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Counter Intelligence: Plan Check, where food meets the future

Plan Check Kitchen and Bar has a modernist take on the classic burger, engineering it to a different level. Other items on the menu are a mix of good and bad.

October 20, 2012|Jonathan Gold | Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic

But science cannot improve the flabbyish oysters, as enticing as the idea of cocktail sauce flavored with the spicy Japanese condiment yuzu kosho may sound, and not even summer's dead-ripe produce much helped the odd melon ball and mozzarella salad sprinkled with flavorless prosciutto dust. The vegetable chips may be thin enough to read through but don't taste like much. I cannot endorse a special of fries tossed with cheese and minced pastrami, although I have to admit that they disappeared extremely rapidly from the plate.

You know that subliminal game of triage you tend to play with French fries, picking out the crispiest, most evenly cooked fry, then the next crispiest, until the plate is empty and it is time to pay the check? You can't do that here. The potatoes, fried in melted beef fat and gently dusted with smoked salt, are nearly identical to one another. You know how you gravitate toward the crunchiest piece of fried chicken? At Plan Check, they are all the crunchiest piece of fried chicken, which makes them almost better suited for a role in a chicken sandwich than they are as part of a platter with spicy okra pickles, smoked gravy and a uranium-dense layer of yam. The pot-roasted short ribs were all the best bite. And there are crullers, untouched by technology as far as I can tell, for dessert.

Even modernists, it seems, become sentimental when hot doughnuts are at hand.

A bar with modernist burgers — as re-imagined by a gearhead working solo, rather than a lab full of technicians.


1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288-6500,


Snacks, $3-$12; burgers, $10-$12; plates, $13-$16; desserts, $6.


Open 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m Friday and Saturday. Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Valet and street parking.

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