Have you ever had a meal that was so completely enjoyable, it haunted you for days? Enter Destroyer.
Chef Jordan Kahn’s Destroyer is his foray back into the LA dining scene following his previous restaurant, Red Medicine. He has an excellent resume to his name: French Laundry, Alinea, Per Se, and Michael Mina are all under his belt.
Earlier this year, I met Jordan at our HQ and eagerly tried to chat him up but didn’t get anywhere. I made several attemps and quickly realized that he was not there to hang out and he is a very focused individual. It wasn't until he came to cook lunch for the crew at Apron HQ, when asked about the dish and its ingredients, that he seemed to come to life and open up. That is when I realized it was time for me to shut up and eat, because on the plate in front of me was everything he wanted to say.
Destroyer, named after a comet, opened without fanfare on September 12th on Hayden Street - a section of Culver City that I had never previously been to. It resembles the Arts District in a way that is exciting and quite busy, with tons of young millennials and business people walking around getting shit done! Not sure what, but I know they were!
The restaurant exterior is marked by white walls with only its name in black lettering. It is a minimalist space, and as I walk in to meet my two lunch dates it becomes clear to me that this restaurant is all about the food. Period. No frills just a blank canvas for the meal.
Inside it is counter service with only 8 seats, the rest all outdoor. Destroyer was built to service the local businesses and they have shown up, seated all around, enjoying themselves casually.
The menu is displayed on a wall by projection screen, to your right as you enter. My friend Ben who has been here three times suggests we order 3 to 4 dishes. I order all 7 items off the menu.
The first dish to hit the table is the steak tartare and let me tell you - I am not a "steak tartare for lunch" kind of lady. But this was truly exceptional, served in a beautiful white, heavy ceramic bowl with smoked egg cream, pickled mushrooms, and covered in a layer of bright finely sliced radishes. I do not go through my typical thought process of -“Ok I’m eating raw beef, it’s fine… it tastes good…we’re good.” That actually never crosses my mind. The tartare was the star of our meal and I found it absolutely fantastic.
Chicken confit with romaine, burnt onion and hazelnuts follows- a dish that tastes like Thanksgiving to me. The baby potatoes arrive and are intentionally just undercooked, a texture that is new to me, but they are tasty and quite unique, resting on a yuzu marmalade. Every single dish arrives stunning, artfully plated and truly appeals to an artistic, mad scientist sensibility.
Next is the roasted yam with onion, caramel and buttermilk. I am a yam lover and even if you are not a yam lover, this dish will make you a yam lover, ok? Glad we cleared that up.
The English pea salad with fresh cheese, pistachio and sprouted grains makes me SO HAPPY. It is fresh, creamy, light, bright and Chef Jordan is about to learn how much I like his pea salad and he won’t be rid of me.
We end the meal with the only “sweet” dish on the menu - concord grape, warm potato and frozen cream. The potato and grapes are covered in a soft, beautiful dusted creamy snow. The flavors mingle and honestly, my brain is confused. But I’m not mad about it.
I learn from the Director of Coffee, Matt Quillen, that everything in the restaurant is hand-made by Kahn’s friends. The produce comes from several farms, one of which is a private bio-dynamic farm - thus everything on the menu changes daily. Matt is enthusiastically knowledgeable about the menu and its ingredients, which really says a lot to me about the passion of not only the chef but those who work for him.
For a breakfast and lunch only restaurant, I am amazed by the elevation of the dishes, a no- holds-barred pairing of flavors and intricacy one would not expect in the middle of the afternoon. But it is a welcome change and one the local community and those throughout Los Angeles seem to be embracing.
It is pretty clear to me that Kahn is serious about what he wants for his guests - an experience that, although in a casual setting, takes you somewhere new, toys with your expectations, keeps you guessing, awakens your palate, makes you think and satisfies every nook and cranny within you.
Destroyer is located at 3578 Hayden Ave, Culver City and open from 8am to 5pm Monday - Friday. The restaurant serves Coffee Manufactory and Roseline Coffee Roasters.