Restaurant: Yours Truly
Location: 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. (310) 396-9333
Date: April 18, 2019
Cuisine: New American
Yours Truly is a new casual American small plates restaurant by former 71Above head chef, Vartan Abgaryan.
It’s located on super trendy, super busy, super expensive rent Abbot Kinney in Venice, near many other favorites like Gjelina, MTN, Tasting Kitchen etc. Oh yeah, and it used to be Saltair — which I ate at once but don’t seem to have written up.
There is a small patio out front.
Inside looks just like Saltair.
The menu is small and consists mostly of share plates. Technically the last three items are larger.
From my cellar: 2014 Domaine Sylvain Pataille Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay Rose. 90 points. This unusual wine is rather lovely. It’s made with a rarely used clone of Chardonnay called Chardonnay Rose (confusing yes, but it’s a white).
Marcona Almonds. Curry sugar, toasted coconut, salt. Like curry candy almonds. I liked them a lot. My wife — who loves Marconas but not curry — less so.
Chicken liver mille crepe. Rye crepe, kumquat, artichoke persillade, currant mostarda. This dish sure looks like a lot of work for the kitchen! It tasted pretty good too — as I’m a fan of chicken liver. Like liver and toast with the toast built in — sort of.
Asparagus. Pistachio, lemon, maple, sherry vinegar, soft herbs. Very nice asparagus dish with bright flavors.
Scallop tartare. Apple, daikon, sorrel, olio nuovo. Nice textural interplay.
From my cellar: 2000 Cuchet Beliando Cornas. 94 points. Exceptional. I don’t rate wines this high often. Almost never. This was just stupendous. Beautiful, complex and layered nose of flowers, berries and game. Like a red-meated DRC, that good. Both adequately ripe and cherry-fruited and savory, herbal and bloody. Rich but decidedly middleweight on the palate. Long and subtle finish. No roughness, no rusticity. Gorgeous. Hard to imagine a better Syrah, even in the abstract.
Fingerling Potato. Cacio e pepe, black peppercorn, egg yolk, pecorino, parmesan. This was not only several people’s favorite dish — being carby, yolky, and all that goodness — but is the kind of fun dish that’s so in the current LA zeitgeist. It derives loosely from classic cacio e pepe, but in a new interpretation.
Charred Peas & Their Greens. Anchovy, preserved lemon, cave aged pecorino, capers. In many ways this dish (excellent too) is to a Caesar salad what the potatoes above are to Cacio e pepe. Elements are repurposed to lend a familar vibe intermingled with the (mildly) unfamiliar.
Bucatini “Carbonara.” Squid ink, uni, trout roe, bottarga, cipoltle butter. Great dish, with nice texture and brine. I guess it’s trying to play off Carbonara, but I really didn’t get that vibe. It’s closer to an uni/roe pasta.
Nashville Hot Shrimp. Japanese milk bread, cabbage, pickle juice vinaigrette, mustard. I liked these spicy friend shrimp (fairly big prawns). They did feel kind of southern (and slightly Japanese, only slightly). Might’ve been the slaw. A decent bit of heat too.
Some shortbread or similar with the bill.
Overall, I liked Yours Truly and have to go back and try more — until he changes the menu one more go would cover the whole thing! With these dishes Vartan is playing at far less formal motifs than he did at 71Above. There, the plating is very elegant and has a unique modernist continental take. Here, the dishes have as their backbone an array of different ethnic comfort foods, but then reinterpreted with LA Farmer’s market ingredients and a sort of playful LA vibe. It makes Yours Truly a much more “Los Angeles” style restaurant. The format is typical of most recent chef driven American places in LA — with a small slate of dishes sorted mostly by size of heaviness and a general assumption that dishes will be shared. Flavors show that same deftness of pairing that Vartan has always displayed.
Service was friendly, relaxed, and operating smoothly for our meal — even though I had some weird requests (I knew two other tables and kept asking for wine glasses to bring them my wines).
The place is small, cute, and very loud.