Chef Kris Morningstar’s current flagship restaurant, the former AOC, Patina chef has found a wonderful, bright space along Beverly Blvd.
I’ve had a few friends who’ve followed Chef Morningstar from place-to-place, from Patina to Ray’s and Stark Bar (LACMA) and now to Terrine. When I first looked at the menu I wasn’t too sure if it was all that interesting, but when I heard about Chef Morningstar’s Fried Chicken, that was the impetus to visit, for my Fried Chicken journey (originally).
Since then, we’ve gone back multiple times to try their Brunch and their special American BBQ Labor Day Event.
Manuel Caffe, Darjeeling Tea:
Terrine serves Manuel Caffe’s Teas (my first time trying), and it was pleasant enough.
Pickle Brine Fried Chicken & Grits (Scallions, Maple):
It should be noted, Terrine only serves Fried Chicken Thighs. There is no choice for Fried Chicken Breast, Wings or Drumsticks if you were hoping for a selection. It makes sense, though, as it should allow the kitchen to focus on cooking 1 specific piece of Chicken more consistently and not worry about over/undercooking.
The Fried Chicken Thighs have a wonderful crispy, slight crunch batter. The color is beautiful as well.
The Chicken meat is well-seasoned, the Pickle Brine is almost undetectable (it’s not tart), but the flaw is that it’s undercooked. Even with just focusing on 1 type of piece of Chicken, it arrives bloody:
Also parts of the skin & fat are unrendered, so it’s a bit unappetizing.
For the portions that were cooked just right, it was spot-on and pretty tasty! One of the better Fried Chicken pieces we had on this journey. If only they could get their fry technique better.
The Grits were perfect, with just the right amount of creaminess, yet also a toothsome quality. The Maple was a little distracting, but it made for a “Breakfast-y” feel I suppose.
Moscow Mule (Russian Standard Vodka, Ginger, Lime, Soda):
I had heard a lot about Terrine’s bar program, so I was excited to see how their cocktails were. This turned out to be the second worst Moscow Mule I’ve ever had! (As in ever. The worst was Hatchet Hall.) Tasting mainly of Vodka, with maybe a tiny amount of Lime on the backend. You couldn’t even taste the Ginger. It was awful.
Pain Perdu (Vanilla-battered French Toast, Sea Salt, Caramel Frosting, Maple):
This came highly recommended by our server. This was quite delicious, but too soggy and totally “dessert,” being really sugary. I wish they eased up on the Sugar.
House Smoked Brisket Hash (Sunny Egg, Horseradish, Burnt Lilies Sauce):
This is the more “gourmet” fancy type of Hash, tasting more like chunky pieces of Beef Brisket, Potatoes and some seasoning. The Eggs (when broken) combined to make a decent “mixture,” but it never really came together as a dish. In addition, the Beef Brisket tasted like leftovers (from the night before?).
On our 3rd visit, over Labor Day weekend, it turned out Terrine was hosting another American Barbecue special event. The waitress mentioned they had one last year, and it was a huge success, and then they’ve done it multiple times this year. She said that they hope to run this BBQ event for more holiday weekends when possible (so they did it for the 4th of July this year, and now Labor Day weekend).
Kentucky Buck (Ancient Age Bourbon, Cold Pressed Ginger, Lime):
Supposedly a “Classic American Cocktail,” according to the menu, to celebrate this American BBQ Labor Day event, I was hoping this would be better than their disastrous Moscow Mule.
This Kentucky Buck Cocktail was even worse! It tasted mainly of Bourbon, extremely boozy, and you couldn’t even taste the Ginger, let alone anything balanced. If I wanted a straight shot of Bourbon, I would’ve asked for it.
I think back to the amazing Cocktails from Julian Cox (Rivera, Fiscal Agent, etc.), and it’s just sad how distant these Cocktails are.
Mom’s Bean Dip:
Based off one of the chef’s mother’s homemade Bean Dip recipe (but elevated), this was actually a pretty satisfying, smooth Bean Dip, that was just the right amount of salt. The fresh Tortilla Chips (crispy!) helped.
Their Street Corn, fresh off the Grill, was lightly smoky, naturally sweet, and the Cotija Cheese was a nice pairing.
Watermelon & Tomato Salad (Purslane, Feta, Mint, Pistachios):
This was delicious! Really fresh Watermelon and ripe Heirloom Tomatoes. The Purslane added a nice delicate herbal flavor, the Feta and Mint were spot-on!
This time, the Fried Chicken was better in that it wasn’t undercooked, but the batter was a bit greasy and lacked the airy crispiness of our favorite. Still it was pretty good overall.
Smoked BBQ Brisket (with Trio of Housemade Sauces):
I was skeptical that Chef Morningstar could pull off great American BBQ, since his previous places seemed to focus more on fine dining / California cooking. But this was deeply smoky, super tender, melt-in-your-mouth BBQ Brisket!
It was the right amount of fatty and lean Brisket.
The trio of Housemade BBQ Sauces seemed unnecessary. They had a Gojuchang BBQ Sauce (Korean influenced, that tasted like Gojuchang Sauce + American BBQ Sauce LOL). Their Mustard BBQ Sauce was sufficiently mustardy. It was OK., and then they had their classic American BBQ Sauce (standard). Very straightforward, sweet, salty, tomatoey.
Smoked Mushrooms Escabeche:
Their Smoked Mushroom Escabeche wasn’t very smoky, and it was just too piquant and sour. Too much vinegar.
Slow Cooked Salmon:
While this didn’t look very appetizing, their Slow Cooked Salmon was actually still quite moist and tender. There was a light smokiness, but it leaned towards the sugary side (with some saltiness).
Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs:
These were pretty average for Deviled Eggs. We couldn’t taste any Smoked Trout in the filling, and it was mainly an Aioli-like creamy filling.
Mac & Cheese:
Their Mac & Cheese, however, was delicious! One of the better Mac & Cheese dishes I’ve tried this year. Just the right balance of creamy & cheesy.
St. Louis Pork Ribs:
Their St. Louis Pork Ribs (my favorite cut) had a shocking pure black outer bark, but as we cut into it (as seen in the pics), no smoke ring!
And indeed, these tasted really mediocre. They were slightly dry, not smoky at all, and just not very good.
Smoked BBQ Brisket (Part 2):
We had to go back and get more Smoked BBQ Brisket, and it was just as good as before (this was another slab already). Quite tender, smoky, fatty & meaty.
Overall, it wasn’t as good as Maple Block - when they’re on point (but they can be inconsistent) - but it was surprisingly great, especially for trying to get some Brisket around that area of Mid City LA.
Peach Campfire Skillet Cake:
This was a homage to another “American Classic” according to our server, served in a cast iron skillet. It tasted like a decent Peach-topped Cake. Nothing too amazing.
Service was consistently good at Terrine. But their Brunch Bar Program is disappointing. And their Brunch menu seems to have hit-or-miss dishes.
The American BBQ Events that they host (multiple times a year) are enjoyable enough, with some notable standouts like the Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket, Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato Salad, Mac & Cheese, and it’s All-You-Can-Eat for those with a big appetite. If they work out the consistency issues with their Fried Chicken, we’d be glad to return just for that. But purely for Brunch there are other spots around L.A. I’d rather go to, with a stronger lineup of delicious dishes.
8265 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: (323) 746-5130