Curtis Stone's latest Los Angeles restaurant Gwen, includes a complete butcher shop, full restaurant with tasting menu, and small plates menu to enjoy at multiple bars or on the outdoor patio.
I first met Curtis Stone while he was working on a cooking show at TLC, where I used to work. He was warm, personable and yeah, ok, easy on the eyes. He's subsequently gone on to host and appear in many other food focused TV shows. Not that he needed to prove that he's more than a pretty face, he opened his first restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills, to great acclaim (good luck getting a reservation). And now he's just rubbing his over-achiever status in our face with the opening of Gwen, part butcher shop, part restaurant.
Curtis is partnering with his brother Luke on Gwen, named after their grandmother. Grandma Gwen lived on a farm outside of Melbourne, and that's where the Stone brothers' had their first livestock experience. They both worked in butcher shops in their early days, so this whole Gwen thing has been a long time coming.
The butcher shop is the first thing you'll see when you walk into Gwen. It should go without saying that they're focused on quality, humanely raised products and they're curing their own charcuterie.
The main dining room has a multi-course tasting menu. My vegan friends, you're going to want to sit this one out. Of course there are delicious vegetables like bitter rapini, softened with brown butter, garlic and capers. But you're here for some of the dry aged, wood fired meat. The tasting menu is currently running $95, which you can increase quickly with wagyu, duck or rib eye supplements ranging from $75 - $390.
If you don't want to strap in for the whole experience, you can order off a new a la carte menu when sitting at one of the two bars or on the outside patio. I was catching a show with a friend at the Dolby Theatre, so we slipped in to sample a few small plates and drinks.
The bar menu has small plates from $3 - 18, which are also featured on the evening's tasting menu. You also have the option to up the ante and order one of the bigger meaty supplements. The thing to keep in mind is that when they say small plates, they mean, really, really small plates. You can see above the portion size of the rillettes. I did not scoop out half before taking this picture. I will say that that rillettes served with the buttery, salty, light as air foccacia, were beyond decadent and worth every penny.
The eggplant capanata burst with smoky, layered flavor, underneath edible flowers. It may be a small plate, but it packs a big punch.
The pork 3 ways gave multiple tastes of succulent cheek, grilled rack and smoked belly. Gwen knows what they're doing with meat, so make sure you order some.
Do you even need to ask if they have a cocktail program? Manhattan Schooled has been a crowd pleaser with scotch, smoked fig and honey, but I was pretty content with the Cup Styled filled with sherry, mint and dusted with balsamic glazed strawberries.
Curtis Stone continues to evolve as a chef and show us more of his culinary background. I can't wait to see what's next.
6600 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles