Saint Martha


To describe this shoebox-size wine bar as unexpected wouldn’t do it justice. Behind a red door in a Koreatown strip mall, the kind where you can order octopus and blood sausage, lies a restaurant as ambitious as any you’ll find in L.A.’s tonier areas. Chef Nick Erven, formerly of Mess Hall and Tart, exceeds expectations at Saint Martha with small plates that layer comfort food flavors under a refined veneer. Grilled ears of baby corn jut skyward, cemented in place by charred avocado and squares of fried chicken skin. Showered with microherbs, hoisin-glazed brisket smells of Texas but looks dainty. Sommelier Mary Thompson has organized a 50-glass wine list of impressive breadth. Saint Martha (named after the patron saint of cooks and servants) affectionately nods to the neighborhood: Korean-language tapes play through the bathroom speakers, and the night can end with complimentary soju infused with Granny Smith apples and melons. » 740 S. Western Ave., 213-387-2300.