October is one of the year’s most charming months; the weather turns a tad chillier, the turning foliage adds a bit of romantic nostalgia to the air, and everyone is headed indoors to stay warm and cozy. Thankfully, we headed into Scratch Bar & Kitchen, located in LA’s Encino neighborhood, for a meal that was easily the best thing we’ve eaten all month. Trust us, Scratch NEEDS to be on your list of restaurants to visit.
Perched atop an ornate complex along Ventura Boulevard, Scratch is a charming space with high-top tables and a long bar that peers into an open kitchen, bustling with talented chefs and servers crafting food to be sent out to patrons. We highly advise sitting at the bar if you can because half the fun is seeing how the food is prepared. And striking up lively conversations with the congenial food crafters and master chefs is just an added bonus.
Scratch was founded under the principle of its name – making every dish the way it was meant to be; by hand, from scratch. In fact, there isn’t anything in the restaurant that was not prepared by hand, from their breads to cheeses to meats, by them, for you. It’s definitely a philosophy to admire. And guess what? Everything tastes just as delicious as one could hope.
However, what’s different about Scratch is that there isn’t a menu. Here, you can’t peruse an online list of items before your date and narrow down your options ahead of time so you aren’t too flustered to make a decision when you actually sit down to order. Instead, the chefs prepare a seasonal menu that usually changes about every month and surprise you with it when you enter. You’re at their mercy, so to speak, but trust us: you’re in good hands. Scratch Bar & Kitchen doesn’t just feed you, it takes you on a culinary roller coaster, with each dish showcasing bold choices, exotic ingredients, and tons of flavor. A Hamptons to Hollywood Hot Tip? Don’t be a picky eater.
October’s menu had a plethora of small bites to dine upon. As soon as we sat down we were greeted with an Uni, Mussel, and Avocado Mousse shot. Tart and savory, it was definitely an eclectic way to start the evening. Bottoms up.
Next up two seafood pairings were offered; King Crab Legs served with a lemony shaved ice and a Rare, Smoky Prawn dish that was accompanied by a helping of nuts that gave it a perfect crunch.
A Strawberry Salad was served next, followed by what was perhaps one of our favorite dishes of the evening, Salmon Roe Grilled Cheese. The juxtaposition of classic comfort food with heaps of upscale caviar piled atop the sandwich was the perfect Hamptons to Hollywood dish; causal, yet classy.
Have you heard of Sweetbread? We had, and knew it was something interesting, but couldn’t remember exactly what its culinary genesis was. Turns out Sweetbread is the gourmet term for the thymus and pancreas of calves and lambs. AND, it was delicious with the bed of celery puree that it rested on top of 😉
An Octopus Caprese Salad followed, the warm protein balancing out the smooth, creamy burrata impccably. And afterward, our server brought out a slab of granite with a hollowed-out piece of chilled glass atop it. On top of the glass was a creamy and savory Greek Yogurt and inside the glass, tender pieces of Salmon were smoking. Experiential dining at its finest. Seaweed crackers were served alongside to scoop the yogurt and salmon with, before popping the mixture into your mouth. To die for. And the presentation was beyond.
A dish of Curried Mussels came next. Curry is often a “hit or miss” kind of food, but Scratch HIT IT. They hit it on head. With a hammer. And nailed it. Kudos for making us newfound curry fans (?)
Finally, two Branzino filets were served – which was easily the best tasting fish we’ve had in months. It was fresh, and seriously, cooked perfectly. It’s easy to overcook fish and make it come out mushy, and conversely, overcook it and have it come out hard and crusty. Scratch, being well-versed in seafood as evident with the menu, was an expert in preparing it.
And then, the pièce de résistance, a hearty Steak served with Kale, Onions and a Cauliflower Puree. Rare, soft, and delicate inside, with a perfectly crisp and tender outside, you could tell the Chef took extra pride in sending it our way. And with good reason. It was the perfect way to finish off the meal.
And if that wasn’t enough, a Charcoal Ice Cream Cone loaded with Charcoal Ice Cream and topped with vegetable sprinkles was for dessert. This was amazing because it wasn’t overly sweet, but because the sprinkles were veggie-based, they derived their colors from natural ingredients – no bizarre food dyes here.
Upon leaving, it was the perfect feeling. We were satiated, not stuffed, which was perfect because we were able to try a plethora of different dishes without falling into that terrible food coma afterward. Scratch Bar & Kitchen is a perfect date spot, but also a great place to come and try a tasting with a group of friends. Their curated wine list of exceptional varietals are versatile enough to accommodate any food the Chefs throw at you. You won’t be sorry.
16101 Ventura Blvd. #255
Encino, CA 91436