A couple of local star chefs who had been on hiatus from the kitchen as they started up new ventures are both now taking reservations at their respective establishments.
Michael Voltaggio isn’t opening his new restaurant, “ink.” (yes, the period is part of the official name), until September 21st, but he began taking reservations today. The “Top Chef” Season Six winner was most recently Chef de Cuisine at the Langham (nee Ritz-Carlton) Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, but since his departure from there last summer, the anticipation for this new project has been growing to a fever pitch. And if you didn’t already make a reservation today, you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to make your reservation, then you’ll wait another 30 days before you actually sit down to eat Chef Voltaggio’s food:
- There is a reservation link on their website, but as of right now, that won’t get you anywhere. Apparently, their partner of choice — Urbanspoon — isn’t working quite as they had planned. It turns out that once they fill up all of their available tables for 30 days, the website just stops showing a reservation link of any kind; therefore, if you were to go onto ink.’s Urbanspoon sight right now, you’d see nothing related to reservations. Confusing. At least the ink. homepage gives a bit of an explanation.
- What this all means is that each day, reservations will become available for tables exactly 30 days out and only 30 days out; this will go on until things slow down (unlikely anytime soon), someone cancels a reservation (possible, though tough to plan around), or Mr. Voltaggio and his team begin taking reservations for tables further into the future than just 30 days (we can hope). We’ll see how that turns out.
Meanwhile, Neil Fraser — former chef/owner of Grace and hopefully future chef/owner of Grace at Vibiana — and his partners, Michael Zislis (owner of The Shade Hotel and other South Bay establishments) and Travis Lorton (late of Gjelina) recently opened “The Strand House” in Manhattan Beach. I doubt there is a better combination of high quality food and magnificent view anywhere in Southern California — perhaps anywhere in California period. If there is such a place, someone please tell me. Mind you, I haven’t actually eaten there yet, I’m just going by the reviews being published (Merrill Shindler and KevinEats offering just a pair of examples), the reputations of Consulting Chef Fraser and Executive Chef Lorton, and my own wonderful meals at Grace.
Of course, I’ve been planning to get into the restaurant, but they only accepted walk up business until last week when they began to take reservations over the phone. Even though they’re now willing to take reservations via OpenTable, it’s still practically as hard to get a reservation as ink. Moreover, when you do get a reservation, you are told that you have a time limit of 2.5 hours. No joke — an exploding dinner reservation. A good friend of mine said she had a similar experience, and one person even complained about it on the restaurant’s Facebook page, calling it a “silly and somewhat offensive policy.” Can’t say I disagree with the man. In any case, I decided to wait until they came up with a more tactful and subtle way to encourage table turnover before trying “The Strand House” for myself; instead, I walked the block and a half up the hill and grabbed a spot at David Lefevre’s still crowded and still spectaculr MB Post (where I have never been given a time limit for how long I can occupy a table).
If any of you happen to make it to either of these restaurants, I would love to hear your experience — or if you want to share your own war story of trying to get a reservation, unsuccessful or not, I’d be open to hearing that too.
- ink., 8360 melrose ave., los angeles, ca 90069, 323.651.5866, http://www.mvink.com, reservations up to 30 days in advance on Urbanspoon.com
- The Strand House, 117 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, 310.545.7470, http://www.thestrandhousemb.com, reservations via phone or OpenTable.com
- The Strand House: all images taken from their Facebook page
- Michael Voltaggio: Charley Gallay/Getty Images North America