While many L.A. restaurants have gotten creative with their outdoor spaces—turning parking lots into piazzas and the like—to offer al fresco dining amidst COVID-19 precautions, Vespertine chef Jordan Kahn is, of course, taking things further.
Kahn, who’s known for his avant-garde take on fine dining, is planning to take over the former Auburn restaurant space on Melrose Avenue for a pop-up called Ephemera.
“The Melrose space is more conducive to the Vespertine experience than the outdoor space we have at Vespertine. Because of COVID, we want to have a compliant space that also offers our diner the best experience possible,” Kahn says. “It will have all of the ethos of Vespertine, but the shell is going to be different.”
Auburn drew accolades both for its food and its design; the open-air dining room had a chic minimalist aesthetic that nodded to both Japan and Scandinavia. At Ephemera, Kahn will have seating for 38 guests.
“It’s certainly a beautiful space. It’s maybe the polar opposite of Vespertine in a lot of ways,” Kahn says. “It’s a more neutral canvas.”
Ephemera, which is being billed as a “temporary gastronomic installation,” will launch in November and hopefully continue for several months. Kahn is still figuring out the food and format but notes it will be heavily dictated by the new setting. And, while it will be quite different from Vespertine in some ways, a certain high-mindedness will prevail.
“The menu is just an ellipses right now,” he says. “It’s all dictated by the space . . . The approach that we are going to take is much more mineral driven [than at Vespertine]. We are sort of looking at the abstract idea of mineralogy.”
Kahn also hopes to do collaborations with guest chefs who have had to close their restaurants due the pandemic. And, Vespertine will continue offering its elaborate takeout, which has been a hit, three nights per week. Some of the restaurant’s most popular takeout, such as a menu based on the French Laundry and another riffing on Kahn’s grandmother’s recipes, have sold out within seconds. But, with Ephemera, Kahn is excited to be able to serve customers in person again.
He says: “We missed the ability to connect with guests and ability to serve guests.”
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