LA Summer Dining
Mezze’s Romanesco flatbread
|Son of a Gun’s fried chicken sandwich|
|Hangar steak from Mezze|
Son of a Gun
You might recognize the manly men in the kitchen of Son of a Gun as the same chef-buddy duo behind the popular meat-obsessed Animal on Fairfax. With their second restaurant, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo set their sights on the seas with a maritime menu of fresh seafood that changes every day. Expect a rotating roster of dishes that take old standards and lend them a hint of the exotic, like a crispy fried-shrimp toast sandwich with herbs and spicy sriracha mayo. Alligator schnitzel with shaved hearts of palm and orange with a vanilla-lime butter sauce hearkens to Shook and Dotolo’s Florida roots, but the fried chicken sandwich heaped with spicy pickle slaw and “rooster aioli” is a signature. For dessert, there’s a version of Key lime pie with frozen lime yogurt, graham crumble and toasted meringue. The wine list is surprisingly sparkling focused, but the cocktail list Lindsay Nader helped create sports an impressive 20 creations—what else would you expect from the Food & Wine Cocktails 2011 deputy editor? Make reservations early, or try your luck getting a spot at the first-come, first-served communal table. 8370 W. 3rd St., LA; sonofagunrestaurant.com —ERIC ROSEN
The concept for La Cienega’s new Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant Mezze (formerly Sona) started when three of its owners—Michael Kassar, Matt Bendik and Micah Wexler (who also serves as chef)—were still at Cornell University the School of Hotel Administration. It was then the three became friends and found a shared love of food. “[Wexler] and I wanted to do a contemporary take on the food we grew up eating,” says Kassar. “For me, that was the cooking from my Lebanese grandmother, and for [Wexler], it was a contemporary take on the food he enjoyed while traveling to Israel.” After stints in other cities and abroad, the four owners (the fourth is David Koral, a friend of Bendik’s since high school) found themselves in LA in 2009, and that was when talk of the restaurant began. “Our goal is for each dish to have the soul and spirit of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and yet still be approachable for the Los Angeles clientele,” says Kassar. Highlights of the menu include poached-egg shakshouka, hashweh risotto, lamb shoulder with green wheat and dukkah spice, and wood-oven-baked baby chicken with zatar and natural jus. The wine and cocktail lists also stay true to the restaurant’s identity. There are 15 Middle Eastern wines on the menu—from areas including Morocco, Lebanon and Israel—and cocktails such as the Baharat Milk (Barbancourt 8 year, Remy VS, Baharat Milk and salted pistachios) keep the entire Mezze experience feeling exotic and global. 401 N. La Cienega Blvd., LA; mezzela.com
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.