Neighborhood Eatery Post & Beam
by eric rosen
Post & Beam
"My mom didn't cook too well," says executive chef Govind Armstrong with a bemused twinkle in his eye as he surveys the bustling dining room at Post & Beam, his first Los Angeles-area restaurant since closing 8oz. Burger Bar last spring. "That's what got me into the kitchen and cooking to begin with."
Like the creations he learned to make at home, his menu at Post & Beam is about "good, familiar food that I love to cook," says the chef, who is almost as well known for his dreadlocks as his kitchen skills. "I'm not trying to challenge anyone." So far, that mission seems to be working, since on most nights, the small restaurant is packed with diners.
One reason it's so busy is that Armstrong's business partner, restaurateur Brad Johnson (Post & Beam's owner), has been a key proponent behind $30 million revitalization efforts at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw plaza and the surrounding neighborhood. And although Angelenos from across the city have been dining at the restaurant, Armstrong and Johnson envision Post & Beam as a neighborhood spot first and foremost, especially since Armstrong was born in nearby Inglewood.
In addition to growing some of his own ingredients—including herbs, artichokes, and strawberries—in the back-patio garden, the chef sources much of his produce from the South Central Farmers' Cooperative, especially black kale, which Armstrong incorporates into his hand-stretched pizza with wild mushrooms and California goat cheese, cooked in a wood-burning oven.
There are a few unusual dishes on the small menu, however, including starters such as deviled eggs with hunks of house-smoked catfish perched on top, and grilled octopus with crispy garbanzos, preserved lemon, and cracked olives. Diners can also choose from larger plates, including tender roasted salmon with smoked-tomato butter, and boneless beef short ribs with fresh horseradish, each of which comes with a choice of two sides, like black-eyed peas with sweet potato and house-smoked bacon or charred broccolini with chili and garlic.
For dessert, most guests gravitate toward the sizzling, gooey apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. With food this good, you won't even complain about the drive to Baldwin Hills. 3767 Santa Rosalia Dr., LA, 323-299-5599.
photography by vanessa stump studios