Los Angeles' status as a culinary boomtown has been a significant time coming: San Francisco baking mecca Tartine just opened its 7,000-square-foot space in Downtown, while Westfield Century City is home to renowned Italian market and dining haven Eataly (and its rooftop resto, Terra), to name a few. Now more than ever is LA gaining recognition for its culinary scene, and among it is Culver City's Destroyer, which was called "disruptive" (in a good way) by the one and only late Jonathan Gold.
Helmed by 34-year-old chef Jordan Kahn, (he's behind reservations-only experimental dining experience Vespertine across the street), the almost three-year-old Hayden Tract restaurant recently added weekend service — and when we visited on a Sunday afternoon, the casual eatery was at its busiest. The morning menu (not referred to as brunch, by the way), offers unconventional breakfast items for a 9 a.m. sit-down — but then again, nothing at Destroyer abides by traditions.
Destroyer is Food & Wine-faved Kahn's modest approach to dining and is nothing short of an experience for both design and food aficionados. The minimalist interiors — think white walls, concrete floors, steel door frames, and plenty of natural light — boast a matte black and light wood color palette, while the food is earthy, flavorful, and exciting.
The menu is projected on the wall at the register, where diners order before seating themselves. Silverware is self-serve, placed on shelves next to jars of jams, nuts, and flour as functional décor. Food arrives at the table quickly in simple yet bold black and beige ceramics. Coffee (from San Francisco's Coffee Manufactory and Portland's Roseline) is not to go unnoticed here: It's made just right without too much acidity.
The palate-pleasing dishes share an overarching theme: Unpredictability. With a bed full of herbs, the porridge's flavor changes as you dig into layers of fresh oatmeal, mushrooms, and hazelnuts, and culminates with the surprise of a poached egg. The chicken confit was sweet and flavorful with roasted strawberry jam and more greenery to match its taste. Beef tartare was mixed in with sprouts in greens and reds, unlike conventional tartare.
The avocado toast, a played-out favorite in LA, is one to remember: Burnt onion covers the avocado, which is drizzled in oil and served with perfectly toasted country bread. Now, the dessert might look anything but, with ingredients like cucumber complimenting milk chocolate cream and salted almonds. As soon as your spoon takes a dive, the combination of sweet and savory flavors makes a sensational perfect ending to your non-brunch. (When we visited, our meal was punctuated rare appearance by Kahn, with whom we exchanged some encouraging words.)
Destroyer's food is decidedly unconventional and unapologetic — or can it just be that we're used to trendy foods slathered in grease? Food doesn't have to be weird and restaurants don't have to overhype interior, which is what makes the minimalist restaurant's new anti-brunch menu so memorable.
Destroyer, 3578 Hayden Ave., Culver City, 90232; Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; (310) 360-3860