L.A.’s Michelin Starred Chef Christophe Émé Brings Sophisticated French Chic with ‘KASS’

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu – Tuna Tartare at a Media Tasting at KASS Wine Bar + Restaurant, Los Angeles, California, January 29, 2019.

Michelin starred and world-renowned Chef Christophe Émé of Ortelon has now opened KASS Wine Bar + Restaurant, his chic and cozy new wine bar offering a “sophisticated yet approachable” French dinner menu and sublime selection of wines. The intimate 40-seat dining room and wine bar is on La Brea, just off of Wilshire’s Miracle Mile.

Émé, who was once a celebrity chef challenger on “Iron Chef America,” hails from Loire, France and began cooking at a young age. At 16, Émé began an apprenticeship at the Hôtel de France in Angers before later sharpening his skills at some of the most prestigious Michelin starred restaurants around the world. From the Auberge des Templiers to Auberge de l’Eridan in the French Alps, to Le Taillevent of Paris, Émé has worked with legendary chefs such as Gerard Rabaey (Le Pont de Brent,) Marc Veyrat (La Maison des Bois,) Michel Rostang (Maison Rostang,) Philippe Braun (L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris,) and Philippe Legendre (Le Cinq.)

In 2001, Émé came to Los Angeles as Executive Chef to L’Orangerie. Then, in 2005, he opened the haute cuisine Ortolan on West Third Street where he was named one of the “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine. In 2007, Chef Émé’s life changed dramatically. He married actress Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) and Ortolan, after only being open a short time, earned him a Michelin star—an honor rarely issued in Los Angeles and an award that has not been bestowed to any L.A. area restaurants since 2010.

Photo by Acuna-Hansen. Chef Christophe Eme at KASS Wine Bar + Restaurant, Los Angeles, California.

KASS’ dinner menu will feature appetizers and entrées that will vary weekly, as curated by Émé, depending on availability. Seasonal ingredients fresh from the local Farmers Market will inspire starters, such as a Baby Beet Salad with black lentils and aged Comté cheese or grilled octopus with baby fennel, Yukon potato, and red bell pepper coulis. Some suggested entrees are a Farro Risotto with celery and morel mushrooms, Seared Maine Scallop with white bean, black olive, chorizo, and basil pesto, Tortellini with ricotta cheese and green asparagus coulis, an Oxtail Parmentier—a French cottage pie of potatoes, bone marrow and Burgundy truffles, or a “Chicken Cooked in Clay” served with wild mushroom sauce and green asparagus.

Appetizers and openers, such as the Beet Salad, Ceviche or Kusshi oysters, and chilled desserts, such as the Meringue and Chantilly cream with raspberries, a creamy Riz au Lait—Émé’s rice pudding served with salted caramel ice cream, and other assorted sorbets and ice creams, may be served on the restaurants unique and visually stunning chill plate—a concave glass envelope filled with water.

“KASS is an involved experience,” said Émé “I want guests to come in for the atmosphere as much [as] for the wine and the food.”

It is this welcoming, approachable sophistication that Chef Émé plans to bring to KASS with an open view to the kitchen from the dining room, brightening the interior. The clean, contemporary space, designed by Émé with assistance from Annie May of Kuskin / May Designs, also features a sleek bar alongside the dining room, also with a view into the kitchen. Nest chairs bedeck the front patio and the space balances black and white and warm neutrals with textures of stone, ceramic, marble, wood and woven rattan. Dishes will be showcased on Pordamsa porcelain plate ware, a Shichirin Hida Konro—a miniature Japanese portable charcoal grill—, slate plaques, black slate cutlery, and crystal stemware.

Émé consulted Taylor Parsons to curate KASS’ collection of select wines, which adorn the back wall of the bar. According to Restaurant Sommelier and Manager, Kyley Jacoby, the KASS Wine List is “comprised of seventy percent French Wines, with an emphasis on the Loire Valley in honor of Émé’s home region, with the remaining thirty percent made up of varietals ranging from France, Europe, and California.”

Sparkling wines include the Jacky Blot, Montlouis Brut ‘Tradition’ Loire Valley NV,  the Laherte Frères, Extra Brut ‘Ultradition’ Champagne NV, including a crisp, refreshing Pascal Bellier Van Mousseux Rêverie Brut Rosé from Cheverny. In addition, the restaurant offers a choice of select white wines from around the globe such as the Domaine Daulny, Sancerre Loire Valley 2017, or the Frantz Chagnoleau Mâcon-Villages Le Carruge Burgundy 2016.

Whites are characterized as “Energetic,” “Fruity,” and “Muscular.” Reds are characterized as “Bright,” “Juicy,” “Earthy,” and “Plush.”

Available by the glass is a white Domaine Dupasquier, Roussette de Savoie, Savoie 2013, as well as a pink, the Vinca Minor, Carignan Rosé Sonoma County 2017. For the Reds, from France, the Jean-Marc Burgaud, Morgon Côte du Py, Beaujolais 2017, a Loire Valley 2016 Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny ‘La Grande Vignolle’, or the Domaine de Majas, VdP Côtes Catalanes Carignan Blend Roussillon 2017. From the Piedmont region of Italy, there’s a 2016 Brovia, Dolcetto d’Alba ‘Vignavillej.’

The menu also boasts an assortment of charcuterie–French prosciutto Jambon de Bayonne, Cantimpalitos Spanish sausage, and Italian Calabrese, Cured Duck, and Rosette de Lyon Fiore salamis. Complimenting the wines and charcuterie are French cheeses, such as the tangy, creamy Fleur du Marquis (sheep) from Corsica, a mild, lemony Le Cornilly Frais (goat) from Loire, or a firm, nutty Secret de Compostelle (sheep) of Basque country. A domestic Rogue River Blue from Oregon, semi-soft with bits of crystallization, sounds like it will pair well with the Piedrasassi P.S. Syrah from Santa Barbara County, 2016. Or Alpenblumen (cow) from, Ganterschwil, Switzerland, with its he spicy, floral rind might compliment an Andi Knauss, White Blend ‘Boutanche’ Württemberg, 2017.

The Bellier Brut Rose crisp sparkler goes very nicely with the meringues, Chantilly cream and berries. Trust me.

KASS Wine Bar + Restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The KASS Wine Bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 Midnight, and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. For KASS Wine Bar + Restaurant, reservations call 323-413-2299 or visit them on Yelp.

About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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