Any food connoisseur in Los Angeles is quite familiar with the former restaurant, Grace on Beverly Blvd. Having loved the food at that stuffy little place, I was sad to see it go, but more intrigued to see what it would be replaced with. After daily drive bys past my former haunt, the newly redesigned restaurant had finally secured fresh ownership and an updated look, with a Spanish tapas style menu not even the pickiest of “foodies” could ignore. Enter, Playa, the latest Latin restaurant from Chef John Sedlar.
Sedlar, not new to Latin cuisine, opened his first restaurant, Rivera in downtown Los Angeles two years ago. His expertise is witnessed in every bite one takes. I proceeded to order as many items as my stomach could digest. Although they do have entre dishes, I tend to shy away from those, when I can, as I get bored eating the same dish for an entire meal.
My small plate recommendations are as follows: start with the Ensalada Flan de Elote (a flan made out of corn custard that is to die for), the Maize Cake Cauliflower and the Octo-Palm Salad (grilled octopus with palm hearts, scallions, oven-dried cherry tomatoes). Follow up with the Maize Cake Bombay Taj (a pork belly confit with a chile-lime jicama) easily one of the best dishes on the menu, the Arroz con Pato (the best duck confit with cilantro I have ever had, and the Tamalli Chateubriand (a wild mushroom tamale with filet mignon). Then conclude with the fanciful desert, Flora y Terra a delightful vanilla cake to cleanse the palette, prepared with strawberries and pomegranate.
I don’t have to say that every dish was absolutely mind-blowing because I wouldn’t be writing about it, if it weren’t. Yet, for the record, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least stop by once. Besides the food, the chic crowd and ambience at Playa provides a great mixture of the young and fabulous with the wise and sexy. And the décor at Playa is just as delectable as the cuisine.
Mr. Sedlar himself describes the décor of his restaurant as being influenced by the earthiness of his native Santa Fe and the free spirit of Southern California’s beachside life. He says, “In the atmosphere, we try to capture how you feel when you’re in such magical places: the light, the air, the sense of place, and the dynamic spiritual combination of relaxation and excitement.”
This vibe definitely encapsulates you upon entering, Playa and I would recommend it for those who are adventurous with food and have a worldly palette for delectable cuisines. For the utmost in service, ask for Colin…he knows which items you will love before you even open the menu.
Playa is located at 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. For more on Playa check out their website www.playarivera.com.