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Looking Into Le Ka, Now Open Downtown With Chef Remi Lauvand

Le KaPhoto: Ali Khan

Le Ka has many of the elements you'd expect in a new Downtown restaurant: soaring ceilings punctuated by bare bulbs and angular modern fixtures, a back-lit bar with farm-to-glass cocktails, a glassed-in private dining, open kitchen, and game-meat albondigas on a "globally inspired" small plates menu in a former bank building. The one thing we weren't expecting at Le Ka though, which has been in vitro for two-and-a-half years from Wokano owner Michael Kwan, was Remi Lauvand, until catching wind of his arrival last July. Before setting Hollywood on fire at Citrus before going on to Santa Barbara's Bacaro and Cafe Pierre in Manahttan Beach (he alos consulted on the opening of Rivera), the French chef was plied with praised at New York's Montrachet, following sous stints at La Grenouille and Le Cirque and an early career with Gerard Pangaud in Paris. In other words, his presence here bodes well for a hit of dependable fine-dining and engaging execution in the financial district.

Lauvand's menus and specials, which can you can see here, inject his vast European expertise with a dose of American plasma, whisking varied dishes together onto one plate.

For example, dishes include sauteed skate with oxtail ragu, cavatelli with chicken oysters, a plate of gnocchi with escargot, fried oyster sliders with remoulade, and Irish salmon with jalapeno. He cures his own salmon in-house and how could he not have charcuterie and cheese, including Epoisses with four U.S. varieties and offering tete de fromage, pig trotters, and a mini rabbit terrine. Wine appears to be a required component of the experience here, as well, stacked in attractive glass displays.

Overall, the menu already as us pretty eager to get in there for lunch or dinner, which manages to sound refined but not stuffy, and coming at a range of $11 to $23 dollars for entrees. With Lauvand in command, we can't imagine the excitement is unjustified. Until then, check out our slideshow of the space.

Le Ka, 800 W. 6th St. Downtown; 213-688-3000.

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