By Jill Weinlein, 8/09/2012
When Bruce Horowitz hired Casey Lane to command The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, the owner told the talented chef, “Do whatever you want to do.” Horowitz said the same words to Lane when they were in the planning stages of transforming a flatiron building in downtown Los Angeles into a sophisticated gastropub, The Parish.
Lane received the majority of his culinary skills in Portland, OR at the restaurants Bluehour and Clarklewis. “A few years ago, Portland was just on the cusp as being the fastest growing food scene in the U.S.,” Lane said.
Portland was one of the first to bring organic, sustainable fare on to a menu. “We butchered and cured our own meats,” Lane said. “My grandfather is French and gave me the appreciation for fine food. He was a great cook. No one made a better chocolate croissant than him.”
Lane has a great passion for, and enjoys his daily culinary ride. “My day off is when I go home, close my eyes and know that I had another successful day in the kitchen with my staff.”
While Lane oversees The Tasting Kitchen and The Parish, he chose the Mike Lee as his chef de cuisine at The Parish. This Orange County native learned to cook at the University of Hawaii’s West Hawaii Culinary School. His first job back in Calif. was at Roy’s in Newport Beach.
Both chefs admire the work of chef Paul Bertolli, an expert in whole animal butchery. “When I mentioned Bertolli to Chef Lane, we clicked,“ Lee said. “What I like about working with Lane is that he really encourages me to grow and stretch as a chef.”
Their whole animal cooking skills are demonstrated in a few of the items on the menu. They serve poutine of pig’s feet with a paneer cheese, cracklings (pork rind) and peas. Another interesting dish is the fried frog legs served with bread and butter pickles and a jalapeno slaw with a French gribiche sauce.
For those wanting to splurge, order the grilled 16 oz. Niman Ranch, bone-in, beef rib-eye marinated in a chimichurri sauce with warm caramelized figs.
All of these dishes may be paired with cocktails created by bar manager, John Coltharp, who made a terrific English gin gimlet with fresh lime juice and a hint of sugar. Many of his cocktails are served in vintage-style coupe glasses.
They also have nice European wine selections and locally brewed beers and ales.
Some of my favorite dishes were the dark-red beets with green mache herbs and a dollop of molasses yogurt and the fried chicken with grilled peaches and tomatoes sprinkled with a slightly sweet currant vinaigrette.
Since this is an English-style gastropub, fish and chips are on the menu as are meat pies.
In honor of the Indian culinary influence in England, the chefs are serving Dal Mahkani, a staple food in the Punjab region, made with lentils and kidney beans. It’s served with chutney toast.
Stay for dessert to have the yummy sticky toffee pudding and the popular Indian dessert, gulab jamun. The rolled dough balls are bathed in a slightly sweet syrup.
The décor, with the dark wood paneled bar and lounge, and vintage sconces is reminiscent of downtown during its golden era.
With restaurants like The Parish opening, Spring Street is regaining its glory as one of LA’s trendiest places for cocktails and sophisticated dining. Open nightly from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. $$ 840 S. Spring St. (213)225-2400.