Smoke. Oil. Salt., West Hollywood, CA

7274 Melrose Ave · Los Angeles, CA 90046

Sending out and S.O.S. for some good Spanish food in Weho!!

When the local neighborhood favorite Angeli Caffe shuttered in early 2012, I must say, I was a bit verklempt. As a longtime fan of Evan Kleiman and her Italian eatery, I, along with many in the neighborhood bid the restaurant a fond farewell and grumbled at the thought of another restaurant attempting to take its place.

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A couple of years went by and I saw a bit of light construction happening behind those restaurant walls once again. I was intrigued, and dare I say it… a little excited even. Rumors of an authentic Spanish restaurant surfaced… In MY neighborhood!? Could I be so lucky!? Adam Fleischman (Umami, 800 Degrees, RoadhouseLA, et al.), and Lee Weinberg, along with first time restaurant producer Stephen Gelber decided to bring a taste of Valencia to the WeHo area. Grabbing the Spanish chef Perfecto Rocher (Lazy Ox) to create a regionally inspired menu from his native motherland, you can expect the emphasis here to be on seafood, wood fired meats and vegetables, iberico hams, Spanish meats and cheeses, amazing Spanish wines, cavas, sherries and wine-based cocktails.

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Standout dishes included:

a play on the rice based horchata – salpico d’orxata i ostres, clotxines (oyster and mussel cocktail, marinated in tiger nut milk), it was a cold dish with a hint of heat

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the flam d’ericó (sea urchin flan, caviar, shrimp chili oil), smooth like a custard, it almost tasted like a dessert

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the bravas trencades (fried potatoes, Serrano ham, chorizo, fried egg) great crispy, thick potatoes and a perfect egg. I would love to order this as a breakfast plate one day

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lastly, you can’t go to a Spanish restaurant without ordering some meat. I loved the pluma Iberica (wood fire grilled butcher’s filet Iberico pork, smoked green onions, Xato sauce).  Tender, juicy, smokey-charred just ever so slightly on the grill – enough to make your nostrils dance in anticipation.

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The experience for me here was reminiscent of my recent trip to Barcelona. It took me back – hanging out with friends, a lively boisterous gathering place and delicious small plates being shared all around. Just don’t call it a tapas bar. While they do have some small plates, the portions here will be larger in comparison to more traditional tapas themed restaurants.

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The rustic, tavern-like restaurant is broken up into two parts – the left side for more traditional sit-down dinner, and the right side is more of a wine bar/ small plates casual area. Just a heads up – it’s cozy and a bit on the loud side, so don’t expect to whisper sweet nothings into your partner’s ear – that is unless they have really good hearing.

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I was told that they will also be serving crazy good vintage wines by the glass using a special archival extraction method that keeps the oxygen out. It sounds pretty nuts. I just may have to return to see what that’s all about.

The best part for me is that the kitchen will be open until 12 am, so I can stop in for those late night cravings. I live very close, and having a restaurant like this nearby is very dangerous for me. Very dangerous indeed.

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Backyard Bite poses with chef Perfecto Rocher!

I was happy to learn that the co-owner, Stephen Gelber (who’s lived in Hollywood for over 30 years), used to frequent Angeli Caffe during it’s heyday. A changing of hands that proves bittersweet in the end.

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