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The vibe in downtown L.A. – or DTLA as it is now referred to – is hip, smart with a distinctive buzz. The number of new bars, restaurants and clubs that have opened over the past few years is astounding. And the quality of the food and service equally matches.
We have been enjoying Sunday afternoons strolling the streets and stopping into different pubs to catch a basketball game, or have a leisurely brunch. Recently, we made our way to 6th and Flower for an evening on the town – at Le Ka Restaurant.
Speaking of that aforementioned buzz, the restaurant was definitely alive the night we were there. It was post-Oscars and the people behind the cameras were celebrating their accomplishments at Le Ka. The restaurant is on the ground floor of an office building, with high ceilings, dim lights, cozy booths and earth-toned hues. We were seated on the patio under twinkling lights, warm heaters and views of the downtown skyline. The vibe was New York-esque with the sights and sounds of the city providing the background music. They recently opened the space up by removing walls and replacing with large panes of glass, letting city life come into view. The glass also reflects the flames providing ambient light to the outdoor dining area – very pretty.
A new chef was recently tapped to helm the kitchen at Le Ka, Greg Paul, preparing the dishes originally set forth by David Feau. We stared with an amuse bouche of oysters on the half shell, just one bite to tantalize our palates, and two of the creative cocktails on their menu: the mule with Aylesbury duck vodka, lime juice, honey syrup and fresh ginger; and a gin and tonic made with Aviation Gin.
We grazed over several plates, wanting to try a nice sampling of Chef Paul’s handiwork.
The French-Asian themed fare boasts of such delicacies as the sable fish in a light yet rich fish broth with pork and shrimp dumplings hiding underneath the fish, surrounded with baby bok choy and exotic mushrooms. The buttery fish was a succulent contrast to the meaty dumplings, a combination of soft and savory.
A 2010 Chateau Montelena chardonnay paired nicely with the fish, as well as the next dish – a wonderfully roasted asparagus tossed with basil pestata and a perfectly poached egg in the center of the plate. When the yolk mixed with the greens, it was pure satisfaction.
The lamb belly with roasted Brussels sprouts in a smoky cabernet sauce is braised for hours resulting in a tender and tasty dish. Jeff Midlam, the general manager, decided to stay with the Montelena family and paired a wonderful 2010 cabernet with the lamb. The wine set the stage for our main course, a flat iron steak grilled medium rare and topped with chanterelle mushrooms and truffle butter. Aside the steak was potato risotto – potatoes finely chopped and prepared risotto style, slightly firm and full of flavor. Sometimes the chef serves this preparation with a filet, but I enjoyed the rustic texture of the flat iron, giving the dish another layer to experience.
We lingered over our wine and soaked up the atmosphere – it was a new facet of the DTLA scene, a breezy evening, a nice crescent moon, and courteous, professional service.
We ended our wonderful evening with a selection of desserts, a fried apple fritter with cheddar cheese, a tiramisu and a vanilla crème with hazelnut sauce – three different tastes, for three satisfied diners.
Midlam mentioned the restaurant will be changing the menu, adding an oyster bar, and more seafood to the list. It will feature California cuisine with attention to small tapas for sharing. A full bar will open on the patio with additional lounge seating, providing a setting for groups of friends to gather.
I’m excited about the changes at Le Ka, so go now and try it – and then return in a few weeks for the new and improved version!
Le Ka, 800 W. 6th St., L.A. (213)688-3000. www.lekarestaurant.com.
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