Simone (Arts District): A Pictorial Essay

Well, it took a long time coming, but it’s finally here! Simone, the new restaurant from James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Jessica Largey (who has spent time on the line at Providence and Manresa) held its debut this week. Focusing on the bounties of California fields and orchards as well as its neighbors to the south, the menu at Simone leans towards vegetables. Is it worth the wait? Well, intrepid @CiaoBob and I ventured forth to find out for ourselves!

FTCer sightings: @PorkyBelly, and possibly a rare glimpse of @Chowseeker1999 in the wild!!!



RESERVATIONS: Easy. Via online or by phone.

PARKING: Easy. Pay parking lot located across the street. Valet at the front door is also available, if you are feeling particularly flush. On top of that, the infamous Arts District street parking always presents its usual excitement.

DECOR: Artist Nina Simone was the muse and inspiration for this venture. The beautiful new Art Deco-influenced buildout features a foyer/bar area up front, with a long corridor leading to the main dining room. An open kitchen Chef’s Table option will also soon be available. In addition, there is a private banquet room which seats 12.





The ambiance is dark and sultry. (Great for mood, but tough for photography!)

SERVICE: Knowledgeable and cordial. Front of the house is competent and welcoming. The servers were understandably a bit nervous on opening night, but we saw no major missteps. Our questions were adroitly answered. Hospitality seems to be a strength at Simone.

L.A. tap, back-illuminated by the votive…


Kimchi Gibson: Gin, kimchi, dry vermouth… A hint of kimchi up front. This cocktail makes for a fitting aperatif.


Sage Against the Machine: Rye, Kefir soft cider, ginger, sage… I felt sagacious ordering this.


Ewereka Central Coast Creamery sheep milk cheddar, seeded cracker, fig compotes & mustard… I found this to be a delightful few bites!


Pole beans, urfa chili crème fraîche, purple tomatillo, almond… The urfa chili was a revelation. It worked quite well in contrasting the vegetables’ flavor, and texture too.


Kanpachi, crispy rice cake, prity melon ponzu… There’s no denying that raw fish + crispy rice = crowd favorite. Here, Chef Largey’s addition of the prity melon ponzu adds a hint of sweetness which re-invents this most L.A. of combinations.


Avocado, abalone toast, mushrooms, yuzu cucumbers… While I liked the taste of the dish, there was hardly any abalone to be found.


Brown butter, maitake mushroom, turnip, shallot miso… Earthiness goodness galore. For you fungus lovers, do not miss this!


Charred squash, nectarine, macadamia salsa matcha… Daring. A bit of a spicy kick in this presentation adds complexity to this seasonal mix. Must order.



Pork meatballs, New Zealand spinach, chicken Parmesan brodo… The broth and the meatballs would do well alone here, but when added together - Pleasant, but no fireworks, either.


Hoja santa, sturgeon, roasted corn, blistered shishitos… Dense yet tender, this satisfying preparation of sturgeon was outstanding.


Cranberry beans, seared cuttlefish, epazote aioli, celtuce… Epazote takes center stage on this plate. Tentacle are tasty.


There’s a time (and space) for dessert…


Mezcal-guava sabayon, almond, jujube, hibiscus… Drunken cake is always, always good.


Sunflower panna cotta, melon, pickled blueberries… A pretty and neat dessert overall, though I’m not sure blueberries are ever made better by pickling.


Verve Coffee, Seabright House Blend… Muy rico.


Pretty facilities…



Simone shows much promise. A successful first night bodes well for Chef Largey and her team. Service is already top notch. Not every dish was a home run, but I am confident that the kitchen and the mixology program will hit their strides soon. I surely look forward to my return visit.

Arts District, being Arts District…



443 S. Hewitt St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013


Plating looks great. Not much meat and fish options on the menu though!

Chef Largey’s original vision for the Simone menu is to be produce-intensive.

Yup. I’m sure David Kinch had an influence on her style.

Wow, @J_L you ordered a lot of different things, but missed what I considered to be the single best dish on the menu – the $10 sourdough bread and cultured butter.

