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Hitting the right note at Foundry

May 17, 2007|S. Irene Virbila | Times Staff Writer

LAST I remember, Eric Greenspan, the former Patina executive chef, was merrily shaving truffles over a dish tableside at the now-late Meson G, where he was opening chef. Since he parted ways with owners Tim and Liza Goodell in 2005, the 32-year-old has been trying to put together a restaurant of his own. Early this month, Greenspan opened the Foundry on Melrose, tucked in among the funky boutiques and a hookah parlor on the block between Vista and Gardner streets. He bills it as "fine dining for the everyday man."

Sounds good in theory, but he's also got some other tricks up his sleeve. Instead of the solemn dining environment of, say, Patina, he's bringing on the live music. Some nights it's singer-songwriter Christopher Dowd, a founding member of the L.A. alternative band Fishbone, on piano. Weekends, it's generally a trio that includes Dowd; and at Sunday's Be Bop Brunch, which starts this week, it's a jazz trio. On the restaurant's website, which is up but not finished, the music-loving chef plans to archive the performances at the Foundry. He's also aiming to put up a live webcam in the kitchen, so you can check what's cooking before wandering over.

Greenspan has kept his menu small and lean, with a handful of appetizers and about the same number of main courses, which he'll change every two weeks -- or maybe more often as inspiration strikes him. After a single visit, I'm thinking, wait a minute, does that mean we'll never see those divine soft-scrambled eggs with roasted pork belly again? Or that cool, refreshing salad of calamari, avocado and pink grapefruit dusted with smoked paprika?

Trust and you shall receive. I hope. Meanwhile, there are some winsome little ravioli filled with quail's egg and dotted with spring's fava beans under a Parmesan foam. And this, I have to say, is a foam you could love.

Greenspan has some serious technique and even this early -- granted, without a full house clamoring for food -- everything is beautifully executed: the gently poached halibut with leeks and ramps, the veal scallopini topped with a sweetbread gremolata and served with brown butter potato puree, poached Jidori chicken with tomato confit and rapini.

Designer Sandy Davidson has given the place a look that's just as sophisticated and casual. If you want to enjoy the music, take a table in the main room. If you want quiet, head for the outdoor dining room with leather banquettes, gnarled old olive trees, a fireplace and, soon, a louvered roof on the off chance it might rain.

virbila@latimes.com

*

The Foundry on Melrose

Where: 7465 Melrose Ave., L.A.

When: Dinner, 6 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, with a late-night bar menu 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Brunch, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday (starts this Sunday). Full bar. Valet parking.

Price: Appetizers, $11 to $13; main courses, $23 to $27; six-course tasting menu, $90 per person; brunch items, $11 to $14; late-night bar menu, $7 to $18; desserts, $7 to $9.

Info: (323) 651-0915,

www.thefoundryonmelrose.com

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