Flores, a seasonal, globally inspired small plates restaurant, never quite captured the imagination of Little Osaka ramen heads and comfort food fiends. Thankfully, that allowed for Ladies’ Gunboat Society at Flores, which Amal Flores owns in conjunction with The Hart + The Hunter co-chef/co-owner Brian Dunsmoor and FOH counterpart Jonathan Strader.
The space is fairly familiar, if you ever ate at Flores, complete with covered patio, pair of marble bars, reclaimed wood and white brick walls. However, the feel is totally different, with shelves above the stainless steel pass devoted to Dunsmoor’s cookbook collections and decorative (drinkable) wine bottles. Even the soundtrack is different, with Southern singer-songwriters like Lucinda Williams (“Can’t Let Go”), John Prine & Iris Dement (“In Spite of Ourselves”) and Townes Van Zandt (“Pancho & Lefty”) enlivening the room.
The menu is considerably more focused, with repeated hat tips to the seasons and The South, since that’s where Georgia native Brian Dunsmoor started to develop his personal style, which is becoming clearer now that he isn’t cooking alongside HandtheH partner Kris Tominaga on a daily basis. Based on the dishes I enjoyed at Monday night’s friends and family meal, and the other dishes that appear in the Pantry; Field; Fish & Shellfish; Meat, Game & Poultry, and Dessert menu categories, Dunsmoor seems to favor flavor-forward food that’s rooted in The South, with California accents, which is welcome for me, a one-time Southerner.
One of the dishes that demonstrate Dunsmoor’s intentions consists of a Grilled Peads & Barretts Pork Chop ($28), a well-marbled slab with a melting layer of protective fat that Oliver Woolley sells at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The chop arrives on a bed of Rose Bank cheese grits in a pool of rich red eye gravy that’s traditionally crafted from coffee and pork drippings. Dunsmoor supercharges the plate with a thick slice of salty griddled ham, and tempers the richness with a thatch of slightly bitter mustard “frills” that add textural contrast. This pork chop is already one of the best in town, and it will be interesting to see how Dunsmoor continues to demonstrate his Southern skills on Sawtelle.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.