Along the boulevard in Studio City, strip malls grab passersby with the lure of the familiar chain restaurants. A small independent restaurant, however good, can easily get lost unless enough people go out of their way to find it. But still restaurateurs keep trying.
A couple of blocks east of the intersection of Laurel Canyon and Ventura boulevards, Thomas Munoz, late of Joe Joe's in Sherman Oaks, has launched Emmanuel in the storefront recently vacated by the Perroche. Before Joe Joe's, Munoz worked with Joe Miller of Joe's Restaurant in Venice. Munoz's sensibility is very much like Miller's. He goes for clean California-French cooking with an emphasis on fresh ingredients at an appealing quality-price ratio. In addition to the a la carte menu, he also offers two four-course prix fixe menus nightly.
Recently, my $30 menu began with a lovely heap of greens garnished with crisp bacon and soft nuggets of goat cheese in a piquant dressing. Then came an inviting potato and roasted garlic soup smoothed with a touch of cream. The main course was a beautiful piece of fresh salmon, slow-roasted to an almost custardy consistency, with a wonderfully delicate flavor. A grainy creme bru^lee was the only disappointment.