Destroyer (Culver City): A Pictorial Essay


#82

The holiday break seemed a good time to finally try Destroyer during its illusive weekday breakfast/lunch hours.

It’s tough to find things to say that haven’t already been mentioned here already.

All of the food was great. It was different and interesting and, well, it tasted great. There were different textures and temperatures, and there was a certain comfort within each. Really great.

But the criticisms or eye-rolls are well founded. The space is beautiful, but almost feels like a caricature of itself or an interactive museum exhibit of an artsy cafe. Those looking to be full will have to order full menu and drop a lot of money. You don’t leave dissatisfied, but you don’t leave full. I haven’t eaten at Baroo, but it sounds like a similar experience.

BEEF TARTARE (smoked egg cream / pickled mushroom / radish)

BABY ROMAINE (fresh cheese / chicken skin / pistachio)

BABY POTATOES (poached egg / smoked dates / brown butter)


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#83

Hmmm… That certainly does put the prices in a different light. Thanks for the insight.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#84

Obviously everyone has different tolerances for the amount of food they like, so it is not surprising my experience was so different, from yours. I was actually very full just from the Baby Romaine - I found it super delicious, but quite heavy. I thought I would be ordering more but that was all I could do for a lunch.


#85

Beautiful photos!

I think they’re going for a Nordic aesthetic, as far as the decor.

And I agree with @CiaoBob regarding the portion size. I usually order two dishes, because I’m greedy and indecisive, and usually end up taking home half of each.


#86

Yes. Beautiful photos. I hope with all this rain my nasturtiums come back :slight_smile:.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#87

Interesting takes @CiaoBob & @Bookwich. It seems like it comes down to dish selection mayhap. For instance, I don’t think the tartare would be enough, but I could see the baby romaine dish fitting the bill.

For what it’s worth, I should clarify that I didn’t have those three dishes by my lonesome. I had the tartare 100%, split the baby romaine and had prolly a quarter of the baby potato dish.

Irregardless (wink), I definitely agree that everything I had was delicious, and I look forward to going back at some point.


#88

I finally made it today.

I must agree with others, I actually wish portions were smaller here, the chicken confit was massive. Thankfully the tonka rhubarb was smaller and lighter as a dessert.

I was hoping they would have that baby romaine dish, but they did not sadly.

For some reason I went for the chicken confit. It turned out to be perhaps a less stellar choice than I imagined, but at least it had lettuce. The charred lettuce was by far the best part of the dish although sot of odd to eat since they don’t have knives. Still, it was stunningly good, yields a lush vegetal explosion of flavor. The chicken confit was…odd… Parts were a touch dry, some parts were ok and yielded a pungent schamltz flavor that was pleasant enough. There were sieved potatoes, perfumes sprigs of some foraged herb, intensely funky sheep cheese snow, tart yogurt, bright peppercorns, fresh roasted hazelnuts… The components are bizarre on their own, but combine into something sort of vaguely Nordic and comforting. If you can get everything into a single bite it makes sense but it’s virtually impossible to manage to do that for more than maybe 5 bites due to the portions, layout of the dish, and impossibility of cutting up the whole lettuce leaves.

Weird feeling. It’s totally unique; can’t think of anywhere else in LA you can eat a dish with this flavor profile. The veggies are exemplary, foraged and presented with the care of a 3 Michelin star spot. But then the proportions and dish layout sort of ruin the experience. I would have been happier with 5 bites only in a properly controlled dish. It was also weird to feel like the protein was neglected when it is obvious the kitchen can execute other elements with such finesse and care… They could charge me the same amount of money and I would’ve had a better experience. Extremely mixed feelings on this dish, perhaps it is the worst thing on the menu? Maybe it was better when it was cabbage and burnt onion?

Layering:

Second what Tonka, Almonds, Rhubarb, and Skyr. This was a far better dish, much more appropriate in size. Basically tonka foam encasing chunks of stewed rhubarb with finely grated almonds and a dish of frozen Skyr. There should have been a larger Skyr disc, but it was sublime. Thick, tart and immensely creamy when it exploded with an icy creamy splendor in your mouth. The tonka foam was quite light and sort of evocative of vanilla without being cloying. The rhubarb was a touch sour a bit sweet, tangy and chewy. With lightly crunchy almonds there was a masterpiece of textural weaving and light flavors balancing each other in this simple dish. Every dish here should be this size in my opinion. Turning things like this into massive lunch bowls doesn’t seem to work as well to me.

