If you ate Chi Spacca’s chop, then Sotto’s chop, then Salt’s Cure’s chop, it would be crazy not to be disappointed.
I suppose I just happened to be on the scene back when Salt’s was the new kid on the block. I had a similar experience at the now defunct Cooks County, where their pork loin and bacon seemed revelatory to me, until the chef there told me he took his inspiration from a place called Salt’s Cure. So the following week I went to Salt’s Cure, and my entire life changed, and I feel that dining culture in Los Angeles changed at the same time (not due to me, I was just there when it happened). Salt’s Cure made it acceptable, and even encouraged placing high-quality pork on menus alongside the usual steak options, they made it acceptable to serve pork pink, they made the focus about the quality of the meat, and much less so on sauces, and sides. Their flagship item was this seemingly ridiculously simple pork chop that attained a kind of satori of fat, savor, and crunch. it was a total mystery how they did it. (Well, it turns out that a big part of it was being able to directly source absolutely incredible pork from Lindy & Grundy, their decline began with the shutter of that legendary Butchershop).
Of course, I graduated on the Chi Spacca, as did the rest of Los Angeles, and now pork chops helm menus all around LA, or, at the very least, are seen on all of the hot restaurant lists on equal footing with steaks. And Eater can make a list about pork chops by themselves.
Yeah, The Old Country Cafe was probably doing its pork chop fried rice, and Pann’s was doing something before Salt’s Cure was born, but people seem all too ready to forget that without Salt’s Cure, there most likely wouldn’t have been a Chi Spacca (Would Mozza Group have given a young, unknown Chad Coby the reigns to his own meat emporium based on a few successful dinners in their pizza school if Salt’s Cure hadn’t shown that a restaurant focused just on meat could be super successful?), or such a proliferation of grand pork chops in general without Salt’s Cure.
I imagine hardly anyone cares about the history, you can’t go eat at a place based on its historical value after all, but for a few of us that lived through that period, it was an exciting time, and represents the origin of one of the best trends in LA dining to emerge over the past 5 years.
Even looking at all of the chops out there now… hardly any of them strictly walks that minimalistic line of the original Salt’s Cure chop that just showcased stunning pork, cooked pink, with a caramelized crust, left to be flavored mostly by its own porcine juices. All of the second-generation chops are glorious in their own way, sure, but they focus on additional flavoring, or accompaniments. The closest to the bold minimalism I’ve come across has been Hatchet Hall’s chop, with extraordinarily carefully sourced pork, cooked pink, and presented on a plate by itself with minimal vegetables, and a like maple-tinged version of its own juices.
But that wasn’t included on the list.
I guess @set0312 is correct when he asks whether anyone eats at Salt’s Cure anymore; I guess that’s not a thing; not only literally, but metaphorically, no one is interested in minimalism like that anymore now that they’re discovered fennel pollen, and mostarda.