Sliding into First & Hope

Seelbach Cocktail

Last April, I previewed First & Hope. It wasn’t entirely finished when I first visited and not even in the soft-opening stage yet. Therefore I had to forgive a few things like only one working toilet (the other stall was filled with construction materials) and being conked on the head by a passing server with a heavy tray. Yet, I hadn’t returned until last night despite many productions at nearby Disney Hall and the Music Center.

Blackberry Cobbler cocktail

I had heard about the chef shake-up and Shelly Cooper has now been replaced by Joseph Panarello (they should really update the bios on the website). Chef Joseph was very easy going, telling us about his culinary background and even joked that his singing would have women flinging off their clothing (this is after we requested he sing opera).

housemade crackers

I arrived before my BFF so I had the task of ordering her food and a drink. I chose the picnic basket for myself (normally $17 but discounted to $5 for a specially themed happy hour) and the sharp cheddar mac and cheese for her. I got her the blackberry cobbler cocktail and chose the Sealbach for myself. She also ordered the creamy grits for additional substance. The current menu is very Southern and not exactly easy to pick out vegetarian offerings for my friend. Would she find the vegetable plate boring?

sharp cheddar mac & cheese

creamy grits

My BFF loved the mac and cheese. I have heard so much about the mac & cheese flight at First & Hope and almost put it on my mac and cheese crawl (now postponed until November 7). One mac is $11 and a flight is $17 so I would recommend the flight for the value alone. Chef Joseph said they’ll be keeping the mac and cheese but not the current recipes. I’m curious to see his version. She did also enjoy the grits but says her favorite is at Susan Feniger’s Street.

picnic basket

The picnic basket included two pieces of fried chicken, potato salad and collard greens. The potato salad was very interesting to me. It was probably the first time I had pickled eggs. The acidity level was not high though so it didn’t ruin the creaminess of the potato salad.

Chef Joseph said he’s changing over the menus completely in about a week or two.

greens & hush puppies

In the meantime, I hope they do keep the collard greens (with bacon) because they were fantastic. I also thought the oblong hush puppies were quite cute.

I wanted to come back for late-night cocktails after the opera but they were already closing up and it wasn’t quite 11 p.m. yet. I suppose business hours varies nightly depending on which shows are playing?

First & Hope

710 W 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2442
(213) 617-8555