Kevin Kathman has moved around a lot. Rural Minnesota, Colorado resort towns, Napa, and Paris are just a few of the places that have played roles in his culinary journey, and now Kathman’s landed at The Larchmont, a converted craftsman house where he’s attempting to create a new home for himself after being named executive chef in February.
Kathman’s latest perch is down the street from Paramount Pictures, which is fitting. Just blocks from the studio that made Transformers, another transformation is taking place. The Larchmont has already gone from house to restaurant, and now the nomadic chef is doing his best to go from mere restaurant to full-on culinary destination.
Kathman started his career with Thomas Keller in the very early days of The French Laundry, and Keller’s influence has stuck with him ever since. That’s evident on Kathman’s new menu, which uses French technique to create farm-to-table dishes that approach the level of fine dining without feeling pretentious. Local halibut is served with Bloomsdale spinach, artichokes, asparagus, and green garlic to stand as a sort of edible snapshot of an early March trip to the farmers’ market. But there are global ingredients here, too. Kathman’s signature smoked sturgeon features supple ovals of caviar and hard-boiled egg on top of a creamy, horseradish-laden fennel and potato salad. It’s all plated with a sense of artistry and served on white tablecloths, a level of elegance you don’t expect to find in an actual house.
Pulling in a broader clientele will be a big task considering the strong support the restaurant enjoys from the nearby community. The line between fine dining and neighborhood restaurant is a tough mark to hit, but it’s been done before. Paley’s Place in Portland offers a similar setup, and chef Vitaly Paley has been rewarded with a James Beard Award for his efforts. It’s far too early to tell if Kathman will earn similar accolades. What is clear, though, is that the transformation of The Larchmont under Kathman should be worth watching as he tries to make the house his permanent home.