Sean Loeffel’s Spoonfed brings delightful Midwestern family recipes to the heart of Hollywood.
“I wanted to bring to Hollywood the dishes I grew up loving and requesting for special occasions,” said Loeffel, who was raised outside Chicago in a family with 10 children.
One of those tried and true recipes includes his mother’s winning clam dip. Loeffel serves it with thick, crispy salt and vinegar potato chips. I especially enjoyed the creaminess of the chunky dip. It went well with a gimlet made with Bombay dry gin and lime cordial and served with crushed ice, a lime wedge and paper straw.
Other cocktails offered at Spoonfed include an old fashioned, Pimm’s Cup, margarita and Tom Collins. The bar also offers canned beers, including Baba Black Lager from Utah, Garage Brewing’s Marshmallow Milk Stout from California, Shacksbury dry cider from Vermont and St. Bernardus Witbier from Belgium.
Wines include bubbly, white and pinks from France and California and four different reds, including one served chilled, a Clos Mazurique cabernet franc from the Loire Valley. Head bar manager John Neumuller offered me a glass of the Cuvée Grande Réserve made by a female winemaker at Château de Saint-Martin. It paired nicely with chef Sergio Preciado’s new winter menu, a lovely fusion of California-healthy-meets-Midwest-comfort-food.
Sitting with a group of friends in the intimate Bar Joe dining room, our meal began with a warm citrus salad made with hand-torn black Tuscan kale leaves, cubed roasted butternut squash, tart pomegranate seeds, Humboldt Fog cheese and candied walnuts. A citrus vinaigrette dressing and slight sweet grapefruit topped off this salad, rounding out the pleasing flavors.
One of the prettiest dishes of the night was a salmon tartare stack. This tower included a guacamole base with chopped Atlantic salmon, black sesame seeds, tomatoes and a sliced hard-boiled egg. It was served with thick and crispy wonton chips. However, what made the dish standout was the edible flower petals and microgreens crowning the top.
The pork rillette and the creamy mushroom polenta, Preciado’s favorite dishes, were are also exceptional. The rillette was served in a pot with an apricot-cranberry chutney and slices of toasted baguette, great for dipping. His creamy mushroom polenta was topped with sautéed forest mushrooms and a chunky tomato broth.
For something heartier, there’s the steak and crinkle-style frites. The skirt steak was grilled beautifully and dazzled with an herb butter jus on top. We enjoyed dipping the crinkle frites into a sweet-and-hot dynamite aioli.
For pure comfort, the roasted red tomato soup with creamy cheddar cheese melted over a large brioche crouton was another winner. This is similar to a French onion soup in design, but with stronger and more savory flavors.
A dish that took me by surprise was the chicken jaeger schnitzel. It’s not the prettiest dish, but it is filled with the most delectable flavors. Mushroom gravy baths the chicken schnitzel, and roasted red potatoes and green asparagus spears top it off.
The grilled Atlantic salmon was another memorable dish. It featured roasted corn purée and was topped with wilted spinach, chopped tomatoes, shallots and capers. I already plan on coming back to Spoonfed to order this savory dish again.
For dessert, Loeffel had us try his mother’s buttermilk chocolate cake that he recreates at Spoonfed. The frosting was wonderfully creamy. Another favorite was the Spoonfed bread pudding served with fresh berries and whipped cream, and the warm house-made cookies served in a martini glass with two generous scoops of vanilla ice cream and a mint leaf on top. The latter was perfect for creating an open-face ice cream sandwich.
Neumuller also offers a special dessert item – a spirited root beer float similar to an affogato, but instead of pouring coffee over the ice cream, he pours a bitter orange stout syrup with root beer soda.
The food is a delight enjoyed especially in the bistro setting. Loeffel had Tom Nahabedian, a James Beard Award-winning designer, create Spoonfed’s airy space and hired artist Kenton Nelson to paint the female-centered to murals, which feature a trapeze artist and a woman enjoying a dish.
“I grew up with seven sisters and wanted art in the restaurant to reflect empowered women,” Loeffel said.
Spoonfed has also become a celebrity destination for breakfast. Morning favorites include the Apollo Breakfast made with four egg whites, lemongrass-marinated chicken, ancient grains, fire-roasted bell peppers, shaved Brussels sprouts and green chermoula. Vegan and gluten-free items are available as well.
Spoonfed is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. $$ 959 Seward St., Los Angeles, (323)347-7000.