DTLA: Dinner at Industriel
I tried the new Industriel restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Located on the corner of 6th and Grand, the well-designed restaurant did have a bit of a swiggly feel to it. This was not a box-like dining room but something more like a letter S. We were sitting next to a window with a great view of the much-photographed honey bear and bathtub
thingy sculpture. At least that’s what I’m calling it.
I’m not fond of restaurants that charge for bread. Industriel charged $3 for two pieces of bread. Sure, they came with a couple of fancy spreads but at the end of the day, I didn’t need it. I won’t order this again.
I tried one of the cocktails, Ria’s Downfall (Industriel barrel-aged whiskey**, black plum shrub, lemon). It was a nice opening cocktail but because my dining companion doesn’t drink, I didn’t explore the rest of the menu. When I go back, I’d like to try the Lady Rose (Junipero gin, rhubarb rose syrup, grapefruit) and Homing Pigeon (Pink Pigeon rum, Cointreau, orange juice, egg whites, Angostura bitters).
** The Industriel barrel-aged whiskey is 7 year single batch aged with figs and spices in house (didn’t this place just opened? Where has this been for the last 6.5 years?).
Industriel also has classic cocktails but they’ve renamed them and you’ll get everything from a Shake Weight which sounds like an Old Fashioned (with the addition of cocoa nibs), Pouty Little French Girl (Sidecar), Members Only (Aviation) and Moustache Ride (whiskey sour). I really don’t know why you would rename a Sazarac to Fleur de Lis or a Ramos Gin Fizz to Mothers Milk. Old Fashioned, Sidecar, whiskey sour, Sazarac and Ramos are all perfectly great names but the new names might be confusing to people just getting into cocktails and in particular classic cocktails. They seem proud of their Double O Seven which is a martini with smoked sturgeon stuffed olives and clearly marked shaken, not stirred. But I guess I’m a fuddy duddy and cocktail stickler. Actually, I’d rename the Ramos to a Shake Weight considering how much shaking you have to do for the drink.
I love oysters and ordered a few to share. What I neglected to notice from the menu was they were were served with an heirloom carrot cardamom mignonette. All right, my bad. I hate carrots. And having tiny diced carrots with the luscious creamy oysters were not ideal for me. Once I scraped off the offending carrots, they were much better.
The new LA Weekly restaurant critic, Besha Rodell, didn’t like the sardines in her review. The raw sardines had been dressed with palm vinegar, lemon, and chili sea salt. I actually liked it but found it odd as the fish is actually raw — I don’t think I had sardine ceviche before and the texture took some getting used to. As it was, the dressing for the fish went fairly well with the watercress and the bitterness helped mask whatever icky feelings one might have over somewhat mushy-textured fish.
The smoked octopus was probably one of the better dishes I had this night. It was a simple and well-executed dish.
When I saw the farm egg dish, I knew my dining companion would love it. Served with a crispy soft-poached egg, speck, asparagus and a mustard-truffle dressing, this revs up the classic egg and asparagus dish I’ve had around town.
With the cheekily named Skull & Bones, the beef tongue and bone marrow dish was sure to be a best seller for Industriel. In the land of bizarre-food seeking foodies who probably consider lengua tacos their training wheels, this dish was off the mark for me. I wanted the beef tongue to be in bigger chunks. And the marrow didn’t have much flavor.
I wanted to love the kale salad, too. I wanted to love every dish but each dish was beginning to feel forced. The kale salad was just unbearably salty between the roasted garlic bacon dressing, more bacon, parmasean and anchovies. Our server offered to remake it. He and the other staff are very good at what they do- they kept our water constantly refilled and checked in on us a lot (maybe a little too much). But we no longer wanted what was essentially a kale Caesar salad.
Now that California has banned foie gras, we can probably expect to see more restaurants try to entice the fatty duck liver crowd. We ordered the Faux Gras terrine. My friend liked it. I missed real foie gras.
We had ordered a bunch of appetizers and skipped entrees. I was going to leave it at that but we gave dessert a shot. I’m glad we did as the chocolate pretzel pie was the best thing I had all night. I liked the pretzel crust and the silky chocolate pie filling.
On the Minty scorecard, all of this adds up that I’ll return– most likely for lunch or for cocktails and dessert.