Friday, March 4, 2016
Cassia had been at the top of my dining list for months. My first visit had me returning within the same week, it was that good. Can the team at Rustic Canyon do anything wrong? You take the farm to table eloquence of Rustic Canyon/ Milo and Olive/ Huckleberry and marry it with Bryan Ng's (of now shuttered Spice Table) Vietnamese flare and you have something truly unique. The cuisine is unlike anything on the west side. I should also mention that the aesthetics alone would draw me back in an instant: the white marble, sea glass tile and open airiness makes me want to settle in for hours with friends sipping cocktails whilst sharing plates of wonderful seafood and Vietnamese soups and small plates. Cassia is that impressive, in fact, that Jonathan Gold included it in his infamous 101 best LA restaurants list even though it's brand new. Here is what he wrote:
A Vietnamese charcuterie plate? Sure, why not? Delicate terrines, whipped lardo with slivered herbs, smoked duck, air-dried lamb, candied pork belly, ruddy salami flavored with Vietnamese spices — it could make up the filling of the best bánh mì you've ever tasted. Pot-au-feu shares roots with pho, and when the clear beef broth is scented with burnt onion, cinnamon and star anise, the resemblance is obvious. A crock of snails may take on even more resonance when the garlic butter is zapped with lemongrass and it is served with naan-like flatbread fresh from a wood-burning oven. What former Spice Table chef Bryant Ng has done here is to reimagine the populist California bistro as Vietnamese the way that Campanile reimagined it as Italian a generation ago, and the results are thrilling: plum salad with wild arugula, egg custard with uni, a mayonnaisey jellyfish salad you could imagine encountering on the Left Bank and what is undoubtedly the best Singapore-style white pepper Dungeness crab in town. Better than any other local restaurant at the moment, Cassia encapsulates the erasure of boundaries between expense-account dining and street food.
It's a tough reservation so I suggest going early and snagging a patio table. The bar is lovely as well.