Certain things define Los Angeles, like dining al fresco or the art of people watching. This city is all about being seen and taking in the sights. On trendy Third Street shopping and dining are as Los Angeles as it gets and getting cozy on the patio at The Churchill at The Orlando Hotel is quintessential L.A. For crying out loud, the chef’s name is Chef Dude.
At The Churchill, it’s all about seasonal American cuisine featuring local, sustainable ingredients and dishes, not to mention bottomless Rosé for only $14. While The Churchill is a hotel restaurant, it’s far more than that. It’s become a neighborhood go-to spot for good gastropub fare, as well as a place to bask in a chic setting and escape the rat race just outside on busy Third Street.
During our recent visit for dinner we sat outside and watched the world go by as we chilled and noshed. I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of the bar program and the sad cocktails we tried. My notes didn’t bode well as my honest thoughts included: No balance; throwaway; bad; mediocre, awful; and horrible. I found the Throwin’ Shade made with La Caravedo pisco “easy going” but even that one was hardly one I’d recommend. If you can find a beer or glass of wine that you like, stick with that.
But Chef Dude, fresh from stints in the U.S. military and the impressive Bestia kitchen in downtown LA has reworked or come up with nice additions to the menu at The Churchill. We enjoyed the Panzanella Salad with an impressive homemade burrata served with croutons, heirloom tomato, cherry tomato, garlic and basil. A Chef Dude original dish, this is a great starter item. I can’t say the same for the pre-existing charred broccolini menu item, which we found to be mediocre. Unfortunately, Chef Dude’s roasted cauliflower, while benefiting from a colorful presentation, was a bland dish.
The Small Plates are great to share or enjoy not so oversized dishes. The Ricotta Toast with rye wheat sourdough, house ricotta, charred radicchio, honey, smoked almond, and fennel fronds while rich was very nice. Likewise, the Spanish Octopus served with sizzling green beans, tomatoes, lemon, garlic and harissa was very clean and pleasing. This is a good one with a nice glass of white wine.
I have to hand it to Chef Dude for being able to take criticism and not just dismiss any critique that comes his way. While we liked his Baja Ceviche served with cucumber, tomato, charred pineapple, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, radish and tostadas, the presentation didn’t really work as the ceviche pieces were too big. They were good but it took work to cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces. But to Chef’s credit, he changed the dish and now the slices are smaller and the dish really works.
Another crowd pleaser that has been on The Churchill menu for some time are the Pork Meatballs prepared with San Marzano tomato, basil, parmesan and served with grilled bread. Come on, a good meatball is as good as comfort food gets.
Now if you come to The Churchill with an appetite, well, The Churchill Burger has been the menu’s most popular dish since the restaurant opened. It’s massive and hearty and just plain solid. Prepared with Hook’s Cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, bacon and served with fries for only $15, it’s also a hell of a deal.
Another gut buster is the Margherita wood-fired pizza, but that’s only if you want to eat an entire pizza by yourself. Otherwise, share it and enjoy a good pie prepared with tomato sauce, cherry tomato, basil, mozzarella and parmesan.
A Chef Dude addition is the Vizcayan Striped Bass, which I was really looking forward to as I’m a huge sea bass fan. Prepared with Basque cioppino, fingerling potatoes, salsa verde, Bloomsdale spinach and fried parsley, the dish was pleasing but I was slightly disappointed. But I like the fact that The Churchill suggested its wine pairing thought outside the box and didn’t go with a white wine as the sauce lends itself to a light red wine.
A recent menu addition is the Churchill Fried Chicken Sandwich served with a fried chicken breast, sweet and spicy cole slaw, brioche, and pickles. Served with fries, the oversized sandwich is only $13 at lunch and $14 at dinner—damn fine deals.
What I like about time at The Churchill is the feeling that you’re getting away, but the truth is the hectic reality of life in Los Angeles is just outside the front door but sanctuary in a pleasant setting with solid comfort food is abound inside.
The Churchill is located at 8384 W. Third Street. Hours: Mon-Thurs 9am to 12am; Fri-Sat 9am to 2am; Sun 9am to 10pm. Call 323-655-8384.
Photography Courtesy Of: The Churchill
Story by Jose Martinez