Rhubarb:

Parking was super easy but I went late. None of the designers here were Bohemian, all upper class. Extremely hipster-y, plenty of beards to go around. I agree that if this place is trying to pretend to serve anyone other than the wealthy elite of the world it’s disingenuous, but hopefully that’s not the major selling point. The wealthy employees of the design firms, movie studios, and tech giants all tucked into this neighborhood do have a literal hunger for food like what Kahn is preparing. The couple next to me were bang banging after lunch at Sushi Tsujita and discussing traveling the world.

Also, one thing I fee a little odd about was that the girl taking orders pretty obviously had a cold… I don’t want to be unempathetic, but can they not afford to pay her to stay home for a day or two? When you have to hand a card over isn’t she de facto getting a bunch of people sick?.. It felt weird that a restaurant so seemingly obsessed with foraging ingredients doesn’t care about their kitchen environment or their employees well being more… If you’re going to have an ethos of caring for a community, maybe start with yourself??

Incredibly odd experience. I feel I will almost certainly return because of the glimmers of brilliance and the uniqueness of the place. To me $27 for dishes like this mostly felt like underpaying; I didn’t feel ripped off or anything, but at the same time it’s not perfect, but it seems like it COULD be. I guess perhaps the juxtaposition of obsessive perfectionism and seeming recklessness is part of the charm?

As a Baroo comparison, I would say that portions are farmers appropriate at Baroo. However, flavors for certain things are more pronounced at Destroyer. I need to return to Baroo, maybe tomorrow, to refresh my memory though.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#89

You do realize that chef Kwang Uh is no longer at Baroo, at least for the next several months (probably 1/2 a year).


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#90

Yes, but his partner is still running it right? Or are they closed? I thought I read they were still open hah Shit…


#91

No, Baroo is still open.

But Kim is not the cook/food engineer that Uh is.


#92

Ah… It’s declined that much in quality huh?

Very sad I guess. It seemed like they were pretty close when I was there last. Figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#93

they don’t have knives.


#94

I make lettuce wraps, then take home the leftover chicken (there is a lot of chicken in that dish) to make the boy a sandwich.


#95

I love how much you get this place. You take the leftovers home and make them into an ordinary sandwich for a kid. That’s deconstruction in reverse.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy
#96

You’re funny! I never thought of that, but yes, I suppose it is. :slight_smile:


#97

Doesn’t seem like it would make a very good sandwich…

It the fact that that is necessary speaks to a weakness of the component to me.

A subtle complaint, admittedly, as you can just trash the unsatisfactory bites of the dish, but I have a personal preference for eating things that are portioned properly or good enough to take home leftover and eat on their own.


#98

It’s always been nicely and consistently cooked when I had it.

Also, I’m not a big meat eater, so there is usually meat to take home if I order a meat dish. And I’m pretty sure my son doesn’t care if I ate all the yoghurt and herbs and peppercorns, so no worries there. :slight_smile:


#99

Well if they had a note on the dish that said it was cooked for parents who don’t eat meat to take meat home to their kid I would give it high points although I wouldn’t have ordered it, as I don’t have kids, and I eat meat.

Seems to speak to consistency issues if they messed it up today then. Most unfortunate.

But it’s only a $14 dish so frankly it’s so low-priced it’s various faults are kind of easy to overlook I suppose.


#100

This made me laugh.


#101

The best part is, there are so many different ways you could be laughing at it. :smiley:

I will say that Destroyer feels somehow incredibly LA. It’s the kind of place I don’t feel like I see in other cities really. It would get top billing on my tour of contemporary LA culture.

I wonder if a dinner place will ever surface. Seems like jr would be completely impossible in the same location though. I hung out at Bar Nine after, rather remarkable Ethiopian estate coffees one rotation bt, and everyone was cleared out by 5 and they had to kick me out; they gave me a free croissant though. Was discussing the neighborhood with people there. Seems everyone leaves at 3:30… exactly when Destroyer closes. And by 5 it’s a kind of ghost town.

I figured these people lived nearby but apparently everyone commutes in…

Fascinating dynamic in that little enclave.


Of Jonathan Gold, Destroyer, restaurant reviews, semantics and logomachy