Los Angeles Nabs a Stunning Tasting Menu Haunt from Guy Savoy Alum
Eric Bost's first solo act is auburn, a new fine-dining destination on Melrose Avenue.
“I want my dishes to come across in an easily understood manner,” says North Carolina-born Eric Bost, the fine dining-trained chef behind Los Angeles’ newest seasonal California tasting menu restaurant, auburn. After jaunts in Paris––clocking in at the iconic jewelry box of a restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, followed by time spent at the très chic Hôtel de Crillon––Bost eventually committed almost a decade to another revered French figure, Guy Savoy, serving as executive chef at his outlets in Las Vegas, then Singapore.
But, says Bost, “After living all over the world, my wife, Elodie, and I were drawn to Los Angeles by its welcoming nature and diversity.” Just about three years after relocating to L.A., and subsequent to a year-long tenure with hometown hero Walter Manzke at his lauded California-French staple Republique, Bost is ready for his first solo act––a sophisticated, yet user-friendly one, at that.
Auburn debuted March 15 on Melrose Avenue near Highland Avenue in a storied space that previously housed Karen and Quinn Hatfield’s now-shuttered modern American namesake, and before that, in 1986, the space became home to the late Michel Richard’s Citrus, a pioneering French-California establishment.
Bost gutted 6703 Melrose Ave, redressing it in blonde wood, nude leather, and cream-colored linen textiles, yielding an unobstructed indoor-outdoor dining-room-plus-bar that feels bright, earthy, elegant, and modern thanks to the help of husband-and-wife duo Jon and Maša Kleinhample of Downtown L.A.-based design firm, Klein Agency.
Within the 105-seat space––which is outfitted with laser-cut steel hearth––roughly half of Bost’s dishes touch the flames. In the main dining room, the chef is serving a choose-your-own-adventures menu in which guests commit to either four ($75), six ($105) or nine ($150) courses, with an optional beverage pairing (from $35 to $75). Meanwhile, at the bar, a separate food list learns toward snacky, booze-friendly bites––like oysters with seaweed-lemon granite, and charred mushrooms with preserved persimmon––poised to pair with worldly-flavored libations crafted by New York bartenders Matthew Belanger and Lauren Corriveau of decorated drinking dens Death & Co and Nitecap, respectively.
“In a space that is all about conviviality, we thought it would be comfortable for the guests to have options,” says Bost, adding that he wanted to remove “some of the restrictions common with tasting menus.” Like being bound to one prix-fixe. His full bill of fare counts 12 frequently-rotating dishes, which make use of California’s best produce in inspired constructions, like sweet English peas with creamy Santa Barbara uni and nutty celtuce; and vegetal asparagus paired with briny razor clams and unctuous bone marrow.
Los Angeles is a city that's most-often lauded for its more casual restaurants. And while tasting menu concepts have grown in popularity over the last five years or so, the most successful of them still convey a unbuttoned air, with some even claiming strip mall real estate. Auburn is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A fine-dining restaurant decked out in beachy garb, hiding its deft technique in deceptively simple-looking plates. But Bost’s inspired menu and unique ingredient constructions suggests something special. Alice Waters may have coined the culinary style “California cuisine” in the 1970s, but progressive California cuisine is here.