He leaned toward her, his face trembling-ly close to her cheek. "I have a story," he whispered.
She loves stories, she said...
And so there at the end of a long dinner table half-full of semi-strangers from her past, half-full of whole-strangers from her future, and full-full of wine and food and food and wine, she forgot her past and her future and let herself fall into this present.
Metal pipes. Life-saving calculators. It was a good story.
"Do you have any stories?" he asked her after he finished.
She was caught off guard, a little bit embarrassed. Doesn't he know?
She stole a casual glance up and down the table over his shoulder. He couldn't.
No, no, she whispered through a nervous laugh. She doesn't have any stories, she said.
(But she will soon, she promised herself.)
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Oysters
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - French Fries
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Steak Tartare
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Fig and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Fig and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Steak and Eggs
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Short Rib Hash with Egg and Gremolata
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Cocktail Menu and Bloody Mary
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Cocktail
Tasting Kitchen, Brunch - Menu
Tasting Kitchen - Sign
Afterthoughts on Tasting Kitchen
I went to the Tasting Kitchen most recently on a third date. A "date," though it was dinner with something like 14 people, some he knew, some he didn't, some I knew, some I didn't, in what might be the loudest dining room in all of LA now that Animal has done some acoustic reconfiguring. It wasn't the most ideal situation for getting to know someone, but then again, maybe it is. You learn different kinds of things by observing rather than talking.
Chef Casey Lane's food is solid. And by "solid," I mean solid. And solid. A table heavy with bread and butter (seriously, the butter at Tasting Kitchen?), charcuterie, cheese, pastas, and of course bottles of interesting, thoughtfully selected wines is exactly the kind of dinner (of any size) that I love. Their menu changes, but some flavor of my favorite pasta is usually available — spaghetti with spicy chilies and seafood. Squid or uni and a recent obsession of mine, bottarga, or both.
Weekend brunch at Tasting Kitchen is better than dinner, not necessarily for the food, but for the atmosphere and vibe that is the essence of Sunday late mornings, no matter where you are. The downstairs dining room is bright and warm. There are far fewer people in it. They are mellow, sipping on Bloody Marys, maybe trying to remember stories from the night before. Maybe, trying to forget. Maybe Hotel California just came onto my spotify.
The photos in this post are from a story I started to tell, but never finished.
But I will soon. I promise.