At this time of year, I like to say a heart-felt thank you to all who read and support Toddrickallen. You are my inspiration. As we look to the New Year and New Decade, expect a few changes to this site, as well as to the capricious Westside food scene. In the mean time, here’s wishing you all a delicious 2020!
A reader (Thanks Charlie!) sent me this article in the SMDP about the end of Santa Monica’s beloved hidden airport restaurant Spitfire Grill. According to the article, current owner John Clarizio has sold the restaurant citing that he needs a break. The new owner is Irish restaurateur Sean Martin, who has had successes in London. The eatery is to be called The Cloverfield and will feature Italian food in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of a “London Bistro with Southern California elements”. Spitfire will stay open for a while during the finalization of the sale.
With all the recent bad stories about the spate of Westwood’s restaurant closings, it’s good to close the year with some hopeful news. Headlines Diner & Grill is open in its new location at 1131 Westwood Blvd. Right around the corner, Frozen Land is now peddling gelato, ice cream, and frozen yogurt in its new location at 10911 Lindbrook.
A banner is up on a space in the Culver Crossroads shopping center on the corner of Washington and Sepulveda announcing that an outpost of juice expert Qwench is intent on moving in. Let’s hope the move-in goes much more smoothly that the branch of Qwench in Westwood, which took an astonishing three years to complete. Look for a menu of juices, smoothies, bowls, sandwiches, kombucha, tea, and coffee.
It looks like Beverly Hills wasn’t so kind to them… Back in October of last year, I finally figured out from the teaser campaign that The Kind Ones was moving into the notoriously tricky space at 9527 S Santa Monica Blvd. If you recall, The Kind Ones had roots in Kuwait and was focused on specialty breakfast sandwiches with top-secret brioche buns. But apparently that wasn’t enough to pull people in: The Kind Ones is now closed.
Sadly, it appears that glittering West Hollywood institution Ago has called it quits, having served their last meal over the weekend. Ago has stood like a sentinel near the corner of La Cienega and Melrose for 20 years. It was a quiet fortress for industry power players who, dripping in Chanel and LV, would make their way from the string of Bentleys and Lamborghinis in the car park to the twinkling patio to dine on branzino, deftly deboned tableside, washed down with multiple rounds of excellent negronis. The Tuscan menu, created by Chef/partner Agostino Sciandri (in partnership with Robert DeNiro and others) was good and reliably served by polished Italian natives. I’d been hearing whispers of trouble for a while now, and some long-time employees had been let go, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but it does feel like the end of an era. I for one, will miss it.
I’m told the space has been sold and a new venture is expected by March or April. As always, I’ll keep watching…
Van Leeuwen, who started out in 2008 in New York as a food truck, is turning into an empire with locations on both coasts. Paper is up the windows of the kiosk (that was previously Lil’ Simmzy’s) in the center of El Segundo’s The Point informing us that they are about to land an outpost of the popular purveyor of frozen treats. On offer? Artisan ice creams, vegan ice creams, sundaes, vegan chocolate chip cookies, and shakes.
After the major overhaul of the Westfield Century City Shopping Center, Greek eatery Petros snagged one of the choice locations on the second floor. Sadly however, it appears that they has quietly vacated the commodious space. Not sure what happened, but you can still visit their other locations in Manhattan Beach, Solvang, or Santa Barbara.
I first told you about the arrival of a brand new Chin Chin and BBCM (The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker) to the space that used to be occupied by P.F. Chang’s back in early April. Since then, there has been a deluge of people checking for updates, so here you go… Both Chin Chin and BBCM are now up and running in their new locations at 2041 Rosecrans in El Segundo. You’re welcome.
Many of you have been asking for answers about what is happening behind the construction at LA’s legendary fine dining space Melisse. This just landed in my inbox: Josiah Citrin’s highly anticipated new restaurant is named Citrin and will open on December 12th at the Melisse location (1104 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica). The food is being described as “modern Californian” and the space a “fun, welcoming, and approachable room” with a large bar and an a la carte menu. Reservations are now being accepted here. And we’re being told to expect a new “Melisse experience” soon. I’ll keep you posted…
Meanwhile, a but farther north… Apparently there have been rumors for a while, but proof is now up in the form of a window banner announcing that a branch of Santa Barbara’s mini chain of “craft burgers with heart and soul”, Mesa Burger, is landing in the old Tutti’s/Coffee Bean location at 1209 Coast Village Road in Montecito. If you don’t know about Mesa Burger, you should: Celebrity Chef Cat Cora is part owner and force behind the menu of gourmet, handcrafted burgers, farm fresh salads, hand-spun shakes, and other items that are made using conscientiously-sourced and sustainable ingredients. Local beers and wines are also on offer. It looks like they’re shooting for a Spring opening. Well worth the drive.
Asian food specialist Northern Café has quietly been leading the recent tenuous revival of Westwood Village. In 2016 they opened a dumpling restaurant on Gayley, followed by a noodle joint on Weyburn earlier this year. Now a banner is up on the space at 1061 Broxton, former location of SpireWorks, announcing their intention to open a Chinese hot pot restaurant. We wish them the best of luck…