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“Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio displays his savory science skills at his first solo restaurant, Ink. Named one of the best new restaurants in the U.S. by GQ magazine since opening in September, Ink filters flavors from the various cultures that thrive in Los Angeles through techniques used in molecular gastronomy. For instance, Voltaggio’s version of a Caesar salad features fluke and puts a Japanese spin on the traditional Mediterranean ingredients by tempura-frying the dressing and sprinkling togarashi, a Japanese blend of chili pepper, on top. He also puts his spin on comfort foods such as Canada’s poutine, or cheese fries, which he makes with chickpea fries, yogurt curds and lamb-neck gravy.
Ink’s minimalist decor doesn’t distract from the food. Evoking industrial Americana, the rustic wooden tables with black leather chairs have seated famous foodies such as Neil Patrick Harris, Aziz Ansari, Chelsea Handler, Alyson Hannigan and Tom Colicchio, the celebrity chef who judged Voltaggio on “Top Chef.” Fitting into a fashionable section of Melrose Avenue, with neighbors such as boutiques for Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, Ink’s servers don selvage aprons stitched by Venice, Calif.-based The Stronghold.
For those who prefer a quick and easy meal, Voltaggio runs a sandwich shop next door called Ink Sack. The four-inch subs, priced from $4 to $6, aren’t your typical deli options, however. The BLT is transformed into a CLT, with chicken liver mousse and curried chicken skin replacing the bacon. — S.J.
8360 Melrose Avenue
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to midnight. Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Ink Sack.