First Look: The Church Key's Pig's Ear Cheetos, MoreBy Lesley Balla | October 24, 2013 By Lesley Balla | October 24, 2013
The last time we were in the restaurant space at 8730 Sunset Boulevard, it was a dark music-thumping NYC-import nightclub that pretended it was a restaurant. The Church Key has changed all of that. The new restaurant with Steven Fretz (XIV, Top Round) overseeing the kitchen and Devon Espinosa (Pour Vous) behind the bar opens tonight, a big, open space where servers in vintage airline outfits roll carts through the restaurant serving frozen Lemon Drop pops and canned cocktails that you open with a church key, and snacks like pig's ear Cheetos - exactly what it sounds like, crispy thin pig's ear chips covered in powdered orange cheese - and falafel balls with truffle tahini. The space is super swank yet comfortable, white brick walls, fireplaces, a big bar in back, tables of every height and Modern-style couches and chairs of every texture and color. It actually looks like our dream house.
Fretz, who came from Michael Mina's restaurant group and opened XIV for SBE back in 2008, most recently opened the casual Top Round Roast Beef concept with some of his Mina buddies. But he's more than a good roast beef sandwich and frozen custard. He has a serious pedigree and technique to match, so when dishes like tapioca-crusted tai snapper on crispy bamboo rice cakes, sunchoke agnolotti with big plump chanterelles and brown butter, or a lovely ahi tartar studded with pomegranate seeds comes to the table, expect good things. Espinosa is an ace with the cocktail list, creating both fun and novel things (the aforementioned Lemon Drop pops and canned Negronis), but also delicious drinks like a chai Old Fashioned or the layered Pink Lips dotted with Champagne bubbles and pomegranate seeds. The Church Key officially opens for dinner tonight and serves dinners and drinks daily from 5:30 PM to 2 AM (the carts roll until 1 AM). Take a look at our sneak peek of some menu highlights below.