For appetizers, we debated between that sourdough and the Ewereka Central Coast Creamery sheep milk cheddar and seeded crackers (which is both on the appetizer menu and on the dessert menu). From J_L’s picture of the cheddar and seeded crackers, that dish looked interesting (we were curious what that dish was about), but I’m still glad we stuck with the sourdough. The cheese plate kind of looks like the typical cheese plate you can order at various fancy restaurants (Craft I’m looking at you), but the bread and butter, while just bread and butter, were really outstanding (as I said, for me, the highlight of the night). La Mercerie is the new over-hyped restaurant in NYC and you can also get bread and butter there for $7. I did and felt ripped off, but at Simone I was happy to pay $10 for the bread and butter.

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See that, @CiaoBob?! We shoulda ordered the entire menu like I wanted to! ;-D


Kimchi Gibson was very good. Light on the kimchi…more of a perfume than a taste I felt.

I am so over a hamachi appetizer being on every menu in town but this one was really great I thought.

Pole beans might have been my favorite dish,

I loved the pork meatball and Parmesan brodo but I can see why it might have a select appeal.

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The pickled blueberries were just AWFUL for me.
Somebody must think they work wonderfully with the dish because they standout so strikingly in the flavor profile but they gave me the willies.

Hey, put the seat down, barbarian.

I’m not seeing creme fraiche in the photo of the pole beans.

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I actually didn’t touch the facilities - Just wandered in for the photo.

I thought the same thing when I saw @Chowseeker1999’s dish.

Simone is finally opened for brunch.

Cute menu and Sergio’s in the house!

burrata | persimmon confit, pomegrante, nigella, purslane

Best dish of the day. Superbly refreshing, light, and incredibly well balanced. The persimmons confit has mild sweetness with good acidity which paired well with the savory and creamy burrata. There are also pomegrante and fresh slices of persimmon that added various levels of sweetness and texture contrasts while the nigella offers hints of nuttiness.

The burrata dish comes with buttered and charred sourdough. These are really good!

buttermilk fried chicken | radish slaw, poblano aioli
These giant thigh pieces have lots of potential but fell a little flat in execution. The crust is crazy flavorful and contains plenty of crunch. However, the thigh pieces, though aren’t dry by any means, could’ve been more moist given the cut. These birds are flavorful enough on its own, but the accompanying poblano aioli added additional interesting notes.

The dish comes with various “sides”. We have a piece of perfectly fried onion and semi-crispy fried poblano pepper. Both are nice touches to the dish. Lastly, there’s the gingery and garlicky radish slaw that’s been pickled, but it could’ve used more acidity to counter this heavy fried dish.

plantain-polenta pancake with house cultured butter
Since this is gluten free, I suppose polenta is a substitute for flour and plantain is blended as a binding agent? Anyhoo, the pancake is crazy light and fluffy and I especially enjoy the crispy caramelized edges.

Simone has loads of potential. I’m still eagerly awaiting Chef Largey to come out with a tasting menu at her Chef’s table but I’m told that it might still be months away…


… and it has been announced that the dining room will be closed for about a month, and whole establishment will reopen as Duello afterwards. Chef Jason Beberman (Empellón, NYC) has been tapped to lead the the kitchen for the upcoming relaunch.

This whole debacle is less than the cost of a single reshoot. This is just play money to the guy.

and…they’re back

Pork belly, octopus, and large-format meat. How exciting, I hope they don’t forget a kanpachi appetizer.


But if the food tastes good, I don’t care that they’re not doing something no one else is doing.

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You know, with Avengers crossing well over the $2B mark, why not have a tax write off for Joe Russo.

Duello reboot: A New Hope

Dropped by for some bar bites after the re-branding. The food is a pleasant surprise. A damn good cheeseburger, nicely fried night smelt, tempura-style, a delightful spring vegetable crispy rice (socarrat alert?!) which I could not stop eating, and a savory clam dish, steeped in chili and peanut, served with soaked sesame sourdough…

All the serving staff looks like they’ve been retained from their time at Simone, and the troop morale, as far as I could gather, was ebullient. Simone is gone, and I wish this iteration much success.


that clam dish looks awesome. I wish them the best and hope they put out some good food.