California cuisine with 1920s décor DTLA, bakery ups ante

| March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
VINTAGE and standard cocktails are served at Faith & Flower.

VINTAGE and standard cocktails are served at Faith & Flower.

On the Menu, by columnist Helene Seifer, is published every month, and next month will be featured in our spring Dining & Entertainment issue.

My car automatically heads for the arts district when DTLA and food are mentioned in the same sentence, but a scattering of interesting restaurants reside near L.A. Live, including the elegantly appointed, visually stunning Faith & Flower, whose 1920s splendor radiates with gold sunbursts on the walls, old Hollywood-type booths and clubby upholstery.

The smart, stylish main room was noisy; we sat in a quieter back space. Always up for vintage cocktails, we nonetheless passed on their famous English milk punch (a rum, bourbon and milk combo from 1862), but happily downed a martini and old-fashioned while perusing the shared plates menu.

Executive Chef Michael Hung’s dishes beautifully balance textural elements. Baby kale and winter citrus salad made me forget how tired I am of kale. The kale was tender, the fruit just acidic enough, the ginger ranch dressing popped with flavor, and puffed wild rice added spectacular crunch. Steak tartar is nothing like the usual caper-laden ground beef. Small, meaty cubes of NY steak were topped with delicious, if surprising, miso cream and black sesame seeds. Tempura fried green beans were addictive, the batter crisp and light, the chermoula dipping sauce a perfect garlicky condiment.

Others were less transformative. Oxtail agnolotti, enhanced with bone marrow butter, had a satisfying meaty funk, but lacked zing; trout with smoked potato fondue was good, but ordinary.

One standout dessert was a textural dream: creamy yogurt panna cotta was sprinkled with juicy pomegranate seeds, puffed wild rice, bee pollen, honey and icy yuzu granita. To die for.

Most plates are under $20; fish and meat entrees ranged from $23 for confit duck leg to $61 for grilled foie gras. Cocktails float around $16.

Faith & Flower. 705 W. 9th St., DTLA. 213-239-0642.

• • •

A neighborhood fixture recently changed hands when Susina decided to go wholesale and Amelia stepped in. Israeli executive chef/owner Yoav Rogel, former pastry chef at New York’s Eately, has maintained the old décor, but upped the food ante.

All bakery items are made in-house except for the Susina cakes he carries, and breads feature heavily in the café fare.
Shakshuka appears on other brunch menus, but none is better than Amelia’s $12 version, where cooked tomatoes, onions and herbs form a delicious base for perfectly poached eggs. The accompanying mini-loaf of challah with tahini butter is delish. Ubiquitous toast with toppings is here slathered with a rich beet pesto, then layered with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado for $11.95.

Try a $3.50 slice of bubka—their breakfast cake is ribboned with Nutella. Deli favorite rugelach, small crescent rolled pastries, are served with both traditional sweet fillings and savory options, such as spinach and ricotta or jalapeno cream cheese. These little flavor bombs are 3 for $5.

There are also sandwiches, salads and house-cured lox offered. Soon they plan to add more organic ingredients and gluten-free breads to their menu.

Amelia Bakery & Café. 7122 Beverly Blvd. 323-954-1251.

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