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What to Eat When Rick Bayless Goes West

Red O is due in April

Red O is due in AprilPhoto: Red O

A full media release has surfaced to confirm chef Rick Bayless' involvement in Hollywood's forthcoming restaurant Red O and fortunately doesn't lose us despite the immediate introduction of Bayless as "the chef responsible for changing the image of Mexican food in America." Might the word "Middle" be missing before our country's name? In any case, Red O is coming to a Dodd Mitchell-designed space on Melrose this April with a menu not only created by Bayless, but one that promises seasonal overhauls from the Top Chef Master. He has also put together a tequila list in his part overseeing the beverage program and is training the cooking staff.

So what will we be eating when Bayless' Mexico-obsessed vision comes West? Red O says he's preparing both authentic eats from below the border as well as "lighter" Cali fare that we await a meeting with L.A. Mag's spicy palate. On the Mexi-melded menu, eaters will find ceviches and tostadas that can be munched on tortilla or plantain chips, as well as jicama or baguette slices. There will also be a "Cazuelas to Share" menu with contempo takes on albondigas and entrees, and an "Enchiladas and Tacos al Carbon" menu will have more traditional takes on the cuisine. Bayless will also introduce regular specials, with a striped bass zarandeado and Veracruz-style sides offered as example.

Truly tantalizing are the promises of pork belly sopes, woodland mushroom queso Fundido made with dark beer, and desserts with tequila-infused blueberries and Mexican root beer sauce. We're starting to understand Rick's methods and like what we see. Also sounding "muy padre" are a huge garage door opening fully to Melrose and a "tequila tunnel" that showcases the restaurant's selection through clear glass. Red O will initially open for dinner only, then expand to lunch and brunch. If successful, it could find itself in a promising niche of modern Latin restaurants like Rivera and Provecho.

For his part, Bayless is quoted, “I’m flattered that they would want my food and culinary vision in Los Angeles." Don't go overboard in flattering yourself, Rick, we eat tamales from the car trunks of men much stranger than you quite regularly.

RED O plans an opening in April. 8155 Melrose Ave. 310-310-3003.

Rick Bayless is Coming Back to Cali to Head Red Onion [Grub Street]
Rick Bayless Confirms Red Onion Role [Grub Street]

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