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Hola, Gasmiños! During this holiday season I was lucky enough to have brunch (because I’m fancy like that) at not one but TWO Top Chef restaurants. I feel your envy because that was some fancy food. For real. Lucky I have fambly that will pay.
How do these chefs stack up? Since I’m no Jeffrey Steingarten or that dick who didn’t like Chris Cosentino’s finale meal because Chris didn’t throw a shit ton of truffles, foie gras or lobster at him so it must have been pedestrian (yes, I may still harbor some resentment on behalf of a chef I do not know.) I was pretty much reduced to being Homer Simpson in front of a box of frosted donuts: sighing and moaning and barely capable to form a coherent thought from the food coma.
But they were two very different experiences at two very different restaurants, so let’s compare.
Street is Susan “Chiclet Teeth” Feniger’s “casual fine dining neighborhood small plate bistro” if your neighborhood is Hancock Park adjacent and two blocks north of Mozza. That neighborhood eats really well. Mine? Not so much, unless you’re looking for really good cheap tacos. Then it’s awesome.
Anyway, Street, despite being owned by a super fancy, TC Masters alum, is really casual and not intimidating at all. Shorts and flip flops would not be out of place here. There’s a small indoor dining room, but the bulk of the seating is on the bi-level patio. Accounting for the random bouts of weather we occasionally have in SoCal, the patio is tarped and has plenty of heating lamps and, I kid you not, fleece blankets in case there’s a chill. She thinks of everything. You’re already enjoying your visit and ready to drop some cash as soon as you sit down.
As this was brunch, I, of course, started with a cocktail. The bartender kindly nudged me toward the Canton Ginger Kick which was very delicious and very strong. Goody, I was halfway to buzzed before I ordered. Instead of bread, they bring out a plate of this yummy but weird millet-popcorn-curry-marshmallow (?) thing that you just kind of stare at until you pop one in your mouth and realize millet, popcorn, curry and marshmallow are damn tasty.
But we were there for brunch, not booze and freebies, so we ordered the chicken & waffle croquettes, chilaquiles, and the infamous kaya toast that got Susan booted from Masters for being too simple. All I have to say is those bitches be crazy. It is simple, no doubt. It’s just toast, coconut curd and a fried egg with a side of sautéed greens for brunch. But the combination of egg and creamy coconut curd with just enough bread to hold it all together was heavenly. No lie. The chilaquiles and chicken & waffles were fantastic, too, but I get why she made the kaya toast and why it’s her most popular dish. It’s homey and comforting.