Community Kitchen

Canelé Atwater Village

Each visit to Canelé ends with a namesake pâtisserie: a gift of caramelized, eggy goodness.  Little in size but plump with meaning, the canelé is a thank-you treat for coming, for you, the diner, are an integral part of the restaurant. This isn't a one-sided relationship, where chef gives and diner takes and never the twain shall meet.  Canelé is more than a mere restaurant--it is a community. 

Helmed by enigmatic chef/co-owner Corina Weibel, Canelé is a cozy, culinary club where a love of food is all you need to become a member.  Here, the communal table is the best seat in the house, where solo diners are never lonely and conversation flows as easily as wine is poured.  One visit, I met the owners of nearby Club Tee Yee and was regaled with tales of their legendary, dive bar.  The open kitchen lets diners--especially those at the 3-seat stove-side bar--watch their meal unfold.   It also allows for spontaneous sharing, like when Corina offered me a slice of peanut-butter cake--that had been gifted by a baker friend--for she knew I was a fellow sweets-connoisseuse. 

While everyone (wisely) raves about Canelé's brunch, the entire, French-influenced menu is magnifique.  Since the menu doesn't change often, each dish has been practiced to perfection.  The food is just how I like it: rustic, seasonal, uncomplicated, full-bodied, and equally friendly to carnivores and vegetarians.   

Burrata & Peas
Spring is in the air with this verdant salad of peas, pea tendrils, asparagus, and mint.  Alongside ever-sumptuous Burrata, you get your good and your plenty.

Bistro Steak
You can judge a restaurant by its steak.  Here, the delectable meat is slathered with a luscious, wine-based   Bordelaise sauce.  Accompanied by creamed spinach and pommes anna (a.k.a. amazing potato cake), even I, the perpetual sharer, would recommend ordering this just for yourself. 

Veal Chop
Size does matter with this magnificently meaty chop.  Unbelievably juicy and glistening with anchovy salsa verde, it will change the way you think about veal.  Served with buttery, roast cauliflower & potatoes and sautéed watercress   When Corina sees me gnawing at the bone, she admits the animalistic act is more complimentary than any verbal praise.   

Blood Orange Granita
This refreshing granita is topped with tangy sour cream and a buttery, homemade biscuit that's reminiscent of blue, Royal Dansk cookie tins.   An adult version of a cremesicle. 

Fried Chicken Sandwich
Simply delicious, this sammy just has 3 ingredients: a Crisp & tender fried chicken breast and a slice of pickled green tomato on a spongy, white bun.  Paired with a perfectly dressed Canelé salad, it's unfussy and unforgettable.

Ricotta Coffee Cake 
A genius spin on Italian affogato.   Espresso is poured over ricotta pound cake, instead of ice cream, so that each bite is drenched in caffeine.  With a healthy dollop of crème fraîche, it's a wonderful way to start, or end, your brunch. 

A unique place merits more than the standard restaurant review of titillating photos and prose.  For what makes Canelé hum is the food, and then witnessed by these three tales of yum.   

Friends Cook @ Canelé
Me & Lesley flanking Corina,
our fearless leader 

On random Tuesdays, Corina opens her kitchen to friends, rookie or rock-star cooks, and dreamers who want to live out their chef fantasies.  This is how my twin sis, Lesley, and I were able to cook for a full house of friends and strangers.  Playing chefs-for-a-day, we created a 3-course menu, bought ingredients at the Hollywood Farmers' Market, then prepped, cooked, and plated our meal--with the incredible support of the kitchen and waitstaff. 

On the line
Friends enjoying our meal @
the communal table

We had ZERO experience -- exhibited by my amateur lemon-zesting accident that gave me my first kitchen scar -- yet were welcomed with open arms by Corina and her cooks, who were patient, eager to teach us, and a heck of a lot of fun.   By generously sharing her kitchen, Corina gave Lesley and I a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of cheffing and a night to never forget.  Conversely, we brought her 60 new customers.  

Dinner @ Coleman Farms

Coleman Farm
Canelé's menu brims with seasonal fare from local farms.  I witnessed this firsthand when Lesley & I shopped at the Hollywood Farmer's Market with Matt, Canelé's Sunday forager, who bought crates upon crates of fresh-picked produce. To honor this influential relationship between farmers and chefs, Corina hosted a supper in May at Coleman Farms, one of her most-valuable vendors.  

Corina & the Colemans (Romeo, Delia, and Bill)
next to the grill

Our communal table

Situated on picturesque rolling hills in Carpinteria, Coleman Farms is a small, family-run business with a large variety of produce, ranging from everyday radishes to exotic shiso.  As Romeo jokingly explained during the tour, his father, Bill --an avid horticulturist--is the "R&D Department" while he heads up "Marketing".  Before dinner, Romeo showed us around the idyllic 6-acre farm serenaded by bleats, quacks and oinks

Grilled Leg of Pork & Escarole

Antipasti: celery root salad, olives,
 tomatoes, white beans and
artichoke hearts

Goat chops

We dined under a canopy of trees at a communal table. Family-style plates of slow-roasted pork and goat, golden polenta, ruby red tomatoes, deep green cavolo nero, and parsley-flecked celery root were passed around.  I felt like I was living in a food-magazine photo shoot, with each perfect platter as gorgeous as it was delicious. As Romeo aptly stated, Corina and fellow chefs are Coleman Farms P.R. Dept, for they showcase their produce beautifully. 

Paella Party 

How do chefs celebrate their birthdays?  In Corina's case, a co-hosted paella fiesta for 100+ family and friends.  It was a spectacular affair split between two houses; chez Corina, she reigned over the crackling fire, churning out five of her signature, enormous paellas.  At Kristin's casa, platters of grilled yellowtail, green beans, and summer's finest fruit, tomatoes, were passed among guests.  
Grilled yellowtail & cherry tomatoes

With views of shimmering, Silver Lake reservoir, plenty of chilled rosé, and Euro-centric nibbles (Marconas, Castelvetranos, and Sopressatas), Corina magically whisked us away to the Mediterranean.  Unlike many clique-y L.A. fêtes, this was a convivial affair where amigos old and new mingled al fresco, sharing in the simple delight of good eating.  If Canelé had a back patio, it would feel like this.