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Patina set to move into Disney Hall

October 01, 2003|Corie Brown

PATINA is packing up the china and silver and moving downtown.

The restaurant, the elegant flagship of Joachim Splichal's empire and one of the most prominent restaurants in Los Angeles, will soon inhabit a corner spot in the new Disney Concert Hall.

But the location is only the most obvious change: Patina's chef, sommelier and some of the cooks are being replaced. And the menu is being revamped too.

The decision to move was announced last week, and came as a shock to the staff. By Thursday, executive chef Eric Greenspan and sommelier Chris Meeske had given notice they would be leaving when the old restaurant closes Oct. 18. By Friday, other staff members were buzzing about what would happen next. The new restaurant opens Oct. 28.

Splichal, the chef and founder of the Patina Group, had been developing a Disney Hall restaurant for months. As plans progressed, he became convinced that Patina itself (opened in 1989) was the right restaurant for the location.

"It's a terrific opportunity, a world-class location," Splichal says. "Patina fits perfectly into it."

The new chef will be Theo Schoenegger, who came from New York's Rock Center Cafe in Rockefeller Center. He had been working with Splichal for two months on the menu for a Disney Hall restaurant. Those same plans are still in the works -- even though that restaurant will now be Patina.

The restaurant is being designed by Hagy Belzberg, the Santa Monica firm that gave Patina a new look three years ago. At Disney Hall, Patina will have a fine-dining room and quick-service cafe. Its look will reflect the soaring architecture and light woods of Disney Hall.

Regulars may find the new space takes some getting used to. The old Patina was on a quiet stretch of Melrose, and offered a serene, discreet dining experience. The new restaurant will be next to the concert hall's parking lot escalators, the most public corner of a building that promises to be a bug light for tourists.

"I think downtown is changing very rapidly," Splichal says. "With all of the construction going on, I believe we will have a late-night crowd there."

The hours are expanding to include lunch six days a week and dinner nightly. The menu will offer a choice of tasting menu or a la carte -- and will keep the same French inflection, Splichal says. Don't expect prices to drop.

The Melrose location will become Patina Prive, a private party room and a venue for cooking classes.

-- Corie Brown

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