Asterid serves California cuisine at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles – Robb Report
Chef Ray Garcia would like you to know he’s ripe now. Not mature as in the old but mature as in the intentional. The creative force behind LA’s hip and eclectic Broken Spanish, which received Bib Gourmand recognition in the California Michelin Guide 2019 but closed due to the pandemic – opens its new restaurant, Asteride, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the iconic home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Mature, indeed.
“Design [and the building] was kind of a North Star for us,” he said. “It drove the discussion towards something that would feel elegant and clever, but still important that it feels moving, grounded and connected. That’s the balance we’re looking for in ingredients, presentation, execution and hospitality.
To be clear, Asterid is not an adult. broken spanish or its successor in any way. In reality, Garcia hopes to reopen Broken Spanish in the future. (It’s also why you won’t see any broken Spanish recipes on Asterid’s menu.)
“I feel like [Asterid] is more related to me and a natural progression for me, as opposed to the next generation of Broken Spanish or an evolution of Broken Spanish,” he said. “I see the two guys growing up side by side, like siblings with their own personalities.”
While Broken Spanish exposes Garcia’s personal cultural heritage, Asterid looks back on his previous cooking, his professional training in California cooking. He revisits a lot of those classic techniques and ingredients here.
Chicken liver mousse, for example – which features on the Asterid menu alongside Kishu tangerines, pickled pearl onions, nasturtium flowers and sourdough – was one of the first foreign ingredients with which Garcia learned to work in the kitchen. Risotto (at Asterid, made with Carnaroli rice, beetroot, mascarpone and dill), as well as pasta and braises, were fundamental dishes that young cooks had to learn when Garcia was climbing The levels.
The asterid is named after a category of plants, one that includes nightshades like peppers and tomatoes, flowering plants like sunflowers, and certain types of fruit. These are the types of ingredients that originated in California, Garcia’s style of cooking, and what is commonly recognized as California cuisine.
“I don’t know if there’s any particular region that we’re looking to showcase, other than the creative richness and the ingredients that are Los Angeles and California,” he said. “I think most of the time we really look at an ingredient and see how it is best illustrated or manipulated. Sometimes it can be with a touch of yuzu or vadouvan curry, or it can lean a little French or Italian.
“It’s also partly my enthusiasm for reconnecting with dishes I’ve worked with in the past, but which didn’t always fit Broken Spanish. Some of the cheeses and truffles and caviar and olive oils and pastas.
Asterid’s menu includes beef tenderloin tartare with black truffles, Kaluga caviar, fresh cream and focaccia; flour tortillas served with anchovy butter, fried caper honey and Sbrinz cheese; octopus presented lobster-roll style, with Aleppo yoghurt and marinated cabbage salad; Jerusalem artichoke rösti with strawberry-pepper jam; lamb shank alongside charred eggplant mash, warm flatbread and pickled chilies; and a lemon curd and poppy seed pie.
“I’m a very curious person, as many chefs are,” he said. “I’m interested in many different styles, many different cuisines and different approaches, even to the same cuisine as seen with Broken Spanish, BS Taqueria [also closed] and Long live [in Las Vegas], all being Mexican food but very different. For me, it’s just another way of expressing something that interests me. Similar to a musician who does not play only one type of music or an artist who does not work with only one type of medium.
Bar manager Chris Chernock (another Broken Spanish alum) mixes zero-proof drinks like an NA spritz (homemade Italian bitters, sparkling hops water, grapefruit, orange and mint) and full-throttle cocktails such as vodka and chilli (vodka, carrot juice, green apple juice, orange juice, ginger and chillies) and mezcal & rice (mezcal, lime juice, grilled rice, kumquat vermouth and cocoa). Wine and California-brewed beers are also available.
The restaurant is meant to be a gathering place for elaborate downtown meals in the warm natural oak dining room, or for quick bites before the show on the wraparound outdoor patio that overlooks the stainless steel exterior of the concert hall. It’s a place to feed and rejuvenate while staying true to LA.
“LA is my hometown, it’s where I come from, it’s where I connect professionally and culturally,” Garcia said. “It has its own stories and traditions that I seek to celebrate with every plate in some way. [Asterid] is going to be an independent, self-contained restaurant that will be interesting and exciting in its own right. Identity is just me, my process and my own creative path.