I'm a big fan of David Myers, and not just because of his lovely French brasserie in West Hollywood, Comme Ça, though that certainly doesn't hurt. Myers helped get his chef whites by cooking in Reims, France before returning to the U.S. to work for the Patina Group in LA. Sona was short, but well lived, and then came the well regarded Italian restaurant, Pizzeria Ortica in Orange County. On top of all of that, he's opened two restaurants in Japan. That's a well versed chef, and I saw touches of each of these influences in his new Silk-road inspired, HInoki & the Bird which opened in January of this year with the help of Executive Chef Kunikno Yagi.
I was anxious to go when I first heard about his newest place, except that I couldn't get in. It would help if I could plan more than a week out, and sometimes two, even three, but after several months and some proper advance scheduling, I was able to dine in Chef Myers latest outpost.
I assumed after 8 months, the opening hype would have made things a little quieter in the place, but when I arrived at 7pm on a Tueday, the rather large indoor/outdoor space didn't have an empty seat. When I left at 10pm, they were still seating people, so I'm happy to hear Chef Myers has another hit on his hands.
With all the people, the indoor area, was quite loud, but luckily we were sitting on the slightly quieter outdoor patio which was a nice oasis with greenery along one wall, and a wood thatched ceiling let a nice amount of light into the area. The decor is infused, quite literally, with Japanese cedar Hinoki wood. You smell it, you see it, you're surrounded it by it, and it's a really nice touch.
Since I've had lobster on the brain with a recent glut of lobster rolls, and even a whole two pound Maine lobster, I figured we'd see how Chef Myers' stacks up to the competition. I was a big fan of Connie & Ted's lobster roll with its butter soaked bread that left fingers prints on anything I touched, but the Hinoki lobster roll seemed to be the yin to Connie's yang. Myers' roll was a light and airy charcoal black bread that allowed the subtle, citrus kissed lobster to hold the main stage. It wasn't overly dressed, nor heavy, just a cloud of lobster in your mouth. The Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis nicely held court with the lobster, and throughout the meal.
The chili crab toast had a warm bite on top with a cool cucumber underneath.
I hadn't eaten beef tartare since I was in Paris, so I was anxious to see what Chef Myers pulled together for this dish. There was only minimal assembly required with the spooning of beef on grilled sourdough. Again, this dish was a bit more subtle with just the soft texture of beef, a light touch of jalapeño and a coating of Parmigiano on top.
Bright, heirloom beets, sat on a lightly dressed salad of sunflower seed vinaigrette with miso cured goat cheese. Again, subtle and fresh.
The cod was delivered with a smoking Hinoki plank on top, lit en route to our table. The fish was soft and delicious on a bed of sweet potatoes with a handful of pistachios providing a nice crunch.
Everything we ordered was a front page menu item that fit into their small plates categories of Fun Bites, Raw Bar and Inspiration. We never got to the grill entrees which just didn't seem as interesting as our dishes. We rounded out the meal with a pyramid of warm, miso glazed donuts. The woman next to me felt compelled to tell me that she thought the dessert sounded disgusting. Au contraire. The miso simply lends a savory flare to the light puffs of sugary, chewy dough. Then there was the honey caramel dipping sauce which was indeed the sweet cherry on top.
Chef Myers has a gentle, but innovative touch with Hinoki & the Bird. The ingredients he's using are top notch, and his technique is subtle, but sophisticated. Just be sure to make a reservation several weeks in advance to assure a table at this busy hot spot.