South Park barely existed 10 years ago. Now the sleek downtown Los Angeles insta-neighborhood near Staples Center features a slew of new restaurants, including Rivera and Corkbar. In May, Fred and Isaac Hakim entered the mix, opening a second BottleRock on the ground floor of the Met Lofts. On June 2, they hosted a media dinner to showcase their wines, food, space and vision.
Ernie Roth designed a 124-seat, compartmentalized space that incorporates a mosaic glass bar made from recycled wine and beer bottles. We sat in the window-lined southeast corner. High chairs seemed unnecessary. At least they weren’t the usual back-breakers.
Guests have the ability to open any bottle as long as they commit to two glasses. The Budapest native (and former Olympic kayaker) orchestrated our pairings and started us off with a refreshing glass of Dom. Allimant-Laugner, a NV Brut Rose from Cremant D’Alsace. After we all had glasses, Skorka said, “Everything will be pure, clean and predictable…but there will be some surprises.”
Executive Chef Jared Levy is a New Jersey native who previously worked for Michael Cimarusti at Providence and Kris Morningstar at Blue Velvet. He changes at least 1-2 dishes every week and is trying to keep every dish under $15. “People can call it fusion or New American,” says Levy, “but really, it’s just stuff we like to eat.”
Levy flexed Asian influences during our media dinner. He started with torched Black Sea Bream with house pickled vegetables, yuzu kosho and microgreens. The first wine pairing: a subtly spicy and highly sippable Austrian Gruner Veltliner from M. Hofer.
Resident beer expert Alex Macy previously worked at Glendale’s Red Carpet Wine and helped organize the recent Craft Beer Fest L.A.. He’s making the most of his 14 taps, featuring options like Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Allagash Curieux and Ommegang Rouge. Macy co-paired our sashimi with a glass of Blanche de Bruxelles, a spicy white Belgian ale.
This interesting, but overly fussy dish that didn’t compare to Elena’s pillowy, crisp-crusted falafel made with humble garbanzo beans. Skorka’s pairing: a sweet but not cloying 2007 Riesling Auslese from Monchhof in Urzig Wurzgarten.
The pairing: a 1994 Chardonnay from Kalin Cellars in Sonoma County that cut through the pasta’s richness.
The bowl of plump Vialone Nano rice is seasoned with sesame oil and ginger and layered with four different pork preparations: fried floss, fat-streaked belly, crunchy pig ear terrine and juicy cubes.
Skorka’s pairing: a 2006 St. Laurent from Sattler in Burgenland. Skorka prefers to go “fruitier, funkier” when pairing a wine with sauced beef.” Macy contributed a taste of Telegraph Stock Porter, an oaky beer aged in Zinfandel oak barrels.
A couple dishes didn’t quite connect, but the pairings and overall selection helped to prove that BottleRock is off to a promising start downtown.