The Art of the Meal: Lulu’s Food is Hammer Museum’s New Treasure

With the opening of Lulu, food legends Alice Waters and David Tanis bring beautiful dishes to the Hammer
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The hottest thing to see at the Hammer these days isn’t in the galleries; it’s in the restaurant space. Farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters has finally opened Lulu, her first-ever Los Angeles eatery, in the museum.

“Lulu will fully engage the senses of everyone who comes to experience this beautiful intersection of art, food, and learning,” Waters gushes. “A dining experience at Lulu is about opening up the senses and experiencing life.”

Lulu’s dishes, like this lemon tart, are defined by a meticulous simplicity and commitment to local farms. (Photo courtesy of Heather Platt)

Waters isn’t the only marquee name of the new venture. The restaurant is a collaboration between her and famed cookbook author David Tanis. Tanis, who is well-known for his New York Times cooking column, worked at Waters’s seminal Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, on and off for nearly 25 years. He left in 2011, moving to New York to focus on developing and writing his own recipes. Now he’s come back to California to reunite with Waters and run the Lulu kitchen.

“I’m having a lot of fun with the L.A. farmers’ markets,” says Tanis, who is taking great pains to source almost all ingredients from small, local farms that practice regenerative, organic agriculture. “That’s important to us; it’s a way to help mitigate the climate crisis.”

Lulu offers an ever-changing, daily, three-course lunch for $45, with a similar dinner launch in early 2022. On a recent Monday, the prix fixe began with crisp romaine leaves in a balanced, creamy anchovy dressing. A main-course chicken thigh came exactingly braised in a comforting broth with polenta, wild mushrooms, and tiny turnips. A lemon tart with a dusting of lime zest and a dollop of crème fraîche made for a bright ending.

It’s food that’s simple but perfectly sourced and prepared —and reminiscent of Chez Panisse. But Tanis hopes to diverge from the famous restaurant’s European-leaning approach and represent more of L.A.’s diverse cuisines.

“We look at the whole project as being experimental,” he says. “Even though we all know how to run a restaurant, and we’ve worked in restaurants for years, we’re trying new ways to be a restaurant.” 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu/restaurant.

New and Notable Restaurants to Also Check Out

Tokki
Chef Sunny Jang, whose résumé includes the acclaimed Quince in San Francisco, is in the kitchen at this ambitious modern Korean restaurant. Fried rice cakes mingle with both Korean gochujang sauce and Spanish manchego cheese. Kalbi steak comes with truffle aioli. 3465 W. 6th St., tokki-la.com.

Vinovore
The beloved Silver Lake wine store has a new location. Bottles from female winemakers are on offer, as are sandwiches from Otoño, sourdough doughnuts from Gemini Bakehouse, and coffee from Canyon Coffee. 4627 York Blvd., vinovore.com.

Ramen Nagi

(Photo courtesy of Ramen Nagi/Jakob Layman)

One of Japan’s most popular ramen chains has opened its first SoCal outpost, in the Century City mall. The classic tonkatsu is the bowl to order. 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 2850, ramennagiusa.com.


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