James Trees could have opened his very first restaurant anywhere but he picked Downtown. The former chef de cuisine at Fig and corporate chef for Superba Bread left Los Angeles to return to his native city, bringing the vision for Esther’s Kitchen with him.
The objective was basic: keep things fresh and regional, and make all the pasta and bread internal every early morning. It’s the kind of restaurant you ‘d see on every corner in LA, but here? Trees saw a space and decided to fill it. As such, considering that its January opening, Esther’s Kitchen has actually been an instantaneous hit.
If you judge an Italian dining establishment from the bread, then a huge loaf of sourdough will impress from the start. Enhance it with anchovy garlic butter ($6), a thick and velvety paste that tastes like the best Caesar salad dressing you’ve ever had. Though it’s nontraditional, the yellowtail crudo with market citrus– grapefruit during my visit– fennel, basil and chili oil ($15) is a rejuvenating way to prep your taste buds before the heavier items in other places on the menu.
If you have actually ever had homemade polenta, you understand the convenience capacity of this staple. Esther’s, named after Trees’ auntie, integrates hearty mushrooms, mouthwatering truffle butter and sherry for a decadent, must-order vegetarian meal. Ensure to save some bread so you can get every last umami-laden morsel. And the dining establishment’s take on the timeless cacio e pepe ($15) is made with chitarra– an egg noodle much like spaghetti but sliced with a guitar-like pasta cutter– then tossed with pecorino and tellicherry peppercorn.
Esther’s doesn’t absence in creativity, either. The most farm-to-table pasta on the menu is easily the ricotta gnudi ($15), which doesn’t involve any form of noodle at all. Cheese dumplings are the fluffy stars of this rich yet well balanced meal, accompanied by entire beets and an herbaceous pistachio pesto. And if pasta isn’t really your style, there’s a variety of pizzas and meals, like the limited-daily porchetta ($25).
No matter what you order, something is specific: The attention to information is noticeable in every meal. With plans for a brand-new breakfast menu, and a backyard outdoor patio opening quickly, Trees is simply starting.
ESTHER’S KITCHEN AREA 1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., 702-570-7864. Tuesday-Sunday, 5-11 p.m.