S.O.S. Rescues Your Taste Buds…

Vieiras Amb Ari (scallops a la planxa)
Vieiras Amb Ari (scallops a la planxa)

Sending out an S.O.S.

I recently dined at smoke.oil.salt (s.o.s.), an intimate, new restaurant situated on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

I rarely sample restaurants on Melrose because I find it a pseudo hip, personally irritating ‘hood. It does conjures up fun and challenging retail therapy memories of cruisin’ the stores looking for suitable stage wear for Huey Lewis, Pat Benatar and Billy Idol, to name drop just a smattering of rock stars that I aided and abetted when publicists were major multi-taskers and there was no such wannabes as stylists.

Anyway, back on track and refocusing my attention on s.o.s. which sounded intriguing. I went against the grain and ventured out on  a Friday night and headed to Melrose after dark.

We found a parking spot across the street from the trendy new establishment…a positive beginning.


We had an 8:30pm reservation and only waited moments in the crowded restaurant. We were seated along the wall in the bar room.

Our server was a doll, well informed and very personable. The animated crowd represented every age demographic over 21 and through the 70’s, indicating it must be on many where-to -eat now heat maps.

smoke.oil.salt is an authentic Spanish seafood restaurant with traditional and modern tapas and wine bar featuring paella, grilled fish, vegetarian specialties, suckling pig, charcuterie and Spanish cheeses.

AdVantage Partners Adam Fleischman, who founded Umami Burger and co-founded 800 Degrees Pizza and Lee Weinberg (lawyer and investor) Stephen Gelber (longtime TV producer and wine geek), hospitality veteran Jason Berkowitz and Chef Perfecto Rocher have all teamed up to create smoke.oil.salt.

Perfecto Rocher  Photo: Luis Sinco LA Times
Perfecto Rocher Photo: Luis Sinco LA Times

Chef Perfecto Rocher, a third-generation paella maker from Valencia, Spain left home and hitchhiked to London in search of the culinary life. He didn’t speak a word of English, but managed to teach himself.

He eventually made his way to the U.S. and worked at Gary Danko in San Francisco and Picasso in Las Vegas. He returned to Spain and worked at the world renown El Bulli and then back to LA to BLVD, Lazy Ox and now he his master of his own domain.

uni (1)
Flam D’Erico (sea urchin flan)

We started our Spanish adventure with an intriguing uni (sea urchin) dish. It was creatively presented and very tasty with caviar and shrimp chili oil. The presentation was impressive, the flan creamy…just wish there was more uni included for this sea urchin addict…the Beep Beep (uni fried rice) at POT recently set the uni bar.

Next up was Vieiras Amb Api…at first I thought Meredith Vieira was doing a promo tour for her new talk show, premiering in September and this was one of the informal PR gatherings (creative campaign), but translation is scallops a la planxa with a celeriac (celery root) puree. The scallops were tender, sweet, delicious and perfectly prepared.

Flori-Col Amb Allets (caramelized cauliflower and broccoli)
Flori-Col Amb Allets (caramelized cauliflower and broccoli)

Before we could devour even one scallop, the servers were rushing in with Flori-Col Amb Allets (caramelized cauliflower and broccoli with garlic spicy chili) which was fabulous, but, as noted, spicy and garlicky as well as Peixet Fregit, the fried smelt, fennel, pickles and horseradish aioli dish which my husband craved. I did not think I would like it, but it was surprisingly delectable. Ralentizarlo, muchachos, por favor (slow it down, boys!).

Peixet Fregit (fried smelts)
Peixet Fregit (fried smelts)

Bitchfest…You cannot change ANYTHING on the menu. You will need the flashlight app on your phone because the mood lighting is taken to a new low, the acoustics are non-existent…the sound level was more oppressive than the music at this summer’s KISS/Def Leppard concerts. I literally had to read my husband’s lips during dinner. The sommelier was beyond unimpressive and devoid of personality.

Hopefully, the sound will be remedied. We did have a large table of drunk people sitting close to us. One male customer definitely earned the title of major Entitlementor.

He was very demanding and rude to our server who was such a lovely, accommodating person. Yet again, bad behavior was rewarded because the loudmouth douche demanded a menu change and he got it. I politely requested no peppers so I wouldn’t die and my requested was denied.

Truita De Carxofes (artichoke omelet)
Truita De Carxofes (artichoke omelet)

Before dessert, we finished the marathon meal off with, wait for it, Truita De Carxofes, translation….artichoke omelet with a scrumptious meyer lemon aioli. This dish was maaaavelous.

Aros Amb Llet De Xoxolata (rice pudding)
Aros Amb Llet De Xoxolata (rice pudding)

My husband is a huge rice pudding fan so naturally we selected the valrhona chocolate rice pudding with salty caramel and cinnamon whipped cream. I did care for it and when the server asked for feedback, I was honest.

She insisted on taking it off our bill because she just wanted us to be happy (cue Pharrell)…what a gem. Give her a raise.

One last annoyance. It drives me crazy when the kitchen is obstinate. For example and I know I am being repetitive, but that’s my prerogative, I am allergic to peppers and I think in those cases, you can eliminate that particular ingredient unless the dish is pre-mixed and cannot be removed.

I can understand the anorexic starlet or Bev Hills matron demands not being met for an entirely deconstructed dish, no butter or carbs, everything, but the foam on the side…but come on.

Despite the noise level and the uncompromising edict from the kitchen, the food was delicious, creative and Chef Perfecto was just, perfecto.

BTW, there is no substitute for If The Devil Had Menopause….no exceptions.

smoke.oil.salt 7274 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, California Dinner Tuesday-Sunday 5:30-Midnight. Wine Bar open 53–2am. Prix-Fixe Paella Nights every Sunday (4 courses $45).

One Comment

  1. Paula Lopez says:

    I loved it- just the right spice to head off into my day!

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