Raising The Steaks
The first thing you’ll notice about celebrity chef, Jeffrey Saad—when seeing him walk through his new restaurant, La Ventura—is that with his chef’s jacket and long surfer locks, he wears a perpetual grin. This is not the look you’d expect from a chef who has spent long, toiling hours preparing for the opening of a […]
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The first thing you’ll notice about celebrity chef, Jeffrey Saad—when seeing him walk through his new restaurant, La Ventura—is that with his chef’s jacket and long surfer locks, he wears a perpetual grin. This is not the look you’d expect from a chef who has spent long, toiling hours preparing for the opening of a new restaurant. But chef appears joyous, and at ease—a vibe that resonates throughout the Studio City space.
The Sauce had a chance to check out the modern Mexican eatery at its soft opening this past weekend. La Ventura officially opens today, Monday, December 9th, and will be open 7 days a week.
The menu is divided into several sections, beginning with appetizers that include a ceviche laced in coconut milk and chiles, alongside cotija meatballs, nachos, and plantains. Skewered shrimp and scallops—as large as sand dollars, and remarkably tender—are elevated with chunks of green chile chutney and smoked sour cream. A generous portion of guacamole is served with slightly salted chips.
There are soups, such as a tomato with cilantro pesto, as well as shredded chicken, spiked with lime and chile broth. Salads include a rendition with feta and quinoa, and a kale version, garnished with candied pumpkin seeds, pinto beans, goat cheese and doused in vinaigrette concocted with epazote, a Mexican herb.
A portion of the menu is dedicated to a slew of ingredients that can be built into tacos or burritos. There’s Yucatan-spiced chicken and pastor, rich, marinated pork. We were quite fond of the calamari, coated and fried in a batter so delicate and crisp, that it resembled the airy crunch of Japanese tempura.
On the larger plates there are more conventional dishes, such as corn tortilla enchiladas, and carinatas—pork, cooked slowly, rendered in its own fat and juices, then garnished with rice and pico de gallo. With duck skin slightly caramelized and painted in a coat of mole, the plate of duck confit is not to be missed.
Perhaps our favorite dish, though, was the platter of carne asada. A long slab of skirt steak, rubbed in chile and grilled to a seductive medium-rare, is served with warm flour tortillas and fresh pico de gallo salsa. Tender and juicy, our table found its price tag more than fair.
Pinto beans, soaked in Corona beer, and mixed with diced bacon, was a favorite among the sides. There’s roasted cauliflower, plantains, and green rice, too.
Dessert may come in the form of churros accompanied by bourbon-caramel and chocolate sauce, and a crepe stuffed with mango, banana, toasted coconut, and candied pumpkin seeds. For the upcoming nippy evenings, stay warm with the Mexican hot chocolate.
La Ventura has a full liquor license, and you’ll want to try several versions of the margaritas, including those concocted with habanero and blackberries.
The space, which has two separate dining rooms, features Edison bulbs, wooden tables, and a tall community table. The bar is a perfect place to park, should you want to indulge in a pre-dinner cocktail.
La Ventura, 11929 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.
A curated selection of sweets—culled from some of the Valley’s most talented bakers and artisans—to present to your loved ones this Valentine’s Day