Before every other restaurant in town embraced small plates and/or the symphony of delicate, far-flung micro-ingredients, these themes were established and embraced at David Myers' Sona and Tim and Liza Goodell's Meson G. on Melrose. Possibly ahead of its time and disappointingly not long enough for the world, chef Joseph Centeno earned Meson G critical raves following Eric Greenspan's departure. Centeno springs back tomorrow with The Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown, partnered with Michael Cardenas, the former GM of Matsuhisa who started Sushi Roku.
Lazy Ox holds on tight to the vision and detail in accessorizing proteins that was seen at Meson G, now with a rustic, country-style comfort at the center. Nods to Japan and the globe at large are abundant, while the anchors appear to be French, Italian, Spanish, North African, and North American. Among items intriguing us are hand-torn pasta balancing a fried egg, brown butter, and citrus vinegar; a pork terrine with pearl onions and baby cucumber; a braised beef pot roast with cream of wheat and kumquats; brick-roasted mussels with arbol chili, white wine, and feta; plus charred octopus with pickled shallots, corona beans, garlic-rapini, and calamansi vinaigrette.
Vegetarians have a wide selection of salads and tempting vegetable plates that put typical steamed carrots and potatoes to shame. Blistered Shishito peppers carry grated mojama and Meyer lemon vinaigrette, while a cannelloni is made with poblanos and stuffed with cotija. Call it fussy global comfort food with a more casual price tag. There's also great beers on tap (Rasputin, Maudite), shoju, sake, non-alky sodas, and a large wine list covering all corners. The Lazy Ox opens tomorrow and its menus can be seen via PDF below. 241 South San Pedro. 213-626-5299.