UPON ENTERING Meteora, chef Jordan Kahn’s new restaurant on Melrose, guests encounter a strong gust of incense. The sensory experience has begun.
Meteora inhabits a storied restaurant space that previously housed Auburn, Hatfield’s, and, before that, the legendary Citrus, which reigned as a popular L.A. hot spot from 1987 to 2001. There’s irony in the new life that Kahn is breathing into the famous address. Because as much as Meteora is something entirely new, at its core it’s pulling from a time long before any of these restaurants existed.
The service is otherworldly. The staff, dressed in white or light earth tones, are clearly trained with precision in mind. They glide through the dining room carrying trays with both hands, as if you’re at a spa. Occasionally, someone walks around in a circle burning copal, which sends a substantial amount of smoke up through a giant hole in the ceiling. “It reminds us of our cosmic connection,” says Kahn of the window to the sky. Are they ridding the place of restaurants past?
“Utilizing primordial cooking methods, we seek to generate new flavors of past experience” is an excerpt from the menu. One option includes varieties of fire-cooked stone fruit served with crispy brassica leaves, grilled roses, quark, cured duck breast, and lettuce leaves for wrapping. Nothing makes sense until you take a bite of all of it together. It’s revelatory. There’s the most perfectly grilled sea bream wrapped in banana leaf and served with a combination of smoked chiles, hazelnuts, brown butter, and clove.
No refined sugar enters this space, and yet each dessert is an absolute masterpiece. When the server places figs on the table, he explains that the accompanying almond cake is an ancient recipe from “before they had leavening agents.”
Kahn, who received two Michelin stars for his Culver City tasting menu at Vespertine, said the initial idea for Meteora was “Vespertine, but 1,000 years ago.” He adds, “Vespertine is about discovery. This restaurant is about rediscovery.”
6703 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park, meteora.la
New & Notable…
Encanto. With its dark and moody interior, Encanto is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, with California-Mexican dishes like dry-aged whole branzino with mole verde and thyme as well as a steady flow of mezcal margaritas. 2121 Hillhurst Ave., encanto.la
Mr. T Los Angeles. This Hollywood spinoff of the popular Parisian restaurant is already buzzing. The global menu gets California flair from bright dishes like the Chip N Dip, a pretty bowl of crème fraîche, herbs, pickled daikon, and trout roe. 953 N. Sycamore Ave., mrtrestaurants.com
Trophies Burger Club. Everything on the menu is under $10 at this retro burger joint. Chef Geo Delgado (Everson Royce Bar, Burgers 99) is a burger expert and will offer a few variations on the classic ketchup, mustard, diced onions, and pickles. 519 N. Fairfax Ave., trophiesburgerclub.com
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.
This story is featured in the November 2022 issue of Los Angeles