Jonathan Gold Inhales The Glories of Spice Table; Brad A. Deems Son of a Gun The Only One

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"Redneck charcuterie" at Son of a Gun Photo: Kevin Eats

Brad A. Johnson writes, "Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo created a phenomenon at their first restaurant, Animal, and theyre on their way to a repeat with their sophomore follow-up, Son of a Gun." He eases our fears that the menu, which "celebrates anything that swims," is not pork-free, as technically "pigs can be taught to swim." Whew! "The menu zigzags all over the map," the critic observes, "yet everything weaves together seamlessly." This includes the gator schnitzel, the lobster roll whose diminutive size "sort of flies in the face of what Shook and Dotolo are all about," a smothered steak with an oyster "the size of a chihuahua," and a country ham that he calls "redneck charcuterie at its best." He isn't as keen on the fluke crudo , bacalao, or a possible joke of a dessert called The Hoboken Special. But he saves his harshest words for an encroaching town trend when he says, "Communal dining is abusive, and it needs to stop." Said abuse doesn't keep the stars away, as Johnson offers three to these Two Dudes. [Brad A. Johnson]

"Spice Table, a high-ceilinged, candlelit restaurant in a patch of Little Tokyo better known for noodle shops and izakayas, seems to gather half the strands of contemporary cooking into a single, weathered-brick restaurant," Jonathan Gold writes, studying the marrow bones and championing Bryant Ng's otah and lamb belly satay, which is "crusted black and spurting gamy juice." And if there's offal, he suggests you go straight for the kill. [LAW]

After a considerable amount of foreplay regarding the hotel's history and the origins of Tim Goodell, S. Irene Virbila eases into the man's cooking at Public Kitchen and Bar, where "this time his food is less about showstopping technique and more about delicious, easygoing food with bright flavors." These include rabbit rillettes, a mushroom tart, and oysters, along with an even stronger endorsement of the chicharonnes and Parker House rolls. We keep waiting to read what she didn't like, but it never comes. "This time, I think Goodell has got it," she concludes, parsing out just two stars for Public. [LAT]

"Like all self-respecting foodists, we have been to Phoenix pizza shrine Pizzeria Bianco, which is good enough to inspire a Pavlovian reaction every time we hear 'Phoenix' and 'pizza' juxtaposed in a sentence," salivates Jonathan Gold, as he checks in with the La Grande Orange-issued Luggage Room pizzeria in Pasadena. Sadly, the pies don't whisk him back to Bird City, but he does appreciate the Salumeria Biellese topping and the option of fried egg and Fresno chiles. [LAW]

Some dude asks Mr. Gold about his favorite "fake" restaurant. The unflappable critic considers what makes a fake restaurant, throwing out names like Northern Chinese Restaurant (of faux dog meat fame) and Philippe (with its fake customers with fake body parts), and delving into hyper-realist philosophical quandaries at the Cheesecake Factory. But his favorite fakie would have to be Nickel Diner, "a coffee shop that may resemble a hard-luck diner...but which exists, decent coffee, fried catfish, maple-bacon doughnut and all, through a sheer act of will." [LAW]