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Critic's Choice: Southern cooking with L.A. style

April 27, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times
  • At Bludso's, the barbecue is traditional Texas style with Southern side dishes.
At Bludso's, the barbecue is traditional Texas style with Southern… (Bludso's BBQ )

The cooking of the South has never quite caught on in Southern California. But lately we've lucked into a few newish places with a distinctly Southern bent mixing it up with the usual California/Mediterranean fare. Biscuits lead the way, but you can also find Lowcountry shrimp boil riding shotgun with venison carpaccio, and pork ribs with potato salad on the same menu as grilled octopus with preserved lemon.

The Hart & the Hunter

Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga, executive chefs and proprietors, once pop-up auteurs, have grown into this permanent space in the raffish Palihotel. Come for those butter biscuits and the sheaf of chicken cracklins to douse in hot pepper vinegar. I wouldn't say no to crispy shrimp heads either. If you're lucky, you may find the Lowcountry shrimp boil with andouille sausage, corn and potatoes on the menu, or shrimp and grits. Sides include black-eyed peas and ham hock, cheddar-and-chive grits or simple braised greens. Come summer, I'm looking for peach cobbler.

7950 Melrose Ave. (at Santa Monica Boulevard), Los Angeles, (323) 424-3055, http://www.thehartandthehunter.com. Dishes, $4 to $22.

Bludso's Bar-&-Que

Jason Bernstein and James Starr from Golden State on Fairfax had the bright idea to partner with Kevin Bludso of Bludso's BBQ in Compton to open a barbecue spot in the old Tar Pit space on La Brea Avenue, so now folks in this part of town are lucky enough to be able to get Bludso's Texas-style smoked brisket, beef and pork beef ribs, along with his soothing cole slaw, long-simmered greens and molasses-spiked beans. All this and a full bar too. Not to mention red velvet cake for dessert.

609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 931-2583, http://www.barandque.com. Meat, $5 to $27; sides, $3 to $7. And in Compton at 811 S. Long Beach Blvd., Compton, (310) 637-1342, bludsosbbq.com.

Willie Jane

Govind Armstrong is doing a few Southern turns at Post & Beam, but he just opened a restaurant in Venice with deeper roots in that part of the country. Be sure to order the biscuits with burnt orange butter. He brines pork chops in tea, turns out an uncommonly good cast-iron chicken with collard green pecan pesto and serves trout with peanut and black-eyed pea hummus. A single quail comes with cornmeal dumplings as small and tender as gnocchi. You'll need four or more to divvy up large-format plates.

1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 392-2425, http://www.williejane.com. Dishes, $7 to $24; large-format plates (to share), $45 to $70.

irene.virbila@latimes.com

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