The changes at Chef Phillip Frankland Lee's Encino destination, Scratch Bar (or now, Scratch Bar 2.0) may seem small to some, but they all add up an experience vastly different from the restaurant's previous iterations. If you've followed Scratch Bar's trajectory, you may know that it started out on La Cienega, moving to Encino as the Chef competed on Top Chef and opened up Woodley Proper and Frankland's Crab & Co. Well, the Crab & Co is no more, merging with Scratch Bar and forming a bar area that introduces service (more on that in a minute). Chef Phillip Frankland Lee has occasionally been a "controversial" figure in the LA culinary world, either lauded or criticized for "doing whatever he wants" without as much formal training as other chefs. The last iteration of Scratch Bar was able to garner a strong local customer base and consistently turned out good food, but sometimes I felt that it struggled with an identity crisis. Is it a fine dining experience? A tasting menu? Casual small plates? Small local gem or destination?
But by absorbing the Crab & Co, they actually separated the restaurant into two parts (one is the bar) and made the restaurant part smaller overall. Now, it's mostly bar seats with an open kitchen and a few tables, focusing service on a much more intimate, Chef's Table experience. Instead of an a la carte menu with a tasting option, there is now only a $145 tasting menu-- if that sounds steep, keep in mind that you're getting 20 courses. And each course is beautiful, well-composed, and delicious.Read More