By Jill Weinlein, 5/24/2012
Hollywood’s New Chef Gets Stellar Reviews
Walking into this Hollywood hot spot near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, I immediately was drawn to the sophisticated club atmosphere. I learned that actor and musician, Jeff Goldblum, (“Jurassic Park”, “Independence Day”) plays with his jazz band most Wednesday nights. Arrive early to enjoy Chef Jared Simons’ dazzling American fare with a Southern twist, and stick around listening to some great jazz starting at 9 p.m.
Simons is fairly new to the Lexington scene. His culinary resume is as extensive as the tattoos on his body. He looks like he walked off the stage from a production of “Grease” with his slicked hair and jeans rolled above his ankles. He prefers denim instead of the traditional white chef outfit.
When he approached my table, I asked how he got started in the culinary industry. As a kid he was an All-Star wrestler and football player. “I was headed to Cornell or Stanford, before my neck injury,” Simons said. Since his wrestling coach worked in a restaurant at nights, he invited Simons to interview for an after-school job. “At the time, I died my hair red, so the only job they offered me was washing dishes,” he said with a laugh. Simons learned to cook at this restaurant. Instead of attending college, he applied to cooking schools. “My parents and nice Jewish grandmother were very disappointed that I didn’t want to become a doctor,” Simons said. He was accepted into a culinary school in San Francisco. After graduating and working at a few restaurants, Simons opened his first French-style cafe in Carlsbad when he was 22 years old. “When my girlfriend wanted to move up to Los Angeles, I followed and eventually opened the restaurant Violet in Santa Monica. We were near Valentino’s,” he added.
The chef likes to use local organic produce and American products that are minimally processed.
I was delighted with Simons tiny classic bread rolls bathed in butter and his Little Gem salad. The smoked blue cheese vinaigrette offers an almost bacon flavor. “I like to use Little Gem lettuce more than Romaine, it’s sweeter,” Simons said. The toasted hazelnuts, sliced red grapes and radish offer a melody of pleasing flavors.
A perfect example of Simons’ passion for American fare and comfort food is his innovative steak tartare with pickled fennel and decorated with a root beer caviar. Crisp French fries are served on the side. It’s a gourmet version of the classic hamburger, fries and root beer shake. The caviar is made from root beer and gelatin. It’s like mini popping bobas that ooze a drop of root beer on to your tongue.
Another comfort dish is Simons’ fried chicken, braised kale with bacon and chive mashed potatoes. The chicken comes from Mary’s Farms and bathed in a classic buttermilk coating. It’s served with a honey mustard sauce. Every Sunday evening Simons prepares his fried chicken dinner for $25.
His pork Saltimbocco with creamy grits, is an Italian dish with a South Carolina spin – a 14 oz. Berkshire pork chop cooked with Iowa proscuitto and sage served on top of light yellow grits and a coffee gravy wash. “This is a Man’s dish,” Simons boasts.
To finish our Lexington dining adventure, we ordered Simons monkey bread dessert. It’s a twist on a cinnamon bun, using the dinner rolls I enjoyed earlier in the evening that are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. It’s served with Fosselman’s banana ice cream. His chocolate bread pudding is made with a black eye ganache and espresso, and served with a heady Guinness Stout ice cream.
Come see this new Hollywood chef who channels Danny Zucko from “Grease”, and serves comforting American dishes with a lot of soul. $$ 1718 Vine St. (323)461-1700.
Tags | Lexington Social House