Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Dunsmoor (Los Angeles, CA)

Dunsmoor Restaurant
3501 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90065
Wed 01/18/2023, 07:45p-10:15p

Dunsmoor Exterior

It turns out that I've been following the career of Brian Dunsmoor for over a decade at this point. I first encountered the Chef (and frequent collaborator Kris Tominaga) in 2011 at Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in Venice, and continued to enjoy his cooking at The Hart and The Hunter, Ladies' Gunboat Society, and Hatchet Hall. The last time I caught up with Dunsmoor was at the start of 2019, when I attended Fuss & Feathers, a dining series held at Hatchet Hall that explored historical American cookery.

I had thought that things were going well at Hatchet Hall, but perhaps not, as partner Jonathan Strader decamped in March 2020, followed by the Chef himself in April 2021. After the departure, he began working on his next project, the eponymous Dunsmoor, and the Glassell Park eatery ended up grand-opening on June 29th last year. The cooking here doesn't stray too far from the Chef's roots, and once again highlights live fire-centric heritage American cuisine, but with a broader range than the narrower Southern focus he had before. His partners are LA hospitality vet Taylor Parsons (Church & State, Tartine Manufactory, Republique, Mozza, Spago, Campanile), Johnny Jain, and Ali Vazin (who form Whole Cluster Hospitality), while CdC duties are handled by Manuel Mendoza, who also comes from Hatchet Hall.

Dunsmoor Interior
Dunsmoor takes over the corner storefront of a Spanish Colonial Revival building that was reportedly constructed in 1929. The space was penned by the folks at Lovers Unite, who have given the room a warm, inviting feel befitting the restaurant's concept. Fun fact: the address was originally slated for a new project from Conor Shemtov (of the late Mh Zh in Silver Lake), but that obviously fell through.

Dunsmoor Bar Interior
Note that there's also a separate wine bar ("Dunsmoor Bar") next door that actually has its own entrance and serves some of the same food.

Dunsmoor Menu Dunsmoor Wine List
The menu at Dunsmoor is fairly compact, and features the distinctly American point of view that we've come to expect from the Chef. Beverage-wise, you get a reasonably-sized, yet relatively diverse wine list (compiled by Parsons and Rachael Davis) and a smattering of beer, while corkage is $25. Click for larger versions.

Beef Tartare
Beef Tartare [$18.00] | sunchoke, smoked trout sauce, mint, mullet roe
Our meal got off to a strong start thanks to this tartar, which was the best I've had in a while. The meat itself was great texturally, and was boosted in the taste department by both the smoked trout and the bottarga. Even better, though, was the animating effect of the mint and the crunchy-savory character of the fried sunchokes, and overall, the dish just came together beautifully.

Bay Scallop
Bay Scallop [$13.00] | delicatessen-style, smoked trout roe
The kitchen managed to turn scallops into a dish reminiscent of deli-style smoked salmon, replete with a heavy dosing of piquant, pickle-y capers. Thus, the red onions were absolutely crucial here, and really brightened things up.

Hugues Godmé, Brut Rosé Grand Cru, MV, Champagne {FR}
Wine is the beverage of choice at Dunsmoor, so I opted for a bottle of the Hugues Godmé, Brut Rosé Grand Cru, MV, Champagne {FR} [$125], a zero dosage, 65% Pinot/35% Chard sparkler that was disgorged in August 2021 after spending 18 months on lees. The juice smelled pretty great, its aromas of musty pears and strawberries joined by a sour, nearly pickled fruit quality. On the palate, the bubbly was pert and lively, its dense-yet-dry flavors of orchard fruits commingled with a mineral backbone and hints of breadiness.

Baby Albacore
Baby Albacore [$13.00] | young ginger root relish, shallot
Supple shards of tuna were accompanied by aggressively savory, tangy, and even fruity notes, with zesty ginger coming in on the back end to smooth things out.

Blue Crab Salad
Blue Crab Salad [$15.00] | she-crab style
Of course, we couldn't turn down the crab salad, and it ended up being a table favorite. I was definitely a fan of how the cool, sweet brine of the crustacean was so deftly conveyed, and really enjoyed it with the bread below.

