Brunch at Estrella on Sunset
Estrella is the new restaurant by chef/partner Dakota Weiss, a Top Chef alum who also helms the back-of-counter at Sweetfin Poke. It’s no secret that Sweetfin is one of my favorite new places to eat on the Westside—check out my review for some delicious food porn! What I didn’t realize is that I had been a fan of the chef’s cooking many years ago, even before I started writing about food, back when she was at The Dining Room inside the Shangri-La Hotel circa 2009-2011.
After watching a video of chef Weiss preparing The Rolling Stone, a poached egg encased in a whole avocado and then wrapped in bacon(!), my family and I knew we had to check the place out for brunch! We were seated outside on the gorgeous yet casual patio that is subtly kitsch—I’ve read it described as “boho chic”—with peacock and owl motifs running through the decor. It was one of the most inviting spaces we’ve dined in.
(Check out Wonho Frank Lee’s fantastic photographs for Eater LA to get an idea of the space both inside and out, but keep in mind it looks even better in daylight.)
We started off with both of the items off the “Shareables” section of the menu, an artichoke “guacamole” (no avocado—more like an artichoke baba ghanoush) that had a bit of heat to it, and some beet-pickled eggs served on a salad with crumpled bacon on top. While I was busy taking pictures, my wife and kids started picking at the bacon and immediately remarked how good it was, a theme that would carry through our meal.
More than half of the dishes on the menu fell under the “Brunch of Champions” header, like The Rolling Stone (which I’m saving for later). We tried a few from that list, including an asparagus and gruyere tart with a perfect puff pastry crust, and the duck liver butter, which had a delicious, bitter-sweet unctuousness to it.
From the “Lunchables” section of the menu, we ordered the sous vide hanger steak, which was medium-rare right up to the char. And we had a few of the sides, including the porchetta, which was decent but not the kind with the crispy skin, and the pretzel bacon, which was spectacular. My wife declared it the best bacon she’s had!
Finally, we dug into The Rolling Stone, that egg inside an avocado inside a bacon shell. It is pure food porn, even before you cut it open. And when you do, there’s no way to not make a hot mess of things. But does it taste as good as it looks? Absolutely!
My first impression upon taking a bite was that it tasted like a duck egg. If you haven’t had one, it’s hard to describe how it’s different than a chicken egg. The egg white is a little more astringent and the yolk just seems to have more oomph to it. I’m sure the avocado contributed to that impression. Regardless, after the first bite, I wasn’t thinking about ducks or chickens. I was just amazed at how delicious each bite tasted!
Now that I’ve heaped praise upon praise on the food at Estrella, I do have some very minor criticisms. The ingredients in some of the dishes did not match the menu descriptions (e.g., no beet greens or lardon with the pickled eggs, no oven-dried heirloom tomatoes with the artichoke guacamole). Also, the greens that accompanied some of the dishes were a bit over-salted. Now, I’m not actually judging the restaurant on any of this, especially when it’s been open barely two weeks. I just didn’t want people to think our meal was all bacon-wrapped rainbows and unicorns!
But the whole reason I’m posting about Estrella now even though I have a backlog of places to write about—sorry Broken Spanish and Cassia, but I’m sure you’ll survive—is because I want people to go! This was truly one of the better meals my family and I have had together. Usually someone didn’t want to go somewhere in the first place or ended up not liking the food; that wasn’t the case here. Everyone in my family loved Estrella!
(A curiosity: I noticed that chef Weiss pronounces the restaurant’s name with a “la” sound, as do her staff, rather than the “ya” sound that I’m assuming many people, particularly those who know Spanish, would use. Estrella is named after the circus girl from Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon” so I actually listened to the song, and it’s sung like the Spanish pronunciation. Must get to the bottom of this mystery!)
Estrella opens at 7am for breakfast service on weekdays, with takeout-only at lunchtime (for now), and full dinner service. On the weekends, full service brunch starts at 10am. And as I discovered today, you can book a table using Reserve (Estrella’s listing in the app was where I learned about the Joni Mitchell song reference), so take advantage of the app to grab a seat at what will quickly become one of the top brunch spots around!
Oh, and chef Dakota Weiss is a Bacon Wizard!
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8800 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069