I am always amazed at all of the great culinary experiences that await your palate in Los Angeles, and this one did not disappoint. Scratch Bar is located in the famous Beverly Hills Restaurant Row on La Cienaga. But what you would not get from looking at this place from the road is how much of a spectacle it is on the inside. I have had deconstructed cuisine down the road at Jose Andreas Bazaar, but nothing as delicate as Scratch Bar. The name scratch bar literally means everything in the restaurant is made from scratch including sourdough bread and butter.
My knowledgeable guide through my dining experience was Charlie Abernathy, who moonlights as an actor. Really a server that moonlights as an actor, what a novel idea. He also worked at Campanile, but this handsome man can take a description of food and turn it on its head. He can tell you about every nuance, and why the food is treated the way they do here in the kitchen. He will even tell you how to eat it. “Take the whole thing in your mouth all at once and chew at least 20 times”. First your saying oh yeah right, that’s all impossible. The plate of food is way to large and 20 times to chew. But what you don’t understand until you try it Charlie’s way is that you get more bang for your buck, if you fully indulge your senses the way he instructs you to do. Wow, what a phenomenon. These instructions really make the entire difference in the world. You pretty much get all of the complexities of every ingredient with each bite. Like great wine, this food opens up in your mouth the more you chew it.
Here’s what I tried:
Sourdough Butter Roll with Seasoned Butter, this is a very small loaf, but great things come in small packages. The texture and flavor is astounding, as well as the homemade butter.
Whipped Sea Urchin with Sourdough, this is more of a dip, but it also has 2 Sea Urchins tongues in the mix. (There is no such thing as a sea urchin tongue, it is just called that.) Super light and fluffy, but not for someone who doesn’t like the flavors of the ocean.
1/2 Dozen Roasted Oysters with Caviar, they do these with a mushroom puree and caviar, what a delight!
Millionaire Foie Gras, sushi rice hand that is torched to a tough texture on the bottom with 1 oz. of foie gras. 2 full uni tongues, carmelized brown sugar, pickled red onion, and diced scallion. Don’t mess with perfection, just order it and savor each bite. Fun fact: Foie Gras was outlawed in July of 2012 and became legal again 5 weeks ago, in 2015.
Pork Belly & Raw Oyster, very delicate, with a nice composition.
Green Mussel and Sea Urchin Sake Shooter, the best shooter you will ever have.
Roasted Raw Prawns, I love anything with shrimp, but if you don’t like slimy, you will not like these.
Blackened Cauliflower, they use many varieties of cauliflower, and it is as tasty as it is colorful.
Warm Escolar w/Sweetbreads & Grapefruit. This Escolar has so many different components, it is sweet and savory. You would not think to put sweet breads with escolar. Deconstructed from the bottom up, with sun choke puree, dehydrated grape fruit skin, dehydrated grapefruit meat,
dehydrated spinach leaves, spinach beurre blanc-white wine, butter, warm escolar – white tune butterfish. Sprinkled puffed amaranth grain, really a great accomplishment.
Wood Roasted Whole Stuffed Branzino, they cook the whole fish, head and all. Stuffed with goat milk cheese and spinach. Chef Philippe calls this dish, “artichoke less artichoke dip”, it is so scrumptious, it will just put a smile on your face!
95 Day Dry Aged Grass Fed Australian Prime Rib Eye, with this steak the fat is actually good for you, its grass fed, and it provides good cholesterol.
Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chablis Chardonnay Burgundy – France, 2011 went great with the muscle shooter.
Saintsbury Chardonnay – Carneros, CA. 2012, I liked this one with the raw shrimp dish.
Secateurs Chenin Blanc, Swartland – South Africa 2013, this wine was great with the branzino.
Merlettaie “Ciu Ciu” Pecorino Offida, Italia, 2013, I would pair this one with any of the foie gras dishes, or the sea urchin.
Eightsides Zinfandel – Paso Robles, CA., 2012, worked great with the cauliflower dish.
Zaccaghini Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo – Italia, 2012, you could pair this one with the Branzino, seeing that they both are Italian.
Borne Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley, CA 2012, this is a nice light Pinot Noir and worked good with Millionaire Foie Gras.
Eno Cabernet – Dry Creek Valley, CA 2010, skip the rest when you having the steak, this one is the correct choice for this dish.
Aliane Garnay Beaujolais Villages – Burgundy France 2011, I liked this wine with the pork belly and oyster starter.
Homemade vanilla ice cream, they torch a vanilla bean, put it in a sugar cone, with sprinkles. The sprinkles are from fruits and vegetables; pink – beet puree, yellow – corn puree, orange – carrot puree, and green – spinach puree.
Cayenne Infused Chocolate Ganache Candy Bar, served on a stone plank, it’s a very small little perfect bite size dessert.
They also have a Chef tasting 12-course menu, you get to try the cuisine at a chef’s table right outside the kitchen window where you get to watch the chef cook. Their music matches their independent spirit, with favorites like, Beach House and Dumb Dumb Girls. The vibe here is young, hip and experimental.
Scratch Bar has a kind of mysterious interior, with dark wood tables, really interesting art, and hard wood floors. There is a huge mirror on one side of the restaurant, with lovely leather banquets, and black walls. It is very cozy, and there is a nice small bar area. One art piece is very interesting; the art is spilt in half like it’s broken, some of the art is peeling off the canvas. The story goes: it was found in a dumpster and there was pre-existing planks that were perfect for it to be hung on. The artist name is Le Scott De Kompany.
I met owner Dario at a Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce event at Ocean Prime, he was so warm and genuine. We talked about the state of food and restaurants in Beverly Hills, and he quickly invited me in to try his imaginative cuisine. Such a departure from the dull restaurant scene in Beverly Hills, each bite vibrates with smoldering goodness. The attention to detail is all consuming, down to the way they instruct you to eat it.
A hidden gem in the middle of a very popular food zone. Next time your hunting for something fresh and new in Los Angeles, try Scratch Bar. Chef Phillip Frankland Lee, Latvian pastry chef Margarita Lee, and culinary team, Erik, Abrielle, and Daniel will give you a run for your money. Truly the best experience on the planet.
111 N. La Cienaga Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA. 90211