Birch Restaurant offers creative plates at the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga, making it a convenient stop before a show at the Pantages or Avalon Theatre.
I've been enjoying some shows in Hollywood lately, though there's no enjoyment in that drive from the westside. Last month it took me 90 minutes there and 25 minutes back. While I do like taking the metro, that ride is almost 2 hours one way, so driving is still a small time savings. Next time, I'm shooting for the matinee!
I was seeing Rent at the Pantages Theatre, so I knew the drive was going to be worth it for the show, but what about dinner? I have a list of Hollywood restaurants to try that I don't dive into all that often, so I wanted to choose wisely. Birch was the choice.
Birch opened almost 3 years ago. Yeah ok, I'm a little late, but I like to think that I gave Chef Brendan Collins enough time to work the kinks out. Turns out when I spoke to the general manager, they're already looking at some other possible ventures, so glad I got in before the next iteration is unveiled.
Birch's menu is a short one page offering, that has a piece of birch wood at the top. Collins grew up near some birch trees in Nottingham, England, hence the nod. He's cooked at Michelin starred restaurants in both London and LA, including one of my favorite fine dining spots in LA, Melisse. He's made his menu at Birch approachable, but creative.
Tempura cauliflower is not something I've seen on a menu, but at Birch, it has a soft, near doughnut-y batter with a sweet shallot ginger dashi vinegar. Make sure you have a group to share this finger licker, or prepare to make the filling starter your meal.
There's albacore poke, and apple and parsnip salad, but I was drawn to the caramelized brussels sprouts. I've had a long enough break from them that I was ready to see Collins' version at Birch. The sprouts are served with large chunks of bacon, but wait, there's more. There's also a honey mustard, bacon reduction sauce that gets poured over the veggies. It's topped with candied walnuts for some nice crunch. Another wonderfully rich and delicious dish.
Octopus is always one of my go-to orders, so I followed tradition at Birch. The octopus is charred, and laying underneath shishito peppers. The magic though is in the pretty dollops of sauces on the plate. There's a red pepper hummus and a contrasting sesame squid ink that brought a big punch to the whole dish. There was a lot of really strong layered flavors going on - in a good way.
My friend had the whole roasted seabass, but asked for it sans head and tail. He didn't want his fish looking at him while he ate it. It came with a bowl that we wondered if it was a soup, but it was actually a generous amount of brown butter caper sauce for the fish. There's no shortage of rich, velvety sauces at Birch. This picture doesn't do it justice, but the fish was perfectly cooked, and the charred pea tendrils brought crunchy texture that the brown butter further enhanced.
It was hard to need dessert after the decadent and delicious dinner, and we had to catch the show. I'll definitely keep Birch in rotation for pre or post theatre dining in Hollywood.
1634 N Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles