What to Eat at Mess Hall Kitchen, Soft-Opening This Weekend in Los Feliz

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Mess Hall chef Keith Silverton Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

Mess Hall Kitchen is soft-opening this Friday evening at 5:00 P.M. and grand-opening on Monday, bringing Los Feliz the rural Central and straight Southern U.S-influenced, backwoods-inflected, resource-respect comfort cooking of Keith Silverton, a chef who has past worked with Mark Miller and Jeremiah Tower, and locally at places like Water Grill, Smitty's Grill, The Spider Club, and Nonna of Italy.

Most of the hype behind the place, set in a space inspired by an army mess hall with communal tables, an oyster bar, a bar of corrugated metal, and an outdoor fire pit, comes from the strong record of the owner, Bill Chait. This is the man who funded the development and opening of restaurants such as Rivera, Playa, Sotto, Short Order, and Picca in rapid succession and is here teamed up with partner Rob Serritella, one of the owners of Louise's Trattoria, which Mess Hall is taking over at the former site of one of The Brown Derby's locations.

Before the space was converted into The Derby by Cecil B. DeMille, the building belonged to Willard's Chicken Inn, which sounds a little like a ho-house, but was really a hip Hollywood hang with a Southern slant specializing in "far famed chicken steak dinners." In a way, Silverton's menu may be a little like Willard's through the prism of time, with 21st century fussing found in down-home dishes and Middle American country touches served in contemporary selections.

For example, something like the ubiquitous presence of ahi tuna comes with bacon mash and a whiskey-peppercorn sauce, day-boat scallops are served with corn succotash, and the role of pork chops are played by a "hog chop" with white cheddar grits and Tabasco butter. Why? Who knows? But there are also more straightforward salads that sound refreshing, from a kale Caesar to those filled with fresh greens and additions like goat gouda, avocado puree, and butter pears.

More hee-haw inducing fare includes a $15 burger with Vermont cheddar and smokey sauce on brioche, a brick chicken, lobster mac, and Texas toast with smoked brisket and fries. Additional dishes buck the hick theme, as in steak tartar tacos with escabeche and Alaskan rock shrimp cakes, though the kitchen brings us back now (y'all hear) with desserts like Frog Hollow cobbler and pineapple upside down cake. So far, the sides are whipping our willows hardest, with more direct choices like grilled asparagus with sage butter, Anson Mills grits, and roasted Windrose farms carrots.

Cocktails, once the ruled roost of Julian Cox until he split, and now under Rivera's Erik Lund, include one named for "The Brown Derby" (with Buffalo Trace, grapefruit, and honey) and something called "The Hallucinogenic Whimsies of Banana Man," which is hopefully an attempt to dose Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran through the not-so-simple pleasures of pisco, Absinthe, banana, lime, orgeat, and Peychaud's bitters. There's also a list craft beers and a major bourbon selection.

So, will this curious locavore hike into Deliverance territory work in Los Feliz? With Chait behind the plow, there's a strong chance it will. But you can take a look at the menu to decide if it belongs in your (purdy) mouth or not.

Mess Hall Kitchen, 4500 Los Feliz Blvd. Los Felix323-660-MESS.

Earlier: First Look at What Keith Silverton is Cooking at MessHall Kitchen [GS]

BEGIN
SEE BLACKBOARD FOR DAILY SOUP AND OYSTER SELECTIONS

PICKLED MARKET VEGGIES .............................5
grilled bread
SMOKED CORN FRITTERS.................................7
poblano & pumpkin romesco
OYSTERS IN A HALF SHELL.......MARKET PRICE
smoked cocktail, mignonette

CRISPY OYSTERS............................................11
spicy malt vinegar aioli
ROMANESCO...................................................10
grilled artichoke, pine nut gremolata
BLACK BEER BATTERED CALAMARI...............12
lime, remoulade
ALASKAN ROCK SHRIMP CAKES....................12
orange, fennel, harissa
STEAK TARTAR TACO.......................................12
crunchy parmesan, escabeche

