Caroline Styne and chef Suzanne Goin, known for their sinfully delicious Lucques, have scaled back on plate size at their latest venture, AOC, but not on taste. "You don’t have to commit to a whole veal chop," says Styne. "You can taste a bunch of different things instead of the one thing you ordered." AOC, which stands for Appellation d’Origine Controlée, the French governing agency for imported artisanal foods, celebrates small plates of great food served with fine wine. After searching for a space that didn’t belong to an ill-fated restaurant, Styne and Goin took over the site of an old pizza joint on trendy Third Street and opened in early January. AOC’s spare white rooms, designed by Barbara Barry, feature brown leather banquettes and two-story wood beam ceilings. Standout dishes include long-cooked cavolo nero (black cabbage), seared albacore with potatoes and warm chocolate cake with mascarpone. Lucques fans will delight to know that its devil’s chicken is also on the menu, though at AOC only the thighs are served, in keeping with its downsized theme.
Chris Breed and Eric James know a thing or two about Hollywood joints, having opened Roxy in the Eighties and the painfully hip Sunset Room in the Nineties. Their latest creation, which opened last Friday, is White Lotus, a 90-seat sushi bar and Euro-Asian restaurant flanked by a chic bar where 50 kinds of sake are served. The lacquered wood and satin banquettes, Chinese rugs and 1,500-year-old statues make a glamorous backdrop for chef Hiroji Obayashi’s (of West Hollywood’s Hirozen) glamorous food — Tasmanian sea trout, a tower of foie gras and asparagus or a dry-aged New York steak served with bean sprouts, snow peas and black bean sauce. "We’re aiming for a slightly older clientele," says James, "not kids who drink water all night."
Partners Steven Arroyo and Cedd Moses were through with champagne wishes and caviar dreams. So they shuttered C Bar, the hot spot they ran for the last five years on busy Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, and opened Cobra Lily in its place. "C Bar will always be associated with the Nineties, champagne and caviar," says Moses. "We thought it was time to move on." The duo uncovered the spot’s frosted windows, and redid the space in a rustic vibe with tile and dark wood to create an intimate Spanish wine bar. Cobra Lily features a tapas-only menu, and seats just 54, including the bar. But the hipsters who have been packing the spot on weekends since its opening in December don’t mind squeezing in on folding chairs, or just standing around until a table opens up. "Just like a neighborhood bistro," says Moses.