He's been thinking about it for years. Now Campanile's chef and co-owner, Mark Peel, has finally gone and done it. Peel and chef-partner Suzanne Tracht have opened an American chophouse on the site of the late Indochine in Los Angeles at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Harper Avenue. Tracht worked with Peel as Campanile's chef de cuisine and was the original chef at Jozu in West Hollywood, where the petite brunet turned her hand to stylish Asian fusion.
Gone are the elegant Indo-European decor, the plantation shutters and potted palms, the fashionistas and the sinuous waiters in black. The new 90-seat dining room has been pared down to its bones. The decor consists of expanses of pale citron wall and dozens of curvy molded plastic chairs with aluminum stick legs. A handful of booths fits along one wall. The renovation is so new, you can still smell the wet paint. And although the designers have opened up the windows to let daylight in, Jar won't be serving lunch until October.
The menu opens like a three-way mirror, drinks to the left, first courses and mains down the middle, sides on the right. First off, try the fried Ipswich clams in a newspaper lined container with both a handmade tartar sauce and a spunky horseradish-dosed cocktail sauce on the side. These are bona fide East Coast clams, dusted in cornmeal and fried to a deep gold, and so irresistibly chewy and flavorful, we had to order another batch. A corn chowder with diced potatoes and bacon is sweet enough to stand in as dessert. There's a beautiful French green bean salad of skinny haricots verts with chanterelle mushrooms and rosy Parma ham tossed in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette.