Before Thomas Keller opened The French Laundry in 1994, he was behind the stoves in Los Angeles at downtown’s Checkers Hotel. He maintained a connection with the city and in 2009, returned with Thomas Keller Restaurant Group to open a branch of Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills. On July 30, we met Chef Keller on that restaurant’s patio, and he shared suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Los Angeles.
That’s a hard question. I love Nate ‘N Al’s. Certainly, for me, because of its convenience, but also for me, because it’s a historical place, and I love history. I love history in restaurants. It’s been there forever. It continues to do well, and people continue to support it in the same way it was supported 10, 20, 30 years ago. That, in and of itself, really speaks to what we as individuals really love. We like that sense of recognition, or reference points, and I think they do a terrific job at making sure that they deliver that.
I don’t really eat lunch. It’s not something that I think about. Where would I eat lunch in L.A.? I’d probably go to In-N-Out Burger, being that the first time I had an In-N-Out Burger was here in Los Angeles in 1990. That’s always had a real special place in my heart.
Certainly we have a lot of different opportunities, whether it’s one of Wolfgang [Puck]’s places – CUT, Spago, Chinois on Main – those have always been some of my favorite restaurants. You think about Josiah [Citrin] and Melisse. You think about Jonny and Vinny at Animal or Son of a Gun. You think about Jordan Kahn at Red Medicine. You think about Nancy [Silverton] at Mozza. You think about Angelini, some of the best pasta, or Capo out in Santa Monica, or Giorgio Baldi. There are a number of restaurants. You think about sushi. It used to be Masa, but now it’s [Urasawa], or Matsuhisa, Nobu. Or even Lawry’s. I love Lawry’s. The tradition of Lawry’s is just extraordinary. For me, it’s the history with Nate ‘N Al’s or Lawry’s. It’s that mix of the new generation with Jordan [Kahn] or Vinny and Jonny, who are doing a great job. There’s that recognition of Nancy and the camaraderie there. Nancy and I are of the same generation, so what she’s doing at Mozza. There are a lot of great restaurants, but eat at Bouchon at least once a week.