GREENS
HOUSE field greens, tomato, radish, carrot, toasted sunflower seeds & buttermilk vinaigrette ...................................8
BABY BEETS
farro, avocado puree, grapefruit, yogurt vinaigrette..............................................................................9
KALE CAESER
avocado, goat gouda, croutons.........................10
CRISPY MAYTAG BLEU
tiny lettuce, butter pears, hazelnuts, black pepper hazelnut vinaigrette..............................11

NEXT
TEXAN
smoked brisket, bbq sauce, pickle, texas toast, fries..................................15
WILLARDS FAR-FAMED BRICK CHICKEN
gold whipped potatoes, collard greens.............................................17
BUTCHERS STEAK
fries, salsa verde.....................18
MAINE LOBSTER MAC N CHEESE
bisque & parmesan......................................................................................21
SEARED DAYBOAT SCALLOPS
smoked tomato, corn succotash , gnocchi, sherry champagne sauce......................28

HARDWOOD
MESS BURGER slow onions, Vermont cheddar, b pickles, smokey sauce, brioche, fries.....................................15
AHI TUNA peppered, bacon mash, antique carrots, whiskey-peppercorn sauce......................................................25
WILD SALMON green lentil, braised escarole & autumn vinaigrette........................................................................25
HOUSE FILET fork crushed all-blue potatoes, romanesco, charred scallion chimichurri..........................................26
HOG CHOP center cut pork chop, white cheddar grits, mustard greens, tabasco butter...........................................26

END
BANANA CREAM PIE meringue, vanilla wafer & banana brulee.....................................................................................8
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN butter cake, pineapple, rhubarb caramel & coconut ice cream.............................................8
FROG HOLLOW COBBLER stone fruit, vanilla bean ice cream.......................................................................................8
COOKIES & CREAM warm cookies & cinnamon ice cream............................................................................................8
SOME MORE chocolate cake bread pudding, marshmallow ice cream & graham tuile......................................................8

RATIONS
$6
FRIES
ginger ketchup, herbs
WICKED ROASTED CARROTS
roasted windrose carrots, puree, lemon
GOLD WHIPPED POTATOES
house made creme fraiche
CORN COBB
smoked tomato butter
ANSON MILLS GRITS
Vermont white cheddar
SLOW BRAISED GREENS
collard, kale, beet greens, bacon
GRILLED ASPARAGUS
hazelnuts, sage-brown butter

BEVERAGES
SODA POP
EXCEPTIONAL
ICED TEA
STUMPTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS, PORTLAND, ORHOT BREW / COLD BREW
ESPRESSO, CAPPUCCINO, LATTE
STEVEN SMITH TEAMAKER, PORTLAND, ORORGANIC TEAS

LATE-NIGHT

SNACKS
BAR NUTS cashew sesame brittle, beer nuts 6
FRIES ginger ketchup, herbs 6
SMOKED CORN FRITTERS poblano & pumpkin romesco 7
MAPLE BACON POPCORN 5
TASSO FRIED RICE rock shrimp, okra, gumbo file, soft egg 13
SPICY TUNA TARTAR crispy poppadoms 13
BLACK BEER BATTERED CALAMARI lime & remoulade 12

and more.
RED HOT stadium mustard, sauerkraut, relish & fries 9
MESS BURGER slow onions, Vermont cheddar, b & b pickles, smokey sauce, brioche, fries 15
TEXAN smoked brisket, bbq sauce, pickle, texas toast, fries 15
WILLARDS CHICKEN & WAFFLES maple butter & bourbon syrup 13
MAINE LOBSTER MAC N CHEESE bisque & parmesan 21

sweet
BANANA CREAM PIE meringue, vanilla wafer & banana brulee 8
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN butter cake, pineapple, rhubarb caramel & coconut ice cream 8
FROG HOLLOW COBBLER stone fruit, vanilla bean ice cream 8
COOKIES & CREAM warm cookies & cinnamon ice cream 8
SOME MORE chocolate cake bread pudding, marshmallow ice cream & graham tuile 8


