Chef Josef Centeno of Opus has opened a new restaurant in Echo Park, Lot 1 Café. Although the new place may aim to be more like a neighborhood hangout than the dark, sleek Opus, with $22 entrées, it clearly has ambitions.

The menu looks brilliant, with unexpected touches like a confit of beet gazpacho with crème fraîche and chicharrón—smooth and rich, spiked with crisp bits of fried pork belly. There’s a beautiful presentation of yellowtail (hamachi) sashimi with charred leek oil, pickled serrano chile, and a radish salad. Marrow-lovers will appreciate the bone marrow toast that comes with the rib-eye steak. There’s a really nice cheese plate with Cowgirl Creamery cheeses and sides including candied kumquat.

Not surprisingly in the first days, execution is uneven. Clare K found the hand-torn pasta with brown butter, pecorino, and herbs topped with a soft fried egg to be delicate and fresh, perfectly showcasing the herbs. Centeno fan LuluBleu, though, says it was underseasoned and blah.

Portion size is an issue, especially in a neighborhood where the standard is set by Barragan’s. An entrée alone, in most cases, is not a filling meal—one table laughed when they saw their tiny order of ravioli.

Bäcos—those “global tacos” Centeno pioneered at Opus—are available only at lunch, although slacker had the breakfast bäco of Mexican chorizo, guanciale, fried egg, and salmorejo on the weekend (presumably for lunch) and blissed out.

No alcohol yet, and they don’t allow BYOB (technically illegal when you don’t have a liquor license) as they wait for the paperwork to go through.

Lot 1 Café [East of Hollywood]
1533 W. Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park

Board Links: Lot 1–Are you open?
Lot 1–Echo Park, Review with photos

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