Walking into The FLATS, I scanned the bar to see if the hanging wicker chair in the corner was available. Located by a large window facing Wilshire Blvd., it’s the best seat in the house to swing and sip one of the clever cocktails made by Template Consulting’s Marcos Tello and The FLATS head barman Shaun Summers.
As my friend Carol handed me a white Russian cocktail to sip, I noticed the top was orange instead of a normal white color. This 1960s classic is updated with vodka, espresso liqueur, and house-made carrot cream, giving this drink an earthy sweetness. Near me, people were sipping a Hot Toddy comprised of Japanese whiskey, hot water, house-made winter spice cordial, lemon and orange juices.
Looking up on the back wall, I admired the WRDSMTH typewriter mural with a piece of paper rolling up stating, “Aspire to inspire others and the universe will take note.” That sums up Michelin starred Executive Chef Paul Shoemaker and The FLATS owner and restaurateur Lisa Long.
Long isn’t a novice to the restaurant industry, celebrating thirty-years in the industry. I met her seven years ago when she opened Firenze Osteria with Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani and his best friend Jacopo Fellini. When she discovered the former Red Medicine space was available, she created a restaurant specializing in flatbread. When her chef left, she hired Shoemaker to take over the kitchen at The FLATS.
Shoemaker worked with Michelin star chef Alan Ducasse and the French Laundry team in Yountville, before coming down to Los Angeles to work at Water Grill and Providence with Chef Michael Cimarusti. While working at Joe Pytka’s Bastide, he earned himself a Michelin star.
I first met this talented chef during the opening of INTRO Art Gallery & Chef’s Table. The multi-sensory interactive dining experience included art, music and imaginative food. It was the first time I ate an edible “dime bag” made with translucent Japanese rice paper filled with powdered foie gras that was sweetened with cocoa puffs, pine nuts and carbonated caramel that offered a pop rocks candy experience. I remember placing the rice paper in my mouth, and discovering a textural whirlwind of melting, crunching and popping. Another treat I fondly remember were the crispy salmon skins topped with smoked salmon roe, a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle of Meyer lemon and micro celery. It was delicious.
Shoemaker prepares these creative appetizers at The FLATS plus adds a few more that include housemade soy mallows. These unique housemade mallows are ethereal and the wasabi peas on top give each one pizzazz. He dazzles fried olives with a whipped cremè fraiche and Meyer lemon gastrique dipping sauce. The long crispy Hen of the Woods mushrooms are served tempura style and enhanced with garlic water giving them an umami quality.
Shoemaker assembles a handful of seasonal salads that include his winter pear salad sprinkled with honey poached cranberries, cocoa, and goat cheese. His grilled Little Gem is adorned with avocado, pickled blueberries, Reggiano dressing, and brioche croutons.
Since The FLATS is located in the flats of Beverly Hills, the menu still features a variety of artisanal flatbread vegetarian and house-cured meat pizzas. They are made with in-house pizza dough and sauces.
Biting into the FLAT’S Burger, I tasted the savoriness of bacon, Gruyere cheese and earthiness of the caramelized onions and rosemary aioli spread on the bun. This dish is served with hand-cut Kennebec fries. He also makes a pork belly burger called the Honey Boo Boo Burger that is intensified with whipped honey butter and a soft-ripened Robiola cheese made with cow’s, goat’s and sheep milk.
For those seeking pasta, there are two winning dishes, a vegetarian housemade Pappardelle with porcini mushrooms, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. The Maine lobster Bolognese is topped with a tomato sauce over the housemade Italian-style egg spaghetti alla chimera.
Two other Italian dishes include meatballs bathed in tomato sauce, with burrata, arugula, and crispy ciabatta; and a meatless ricotta gnocchi dotted with macadamia nuts, sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and burgundy truffle.
Other vegetarian items include broccolini florets with a dripping of anchovy butter, and Brussels Sprouts sweetened with brown butter and honey dates. It’s elevated with cured egg yolks.
Seafood lovers will enjoy Shoemaker’s personal favorite, the Big Eye tuna tartar made with organic avocado, umeboshi (pickled plums) and smoked sesame. It’s served with fresh ciabatta. His Dungeness crab cake is heightened with pumpkin, currants and a cocoa and ginger reduction.
Desserts are created by Pastry Chef Raymond Morales and include gooey Valrhona chocolate brownies, crème fraiche cheesecake with pickled blueberries, and a carrot cake with whipped butter meringue.
Now with a more imaginative and inspiring menu, the universe has taken notice of Shoemaker’s skills at The FLATS. Open for lunch starting at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, parking is free in the lot on Gale Drive. Happy Hour starts at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and nightly from 11 p.m. to closing. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. nightly. $$ 8400 Wilshire Blvd. (310)909-7549.
This review is also featured in the Nov. 16 issue of the Beverly Press.