CRAFT COCKTAILS

CITRUS / REFRESHING
BROWN DERBY Buffalo Trace Bourbon, grapefruit, honey...................................................9
AMANDA Boyd & Blair potato vodka, serrano, cilantro, lime, pineapple...............................10
MINT JULEP high-proof Bourbon, mint, sugar.....(PICK YOUR BOURBON)
CAMP CRUSTA CA Brandy, lemon, maraschino, Combier, sugar rim, citrus spiral...............12
THE HALLUCINOGENIC WHIMSIES OF BANANA MAN Campo de Encanto Pisco, Absinthe, banana, lime, orgeat, Peychaud's................................11
DAQUIRI Rum, lime, sugar..........WHITE 7/AGED 9
JACK ROSE Laird's Bonded Applejack, lime, house-made grenadine...........9
BOSSES WIFE
Cachaca, clear creek berry liqueur, lime & champagne ......11

AROMATIC / BOOZY
M.H.O.F.
small batch Bourbon, bitters, sugar......MARTINI London Dry Gin, Dry Vermouth, bitters, lemon twist, faith.....................12
DESTROY ALL ERIK LUND
Smith & Cross, Gin, Benedictine, Regan's orange bitters, Cherry Morlacco, lime zest...........13
THE DOWNTIME
(BETWEEN EUPHORIA OR BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT)
Kilchoman Islay whisky, Cynar, Benedictine, Regan's orange bitters....................................14

GRAPES............6oz / 25oz

SPARKLING
2010 Chardonnay / Mauzac, Michel Olivier, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Languedoc, FR...........9 / 34
NV Prosecco, Angelo Bortolin, Extra Dry, Veneto, IT.........................................................13 / 50
NV Chardonnay / Pinot Noir, Delamotte, Le Mesnil, Brut, Champagne, FR.......................25 / 98

WHITE
2011 Pinot Gris / Gewürz, Evesham Wood, Blanc de Puit Sec, Eola Amity Hills, WA.........10 / 38
2010 Riesling, Murphys Law, Columbia Valley, WA............................................................9 / 34
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Cep Vineyards, Sonoma Valley, CA .............................................15 / 58
2009 Viognier / Marsanne / Rousanne, Lucques, CA.......................................................13 / 50
2011 Chardonnay, La Fenetre, Santa Barbara, CA...........................................................13 / 50

ROSÉ
2011 Pinot Noir Rose, Brooks, Willamette Valley
OR.......................................................14 / 54

RED
2010 Pinot Noir, Millworks, Sonoma Coast, CA................................................................15 / 58
2010 S / G / M, Tablas Creek, Patelin de Tablas, Paso Robles, CA..................................15 / 58
2009 Petite Sirah, Vinum Cellars, Clarksburg, CA............................................................12 / 46
2010 Sangiovese, Giornata, il Campo, Central Coast, CA..................................................13 / 50
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Once, The Table, CA..............................................................13 / 50
2009 Carignon, Lioco, Indica, Mendocino County, CA......................................................12 / 46
2010 Zinfandel, Hobo, Dry Creek Valley, CA....................................................................12 / 46

YANKEE BREWS
DRAFTS Union Jack IPA. Firestone Walker. Paso Robels, CA 7.5%....................................7
Hercules Double IPA. Great Divide. Denver, CO 10%...........................................8
Manifesto Belgian style Wit. Eagle Rock Brewery. Eagle Rock, CA 4.7%................7
Picture City Porter. Ladyface Ale Companie. Agoura Hills, CA 7.0%......................8
Prima Pils Pilsner. Victory Brewing Company. Downington, PA 5.3%....................7
1500 American Pale Ale. Drake's. San Leandro, CA 5.5%....................................7
Mondo's Cream Ale Surf Brewery. Ventura, CA 5.5%...........................................7
Hyperion Stout Stout w/Coffee. El Segundo Brewing Co. El Segundo, CA 7.8%......8