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We admire the ambition: a former Best Western serving high-concept molecular gastronomy with marina views. Yes, chef Kyle Schutte has guts. He also has talent. For now, at least, both are quashed by a clueless waitstaff and a dining room that still smacks of continental breakfasts past. The dish garnering the most buzz is the chicken-fried watermelon cubes (yes, that’s right). Peas & Carrots is an explosion of carotene: carrot-based noodles and crisp peas in a buttery carrot broth. While many of the small plates are adorned with Jell-O in unexpected flavors (root beer) and collard green fluid (yum), there are more approachable mains, including a stellar grilled cheese sandwich. Schutte doesn’t always succeed—goat cheese polenta resembles Play-Doh—but it’s fun to watch him try. » Jamaica Bay Inn, 14160 Palawan Way (310-439-3033 or vumdr.com ). B-L-D daily. Full bar. Small Plates.  $$$

 
Photograph courtesy vumdr.com

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