REDBIRD

Looking for a hot, new restaurant? Here’s the latest, REDBIRD, in the Rectory adjoining Vibiana Cathedral, in the former Cardinal’s residence. Be prepared to be overcharged, beginning with the $8.50 valet parking fee. There’s a mall bar area but the main thrust is on outdoor seating (with a canvas cover, just in case). It feels like a rooftop patio, very attractive but a few more green plants or potted trees wouldn’t hurt. The wine list is certainly impressive but a glass costs as much as I pay for a nice bottle at Trader Joe’s. The food prices are right up there, as well. But they bring a complimentary aperitif, a fruity, little cocktail with a kick, so nibble on some of the crisp rolls that arrive in a miniature flour sack along with a crock of spreadable butter. Points for that. Further good news is that the chef is Neal Fraser, who ha been rising and shining on the local dining scene for many years. His menu is exciting – no déjà vu here. Appetizers run around $18, main dishes start at $28. Service I truly outstanding, the staff chosen as carefully as the ingredients.  They’ll bring extra plates for sharing without batting an eyelash, thus giving us a welcome break, price-wise. Among the starters are goat, lamb belly, three excellent shrimp sitting on a fried egg, bedded over a cumin flavored puree and an octopus salad, masterfully cooked, texture perfect, with tiny, black garbanzo beans and particularly well dressed baby kale, well worth the $18.  Rabbitchello, a rabbit loin roulade looking very pretty, with soft polenta and pea tendrils, would have been worth the $28 if it hadn’t been such a salt mine. In the old country, they say: “if the food’s too salty, the chef’s in love”, so maybe that’s it. Salmon is lovely, still translucent in the center, with beets and farro. The place is brand new, so another visit when the pots have deglazed, might be in order. Desserts are $12 and when my ship comes in, I’ll have a slice of that walnut cake. To sum up, if you are ready to drop big bucks, give this fledgling birdie a try.

Redbird, 114 E. 2nd Street, between Main and Los Angeles Sts., Los Angeles 90012. Full bar. Dinner from 5 pm (Closed Monday). Valet parking $8.50. (213) 788-1191

About Ingrid Wilmot

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