The Tasting Kitchen
Panier de Patisseries – French Toast, Pane con Carne, Biscuit and Milk Jam, Sticky Bun, Chocolate Brioche, Ricotta Muffin
Fried Chicken and Waffle
Grilled Gruyere and Figs
Duck Confit – Soft Scramble, Spinach
Located on trendy Abbot Kinney and helmed by Portland pedigreed Chef Casey Lane “The Tasting Kitchen” had always been one of those restaurants falling just shy of my ‘short list’ for one reason or another but with one of my friends consistently raving not only the dinner menu but also the brunch it was to the latter that I finally decided to commit – he, myself and one other friend settling in for a nearly two hour romp through a veritable smorgasbord of locally sourced and stylized cuisine in the open, airy dining room just after 10:30am. Rustic yet upscale with wooden tables and amicable but professional service it would be mere moments after seating that coffee was filled and although the crowd soon swelled to capacity our table was never once left for want, each of the six courses arriving with steady pacing and clean share plates from which to indulge on portions seemingly far larger than modest prices would indicate for such refined cooking and well sourced products. Bearing in mind the terrific reviews of Lane’s work with produce, proteins, and eggs but always one to fancy sweet to savory it was without hesitation that orders were placed and arriving first, as requested, the meal started out of the gate with a stunner – the $29 pastry board without a doubt the best I’ve ever been served; the French toast a custard imbued brioche masterpiece with pure maple syrup, the sticky bun a molten round of yeast and butter with intense sweetness, and the biscuit as good or better than any I had down south while the rest were only slightly less memorable – a high baking standard that would continue to the golden grilled cheese with fresh figs and peppery arugula served alongside a low bowl of warm ricotta with sliced apple and crunchy, honey-tinged farro. Using the cheese as a sort of transition from sweet to savory it was mostly unsurprising that the next trio of plates would prove equally impressive as those that preceded them and while crisp confit with creamy eggs and spicy fried chicken atop a reference standard crunchy waffle were lovely it was the restaurant’s take on the Hangtown Fry that stole the spotlight as briny bivalves popped alongside smoky braised bacon and fluffy eggs with rich mascarpone acting to soften and meld the omelet into something far greater than the sum of its already impressive parts.