With Brentwood's Tavern, Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne (Lucques, A.O.C.) created a local hangout. At the casual front section, called the Larder, one can drop in for a pastry or a brisket sandwich at lunch. In the formal dining room, people gather in banquettes under a massive sky-light for refined rustic fare. The roasted asparagus with polenta and fried egg is classic, while the pork chops with corn bread and spiced maple syrup convey Goin's down-home authority.
Best Beignets, August 2013
L.A. may not have anything akin to Café du Monde, but the Big Easy landmark's signature confections have scattered trails of powdered sugar across our city. The doughnut's airier Southern cousin reaches its local peak at Suzanne Goin's Tavern, where the crème fraîche beignets are supremely moist and finished with fragrant vanilla sugar. Oiliness? Not a trace. The fritters, smothered in a toffee-hazelnut sauce, include a side of even more silky chocolate for dipping. A scoop of banana ice cream brings balance.
Best Salad, August 2011
A salad is asked to be many things: gentle preamble, protein-crowned main course, or plain old roughage. None fulfills these requirements as well as the Little Gem lettuce, shrimp, crab, and avocado salad with Russian dressing at Tavern. The seafood is as plump and fresh as you'd expect, and the lettuce leaves are arranged just so. The dressing—house-made mayo spiked with cornichons, shallots, and ketchup—is what brings it all together, winking at everything from a Reuben sandwich to a 1970s Sunset magazine spread.