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Unique: Vespertine, Considered one of L.A.’s Finest—and Most Infamous—Eating places Is Reopening. Right here’s a Look Inside.

Unique: Vespertine, Considered one of L.A.’s Finest—and Most Infamous—Eating places Is Reopening. Right here’s a Look Inside.

When Vespertine first opened back in 2017, it was hailed by many as one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, if not the country. Others, though, didn’t quite understand what Jordan Kahn was trying to do with his experimental cooking and his immersive, experiential style of dining.

After a four-year hiatus, Vespertine will return next month, on April 2. And while the dishes are no less deceptive—what is described as “mussel” simply looks like a bowl of bioluminescence—Kahn’s mindset about the whole enterprise has shifted.

Mussel

Vespertine

“I’ve changed a lot, and so has the world, and I think that our approach is much more heartful and less headful,” Kahn told Robb Report. “We have better, more efficient, but also more holistic and sustainable means of achieving a perfect dining experience, which has less to do with dropping and pouring a glass and more to do with actually being present during the guest experience.”

There are throughlines with Vespertine 1.0: The restaurant is still situated within Culver City’s “Waffle” building; the same composers have created an original soundtrack to accompany Kahn’s food; Jona Sees has once again designed a minimalistic uniform for employees to wear during service. But Kahn is hoping that Vespertine 2.0 feels a little less strict, a little less harsh than the original—it’s his follow-up album, in which he’s further exploring his sound but he’s comfortable with being a bit more playful.

The menu is still a work in progress, but Kahn is drawing on “grounding moments” in his life or our collective experience to form the culinary narrative. One dish, using pumpkin as the main vehicle, is inspired by a trip to Mexico that Kahn took with his wife, during which the duo hiked to a 1,000-year-old palm tree whose roots seemingly held on to all the trees surrounding it. Another plate distills springtime in L.A.—but instead of quintessential ingredients such as asparagus and rhubarb, Kahn uses wild produce that grows in the city’s various ecosystems (coast, chaparral, canyons, mountains, etc.)

Quail

Quail

Vespertine

Kahn talks a lot about flexibility, about prioritizing his employees, and it’s hard not to read that as a response to Eater LA’s 2022 exposé of Vespertine, in which former staff members alleged a working environment that wore on their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. In that piece, Kahn said the majority of statements were “based on false information and mischaracterizations of the facts.” To Robb Report, he and his team pointed us toward the core values and principles developed upon the summer 2022 opening of Vespertine’s sister restaurant, Meteora. Those read, in part, “We value everyone and treat people with dignity. Kindness and care nurture positive relationships.”

Kahn emphasizes that a great guest experience is only possible if the staff are also enjoying themselves. And he says they are, which for him is one of the most rewarding aspects of Vespertine 2.0.

“We really are approaching things from looking at everything that we do have and being grateful for that,” Kahn said, “and building and creating from abundance and not out of scarcity.”

Click here to see all the images of Vespertine.

See Also

Vespertine's spring dish


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Source: Robb Report

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