A fellow Hound let me know that a small report on Eater L.A. indicated that the Hillstone Restaurant Group (Houston's, Gulf Stream, Bandera) were opening their newest concept, R&D Kitchen tonight but a follow up call provided only a gracious, "by Sunday". Driving home from work the crowd in front indicated they had changed their mind or were throwing one helluva party. No. They opened at 5pm with one of the company heads advising that they might only do 25 dinners tonight. They must have done that many in the first 15 minutes.
With a Frank Lloyd Wright like setting with stunning open windows to the street and the usual state of the art Hillstone attention to detail and service this may be the most exciting neighborhood restaurant to open in some time. Comments overheard included, "We'll be back." "We'll be back." "We'll be back." "Even Puck couldn't make this site work. Now it does." The menu is a single 5" wide 10" long card beautifully set in a leather frame with wine selections on the back.
We started with the most flavorful heirloom tomato and burrata salad for $14 enough for two, went to the special tagliatelle with country ham, atichoke, peas for $16 and the seared Ahi salad with fresh vegetables including beets and a tasty deviled egg to boot for $17. Wine selections included a glass of a light Luli chardonnay for $9 and the ever rich Mer du Soleil chardonnay for $12. Fresh made lemonade for $4 included the refill. A cup of good coffee for $3, and their two desserts: a luscious marscapone cheese frosted carrot cake and an oversized chocolate pot du creme at $8 each brought the bill to a surprising $98 for two. It seems very reasonable. They ran out of the meatloaf and the "Reubenesque" sandwich and at 9:20pm when we left they were still on a wait.
Easy, stylish and if we can be unPC for a moment, this group should get Beard nominations for service and design.