“The Gorbals” for EAT: LA

December 2009

WHY An eccentric Jewish-Scottish hipster spot that’s surprisingly affordable given the celebrity status of the chef — the most expensive dish is $15.

WHAT Helmed by Top Chef season-two winner Ilan Hall, the Gorbals was a long time coming and was greatly touted. But it’s anything but flashy — an almost-barren candlelit room tucked into the aging Alexandria Hotel, now used for affordable housing. The small menu draws inspiration from Hall’s Scottish and Jewish heritage but isn’t defined by a genre. Tongue-in-cheek dishes include tiny bacon-wrapped matzo balls (the bacon overwhelms the matzo) and tender Manischewitz-braised pork belly that may convert even the most kosher-keeping Jew. Overly salty butternut squash latkes are paired with fluffy chestnut foam that pokes fun at former Top Chef competitor Marcel. Too many dishes bounce between being too bland (the latkes) and too intense (the smoky, spicy-hot brisket), but the smoked salmon hits it right. Warm sticky toffee bread pudding sticks out as the best dessert. A small California wine list and decent Scotch selection keeps drinkers happy.

WHO Couples, stylish 20- and 30-somethings who waltz in a bit later to take over one of the communal tables.

501 S. Spring St., Downtown, 213.488.3408, thegorbalsla.com. L Mon.-Fri., D Mon.-Sat., Brunch Sun. Modern American/fusion. Full bar. AE, MC, V. $$

Type: Restaurant
Region: Eastside
Neighborhood: Downtown
Features: Value
Cuisine Type: Fusion, Modern American
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