maison21 is certainly glad he overcame his fear of weather and braved the elements (stormwatch!) to join my brother and his lovely wife for an early dinner yesterday evening. he's also quite glad he was unable to score reservations at pizzeria mozza- open for a year now, and still only had openings at 4:00 or 11:00 when i called 2 weeks in advance- otherwise he might not have ended up at comme ça, a french brasserie opened this last october by david myers (of sona & boule). much as we love the mozza, we we were thrilled to try something new (to us anyway).
as soon as we pulled up to the valet, maison21 knew he was going to enjoy the restaurant- a crisp black and white facade had replaced the mouldering wood exterior of the last restaurant on the site, a dreadful mediterranean/middle eastern concoction that had somehow managed to stay open for about 50 years past it's 70's heyday. maison21 went there once in his deep, dark past, on a first date that m21 knew would also be a last date, when his date proclaimed it to be "his favorite restaurant in l.a.". how anything with hanging baskets of over-grown spider plants and half-dead pothos vines dropping diseased leaves into your (not very good) hummus could be anyone's favorite, is beyond maison21's comprehension. funny- i couldn't tell even tell you what my date looked like, or what his name was, but i sure do remember that hideous 70's moldy patio inspired interior!
anyway, enough about the ghosts of restaurants past- as i said, i knew i was going to like the place the minute i saw it- like the exterior, the interior is a simple palette of black and white, and a well done combination of casual and sophisticated. the ebonized wood paneling is a sleek take on traditional brasserie style, and the tufted white leather banquettes are a luxe contrast to the glossy white plastic-y chairs- similar to the ultra bellini chairs from design within reach. we love the fact that WHITE was used for restaurant seating upholstery, something you don't often see because of the wear and soiling factor (even when it's a durable leather, as in this case). even the mis-matched collection of mirrors on the wall didn't bother maison21 as they worked with the updated traditional meets modern vibe of the place (they are a little rachel ashwell-esque, no?). the restaurant was designed by the KAA design group, a very full service firm judging by their website (architecture! landscape! web design! interiors! branding!).
our dinner was early (probably the reason m21 was able to get the reservation) and the restaurant was almost as empty as the above photo when we arrived but despite the torrential downpour happening outside, which normally should keep sane angelenos like moiself safe at home (stormwatch!), the restaurant was soon completely packed.
the thankfully adult crowd was as good the interior (and the food)- handsome, well dressed men and chic women- who somehow all seemed to know how to dress to perfectly fit the vibe of the restaurant- casual yet sophisticated, nothing glittery or flashy (which believe me can sometimes be hard to escape here in l.a.). maybe everyone looked especially good because of the deliciously dim lighting that regular readers know maison21 finds to be vitally important. anyway, the whole vibe worked. it reminded maison21 of balthazar or pastis in new york, and as l.a. didn't really have anything like them until now, comme ça is a trés welcome addition.
as for the food, maison21 is no food critic, but the menu is all brasserie classics (absolutely perfect comfort food for our rainy evening). standouts from our meal included the roasted beef marrow with oxtail jam appetizer and a crispy skate grenobloise entree that was absolutely perfect. the steak frites served to the table next to us looked pretty fab as well (though doesn't it always? anywhere?) and the fruits de mer platters looked spectacular too. maison21 really wants to visit next for lunch, to try the luncheon menu only cheeseburger that pulitzer prize winning l.a. weekly food critic, jonathan gold, raved about not so long ago.
all and all, a delightful evening- thanks for dinner, big brother- and your better half, too!