The Choi of Gardening
The latest place to dine in L.A.: a greenhouse. The greenskeeper: Roy Choi.
Walk out onto the second-story courtyard perched over Koreatown and step into the forested interior—thick with potted plants and vines between tables. Goblets of different shapes and sizes fill tables alongside Dr. Seuss books and mix-and-match napkins and their holders, all adding elements of whimsy.
Menu items are simply listed by ingredient and an illustration: corn ($8) is a street-style elote, figs ($12) are segments plated with Marcona almonds and goat cheese, and carrot ($8) is roasted, then grilled whole and finished with green sauce.
Cocktails, too, courtesy Matthew Biancaniello, use unlikely ingredients both foraged and gathered—the rhubarb and shiso-infused Pimp's Cup ($13), for instance. Anise-like hyssop punctuates refreshing white peach and pisco ($13) in The White Peach, and herbaceous huacatay is layered with blueberries, cucumber and bourbon ($13) in The Blueberry Cocktail—garnished whole in plastic quart containers. Even water—filtered, of course—is served from a hose, hung at the end of the bar.
Clockwise, from top: The bar at Commissary, the dining room and Roy Choi | Photos: Audrey Ma and Travis Jensen
Other plates are less roughage and more stripped-down comfort food. Pasta ($15) is simply dressed with lemon, garlic and red chiles, while grilled cheese ($8) calls on childhood: crispy, griddled triangles of sourdough filled with gooey cheddar, plated alongside tomato soup and a pickle spear. Schnitzel ($20), pounded and breaded pork topped with arugula, lies on a duo of slightly spicy mustard and sweet yellow sauce.
Need help navigating the order-by-pictorials menu? Don't worry: Your server patiently and helpfully informs with descriptions of the $3, $8, $12, $15 and $20 dinner items. (There's nothing over $20, save for a $28 steak, and standard breakfast fare keeps it under $16.)
Dessert ends with a couple options. Go for the inside-out pavlova ($8)—chewy meringue, cherry and simple syrup-poached cubes of rhubarb, lemon anglaise, and chiffonade and syrup of hyssop.
And to take home: a packet of seeds, of course.
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