The veg­gie splen­dor at P.Y.T. vies with LA’s meat-lov­ing main­stays.

WITH L.A.’S LAT­EST RESTAU­RANT OPEN­INGS, IT’S A BAT­TLE FOR THE HEARTS, MINDS… AND STOM­ACHS… OF A DI­VIDED CITY.

Los Angeles Confidential - - Contents - BY KATHRYN ROMEYN

In the City of An­gels, a per­son’s diet is as di­vi­sive as the West­siders who won’t cross the 405. Yes, there are ve­gan-friendly eater­ies open­ing seem­ingly ev­ery day, but there are chefs cater­ing to the die-hard meat eaters—and Pa­leo ob­ses­sives—too. Is the gap widen­ing between the two camps?

At Plat­form’s The Can­ni­bal LA (thecan­ni­balla.com), a butch­ery and resto from NYC, the menu is as sat­is­fy­ingly pro­tein-cen­tric as it sounds—think pâtés, cured sa­lumi, pork bel­lies, dry-aged ribeyes, and even a whole-roasted pig or lamb feast. But sea­sonal veg­gies from Thorne Fam­ily Farm fac­tor in, too, in the form of spaghetti squash pan­zanella, fried Brus­sels sprouts, and roasted cau­li­flower. And while the dishes at Here’s Look­ing at You (heres look­ing at youla.com), the cre­ative K-Town hit from two An­i­mal ex­pats, are far from heavy, most aren’t made with ve­gans in mind—Chi­nese sausage appears on a tomato salad, along­side frog legs and veal sweat breads.

Mar­cel Vigneron’s or­ganic, pri­mar­ily plant-based, fast-ca­sual Beef­steak (beef­steakveg.com)— next door to the pro­tein-heavy mod­ern California-style Wolf!—is a di­rect re­sult of “the way I like to eat on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” says the chef, who dis­cov­ered more en­ergy by eat­ing veg­gie-cen­tric. Chef Josef Cen­teno, whose DTLA hot spots in­clude Baco Mer­cat, Lud­low, and Bar Ama, looks to greener pas­tures, as well, with P.Y.T. (pyt­losan­ge­les .com), which fea­tures plants from the ur­ban farm at Los An­ge­les

Lead­er­ship Acad­emy, among oth­ers. “For me it’s been a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to cook more and more with veg­eta­bles,” says Cen­teno. “There is such a wide va­ri­ety of raw ma­te­rial when com­pared to meats, and they in­vite a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion.”

Cre­ativ­ity is also on tap at chef Nick Er­ven’s Santa Mon­ica eatery Er­ven (er­ven restau­rant .com), which has been called “co­in­ci­den­tally ve­gan.” “[I’m] not nec­es­sar­ily al­ways a fan of veg­e­tar­ian food, but veg­eta­bles are dope, and I like to cook them,” he says. The chef’s spins on plants are aimed at “bridg­ing that gap. We aren’t out to con­vert peo­ple to ve­g­an­ism, just cook a great meal for them!”

But, Er­ven coun­ters, “I think meat is still king in LA,” a sen­ti­ment that rings with chef Cur­tis Stone: His high-end Hol­ly­wood butch­ery, Gwen (gwenla.com), is the most un­apolo­get­i­cally car­niv­o­rous of the bunch, with sea­sonal, “best-in­class” pro­tein rang­ing from grouse, wood­cock, and house­made char­cu­terie to wild veni­son, hare, and, of course, grass-fed wagyu beef: “Work­ing with such bril­liantly aged and pre­cisely pre­pared pro­tein is a dream come true.”

Even so, adds Stone, “It’s a strange thing com­ing from a guy who owns a butcher shop, but I think we should eat less, bet­ter qual­ity meat.” Cen­teno agrees: “I know [sus­tain­ably raised meat is] ex­pen­sive, so cook­ing and eat­ing it in small amounts makes the most sense from all stand­points.” At Delilah (hwood­group.com/delilah), The h.wood Group’s ’20s-in­spired brasserie/ club, the provenance of meat is es­pe­cially key. Says chef Rudy Lopez, “When [diners] see Aspen Ridge or Amer­i­can wagyu on a menu they al­ways lean to­ward or­der­ing those dishes be­cause they know ex­actly where it’s com­ing from.” So whether it’s ve­gan or meaty, the real trend, ac­cord­ing to chefs, is feel­ing good about the in­gre­di­ents. Lopez sums it up: “Veg­e­tar­ian restau­rants may be on the rise, but for the most part I can’t see my­self cre­at­ing a meat­less menu in this city.” And the war rages on…

“IT’S BEEN A NAT­U­RAL PRO­GRES­SION TO COOK MORE AND MORE WITH VEG­ETA­BLES. THEY IN­VITE A LOT OF EX­PER­I­MEN­TA­TION!”

—JOSEF CEN­TENO

Meat vs. veg! CLOCK­WISE FROM HERE: Chef Cur­tis Stone at pro­tein haven Gwen; Here’s Look­ing at You; salt-baked turnip at P.Y.T.; chef Mar­cel Vigneron at veg­gieheavy Beef­steak; mor­cilla sausage and char­cu­terie at The Can­ni­bal LA; P.Y.T.’s plant-filled...

CLOCK­WISE FROM HERE: Fig toast at P.Y.T.; Here’s Look­ing at You chef/owner Jonathan Whitener; sweet po­tato chips at Beef­steak; The Can­ni­bal LA; Korean “gnoc­chi” at Er­ven.

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