PLATFORM LA, a trendy complex of shops, restaurants, and offices by the Expo Line’s Culver City Station, reminds me of Abbot Kinney, minus the murals. Check that: The development now has one key mural on the east wall featuring a sunburst rising over the ocean to advertise Hayden. Ostensibly, Hayden is a wine bar, with longtime vino pro Anthony Cailan presiding over pours. However, chef/partner Ari Kolender’s cooking makes Hayden far more interesting. The Charleston native previously worked at leading restaurants like The Ordinary, Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop, and Providence before joining Cailan in their fashionable new Culver City digs.
The partners named Hayden for Eric Owen Moss’s nearby architectural marvel, the Hayden Tract. This wine barstaurant’s design isn’t quite so experimental, with a bamboo- and planter-lined patio under the Expo Line that hosts umbrella-shaded tables. Inside, the dining room and wine shop features plenty of light wood and dark bulb chandeliers. A coffee bar also touts Italian ice and their already signature cast-iron banana bread.
I’ve enjoyed many of Hayden’s brunch and dinner dishes, but their Crispy Buckwheat Waffles ($11-14) really shine. Decide between two sweet preparations and one savory waffle. I enjoyed the waffle loaded with creamy whipped ricotta, a generous dollop of raspberry jam, sea salt, and micro basil; and the Southern leaning riff with silky prosciutto di Parma, honey butter, soft egg. Still, it was the waffle with prized Masumoto Farms nectarines, umami-rich white miso butter, parsley, and Maldon sea salt that floored me. Hayden’s waffles are crispy, but by no means dry. Instead, the airy, slightly nutty rectangles team crisp crusts with soft centers. I just happen to prefer them with fruit and white miso butter.