting a private art dealer," said Corey. "And with the way the economy went last year, it was really rough. It made us think, 'What if something happened to the people we rely on for a living?' "
Their solution was to create a homespun restaurant designed by Corey and Paul (with gorgeous, colorful blown glass lamps made by Leslie) that featured the whimsical, seasonal cooking of Michelle.
"People have always raved about her cooking," said Corey of Michelle, who gets a majority of her produce from local farms and farmers markets. "The food we serve here is the stuff that Michelle would make at home."
The menu at Four changes with the four seasons (the number also indicates that Corey and Michelle have been married and living in Eagle Rock for four years) and is divided into soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. It features light but nuanced options including a crispy pancetta and fig salad on baby spinach; a roasted pork loin sandwich with a tangy olive marmalade, blood orange and fennel; an oven-roasted tomato panini with earthy kale and burrata; and a fragrant red lentil soup spiced with tandoori paste and topped with cilantro yogurt.
The crunchy baguettes used for some sandwiches and sold at the counter are baked at Bouchon by Ivan Marquez, who moonlights at Four. Marquez also makes the tasty fennel caramels sold at the front counter where customers place their orders.
Counter service is appropriate, since the space is small and narrow with rough-hewn wood tables backed by a long black-cushioned bench along one wall and a wooden bar for single diners along the other wall. The tables are made from reclaimed barn wood that Corey and Paul got from a reclamation center in Sun Valley. The back wall is also made from a collection of rough, worn wood.
Small potted plants top each table and decadent desserts sit in glass cake stands by a large, sun-filled window that looks out onto Colorado Boulevard.
"My relationship with my dad has been OK over the years," said Corey. "But this project brought us together in a way that I don't think anything else could. Now he and my mom call all the time and ask, 'How'd you guys do tonight? Is that shelf holding up?' "
Where: 2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Price: Soups, salads and sandwiches, $4 to $12.50
Contact: (323) 550-1988; http://www.fourcafe.net