At Smoke.Oil.Salt in Los Angeles, chef Perfecto Rocher, Stephen Gelber and their AdVantage Partners feature the cuisine of Rocher’s native Valencia. The chef, who clearly has a lot to live up to given his name, grew up in Villalonga and channels his childhood memories in this Melrose destination, which replaced Evan Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe in 2014. Music is a key part of the experience, including wall-mounted album covers from legends like Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra, plus pop music from artists like like Tears For Fears playing on the sound system. The space is fairly simple, with twin dining rooms, two wood bars, brick and red walls, and a wood-burning grill that gets a nightly workout.
While Rocher is committed to cuisine from Valencia, he knows when to take welcome departures. For instance, his Esmorzaret de la Safor ($16) is an original creation that combines cool Kusshi oysters with plump, crumbly house-made blood sausage that incorporates pine nut and onion. Toast rests atop the link, and a single fried egg completes a food tower. The oysters rest on a bed of sweet caramelized onions, and a roasted and skinned Anaheim chile divides savory proceedings.
When deciding between Esmorzaret de la Safor and a vegetarian dish called Carxofes, my server said this dish is “definitely more him,” referring to Chef Rocher. Hopefully that’s true, and that this dish leads to more unique plates when I return to Smoke.Oil.Salt.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.