Hollywood to me has been lacking in the obscure restaurants, in comparison to the surrounding cities. Downtown, Culver City, Santa Monica and Venice are filled with adventurous chefs and groundbreaking ideas that Hollywood keeps missing out on. I’m not trying to take away from the few amazing places that exist, specifically one of my favorites, Animal.
What originally drew me into trying out Mercantile’s next door neighbor and sister restaurant, District, was the menu and the hype that was surrounding it. District has some nice fun twists that you don’t see on many menus such as spam sliders, broccolini with black olives, sweet potato ravioli with hazelnuts, and freshly made pretzel bites. All the eclectic things on the menu were balanced with the combination of classics that were refined and executed perfectly. I mean let’s face it; if you screw up a classic you shouldn’t even call yourself a chef.
The venue is what can be described as dark wood minimalist. It has a dark wood theme with vaulted ceilings, little to no décor and some seating outside. Personally I wouldn’t want to sit outside because due to the location you have to deal with the crazy Hollywood passerbyers. Small tea light candles created the centerpiece for each dark wooden table, adding to the dim light already presented and added a touch of warmth into the air.
I would rate the food as a whole and give it a B because something’s were great where some things were ok yet needed some tweaking.
We started the meal with the Farmhouse salad consisting of shredded brussels sprouts, one of my favorite veggies, cauliflower, and radishes. It was tossed in a crème fraiche dressing which was not as heavy as I had expected and didn’t create soggy veggies which left a nice crunch to the salad. The finishing touch was the crumbled aged cheddar which gave it a nice fun color as well as a bite that made your taste buds love you for ordering it. Solid A+ for me!
Following the salad that left us licking the plate clean came an interesting take on ravioli. I have seen Sweet Potato Ravioli before, but never like this. What made this dish so interesting was the Thai influence I found prevalent in the dish. The sauce in which the ravioli laid in was an often common sauce, sage and brown butter, but had something spicy infused in it. It was finished with hazelnuts and parmesan crisps. My only complaint to the dish was that I found it to be overly salty even though my dining partner disagreed. The idea behind the dish is great but I do think they need to work better on their execution. (B)
Next that came out of the kitchen was the charred octopus with fennel, fingerling potatoes, in a burnt garlic sauce. First off this dish was also salty so clearly whoever was in the kitchen needs to reevaluate their salting techniques. Once I put aside the fact that I would be thirsty for hours, I was satisfied in how well the fish was executed. It was tender with a crunchy outside and not tough to eat at all. I am really picky when it comes to octopus because if it is not cooked PERFECTLY I won’t like it. The garlic sauce complimented the fingerling potatoes but the Octopus was perfect by itself, and the charred outside mixed with the burnt garlic sauce was overwhelmingly burnt for my liking. Overall this dish was a B -.
The octopus came out 1 minute before the broccolini arrived and this might have been one of my favorites of the night. I never thought of sautéing a green with black olives before, but after this dish I can’t wait to try my new culinary find out for myself. The broccolini was another thing that was cooked to perfection. Not overly soft or to crunchy, but had a perfect bite and just enough flavor to not overpower the true essence of broccolini. The olives complimented the dish perfectly and when combined with the chili flakes made a perfectly delectable light veggie that I wanted more of. (A+++)
The last thing to come out of our vastly themed dinner was the fish sandwich. This is one of those classics that I talk about not messing up and The District did just that. They executed the fish sandwich flawlessly. My only complaint would be that they tried to be cute by providing ketchup in the individual sized packets. To me it was an aesthetic fail, but the dish was so good I could overlook that. The Fish was a large piece of cod breaded then fried to utter perfection placed on a pan toasted roll with tons of butter, tartar sauce, lettuce and a crunchy thin sliced pickle. The sandwich as a whole makes me lick my lips as I write this and I wish I had room to finish the fries. The fries were thick, large, moist and yet still crunchy outside and definitely abusive to my arteries. Neither I nor Megan (my partner in crime for this meal) could resist eating the fry’s way past our breaking point. (A+++)
We left there satisfied, stuffed and personally salty. I would go back again but my wallet can only take so much heat in a month so I’ll have to give it a rest for a bit. The meal totaled $95 with 2 beers each before tip, so it’s not the cheapest, but not everyone has to eat as abusive to their bodies like me and Megan do.
The District - $$$ - 6600 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA (323) 962-8200