Openings

First Look: Odys + Penelope

By Lesley Balla  |  January 27, 2015
Credit: Ryan Tanaka

The Gist: More casual than the now-closed Hatfield’s and slightly more high-end than The Sycamore Kitchen (read: you can make reservations), the latest from Quinn and Karen Hatfield is now fired up on La Brea. Although named for Odysseus and Penelope in the Greek epic The Odyssey, this is not a Greek restaurant. It is, however, all about fire. 

The Food: Charred meats, seafood and seasonal vegetables are at the heart of the restaurant; anything Quinn can throw on the Brazilian churrasco, a wood-fired grill, the Argentinean brasero and other wood-burning apparatuses in the kitchen. The menu comprises small and larger plates, but it's all very conducive to sharing. Karen's desserts, as always, hit it out of the park. Everything is less fussy than in their former haute kitchen, yet the technique is there. All around, dishes are familiar yet completely new, with innovative combinations and seasonal flare. Quinn says this is the way they cook at home; it's the way they love to eat. Take a look at a sampling in the slide show below.

The Drinks: Following suit, the cocktails are fairly straightforward. Think familiar classics with seasonal twists. The wine list is smart and food-friendly, spanning the globe vs. landing on any one region. There are some fun beers from around the world, as well.

The Space: This whole block was a former printing shop, so leftover industrial elements add to the chic yet rustic room. With its soaring wood-beam ceilings, it feels massive. There's a long bar (a boon for this neighborhood), taller communal tables and booths and banquettes flanking the sides. Just about every seat has a view of the open kitchen, including a row of seats right at the pass. 

The Details: Odys + Penelope opens daily for dinner at 6 PM on Mondays through Fridays, and 5:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. There's valet around the corner on weekdays when you can't park on La Brea, and also a public garage nearby. 127 S. La Brea Ave.; 323-939-1033.

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  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Something everyone will be talking about is the hot-skillet focaccia topped with ricotta and dandelion greens. Every bite is crisp on the bottom, fluffy inside and cheesy all around. 

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    The cocktail list is short and sweet with only about seven house creations, like the Smoke Stack made with chipotle-infused tequila, lime, agave and smoked salt. The Vendome Sling (gin, cherry brandy, lime and ginger beer) and the Bloody Derby (rye, blood orange juice and honey) are easy sippers and pair with the food nicely. The wine list is fairly compact as well, and really spans the globe. Meat-friendly reds from Argentina, Portugal and Spain are smart picks.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Grilled blue prawns, tender inside with heads intact, on a bed of garlicky buttered potatoes.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Listed on the menu as a "side" from the brasero, the Argentinean grill, is the dry-rubbed beef short rib. It's a pretty substantial hunk of meat, full of flavor from the rub and fall-off-the-bone tender, with a little sweet sauce on the side. (P.S. You won't need the sauce.) 

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    The porchetta, heritage pork stuffed with herbs and spices and cooked on the churrasco, is served with a cool Beluga lentil salad and green tomato mostarda.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Grilled Niman Ranch skirt steak comes with carrot-ginger purée with fresh herbs and cilantro for contrast.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Trendy vegetables get smart and unique twists, like this creamed cauliflower with millet and walnut pesto, or shaved Brussels sprouts with roasted almonds, capers and dried apricots.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Seafood gets a turn over the flames as well, like this grilled Scottish salmon with leeks, potatoes, tomatoes, olives and fennel. 

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Karen's desserts are always crowd-pleasers; just look at everything in the case at The Sycamore Kitchen. This chocolate pie doesn't taste as rich as it looks. Sort of creamy and light inside with a rye flour crust, it might just be one of the best new desserts in town.  

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    The room is rather glorious. Big and spacious, with different kinds of wood neatly stacked near the open kitchen for all of the grills, and a big bar along one side, there's room for parties big and small. The entire place smells of wood, but it isn't smoky.