Ba Restaurant's French-Inspired Menu | Los Angeles

Highland Park's new French restaurant

Maybe it was written in the stars.

James Graham was teaching fifth graders at the Griffith Observatory when the inspiration to open Ba Restaurant struck.

Located in a former bakery on York Boulevard, Ba is the latest indication of Highland Park's rapid gentrification. Graham's wife, Julia Latané, who works as a preparator at the Autry National Center, fashioned the room with a glass front and a chandelier frame covered with flying cherubs.

Graham, a Brooklyn native, cooked at such Manhattan restaurants as WPA, Chuck Howard's and Gianni's in the 1980s. He brings those cooking chops to his French-inspired menu, which includes dishes like potato leek soup ($9) that sports an enlightening circle of crème fraîche. A far-from-traditional duck cassoulet (pictured; $21) incorporates wild rice, pulled duck meat and skin, and such accompaniments as carrots, cashews, green apple and sage. Sweet, plump grilled prawns ($22) are served shelled, with a slab of fennel, firm asparagus spears, and finishing touches of dill and lemon juice.

Credit pastry chef Mika McDonald with desserts like an airy crème brûlée ($8) topped with whipped cream, mango and diced kiwi.

As we learned, the restaurant is called Ba, but we don't have to eat like sheep.

Ba Restaurant, 5100 York Blvd., Highland Park; 323-739-6243 or