“Surprise!” My husband decided to celebrate Valentines Day this year with food instead of flowers. I must admit, the man knows the way to my heart and Odys + Penelope helped him deliver. It’s been on my bucket list of restaurants for some time. It’s regrettable I didn’t pay them a visit sooner. It’s been missing from my life for a whole year!
The restaurant pays homage to the famous couple from Homer’s Greek epic, Odysseus and Penelope. This casual churrasco and grill was opened by another famous couple, Quinn and Karen Hatfield. You may recognize their names from the highly successful restaurant, Hatfield’s. Although, Hatfield’s has since shuttered, the couple received accolades such as Best New Restaurant from Bon Appetit, a perfect four star review from Los Angeles Magazine, and Top 10 Restaurants of the Decade by Los Angeles Zagat guide. It’s no wonder Odys + Penelope has gained so much traction since it’s opening in early 2015.
The space in and of itself promotes a sense of grandeur. Two sections of the restaurant command your attention as soon as you walk in. To the left, a massive bar with all the trimmings. Barware, and bottles, and bricks (oh my!). Exposed beams and rustic wooden dining tables were the perfect complement to the modern farmhouse style and feel. Towards the back of the room you’ll find a semi-open kitchen where you can view P+O’s live fire cooking elements: an open grill, large wood-fired smoker, and Brazilian churrasco. The adjacent structure houses a large stockpile of wood, no doubt the soul to all the eclectic flavors you’ll experience in their food.
For our starter, we selected the fried wild mushrooms served with Persian garlic sauce. Can more places please start serving these instead of french fries? I couldn’t tell which types of mushrooms made up the mixture but I would presume it includes a combination of Porcini, Morel, Chanterelle, Black Trumpet, Hedgehog or Matsutake. These differ from the cultivated mushrooms you can get at your local market all year round. Wild mushrooms are usually foraged during mushroom season in early fall and late spring.
Grilled bread crostini, creamy Dungeness crab, avocado, fennel, and fresno chili. The crostini was prepared exactly how bread should be consumed, with a nice crusted char on the exterior and a crisp airy center. The avocados which rested on top were picked and served at their prime. I had questioned how good seafood could be at restaurant known to be a modern take on Brazilian BBQ, but the crab allayed all my skepticism. Without being drenched in sauce, you get a good taste of the meaty sweetness and slight nuttiness typically associated with Dungeness.
For our main dishes, we started with the house made pappardelle, pork belly bolognese, and fried sage. You can never go wrong with house made pasta cooked slightly al dente. Don’t you hate it when you order pappardelle from a restaurant and during the cooking process the flat noodles fuse together into a thick starchy mess? Needless to say, there was none of that here. The thinly rolled pasta was well balanced in a coat of bolognese.
As a side dish, we selected the charred broccoli caponata, grilled eggplant, with pickled chilis. If you know the deliciousness of mushy cooked eggplant, this dish is for you. A blend of flavors, caponata is traditionally made with chopped fried eggplant and celery, seasoned with sweetened vinegar, capers, and a sweet and sour sauce. The broccoli added to this variation makes the dish taste lighter but at the same time more structured.
Under the mound of crispy onions, you’ll find a dry aged churrasco Sirloin cap cooked to perfection served with a side of horseradish potatoes. The Sirloin cap is an exceptional cut of meat which tends to be very tender, lean and flavorful. A guilty pleasure of mine has always been onion rings. I suspect these onion were sliced thin and slightly grilled, before being battered and fried, to bring out the true sweetness of the onion.
I usually don’t skimp on the savory dishes to leave room for dessert, but I had to try the cornmeal ricotta fritters with salted local honey butter and whipped creme fraiche. When the valet attendant makes an effort to tell you “the fritters are bomb”, how can you not? They may look like Dunkin Donut munchkins but I assure you they are most certainly not. I’d describe them as little ricotta pillows dusted in confectioners sugar.
Another perk about this place is the cocktails and wine list. Featuring both domestic and international selections, you can have your pick of varietals and regions. The bottle pricing also very reasonable.
The combination of charming ambiance and fare makes this place a top contender for your next date night.
Odys + Penelope
127 S La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036