Kyle Schutte, who worked under Richard Blais at One Midtown Kitchen and is an acolyte of Tom Harvey's, first came into local focus when he left North Carolina to open Vu at Marina del Rey's Jamaica Bay Inn. After leaving the restaurant in January, the chef has now taken over the ancient Angel'z diner space in Hollywood, giving the 32-seat restaurant a complete interior renovation and an upgrade to its tiny kitchen to turn it into 54Twenty.
Schutte explains that a few details are still in place from its 1960's-era predecessor, which makes sense when one sees that he's been working on bold all-day breakfast and brunch concepts that are still taking shape.
At the new place, Schutte is developing a selection of modernized diner food with dishes like a prime paso coulotte steak and baked eggs with triple-cooked fries, maple-braised Niman Ranch slab bacon with coffee-spiked fries, and French toast stuffed with cinnamon cream cheese, strawberry, thyme jam, and tangerine-maple syrup for breakfast and over brunch, items such as lamb meatloaf with purple whipped spuds, a duck reuben (corned in-house) with pastrami chips, and a lobster roll with crystallized romaine and mayo powder.
For dinner, at first Schutte planned what he calls "a wacky way-out-of-the-box dinner tasting menu" guestarant concept that offered a radical take on Thai tom kha, scallops with pork jowl and root beer pudding, and white chocolate polenta on a carnivore menu and a vegetarian tasting menu featuring a take on the chicken-fried watermelon that made a bit of a splash at Vu, as well as such offerings as bruleed jack fruit with red wine poached eggs.
Clearly, the chef isn't afraid to go there with the high-tech, experimental approach, but in the end, Schutte decided to tamp down some of these eccentricities to offer an all-day brunch approach with a menu that remains the same through the day, served alongside Boylan's soda, and once a liquor license is in place, twisted classic cocktails. He tells Grub Street that the restaurant heavily uses sous-vide and does have a nitrogen tank out back, but with 54Twenty, he's got a "much more approachable concept" to showcase his style than what may have been found on the menus at Vu.
Schutte expresses excitement that he'll be cooking from a central kitchen in the middle of the room, allowing him "to really talk to the guests about why local, sustainable and humane ingredients are so so important...and let them see first hand and talk about the more modern techniques we are using." The chef says that after leaving Vu and interviewing around town, "the stigma against these techniques really came to light for me," as he found many of the hiring sessions would start with people saying, "so you're the liquid nitrogen guy" and basically end there without a tasting.
"I wanted a venue that allowed me to show people these techniques are not scary but very precise, consistent, and practical," Schutte says, though he promises that his current menu stays mostly simple, approachable, and "honest" with "high quality and humane ingredients and an attention to detail rarely found in similar settings."
While the more experimental dishes may draw up the usual suspicions of those opposed to scientific technique and avant garde perspective in cooking, Schutte appears to be sticking to his identity and wants to show L.A. he's more than just a guy with "a bag of tricks," but a chef who knows how to utilize his style for maximum flavor and textural effect. For Angelenos looking to buck the perpetual pattern of rustic traditionals and small plated gastro-pubs for a taste of something a little more daring, Schutte's 54Twenty sounds like a good place to start.
54Twenty is currently open from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. See the full all-day brunch menu below.
54Twenty, 5420 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood. 323-464-1570.
fresh & dried berries, greek yogurt, milk
Steel Cut Oats $8
brown bread ice cream
Stuffed French Toast $10
cinnamon cream cheese, strawberry & thyme jam, tangerine-maple syrup
Egg White Frittata $10
fennel, caramelized onion, charred tomato, spinach gremolata, daily fruit
Blueberry & Corn Salad $12
baby greens, dried blueberries, spiced nuts, citrus-marinated fennel, grilled pear vinaigrette, cornbread croutons
Ranch Eggs $11
scrambled eggs, hominy, caramelized red onion, jalapeno, charred tomato, chipotle mayo, tortillas, cilantro
*American Breakfast 2 $12
2 pieces of bacon, 2 baked eggs, 2 hot cakes
3 Egg Omlette $10
“lamb chopper,” aged cheddar, arugula, orange, home fries
[add Niman Ranch ham] $2
Today’s Soup $8
Farmers Market Sandwich $10
local flavors, ciabatta, tofu spread, sweet potato chips
heirloom tomatoes, babe farms wasabi greens, bacon & avocado mousse, bbq chips
Steak & Eggs $16
paso prime coulotte, triple-cooked fries, baked eggs
Short Rib Burger $14
paso prime grass-fed beef, ketchup tomatoes, caramelized onion, “lamb chopper”, triple cooked fries
Corned Duck Reuben $14
mary’s free range duck, pickled red cabbage, gruyere, rye, pastrami chips
*Indicates Niman Ranch all natural, humanely raised & sustainable livestock. We proudly use Chino Valley Ranchers humanely & pasture raised eggs.