With the arrival of executive chef Kevin Kathman, The Larchmont—the Melrose Avenue restaurant set in a century-old, Craftsman home that’s become a beach bungalow—takes on a new dedication to conscious cooking.
Kathman is revamping the menu (which will change monthly depending on what’s in season) to reflect his passion for cooking responsibly, a trend he’s seen grown exponentially in the last several years. “Our approach to food focuses on responsibly farmed products, attention to detail, and preserving the integrity of the ingredients,” he says.
Kathman honed his affinity for farm-fresh, seasonal cooking at famed Napa institution The French Laundry, before working as the executive chef of Barbette Restaurant in Minneapolis under Kim Bartmann, who’s considered one of the greenest restaurateurs in the business. He brings those values with him to LA.
“The Larchmont is dedicated to sourcing local and sustainably raised produce within a 200-mile radius of us to reduce the carbon footprint,” says Kathman. “We want to use great products, which stimulate the local economy and support local farmers.” He doesn’t stop at produce: the restaurant only uses meats and poultry that are raised on vegetarian diets, without hormones or antibiotics.
That commitment to finding the absolute best, most seasonal ingredients pays off in spades when Kathman has his way with the food. The nightly crowd—usually a mix of neighborhood families, entertainment executives, foodies, and yes, the occasional celebrity—enjoys an eclectic (and sometimes decadent) menu.
It starts with the construction of each dish. “We often create a meal around an herb or vegetable and find a protein to complement it, versus building an entire dish around a protein,” says Kathman. Think inventive appetizers like scallop crudo with black truffle and lemon, and a delicious smoked sturgeon with fennel, potato salad, caviar horseradish, and lemon. The fish-heavy menu also does a stellar pan-roasted salmon with braised romaine, sunchokes and black truffle, as well as a tricked-out roasted chicken with romanesco, maitake mushroom, pistachio gremolata, and cauliflower.
Kathman’s next passion project (because running a successful restaurant just isn’t a big enough challenge) is complete sustainability. He’s eyeing an on-site herb garden, phasing in Energy Star-rated kitchen equipment and lightbulbs throughout the restaurant, and using only compostable, recycled materials for all of his paper goods. (He even returns the ice packs back to the fish mongers to cut down on the restaurant’s waste.)
“There are some great restaurants in the area, but none with the aesthetic The Larchmont has paired with exceptional food and service,” says Kathman. “It’s the total package that sets us apart.” We’ll let you and your dinner date decide. —Sari Anne Tuschman
The Larchmont, 5750 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, 90038, (323) 464-4277, www.thelarchmont.com
(Photos: The Larchmont)