Restaurant Review: Otium, Love & Salt, The Gadarene Swine, Rose Cafe & Restaurant

Welcoming, airy atmospheres contribute to the ambient flavor that these inspired establishments serve up, where even the vegan appetite shall be nourished

March 29, 2016

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Otium

Downtown Los Angeles
Redefined American Cuisine

Nestled at the back of an inviting plaza adjacent to the Broad Museum dotted with 100-year-old olive trees, this contemporary gem showcases award-winning chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s rich culinary heritage. Refined by his work with chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and competitive stints in international cooking competitions, Hollingsworth’s culinary chops are unmistakable and noteworthy.

Otium serves vibrant seasonal dishes brokered by knowledgeable servers in an environment of sophisticated rusticity. The restaurant’s name, which is derived from Latin, indicates a place where leisurely social activities can be pursued, and Otium lives up to its billing. With an open kitchen that merges indoor and outdoor space – satisfying Hollingsworth’s desire to “take away the boundaries and have the kitchen as a centerpiece of where guests would dine, like in my home kitchen” (as expressed on Otium’s menu) – the restaurant uses a wood fire grill to bring out the flavor of sustainable ingredients grown in their mezzanine garden.

Cod served with burnt onions, clams, and sea beans Photo: Sierra Prescott

Cod served with burnt onions, clams, and sea beans
Photo: Sierra Prescott

From the verdant floor-to-ceiling mural in the bright bar area that opens onto an open-air patio to the relaxed ambiance of the wooded main dining area, Otium has perfected elegant yet rustic cuisine. Selections include the Otium Garden Salad with fresh herbs and shaved carrots; the Beef Short Rib encrusted with sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and dried onion; and the Banana Cream Grand Macaron.
otiumla.com

Love & Salt's open kitchen and dining room

Love & Salt’s open kitchen and dining room

Love & Salt

Manhattan Beach
Italian

Experience Chef Michael Fiorelli’s refined take on Italian bistro classics at Love & Salt, a contemporary restaurant where inspired fare with California soul is served in a modern dining room under a domed ceiling. The philosophy behind this delightful addition to the Manhattan Beach dining scene is that food needs only two ingredients to be fantastic: love and salt.

Established on the site of Fiorelli’s previous collaboration with father and daughter duo Guy and Sylvie Gabriele, the iconic Cafe Pierre, and based on the same philosophy of providing great food and great service, the neighborhood favorite features a varied menu of tapas-style options. As Chef Fiorelli pointed out to CSQ, “Everything is about hospitality…”

Smoked rigatoni with ricotta, escarole, parmesan brodo, and little rabbit meatballs

Smoked rigatoni with ricotta, escarole, parmesan brodo, and little rabbit meatballs Photo: Andrea D’Agosto

Start with the homemade English muffins, served with rosemary cultured butter and sea salt. Move on to a savory duck egg pizza or try a caramelized onion pizza with black grapes, blue cheese, and wild arugula. The cavatappi with bone marrow is a house special and diner favorite. The wine list offers myriad selections and the cocktails are outstanding; try the Forbidden Fruit and Jimmy Conway. For dessert, the deliciously tart lemon and marionberry sorbet is made in-house, and the brown sugar pudding with creme fraiche and cacao nibs is amazingly smooth and creamy.
loveandsaltla.com

Gadarine Swine's owner - Phillip Frankland Lee - was a contestant on Season 13 of Top Chef

Gadarine Swine’s owner – Phillip Frankland Lee – was a contestant on Season 13 of Top Chef

The Gadarene Swine

Studio City
Vegetarian

This charming high-concept vegan eatery elevates vegetables to a level rarely discovered in the food world. With a rainbow of fresh vegetables grown on site, The Gadarene Swine offers a tempting array of creative, flavorful plates at the direction of chef Phillip Frankland Lee of Scratch Bar. A 10-course tasting menu is available, as is an à la carte menu. The unpretentious restaurant features a well-curated wine list and inventive cocktail selection accented with fresh fruit and vegetables. The attentive staff knows the menu well and will take time to explain dishes as well as adapt the tasting menu to your particular needs or desires.

With inviting tables set with tree-rung plates dotted around the intimate interior, The Gadarene Swine reveals divine flavor combinations that may surprise those less accustomed to eating their vegetables. Dip sourdough into crushed tomato oil puree and savor the roasted garlic and thyme popcorn to start, then sample numerous delectable vegan combinations such as blackened cauliflower and vegetables in a box. For dessert, savor the coconut pudding with mojito granita, streusel and strawberries in a mason jar or a deconstructed pear tart with pecan ice cream and glazed pear.
thegadareneswine.com

With more than 30 years of history inside the walls, Jason Neroni reopening Rose Cafe was a welcome sign to Venice locals and Angelenos everywhere Photo: Pascal Shirley

With more than 30 years of history inside the walls, Jason Neroni reopening Rose Cafe was a welcome sign to Venice locals and Angelenos everywhere
Photo: Pascal Shirley

Rose Cafe & Restaurant

Venice Beach
Southern California Cuisine

The recent remodel of this posh, bohemian all-day eatery transformed the iconic Rose Cafe into a sprawling, spacious restaurant with two patios, a bar and bakery. Delicious rustic Californian fare, created with chef Jason Neroni (Superba, Catch & Release) at the helm in partnership with Sprout LA Restaurant Collaboration, brings seasonally-influenced cuisine with a global flair to the heart of Venice.

With basket-weave light fixtures hanging high above on the large covered patio and various open seating areas just a block from Venice beach, the Rose Cafe & Restaurant is ideal for business gatherings or private parties as well as relaxed dining with family and friends. The bakery brings back some of the original Rose classics, reconceptualized with innovative techniques employed by pastry chef team Jacob Fraijo and Christina Hanks (Quince/Cotogna, SF), while celebrating American classics.

Start with the fresh homemade baguettes with cultured butter or schmaltz butter, gleaned from the rotisserie chicken drippings in the open kitchen – both made in-house. Add black truffles to any of the perfectly prepared pastas for a flavor kick. End your meal with the black sesame panna cotta with pomegranate arils and white chocolate, a not-to-miss indulgence accented with passionfruit and lime sorbet (churned daily in-house).
rosecafevenice.com

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Rose Cafe’s traditional spaghetti with herbs, tomato sugo, mozzarella, and parmesan

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