A very, very good, very personal Brazilian Restaurant in Downtown L.A.
There’s something very anti-Downtown about this very good Brazilian place located downtown. It’s the opposite everything that you can get over at L.A. Live. Heck, it’s even the opposite of a place that I like, like Umamicatessen, which is just around the corner. There’s nothing slick, or polished…and thus, nothing forbidding or unwelcoming about WoodSpoon.
WoodSpoon looks like a little hole-in-the-wall, storefront Restaurant. Blink at the wrong moment, and you’ll miss it driving by. (Lord knows, my friends did.) You step inside, and all of the sudden you feel like you’re in someone’s home. Granted, the kitchen, the cash registers kind of give it all away. But some of the seats have seat cushions. The napkins are wrapped and twisted without a trance of precision and uniformity. It’s like you’ve been invited to your friend’s house for a dinner party.
…and that is a very, very, VERY good thing.
There’s something about a single page menu that’s kinda reassuring. Bourdain would call it saying “This is who am I. This is what I love, get over it.” Having met the very talented, very charming, and very attractive Chef Natalie, I would venture a guess that’s not quite what she’s saying. Talking to her, she’s very proud of her food, and loves making her customers happy. To me, she’s put together a focused menu, and knows she’s put her best foot forward.
Damn, she was cute.
You come in, getting one of the prized seats (we’ll get to that in the Safety Tip). You’re immediately given a Carafe of Water, but with a unique twist at the bottom is a cinnamon stick, adding a little sweetness to what is otherwise a banal part of the experience. Right away, you know you’re in for something special.
The place is loud and full of energy. I will warn you, that the Hipster crowd has taken to this place like a duck to water, so expect to have a very hard time talking to your friends, your date, what have you. But still, Chef Natalie is treating this like this is her home, and she’s invited you into it. At some point during the Dinner Rush, expect to see her come out of her kitchen, and stop by every table to say hello, and ask how your meal was, and…
Damn. Did I mention she was cute?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Okay, everything I heard about this place, especially from the fine folks at Yelp, were talking about the Chicken Pot Pie. Oh my God, the Chicken Pot Pie. You must have the Chicken Pot Pie. My whole world was rocked by having the Chicken Pot Pie.
So, why did I have the Steak?
When I first learned I was headed here, I checked out the menu. The thing I saw, the thing that commanded my attention was the Pork Burger.
I know, right? How can I resist anything called a Pork Burger? How can anyone resist anything called Pork Burger?
Yeah, I’m looking at you Vegetarians. You know you want it.
Then, I’m sitting in the restaurant. That when I decide to check out Yelp, to see what everyone else is saying about it. That’s when I read all the “Chicken Pot Pie” reviews.
Okay, so maybe I should swing toward the Pot Pie. It’s probably WoodSpoon’s most famous dish. Plus, it follows that it’s the first thing on the WoodSpoon Favorites portion of the menu. That always helps.
Then, our Waiter had to ruin everything. He had to mention the Steak didn’t he? It came with…you guessed it: a fried egg.
They had me at fried…only because I knew egg was going to follow.
The Steak was on special and is not a part of the regular menu. But it was damn good. My friends who ordered the Chicken Pot Pie raved about it. WoodSpoon also had fantastic, fantastic Sangria.
The Desserts aren’t on the menu, as they are made daily. The selections available on the night I went were: Rice Pudding, Passionfruit Mousse, and a Coconut Flan. I went with the Mousse, and was very happy with it.
Did I mention Natalie was cute? I forget these things.
UPDATE: May 9, 2013: I returned to Woodspoon partially to get my hands on a Chicken Pot Pie…and mostly to get a gander at Chef Natalie again. But the Pie was my mission, especially after all the attendant hype that’s surrounded it.
Got to say, the Pot Pie was good…real good. It is a damn fine, lovingly crafted, hand made, hand baked Pot Pie. It tasted like…a lovingly crafted, hand made, hand baked Pot Pie.
It just wasn’t as life changing as some have suggested. (I’m looking at you Giada.)
So what? So the Pot Pie is a solid four star experience, instead of the five? Big deal. Do you know how many other five star experiences are on this menu? The side salad that came with the Pot Pie alone would have constituted a meal in most places, and it was fantastic. The Coxinha, also known as Brazil’s most popular Street Food as spicy, crispy, tender delicious. If a Fast Food joint had these as their Chicken Nuggets, I’d be about thirty pounds heavier.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: WoodSpoon does not take Reservations for anything less than a party of six. The place is cozy, but fills up really, really, really fast. Come after 8:30pm on a Friday, and expect to wait to get in.
There is no bar to wait at, so know that going in. Alcohol is not on the menu, but is served. They don’t keep it on the Menu because what they get changes daily. Still, no matter what…Sangria is always on the menu.
PARKING: Surprisingly easy for Downtown. If I was dreading coming to WoodSpoon for any reason, was my worries about finding Parking close the restaurant. But literally, the restaurant is surrounded by Parking Lots. The one across the street from them is very open, very well lit, and only six bucks. There is Street Parking (with Meters) all over the place, but it’s going to require some luck to get a space. There is no Valet for WoodSpoon, and given the homey, warm feeling of the place, I kinda hope there never is.
The WoodSpoon Website does a very good job of highlighting the Parking area, so go to their site before your visit.
107 West 9th Street.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (213) 629-1765
Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm / 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm