February 6, 2013
At The Parish, breakfast is served with a twist. A dainty lineup of four gourmet biscuit sandwiches arrives containing such unusual fillings as fried chicken and maple Dijon; trout and pickles; sage eggs and sausage; and bacon and avocado.
Proclaiming the array “beautiful,” restaurant co-owner Bruce Horwitz snaps a photo before the sandwiches are divvied up. Because Horwitz and fellow co-owner Mark Meyuhas have done the selecting — and will also be doing the dining — there is one ingredient that is noticeably absent.
“No cheese,” Meyuhas says. “I don’t like cheese, so [the chefs] know, ‘If Mark’s coming, don’t put cheese on his plate.’ It’s not just for ourselves. It’s for our clients, too. If you’re a big client and we know you like a certain wine, we’ll make a note, ‘Mr. Evan likes his Pinot Noir 2009 from Sonoma.’ ”
As Horwitz explains, running a restaurant is just like operating the five (soon to be six) audio post-production studios that the pair own and operate under the Lime Studios imprint — it’s a service industry.
“Los Angeles is full of places that do post-production. It’s about how you take care of your clients, and that’s all restauranting is,” he says.
There are other factors as well, of course. As the biscuits are consumed, Meyuhas and Horwitz are happy to discuss how their first downtown venture, with its untraditional spin on pub food, breakfast menu and high-end mixology, fills a culinary vacancy. In downtown L.A., one can easily find all types of places to eat or get a cocktail, they maintain. But to bring food and libations together as the Parish does, they say, their eatery stands alone.
“If you live down here, you know there’s still an unmet need for just local good, regular food that doesn’t cost a ton,” Horwitz says. “This is an amazing example of taking a place and completely gutting it, putting great artists and designers and chefs together, and turning it into something it wasn’t just a year and a half ago. Doing the same thing that we just did with this building in Hollywood or Venice would be so much harder. Here, they want you to do it.”
The gastropub opened in August at the renovated flatiron building at the fork where Spring and Main streets merge near Ninth Street. With a design harkening back to 1930s-era Los Angeles, The Parish’s lower-level cafe handles the breakfast and coffee traffic while the upstairs pub is the place for dinner and drinks. Douglas-fir wood floors, vintage mirrors and antique glass windows evoke the feeling of an old railway car looking out over Spring Street. Unlike in a railway car, however, a meal at The Parish can be enjoyed around a fireplace.
In its short existence, The Parish has quickly racked up accolades from Los Angeles magazine, the Los Angeles Times and Zagat, which cited the restaurant as one of the 10 hottest in the world — the only L.A. restaurant to make the list. It certainly helps that it features the culinary skills of a fast-rising star like chef Casey Lane.
The co-owners make an interesting pair. The Chicago-born Horwitz was raised in Charlottesville, Va., the son of a prominent USC immunologist and researcher. Meyuhas was born in Israel, moved to Montreal at age 11 and came to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston with the aim of becoming a professional musician.
Horwitz had been operating a post-production facility in Los Angeles and was looking to branch out, when a mutual friend introduced him to Meyuhas. For the past nine years, the two, along with third partner Loren Silber, have been making — or mixing — beautiful music and high-end TV commercials. At Lime Studios, Meyuhas and Silber are sound engineers, while Horwitz characterizes himself as the guy who “choreographs,” putting things in motion. In addition to the commercial work, Horwitz (who lives in Venice) and Meyuhas (Santa Monica) record and license their own music.
“When we first started out, all we could think about was mixing commercials,” Horwitz says. “We think of so many other things now. Mark has been venturing out, and the entrepreneurial spirit has really been blossoming in the last 10 years, whether it’s restaurants or real estate or whatever.”
The two men are self-professed foodies, and given that Horwitz already operated Wabi-Sabi in Venice and that both men were interested in trying a new venture together, a new restaurant was the logical next step. The two created the Tasting Kitchen in Venice in 2009, with Lane as the chef there as well. Once that establishment was flourishing, the partners turned their focus to the new venture downtown in an effort to keep everybody’s creative juices flowing.
The flatiron building, former home to Café Angelique, sits in easy proximity to L.A. Live and public transportation. With The Parish, the partners envisioned a place where patrons could grab an elegant breakfast, a tasty dinner or an elegant post-show cocktail. The restaurant’s name is a nod to Prohibition-era speakeasies.
“It’s a little bit of a playful thing,” Meyuhas says. “We’re in the fashion district, and we have an extensive bar program which influences our Prohibition-era style of drinks. So people come and have a drink and play.”
The urge to get playful should be no problem after a customer downs The Parish version of the Old Fashioned (bourbon, syrup, bitters and fruit twists); the bourbon-and-ale-mixed Black Bee or a fresh gin gimlet.
On the menu side, Lane hopes to take pub grub to a new level via roasted bone marrow and crispy pork shoulder or — if you’re with a crowd — the group-appropriate Bishop’s Roast featuring a whole roasted rotisserie chicken, county-style ratatouille and a growler of Black Market Contraband beer.
“It’s interesting, this whole idea of food as entertainment in L.A.,” Horwitz says. “A friend recently called me and said he had four tickets for LudoBites that he couldn’t use and did I want them. There you go: Four tickets to LudoBites; food is theater. Restaurants are becoming showcases for chefs and their artistry.”