Before "brosephs" Justin Safier and Travis Lester behind Brosephs Restaurant Group (BRG) opened up Smoke, a string of other restaurants had surfaced in the same spot and then vanished in the blink of an eye. I once thought that this remote stretch of Melrose was too far off the beaten path to draw in any patrons. Teetering on the brink between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, this block of Melrose always felt to me like a teenager with an identity crisis who couldn't quite find a way to fit in. Well, that theory bubble burst in January and the evidence can be found not less than 100 feet away at Craig's Steakhouse. The loyal patrons of Dan Tana's followed in droves as longtime maitre'd Craig Susser opened his very own venture just a few short steps east of Smoke.
It's tough to tell whether these two places will be competing for the same dinner crowd, although there will undoubtedly be some overlap. Craig's perhaps draws a crowd more inclined towards the old-fashioned steak house experience whereas Smoke has opted for a more modern nightclub feel with black curtains, granite tabletops, grey banquettes and melting candles. Every Thursday - Saturday you will find a DJ spinning until 2am and food and drinks are served throughout the evening. The cocktail menu showcases the latest in mixology trends, with drinks featuring smoky mezcal tequilas and duck infused vodka. Having a hard time deciding? Try the ginger elixir with bourbon, ginger, agave, raspberry and mint.
Chef Laurent Saussy is on a winning streak and I would hate to see it end. It began with his collaboration with BRG at Bar Esquina Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and has since expanded to Santa Monica and West Hollywood.
The "brosephs" have named Chef Saussy Executive Chef at each of their ventures, including Brick + Mortar by the beach and another new West Hollywood restaurant set to open any day now, called Fatty's Public House which will also serve contemporary American fare.
And like any red-blooded American, you will probably be interested in pictures of the dessert.
Chef Saussy, who humbly prefers to be called Laurent, has been cooking in Southern California since he was 15 years old beefing up his expertise at places like 72 Market Street, Jiraffe, Josie Restaurant, Towne Restaurant, Memphis at the Beach, Cache and Waterloo & City. Laurent also took on several New York City stints at restaurants like Bouley and the well-known Blue Hill. With a self described inclination towards spontaneity and creativity, his menu draws upon the diverse techniques he picked up growing up going back and forth between his Island town of Puerto Rico spending hours in his French grandmother's kitchen and in Tennessee absorbing the Latin flavors of the South. This might help explain the popularity of the esteemed Esquina Bar Restaurant in Mexico. Hopefully Laurent doesn't have too much on his plate with 2 new restaurant openings about a month apart.
If the menu and the food at Smoke reveal anything, it is that BRG need not worry about what is going on in the kitchen. When the bill arrived, I was pleased to find it just over $200 which was not bad for 3 ladies sipping red wine throughout the meal.These "brosephs" just need to focus on getting the word out.
Allow me to say, Smoke has all the fixings of success. If it can break the curse that came before it, Smoke is hot enough to be on FIRE.
9010 Melrose Ave.,