Sitting in a strip mall with neighbors such as Mediterranean Bar and Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Massage Envy, Gymboree, Coffee Bean, Allen Edwards Salon, Larsen’s Steakhouse, a dental office, clothing boutiques and a carousel, I was surprised that was where I would find Chef Phillip Frankland Lee’s Scratch Bar & Kitchen. But there it was, tucked into the second floor on the mall in Encino.
Scratch Bar & Kitchen first opened in Beverly Hills in 2013 and that was the first time I was introduced to Chef Lee. When the restaurant closed, Chef Lee opened the vegetable driven Gadarene Swine in Studio City which I went to a number of times. I was always impressed by the creativity of each dish, showcasing vegetables in ways one would never think of. Sadly Gadarene Swine recently closed but happily Chef Lee re-opened Scratch Bar & Kitchen one year ago in a strip mall in the valley.
Scratch Bar & Kitchen offers nightly tasting menus featuring seasonal ingredients and served family style. The menu lists all of the seasonal ingredients being offered for the month, including meats, vegetables and fruits. Then you chose if you want to spend $45, $85 or $125 per person. You can give a little direction to the kitchen, including any dietary aversions, and then leave it in the hands of the team. Every thing is made in house, from scratch.
Regarding service, there are actually no servers at Scratch Bar & Kitchen. There are eight chefs in the kitchen. And, each works both the front and back of the house. This also means that everyone on the floor can talk about the menu and ingredients knowledgeably and with ease.
We started with an amuse of a Green Mussel Shooter (ceviche green mussel, soubise onion, serrano pepper, sake, avocado mousse, uni)
Crab (white gazpacho. Alaskan king crab, pickled grapes, almond, buttermilk gelee, buttermilk granite, sweet corn foam, tarragon)
Prawn (Mexican prawn, chermoula, caramelized cabbage puree, pistachio, scallion, smoked white onion)
Strawberry (rutabega puree, pickled strawberries, roasted sunchoke, blueberries, almonds, herbs, sunchoke chips)
Scallops (celery root puree, scallops, sweetbreads, cured tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, crispy onion, mustard frill, burnt romaine, leche de tigre)
Carrots (sugar roast carrots, fresh herbs, soubise onion, pistachio, old bay aioli)
Pasta (ricotta gnocchi, crawfish, capers, shallots, sausage, sugar snap peas, mint buerre blanc, pea tendrils)
Mussels (Bombay curray, mussels, grilled sourdough, pandan aioli, citrus aioli, onion flowers)
Branzino (purple cauliflower puree, roasted cauliflower, pickled cauliflower, butter fried cauliflower, raisins, almonds, capers, branzino, white wine pan sauce)
Salmon (nori chips, greek yogurt, pickled vegetables, roasted salmon smoked in Timothy hay)
Hanger Steak (dray aged hanger steak, braised kale, coriander chippolini onions, cashews, red wine demi, parsnips isi whip)
Chocolate Three Ways with hazelnut and alfalfa
Scratch Bar & Kitchen
16101 Ventura Blvd., Encino