Brown Butter, Banana, Oats
Spice Bread, Crème Fraiche, Black Currant, Wood Sorrel
Organic Hen Egg, Crispy Potato, Mushroom
Avocado Confit, Toasted Country Bread
Streusel, Currant Jam
Roasted Baby Yam, Avocado, Yogurt, Walnut
Roasted Cauliflower, Poached Egg, Black Garlic, Chicken Skin
Rice Porridge, Caramelized Broccoli, Puffed Rice, Burnt Onion
Chicken Confit, Yukon Gold Potato, Aged Cheese, Yuzu, Hazelnut
Bavarian Cream, Toffee, Apple, Sorrel
Not the sort to be jaded by dining at the “World’s Best Restaurants,” yet also not frequently “geeking out” over a new opening and Instagram’s latest #fomo fad, it was admittedly with greater than average interest that news regarding Jordan Kahn’s post-Red Medicine career were watched ever since the restaurant closed in October of 2014, the man who just won a “Best New Chef” nod a few weeks back having impressed with three meals dating to 2011 while his creativity had actually been experienced much earlier by many at restaurants including Per Se, The French Laundry and Alinea.
Considered by many to be something of an enigma; the hours, location and some well-publicized management decisions no doubt part of Red Medicine’s demise, it was finally in the late 3rd-quarter of 2016 that Angelinos would finally see the return of Chef Kahn to a place that few would again think logical, an out of the way corner in Culver City with weekday only morning and lunch hours opening almost without any notice or fanfare, a first attempt to visit on Black Friday denied secondary to ‘building maintenance’ on a white brick space with mostly outdoor seating and a few tables inside being serenaded by music best described as ambient sound.
Taking an approach that is part “New Nordic” and part Science Fiction in terms of its aesthetics, the kitchen prominently featured at the center of a space that is otherwise minimalist Mason Jars meets Container Store with the menu projected a little out-of-focus on the wall, it was with parking fortunately located just outside the restaurant that two diners entered Destroyer a few moments after 10:00am on a Friday after driving in early from Las Vegas, a plan to sample both Breakfast and Lunch carefully divided by a ninety minute intermission of hiking the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.
Featuring a total of only thirteen plates plus three daily Pastries and a limited Drink Menu, each one meticulously designed as an exploration of pristine produce and varied textures with plating that looks as though it came straight out of a magazine, it was after long debate of just ‘how much’ two persons could consume on a day already filled with other plans that the decision was made to invest in a five-and-five split, each item costing not-much-more than something far less interesting at Panera or any ‘quick casual’ chain with portions that are actually quite generous across the board.
Replicating Sqirl in more ways that some might think, the minimalism, obscure location and ingredient-focused menu with counterside ordering all quite unfussy though the food seems fairly serious, round one at Destroyer consisted of two daily Pastries plus three plates brought out as they were readied, the first bites of a Banana Muffin beneath a layer of Oats a bit shocking in terms of just how natural it all tasted, the same to be said of a thin wedge of Currant Tart eaten later, the texture not all that different from a Pop-Tart though sweetness is mostly eschewed to instead focus on the Berry’s complex sour-gives-way-to-sweet flavor.
Not really the sort of place one would expect to see ubiquitous Avocado Toast, Kahn and his sizable kitchen staff instead serving a half-Avocado confited soft and full of flavor in a bowl topped with Ash alongside housemade Toasted Bread, the restaurant’s take on Eggs and Potatoes arrives much like many of the Chef’s dishes served over the course of four years at Red Medicine, the Ancient Grain base and crispy Potato Chips served amidst a tangle of Greens that dial up the texture with an overall effect that is wholesome and hearty as the poached Egg slicks everything including several varieties of foraged Mushrooms tossed into the mix.
Generating a bit of discussion with “Spice Bread,” some very intelligent local Purveyors and Chefs suggesting that the elegantly placed Herbs alongside tart Black Currants were not Wood Sorrel despite both the menu and taste buds indicating that it was, it was after a long walk and a shift outside that the meal transitioned to Lunch, the dish listed as “Roasted Baby Yam, Avocado, Yogurt, Walnut” seeing three Tubers and a half-Avocado sliced lengthwise beneath a camouflage of Endive and a bit of sweetness that tasted like Apples mixed with Caramelized Onions plus an earthy Powder that played well off the Yogurt.
Not particularly taken by the Bavarian Cream ‘dessert,’ though the dish was appropriately placed in the context of the restaurant and a virtually guilt-free sweet given its ethereal texture and restrained use of Sugar, far more interesting concepts were explored by way of tender Chicken beneath an avalanche of finely grated Cheese and Potatoes plus a layer of caramelized Cruciferous Vegetables tinged in Citrus, similar ideas offered by way of the crispy Cauliflower that easily cut into edible morsels amidst Grains, Black Garlic and Chicken Cracklins’ while the Rice Porridge was certainly not the Uni Congee dearly missed from Jordan’s previous restaurant, though quite good at about 1/3 the price with grains cooked tender amidst fermented flavors and a slightly bitter finish from the clarified and burnt Onions.