Leviathan is an adventurous, pesca-centric restaurant that just opened its doors in September.
Located in Encino, the 16-seat outdoor eatery was conceived by Philip Frankland Lee. This innovative young Top Chef alumni also created esteemed restaurants Scratch | Bar, perched upstairs, and Gadarene Swine, where the inventive vegetable dishes evoked wonder in a city abundant in vegan eateries.
Acclaimed chef Dylan Stage, who worked at some of Spain’s top Michelin-starred restaurants and several acclaimed New York City restaurants, is Leviathan’s Chef du Cuisine and created the menu of small plates with Chef Lee.
So what will you find at Leviathan? As stated on the menu, “the flavors of the ocean, one plate at a time.” International influences abound, and everything is made from scratch.
As only the freshest ingredients are used, the menu may vary a bit. During my visit, nine fish or seafood dishes were offered, rounded out by two meat dishes: a Wagyu rib eye and pork belly.
Our server recommended ordering 3 to 4 shareable plates per person. Salt cod is served atop house-made sourdough that’s wood-fire toasted and dotted with roasted tomatoes. Spot prawns atop romesco are accented with quail egg and bottarga. The crispy branzino is accompanied by a summer ragout of cranberry beans and habanad peppers.
Crispy seared ocean trout is served with confit fingerling potatoes, farmers market red lentils, and napa cabbage. The seared Wagyu came with black mission figs, spicy fig spread, Wagyu-fat turnips, and bone marrow sauce.
Shima aji hit all the right notes. Featuring cucumber, melon, and shiso, the tuna’s smooth texture contrasted well with the puffed tapioca.
One dessert is offered and it’s a beauty. Made in house by pastry chef Margarita, the creamy sourdough panna cotta dotted with sea salt and lavender seeds and blossoms is served in a striking, Flintstones-like bowl.
The well-curated cocktail list features four drinks. I loved the two I tried: Lion’s Tale, an autumnal concoction of bourbon, lime, and allspice dram, and the daiquiri, a lightly sweet medley of rum, demerara, and lime. Wine, sake, beer, and digestifs are also available.
Chef Lee’s concepts feature chef’s counters, making the wait for each dish a bit of a theatrical experience. Though it’s all outdoors, Leviathan is no exception. Facing the open-air chef’s station are six seats divided by plexiglass. Four other tables make up the remaining seating, allowing for a good amount of spacing between diners.
Truly destination-worthy, Leviathan is located at 16101 Ventura Blvd. in Encino. Hours are 5 pm to 10 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays. More information.