Bub & Grandma's Bread
Bread at Dunsmoor is sourced from lauded local producer Bub & Grandma's, and two types were offered. I first tried the standard sourdough, which featured a particularly soft crumb and some sweet, warm nuances to go with the bread's subtly lactic tang. However, I preferred the sesame version, which showed off some delectably smoky, nutty notes.

Goose Rillettes
Goose Rillettes [$15.00] | cranberry relish
A goose rillette displayed the dark, rich, salty flavors I was looking for, but masterfully balanced out by a jammy-but-herby berry relish. Be sure to try it with the sesame bread above.

Stuffed Chestnut Mushrooms
Stuffed Chestnut Mushrooms [$13.00] | farmer's cheese, salsa verde, breadcrumbs
This next dish was a surprise standout. The back-and-forth between the funky cheese and earthy 'shrooms, moderated by the salsa, really worked for me, and I liked the crunch from the breadcrumbs, too.

Aunt Emmy's Pork & Green Chili Stew
Aunt Emmy's Pork & Green Chili Stew [$17.00] | cheddar, flour tortillas
I don't know who Aunt Emmy is, but apparently she makes a damn fine stew, one that tasted patently of the American Southwest. They key here was the spot-on interplay between the vegetal nature of those chilies, hearty chunks of pork, and the pungent cheese, while the griddled tortillas served as a perfect complement. Cozy yet elegant at the same time--a favorite of mine for sure.

Wood-Roasted Belon Oysters
Wood-Roasted Belon Oysters [$7.00/each] | garlic butter, bread crumbs, parmesan
Roasted oysters arrived wonderfully herby and buttery and cheesy, with the essence of live fire well incorporated. Yet, through all this, the signature salinity of the Belons still made itself known.

Pennsylvania Dutch Slippery Dumplings
Pennsylvania Dutch Slippery Dumplings [$35.00] | turkey, ham, pickled beets & eggs
This stew-like incarnation of pot pie was another highlight, and tasted like pure American comfort. I was a big fan of the herby, peppery notes that pervaded the dish, and both the ham and turkey were a delight, as was the chew on those thick-cut noodle-dumplings.

pickled beets & eggs
The dumplings above were served with pickled eggs and beets, which provided some acidity that really helped cut through the heftiness of the dish.

Sour Milk Cornbread
Sour Milk Cornbread [$13.00] | white cheddar, hatch chili, cultured butter, honey
The kitchen then sent out the cornbread along with a couple sides. The cornbread was superb in terms of both texture (super moist) and taste, and had this robust honeyed sweetness that melded seamlessly with the zing of the chilies. Very cool.

Cheddar & Chive Potatoes
Cheddar & Chive Potatoes [$9.00]
Mashed potatoes were smooth but not too smooth, and did a commendable job incorporating the cheese.

Braised Greens
Braised Greens [$9.00]
Collards were comfortingly earthy, their bitterness backed by a proper porkiness, while the accompanying pepper-infused vinegar packed quite the punch.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout [$37.00] | chanterelles, pine nuts, brown butter, chives
We opted for the trout for our final savory, and the fish came out tender, but with a nicely crisp exterior. Its delicate, nutty flavors matched up with complementary notes in the brown butter, pine nuts, and mushrooms, and really opened up with a squirt of lemon.

Apple Cobbler
Apple Cobbler
Dunsmoor's one dessert option ended up being included in the meal, and the pie demonstrated rich, concentrated notes of apple, set against the tanginess of whipped sour milk. Nice crust, too.

Like I mentioned above, I've been enjoying Dunsmoor's food for well over a decade, and it's been fun (and tasty) to see how his cuisine has evolved over all these years. This restaurant looks to be a culmination of all his previous efforts, and in fact, I'm tempted to say that it represents the best cooking of his career. You definitely get to experience the Chef's unique point of view, which is deeply and unequivocally American at its core, simultaneously infused with both brashness and grace. A welcomed addition to the neighborhood to be sure.


Blogger 12345 said...

Just had five appetizers here, so good. Loved the background info Kevin

Sunday, February 18, 2024 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Now I'm wondering, which five did you have?

Sunday, February 18, 2024 11:53:00 PM  

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