When David LeFevre put buttermilk biscuits on the opening menu at M.B. Post, he couldn’t predict the frenzy that would ensue. “I’ve never seen people react that way to anything I’ve cooked before,” says LeFevre, who grew up celebrating birthdays in Wisconsin with his mom’s biscuit- based strawberry shortcake. Mind you, the Manhattan Beach restaurant’s rendition of the South’s comfort food brandishes chunks of Nueske’s bacon and cheddar cheese, but still—it’s a biscuit.
“On day one we realized we’d radically underestimated their popularity,” says LeFevre. Now the kitchen assigns an employee the task of hand mixing, cutting, and baking its signature starch, turning out about 250 savory pastries a day. “Here I am, having staged at El Bulli and worked at landmarks like Charlie Trotter’s and Water Grill, and people just love my biscuits.”
Why the crumb craze? Local soul food stalwarts such as Roscoe’s and Pann’s have been smothering batches with gravy for decades. But the American classic, which is actually closer to a cream scone than what the rest of the world calls a biscuit, hasn’t found its way to more upscale menus outside of the South—until now. Layered, light, and leavened with good ol’ baking powder and/or baking soda, biscuits are an antidote to today’s obsession with crusty artisanal bread. They also reflect a larger trend that has American chefs looking inward, not outward, for inspiration.
At Storefront, the Los Feliz deli from the chefs behind Salt’s Cure, a riff on McDonald’s signature sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit has been drawing lines out the door. When the Parish’s Casey Lane couldn’t keep up with demand for the golden brown drop biscuits (see recipe at right) that accompany his fried chicken, he had to remove them from the regular menu. “We were selling 100 orders a night,” he says. But you can find them slathered with honeycomb butter at the gastropub’s Sunday- and Monday-night chicken dinners. In the morning Lane’s biscuits remain the star on a menu of gourmet breakfast sandwiches that are filled with ingredients like smoked trout and grilled escarole. “It’s one of those things I don’t think anyone can complain about,” says Lane. “They’re fun, tasty, and simple.”
Open Wide: Where To Get It
1142 Manhattan Ave. Manhattan Beach
6710 La Tijera Blvd. Westchester
840 S. Spring St. Downtown
4624 Hollywood Blvd. Los Feliz