Bow & Truss
A Latin-inspired taste test at one of NoHo’s hippest new eateries.
Written byTiffany Shinn
In the Valley, flush with culinary diversity, you’d think finding good paella, one deep in flavor and wrought with hardened socarrat, would be easy. This isn’t the case. I’ve spent years searching for paella that celebrates the vibrant flavors of Spain, leading me to venture to Bow & Truss with a magnified dose of anticipation.
One of the chicest spots to hit NoHo’s trendy arts district, the experience begins inside at the bar—a mammoth centerpiece, where varieties of sherry anchor an ambitious cocktail list. A thoughtful selection of cheese and charcuterie represents various regions of Spain, and I got lost in pairing the sharpness of the Mahon with a smear of housemade peach and cilantro jam.
A Latin-inspired kitchen set in a modern Spanish tavern, Bow & Truss mixes dark wooden booths and warm brick walls. Outside on the large, attractive patio at the restaurant’s front, tables are sun-kissed during the day and make for a quieter seating option at night.
Trout is stuffed with serrano jamón. Chicken is pan-seared and bathed in a Spanish-style paprika “mojo” sauce. But the menu isn’t exclusively European. Latin American and Mexican dishes come in the form of tacos, sopes and ceviche, while tres leches and concha con chocolate round out the desserts.
Executive chef Stefhanie Meyers comes from Rivera and Playa, John Sedlar’s modern, artisanal Latin kitchens where everything is handmade with first-rate ingredients. Likewise, Meyers’ approach is handcrafted everything—from peppercorn-infused vodka to pear-and-red-wine jam. Even ketchup and salsa are made in-house, punched up with harissa and piquillo peppers.
During dinner, the house- made masa dough is flattened to a large puck and piled with a shower of arugula, burrata and pepitas—a trendy spin on the traditional sope. Handmade tortillas are pleasantly dense and spongy. It is that same masa, however, that dries and fractures under the weight of brunch’s breakfast taco, leading me to scrape up black bean and scrambled eggs with a fork.
The menu lists a few options for larger plates but favors the lighter tapas. The sweet, bracing shrimp ceviche comes garnished in chopped pineapple, red onion and cilantro. There are five variations of tacos, but it’s the chicken—stewed in duck fat and crowned with rings of pickled shallots—that measures up against the flavor of the tortilla (that is, when the masa is fresh).
At brunch, the rich creamed polenta, covered in a florid canopy of diced peppers, cotija, corn, whole asparagus spears and bejeweled with a golden quail yolk, was our table’s most coveted dish.
Where Meyers’ creations satisfy, however, they can also disappoint. Empanadas, stuffed with an over-minced mash of mushrooms and cotija cheese, are mundane. The chilaquiles are a scramble of stale and rubbery tortilla chips topped with one flavorless ingredient after the other. Wild boar bacon is sinewy, and the stuffed waffles beg for a more substantial amount of chorizo and cotija.
With four paella variations and served in a cast-iron skillet, the Spanish bomba rice absorbs its surrounding flavors and crusts in all the right places. The “evo-lution” is a touch too spicy, but you do get your share of land and sea.
Despite its missteps, Bow & Truss is the sort of place you want to forgive. You support Meyers’ push for an artisanal, seasonal kitchen, even amidst some growing pains.
I still haven’t found paella that takes me back to Spain, but I’d be inclined to return for another look.
Bow & Truss
11122 Magnolia Blvd.