I want to eat food that surprises me. Surprises are one of my favorite things, if you’re looking for ways to win my heart in 2017. Plates that I haven’t seen conceptualized and successfully executed, pairings that never crossed my mind–that’s what excites me when I sit down at a new restaurant, especially if there is hype surrounding it. You can supply all the Instgrammable walls and vignettes you want, get “influencers” to post about your restaurant, but if if the food is the same old thing you saw at last week’s hot spot, where’s the respect? The meal is irrelevant if the chef isn’t pushing the culture in any way, shape, or form.
I was excited to eat at Destroyer. When I heard Jordan Kahn had opened another restaurant, curiosity washed over me. One of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten in Los Angeles was at Red Medicine, and although that restaurant pissed off a lot of people, I had the time of my life the one and only time I ate there. Would’ve dined there more if I was gupaed up; thankfully I was put in charge of my former studio's dinner, in which I chose Red Medicine so I could finally experience Kahn’s menu while simultaneously putting on my co-workers. For as long as I live, I will never forget the bowl of Heirloom Rice Porridge I enjoyed there. I think about it often and my heart longs for it.
Destroyer is quite the scene for a restaurant with limited in-door seating and I like it. I’m sure the outdoor seats will pop off once it starts to warm up again. The design of the space forces you to interact with the people around you, something too many restaurants avoid in Los Angeles. It’s now more important than ever that we get to know our neighbor. You feel me? During our lunch a British woman overheard our conversation about my incredible culinary experience in London and we immediately began chopping it up. That’s the kind of communal vibe I want to see more of in 2017.
Now that I’ve transitioned into a power bitch who meets people for breakfast, I was excited after peeping Kahn’s am menu before pulling up to the spot. If you love good web design– I do–take a look at Destroyer’s page, which I believe is the first indication of the taste level we’re working with. Inside, there is a video projection of the seasonally-changing menu. While other restaurants continue to pat themselves on the back for their basic ass designs, Destroyer actually comes through with Japanese minimalism and thoughtful plates, mugs, and accoutrements. Although the menu is labeled as Scandinavian-style breakfast and lunch, the aesthetic is very much Japanese. I also took note of the nod to Korean-owned Baroo (a personal fave) with a wall of preserves, herbs, and fermenting foods.
This was one of the rare times I struggled with what I wanted to order on a menu, as every option on the wall had me curious. Again, not a boring restaurant. I was encouraged to try a few dishes so that I could fully experience breakfast. This is what I ordered: Raw Oatmeal / Spice Bread / Organic Hen Egg / and the Avocado Confit.
First to the table was the Avocado Confit with toasted country bread, sprouted rye seeds, kale oil and herb puree. You know ya girl is the ultimate sucker for avocado toast. What can I say? I’m a Mexican American whose grandparents had an avocado tree, we put avocado on everything. This deconstructed beauty had me inspecting it closely, with charred onion on top and underneath, a pile of toasted rye seeds taking shelter in a small pool of kale oil. I have an interesting relationship to bread now, considering I’ve been studying what makes it good and most importantly, having eaten enough great bread at this point, to know these were legit slices of toast. Most of us are eating garbage bread in Los Angeles–all across the country actually–and I am tired of it. Bad bread makes me physically sick. Destroyer’s bread is baked in-house and the pastries are quickly snatched up by end-of-morning.
Up next was the Raw Oatmeal with almond milk, red currant and vanilla. On top of this palm-sized bowl laid a frozen disc of Skyr Yogurt, which slowly melted as I ate the hearty cereal. As I dug layer-by-layer into the oatmeal, elements like red currants began to reveal themselves, much to my enjoyment. Although I typically prefer my oatmeal hot, this cool treat would be an ideal breakfast on a warm Spring day or the perfect mid-day snack. It was creamy, without the help of dairy, and I appreciated that.
The most beautiful of the bunch was undoubtedly the Organic Hen Egg with crispy potatoes, mushrooms, chervil and tendrils. This was another dish I was delighted to unearth its layers, with quinoa as the dividing points between greens, crispy potatoes, tiny mushrooms, and lastly a yolky egg at the bottom of it all. With the fresh greens sourced from a biodynamic farm in Topanga Canyon, it’s dishes like these that act as reminders of why it is so amazing to live in Southern California, with access to quality produce. The farmer in which Destroyer sources many of his products from, shows up about twice a week and they base the menu off what is delivered, which includes avocados, citrus, and on occasion, exotic fruits. A majority of these farmed foods are grown under organic practices, which is important in this landscape more than ever.
For breakfast dessert, I turned to the Spiced Bread with creme fraiche, black currant and wood sorrel. I typically would’ve passed on spice bread as it’s always a bit extra for my palate, but it was a surprise delivery at the table, compliments of the house. I’m thankful it was bestowed upon me, but not simply for its beauty, it was in fact a delightful treat. The crème fraîche complimented the spice, taking its usual intensity down a notch, and played nicely with both the black currant and wood sorrel, that so perfectly laid atop the cream. The precision alone demanded my respect. I can’t say that I’ve ever eaten wood sorrel (the small leaves pictured above), which elevated my dining experience simply by putting me on to something new. The bread was moist, dense, and full of flavor. When i was finished, I was so impressed it had me thinking about the the other baked goods so beautifully displayed on the counter top. What else was I missing out on?
Destroyer |3578 Hayden Ave, Culver City, CA 90232