Odys + Penelope, located in the bustling La Brea District and conceptualized by the talented duo Chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield, has been feeding the neighborhood for a little over two years now. From the outside you could surmise that O+P offers a cut-above Los Angeles dining experience and that you should have a little more cash in your pocket if you planned on dining in, but make no mistake, it's not going to break the bank. The times I’d pass by this beautiful space I was either leaving a Sonos Studios listening session or hitting street wear boutiques, and the vibe inside always appeared to be unique to the space. A very chill ambience far removed from all the noise on the street. Each time I would peer in, I'd get a glimpse of servers walking with beautiful dishes and at least one low-key celeb enjoying a glass of wine.
Brunch is serious in Los Angeles. Forget the slander of the early 00s, as read in Bourdain’s 2001 “Kitchen Confidential” where he revealed all the nasty details behind weekend brunch. That was 16 years ago and the stories didn’t take place in the brunch capital of America, where menus are now being fine tuned to satiate weekend debauchery. I love brunch because it can be an interesting way to gauge whether or not I'd like to return for dinner. If the service is good and the dishes executed well, I am more prone to put down the cash for dinner. If it falls short, I don't feel like I wasted much.
We walked in to Odys + Penelope on a Saturday morning. I was drawn to the concrete and glass design of the exterior and although I love the severity and coldness of cement, I appreciated the warmth that exuded from the blocks inside the interior of the space. The restaurant was filled with natural light, dark woods, and high ceilings. There was a partially exposed area of the kitchen (a personal favorite) adorned with piles of firewood and citrus. The chef's counter made entirely with a beautiful slab of concrete popped with bright orange chairs. The space was originally a printing press and was re-imagined by designer Alexis Readinger of Preen Inc. The space is best articulated as modern rustic, and most definitely after my own heart.
I stay on the hunt for a brunch banger and Odys + Penelope had a couple, not to say the meal wasn’t without some misses. My favorites were so good though, I would absolutely return to order them again. In fact, if I were writing a “Best Pancakes in LA” guide, their cornmeal ricotta pancakes with Pudwill blueberries, salted butter and maple syrup would be near the top of the list. While eating those pancakes I was simultaneously in heaven while low-key mad that I’d never had them before. Had I been asleep on cornmeal pancakes all these years? Had I eaten them before but they simply weren't memorable? I don't know. The flavor of each pancake was so delicious I barely needed butter or syrup–but let’s not get it twisted, I did enjoy a little slather and splash of both. There are countless restaurants skating by on mediocre pancakes in Los Angeles, acting as if people don’t know the difference between good and bad. Quite possibly, they don’t. I do, and I am telling you now that it's criminal if you don't add them to your must-eat brunch list. They were light and fluffy, with a a slight hint cornmeal grit. I loved them.
Quality shrimp and grits are not easy to come by in our city but when the stunning dish arrived at our table I knew I had made the right choice with my order. I put my classic grit standards aside for this brief moment as these “grits” are made with cauliflower. Don’t roll your eyes but riced cauliflower is one of the LA food trends I can get behind; it’s healthier, while not compromising flavor. Grilled prawns and cauliflower grits with smoked paprika butter, my goodness. Creamy with each bite and bursting with robust flavor, the prawns just the right kind of crunchy. I would order this many times over.
For those who’ve been following my perpetual avocado toast hunt, I am disappointed to report that there were no surprises here. This dish was the standard issue of what I typically make at home, but with a superior bread. I didn’t feel special eating it. No one was putting me on to something new and exciting. If I’m taking time out for a long Saturday brunch, I seek to enjoy meals that I can’t easily make at home. I read it’s description on the menu – grilled focaccia avocado toast with house ricotta and cherry tomatoes - but you already know what you read is not always what you get. I was hoping there’d be some exotic salt or surprise ingredient. The bread was excellent, the produce and cheese on point, but if this is what you’re already eating in your free time, skip it here. If you're not an avocado toast hound, then you'll love it.
The Adobo Fried Rice bowl was hyped majorly, before I went in for brunch and while seated inside the restaurant. As a Latina, I am no stranger to adobo, so it’s been wild seeing it become so popular amongst a different group of people. I remember last year a championed food magazine called it the hot new ingredient and POC rolled their eyes in unison. I was excited to see on the menu and was curious about its execution, especially since there’s a cult following for the other one down the street. The presentation of this bowl is undoubtedly delightful and one of the more substantial brunch options. This dish looks glorious as it makes its way to the table, so there's much excitement when it's actually placed in front of you. The eggs were perfect, the rice done well, but I found myself relying on the sauce entirely for the bites of flavor. Not disappointed with the adobo boldness in the slightest, bringing a slight sensation to my tongue but this is one dish I’d need to try again, to fully commit. I heard they also have a dinner option which piqued my interest.
Odys + Penelope is committed to local and sustainable products. The restaurant uses prime meats and their poultry is free range and contains no antibiotics. They serve dinner 7 nights a week and brunch on Saturday & Sunday. Walk-ins are welcome.
Odys + Penelope | 127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036