Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Reservoir Silver Lake 03 March 10
eat: Roasted Beets, Spicy Mussels, Mahi-Mahi, Farro Salad, Purple Yams, Ice Cream
sip: "The Prisoner" Napa 2008

Last Saturday, my friend, Shanna, and I spontaneously decided to dine at Reservoir, a cozy, neighborhood spot in Silver Lake. Soaked from sheets of rain (yes, it DOES rain in LA), we entered the tiny space to find the chef, Gloria Felix, at the hostess stand. At first, I didn’t know who she was, but once I spotted her chef whites, I deduced, from my many years of costuming and eating out, that she must be the big cheese. This may sound ironic, but I love it when a chef steps out of the kitchen. Whether it’s Chrisophe Émé (Ortolan) describing his famous caviar egg dish table-side or Mark Gold (Eva) hopping between tables to greet guests, I find that a visible chef adds a welcome intimacy and individuality to the dining experience. It’s comfortable too - like suddenly the restaurant has been revamped as a relaxed dinner party amongst familiar family and friends. At Reservoir, the familial nature continues that night as I realize that I know both waiters personally, an added bonus to any meal.

Inside, the snug space is aesthetically pleasing; the copper bar glows warmly under soft lighting and the ceiling, made from thin planks of recycled redwood, creates a cozy, nautical vibe. Since it's a blustery, winter night, I whet my whistle with a glass of "The Prisoner", a bold, lusty blend of reds including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. This Napa Valley gem is an old favorite of mine thanks to it's gorgeous ruby hue, it's luscious mouth-feel, and it's "big fruit" character that is thankfully void of jammy-ness.

We begin with a refreshing salad of Roasted Beets, Fried Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts, and Fresh Greens-the greens are a lovely surprise considering most beet salads are served sans greens, which leaves me craving lettuce the rest of the meal.

Following our waiter, Damien's, advice, we opt for Spicy Mussels with Grilled Ciabatta Bread. The mussels are plump, juicy, and clean while the saffron broth bursts with red-pepper flake heat. After soaking up all our bread in the liquid deliciousness, we seriously contemplate risking our dignity and drinking the rest of the broth from the bowl.
With frites and a green salad, this would be a marvelous meal on it's own.

Reservoir encourages the diner to be a culinary curator by giving you a choice of side (they call them setups) to be served with their main courses. We select the Farro, Currant, Broccoli Rabe, and Pine Nut Salad to accompany our Mahi Mahi with Red Curry Sauce. The salad, a who’s who of my favorite ingredients, is nutty and complex while the fish is perfectly cooked - crispy on the outside and tender and buttery inside. I rarely choose fish at restaurants, since I tend to cook it-and not the red meat I usually order-at home, but I will rethink my ordering approach after tasting this sublime fish.

We finish our savory meal with transcendent Roasted Purple Yams with Chives and Crème Fraiche. They arrive resembling prehistoric dinosaur eggs that had just hatched a vivid, violet filling. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest farmer’s market to scoop up these awesome tubers. When roasted, the crunchy skins are caramelized to a buttery crisp and the inside is dark, rich, and moist like a dense chocolate cake.

Though we were stuffed to the gills, we couldn’t resist the homemade ice cream - a trio of sesame, vanilla, and chocolate. The bitter, decadent chocolate won hands down; the sesame did live up to it’s name, yet we prefer it in seed form, and the vanilla was decent, but had a flavor that seemed oddly synthetic, like a vanilla-flavored vodka.

When Chef Gloria catches me photographing her food, she cheerfully agrees to pose for a picture, a proud artisan flaunting her edible craft. Then, as if we were old pals catching up, we chat about her culinary past and her excitement about Reservoir's one-year anniversary. Her enthusiasm is not only infectious - it infuses the food with delicious love. After training at such beloved L.A. establishments like Lucques, Grace, and A.O.C., it should come as no surprise that Gloria shines with her own spin on "Seasonal Rustic" cuisine.

Deal Alert:
Happy Hour menu from 5-7pm includes $7-$12 dishes like Truffled Mac n' Cheese, Mahi Mahi Fish n' Chips, and a Burger as well as $4 beers and $5 glasses of wine.