Friday, September 7, 2012

L.A. Havens - Red Hill



1325 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles (Echo Park)

I am a big fan of restaurateur Jason Michaud's Local; I even had my birthday party there last year. So when I heard that he was opening a new restaurant within walking distance of my house, I was excited. For years I had stared at the vacant Chinese bakery sitting on Echo Park Avenue, hoping that a good restaurant would move in. My wish was fulfilled when Red Hill took up residence in the space and began serving New American fare at the beginning of this year.

Chef Trevor Rocco artfully oversees an ever-changing menu, since Red Hill is committed to using seasonal local produce. The venison meatballs drizzled with a hearty sauce in the winter evolve into lamb meatballs in a white bean puree in the summer. Broccoli topped with a sunny-side up egg and anchovies is replaced by cauliflower with pine nuts and a chile aioli. Salad elements and flatbread toppings come and go, but the one constant is that the simple yet high-quality ingredients are prepared in a deliciously unpretentious way.
Red Hill's beets with farro and hazelnuts

There are several standards on the menu that have become favorites. The crisp on the outside/soft as a feather pillow on the inside beignets glisten with slices of melting lardo and pickled mustard seeds. I love the jewels of roasted beets served on a bed of farro, avocado, hazelnuts and honey-mint yogurt. The spit-roasted chicken is incredibly juicy with addicting crunchy skin. And the pasta! The papardelle in a pulled pork sauce is so good, you won't want to share a forkful from the enormous bowl. It's one of those dishes that just makes people blissfully happy.

The best thing about Red Hill is that it has turned a neighborhood eyesore into a comfortable place to gather with friends. Whether I'm there for a quick breakfast of an everything bagel with vegan cream cheese, tomato and avocado or a leisurely glass of rosé and hearty bowl of mussels with fries, I usually always leave with a smile on my face.

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