Nottingham-born Brendan Collins is onto something with his ambitious 16-table restaurant plunked into the Cahuenga Corridor. There are no solid reasons why grilled za’atar flatbread with Meyer lemon yogurt shouldn’t be part of a Hollywood night out. Blowing past preconceptions, Collins repurposes some flourishes from the gastropub fare that marked his Culver City spot Waterloo & City, allowing the one-page menu to better represent who he is as a person and a chef. Old England is there in the toffee pudding, but Collins is strongest when cheering the multiethnic United Kingdom of today with skewers of monkfish tikka masala shimmering beneath petals of papadam. Of course, for a guy who worked under the exacting London chef Marco Pierre White, professional polish is a driving force, too. The fall-apart lamb belly with peas and bacon suspended in a foie gras sauce comes pretty close to defining “craft.”
The Vibe: A rare civilized respite in the middle of Hollywood. One wall is open to the buzzy and always unpredictable Cahuenga Corridor.
The Crowd: It’s a mixed bag. Pre-clubbers stumble in for a bite, and with a menu this ambitious, hardcore food lovers flock as well.
The Must-Have Dishes: Rabbit baklava, monkfish tikka masala, chicken liver mousse.
The Drinks: Chef Brendan Collins wanted to make sure his cocktails were as ambitious as his grub, so you’ll find food-friendly, well calibrated cocktails as well as a cutting-edge wine list.
Getting a Table: Birch is somewhat off the beaten path as far as destination restaurants go, so the tables have thus far remained fairly easy to snag. Reservations are encouraged for peak nights, however.
Insider Tip: If you want a plate big enough to feed the table, get the pork shank. It’s gargantuan, and served with lettuce leaves for wrapping, Vietnamese-style. – LBS
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