Night In @ Elysian Elysian Valley
e·ly·sian- relating to heaven or paradise. see blissful, delightful
In a city named after angels and bent on bliss, elysian fits right into L.A.'s vernacular. There's Elysian Park, an idyllic spot for picnics & ambles and Elysian Heights, the hilly, Eastside 'hood. Though shuttered, Elysian Fields, the Topanga nudist colony, lives on in L.A. lore and memories from my first year in town.
In Elysian Valley, a delightful spot is sandwiched between the 2, the 5, and the L.A. River. Tucked between ramshackle, Frogtown facades and behind a wooden gate, lies a tranquil garden and a stunning space. This is Elysian.
An intimate place for gatherings, weddings, and lectures, Elysian welcomes guests at its occasional, bi-monthly restaurant, Night In. Conceived by David Thorne, an accomplished artist/cook, Night In serves "good food in a lovely place." Using a palette of farmers market fare, David creates unpretentious deliciousness. Each plate an edible oeuvre, he is redefining the concept of eating out.
Night In resembles a dinner party...one that is hosted by your artsy, culinary friend. An open kitchen, shelves stacked with books, and a worn, L-shaped couch in the waiting area further accentuate the house-like vibe. Perhaps it feels like a home because David and his wife used to live at Elysian.This is not a pop-up; it's a pop-in.
While those who eat at Elysian aren't necessarily friends, we run in the same crowd. We like our produce seasonal, our meat pasture-raised, and our wine from Silverlake Wine. We go out to be nourished not to be seen; we are disciples of delicious. Since we speak the same language, the communal tables at Elysian don't feel forced; they are instead incubators for conversations.
As a mailing list subscriber to Elysian L.A., I receive invites (aka enticing menus) in my inbox for upcoming dinners. On May 6, I was finally able to attend a dinner, so I rsvp'd on the website. A day before our reservation, David sent a reminder note, ending with, "we look forward to seeing you." Let the dinner party begin...
Night In is BYOB. For a springtime supper with my best ladies, Barndi & Alyce, I bring a 2010 Viognier, which blooms with grassy, apricot notes. This full-bodied white is from my beloved wine club, Demetria Estates, a Santa Ynez vineyard specializing in sustainable, biodynamic wines.
Pâté for the liver averse. Rillettes--duck cooked and stored in its own fat--is lusciously rich. Roast cherries elevate the stone fruit from sweet to savory. Pickled onions, pistachios, and mache make for fabulous fixings.
Taste the rainbow of spring with thinly shaved beets & fennel, little gem lettuces, tarragon, preserved lemon, walnuts, and feta. It's a salad of earthly delights.
Succulent, braised beef cheek wears a dollop of horseradish cream well. With an array of diminutive, yet delicious veggies--English peas, fingerlings, treviso, carrots and turnips--this dish is omnivorous bliss. Thank you, David, for reminding me that oregano is much more than a pizza topping; when fresh, the herb is aromatherapeutic.
With seared-crisp skin, this moist butterfish won't make you ask, "Where's the Beef?" It's served on an Oriental bed of nutty, black rice, snap peas, green garlic, mustard greens, asparagus, radish, and pickled ginger.
Living in the fruit basket of Southern California, dessert and fruit are natural bedfellows. Here, a sweet & tart kumquat compote accompanies a dense, ginger cake. Whipped lebneh, a yogurt-based, Middle-Eastern cheese, adds a tart finish.
Upon exiting a dinner party, thanks are exchanged; both hosts and guests expressing gratitude for a night well spent and well fed. Likewise, at Night In, the menu ends with a "thank you", reminding us that Elysian is happy we stopped by. It continues, "please tell your friends about us." And so I have....
The next Night In is June 7th. Rsvp here