Plan Check on Fairfax Ave.

IMG_7085When the talented Chef Ernesto Uchimura left the successful Umami Burger chain a little over two years ago, entrepreneur Terry Heller hired him to open the restaurant Plan Check in Culver City. It became a success with its contemporary gastropub food, creative cocktails and fun atmosphere.

With strong family ties to the Fairfax neighborhood (Heller’s parents meet while attending Fairfax High), this culinary duo thought it would be an ideal location for a second Plan Check Kitchen and Bar.

When the Vodvil space became vacant in 2013, Heller and Uchimura chose this spot to open a second Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. Heller believes the Fairfax District has become like New York’s Lower East Side.

With the design firm Basile Studio, Heller gutted the space and helped design the interior with reclaimed wood, a chalkboard menu, Restoration Hardware style high table tops and stools and a large front window that opens out to Fairfax Ave.

Chef Uchimura is of Japanese and Argentinean descent. He moved with his family from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles as a baby. Growing up in a home with diverse cooking styles, his mother prepared Argentinean specialties and his father whipped up Japanese dishes.

Uchimura’s heritage is incorporated into each dish he serves on the menu. It’s American comfort food with an Asian flair.

He loves to infuse a Japanese seasoning, yuzukosho, into his cocktail sauce served with oysters on the half shell.

Nori seaweed is in the baked crab melt served with “melba” type toast. Kimchi mustard is layered on my favorite pastrami nosh sandwich with double smoked pastrami, IMG_7082melted Swiss Cheese, pickles and a sunny fried egg that rests perfectly on the top of crunchy bun.

As a nod to the neighborhood’s Kosher influence, you will also find bagel chips on the salmon pastrami with inky cream cheese, brined celery and borage.

The presentation of many of his dishes is worth mentioning. I loved the little fryer basket that arrived full of exotic veggie chips and a side of creamy avocado dip. The large sweet potato waffle fries are served with a tangy peach ketchup. I also enjoyed the deconstructed pickled candy stripe beet salad with pomegranate

Molasses, and olive oil drizzled on the whipped goat cheese and

peppercress, a peppery relative to watercress.

The blueprint burger is served with smoked blue cheese and luscious pig candy – glorified slices of carmelized bacon.

I was told that the restaurant’s mixologist Matt Biancaniello makes one of the most unique cocktails in LA, called Fish Out of Water. He infuses bonito (fish) with Scotch and agave syrup.

Known as a cocktail chef, Biancaniello’s innovative cocktails, premium whiskeys, and craft bottle and draft beer selection bringing newcomers into Plan Check often.

IMG_7089From 3 to 7 p.m. daily, the restaurant hosts a shift change happy hour featuring old-school hip hop, $2 off all draft beers and cocktail specials.

We finished our lunch with a plate of cruller donuts with pats of cream that looked like butter and slices of banana. Sprinkled with sugar, these airy treats dissolve rapidly into one’s mouth with each bite.

Starting today, March 6 through March 13, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar is uniting food and fashion. Fairfax Ave. is becoming the epicenter of street style and skate culture. Executive Chef Ernesto Uchimura will a custom Stussy Pack that includes a D-Lux Soda cocktail with Luxardo cherry soda, Remy Martin VSOP Cognac and St. Germain foam. The “Belly of the Beast” burger is made with ground beef and braised brisket fritter, melted Swiss cheese, beet horseradish mustard, and a roasted onion spread with parsley salad. It arrives with Taco Truck fries with avocado

guacamole, habanero salsa, and cotija crema with cilantro and escabeche jalapeno. Finish with eight chocolate donut holes with chocolate sugar, chocolate pastry cream, whipped cream and raspberries for $49. The first 100 guests to RSVP to will also receive a limited-edition

Stussy t-shirt designed exclusively for Plan Check.

Now Canter’s has company on the street in staying open until the wee hours. Night owls with after-hours cravings can enjoy a value-driven late night bites menu with food and drinks ranging in price from $3 to $12. This special menu is served daily two hours before closing.

Open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to midnight on Sunday through Wednesday and open until 1 a.m. on Thursdays. Friday and Saturday this hot spot stays open until 2 a.m. $$ 351 N. Fairfax Ave. (310)288-6500.

This article was featured in the March 6, 2014 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

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