Silver Lake is an anomaly of sorts. It’s known as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, though some easter-siders might argue that its time has past and has already gone by way of the tourist. Take, for example, that there are many movie settings that tout Silver Lake, but not Echo Park, Mt. Washington or Boyle Heights.
Sunset Junction, to be specific, is the site of the Los Angeles coffee resurgence, but the quality of Silver Lake’s new restaurants haven’t really kept the pace of the other burgeoning neighborhood’s eateries. Instead, it continues to be stocked with local favorites in lieu of destination restaurants with nearby residents regularly filling covers – and Silver Lake definitely prefers it that way.
And then there’s Cliff’s Edge, which has been a stronghold here, but has undergone a couple of, not facelifts, but heart transplants in the form of chef changes. With the arrival of Vartan Abgaryan, it seemed as though the food would finally do justice to its unique, treehouse-like atmosphere – and from my recent visit, it’s evidence that it does.
I love when Vartan prepares seafood – he’s got the right touch to ensure the fish is just flaky enough and plenty tender, with a beautiful crust on top as on the Alaskan Halibut over farro. His tender octopus dishes incorporate seasonal ingredients that are consistently a hit throughout the year. And three huge Diver Scallops over a zucchini risotto are a rich yet balanced delight. Basil mascarpone, squash and lemon verbena vinaigrette beautifully brighten the dish, if you needed any reminder that you’re dining Californian al fresco.
The Beef Tartare comes with a rich bone marrow aioli, and when mixed with a fennel salsa verde, quail yolk, horseradish and pickled shallots, it’s a very successful meatscape you’ll love scooping onto your grilled bread.
And while a Corn Agnolotti would be more than satisfactory, Vartan amps it up by adding grilled corn kernels in corn puree, with slivers of almond matching their crunch and jalapeños and red chili oil together adding a subtle kick. I licked the bowl.
And while you’ll find cocktailians at Cliff’s Edge on Wednesdays during Matthew Biancaniello’s infusion-mad weekly, Richard Swan has actually put together a really solid menu for regular service hours. My penchant for sour was satisfied by the Surfer Rosa, made with Sino Blanco, strawberry shrub, cilantro, jalapeño, lime and chili salt.
The Staycation tea cocktail is as beautiful as it is delicious. Made with Nolet’s Silver Dry and white safflower tea, honey and lemon, it’d double as a homeopathic remedy if it weren’t so tasty on its own.
Also delicious was the Tropical Mike, with that funky, awesome Rhum J.M Agricole combined with passionfruit, housemade falernum, lime and tangerine. What was noteworthy and worth appreciating was that most of these drinks made for pretty boozy patio dining without the stereotypically essential girly drinks – and the aggregate covered the essential bases of a cocktail menu.
Well-rounded dining with competent cocktails at all hours to match at Cliff’s Edge? Sign me up, Silver Lake. But I’ll also see you on Wednesdays for Matty B. (And don’t forget $1 oyster Thursdays from 6-7PM!)