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A new location for a modern classic

Caroline Styne, left, and Suzanne Goin, wearing an apron, stand in a restaurant dining room
Caroline Styne, left, and Suzanne Goin at their new, second A.O.C. location. It’s in Brentwood in their former Tavern space.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Restaurant critic Bill Addison describes A.O.C. as “a fundamental part of the city’s dining culture,” and last month, Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin opened a second location, this one in Brentwood. (It has replaced Tavern, a Styne-Goin restaurant that opened in 2009.)

The two A.O.C.s, “are identical twins philosophically,” Bill writes in his review of the Brentwood restaurant. “The menu redoubles the communal, small-plates ethos that Goin and Styne led the charge to codify in Los Angeles. The bounty is Californian; the oomph of flavors draws on cuisines distinct to the many cultures that exist around the continents-spanning Mediterranean Sea.”

I’m Alice Short, acting food editor, and this week I’m subbing for Bill, who is immersed in research for a special project that we’ll unveil in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Bill has a tip about how to approach the menu at A.O.C: “Order something from the menu’s top section, labeled ‘to start.’ The bacon-wrapped dates are listed there, as is the gratifying, always-changing ‘farmer’s plate’ of roasted vegetables and spreads with grilled toast. It may sound random, but something about kicking off with one of these sets the timing on the right track. They zip out of the kitchen, helping to calm hunger, and then the rest of the courses tend to flow in a pleasing rhythm.”

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— The last 16 months have been a roller-coaster ride for the restaurant industry, with shutdowns, re-openings, health concerns and attempts to navigate confusing government policies. During this time, members of The Times’ Food staff have spoken with owners, servers, chefs, street vendors and suppliers. Lucas Kwan Peterson catches up with a handful of them to see how they’re doing, “to ask how their businesses weathered the pandemic, how they’re faring mentally and what their attitudes are moving forward.”

A woman holds a platter of fried food with a backdrop of downtown Los Angeles
Kwini Reed at Poppy + Rose restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

— If you’ve ever shopped at the Mar Vista Farmers Market, you may have spotted Ellin Palmer and her cookbooks. On select Sundays, she can be found arranging out-of-print pearls for sale (she owns hundreds of volumes) and troubleshooting recipes with regulars. Julia Clancy reports.

An older woman is glimpsed through a row of books
Ellin Palmer at her cookbook stand at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

— And if you’re thinking about doing a little cooking this weekend, we hope you think about okra. Sure, we’ve heard the complaints about sliminess. But cooking columnist Ben Mims presents a spirited defense of the misunderstood vegetable. It “deserves a spotlight rather than its reputation as the slimy thing that thickens gumbo,” he writes, and Ben’s recipes will persuade almost everyone to embrace the versatile pods.

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