Ink – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

Michael Voltaggio, the former Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by José Andrés and Executive Chef at The Dining Room at The Langham, and the winner of season six of Bravo’s Top Chef, opened his highly anticipated first restaurant in 2011 on a stretch of Melrose known more for its fashion than for its fare. Here at Ink, a minimally appointed space painted a shadowy shade of gray, Chef Voltaggio creates “modern Los Angeles cuisine” that marries molecular gastronomy with surprising flavor combinations and highly stylized plating.

Based on my lukewarm meals at both The Bazaar and The Dining Room, I wasn’t expecting the strongest showing at Ink. However, I was downright tickled to find that the food here was playful, beautiful, thoughtful, and very much delicious.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

Diners can order family style from the a la carte menu, three to four dishes per person is recommended, or indulge in a four-course tasting plus dessert orchestrated by the kitchen. While the former allows for freedom, the latter features unique dishes not available on the a la carte menu. Since The Astronomer and I had plans for a second dinner later on, we went with the a la carte option.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

We sat at the “sushi” counter this evening since we didn’t have advanced reservations, which provided stellar views of the chefs making modernist magic with liquid nitrogen and thermal immersion circulators. I highly recommend snagging a seat along the counter for dinner and a show.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

We started with an order of the duck rillettes ($14) served with savory waffle crisps, “griddled pear,” and a ribbon of jellified mustard. The flavors were wholly familiar, while the textures surprised and the presentation impressed. These were the least rustic duck rillettes we’d ever encountered.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

Next to arrive was the corn porridge ($11), a marvelously mushy mash of sweet kernels and nori (dried seaweed) topped with house-made Doritos reminiscent of Vietnamese shrimp chips. Comfort foods are rarely considered innovative, but this dish somehow managed to strike both notes.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

The most delightful dish to eat was the Brussels sprouts ($13), halved and draped in house-cured lardo and accented with a tangle of fried pig ears and a tart green apple sauce.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

I couldn’t decide which element I loved more—the crispity crunchity cartilage or the caramelized and rich sprouts.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

The final savory course of the night featured pimenton-crusted octopus tentacles, “ink. shells,” and young fennel ($20). The octopus was a touch too tender for The Astronomer and me—we prefer some chew and char when it comes to our eight-legged friends—but the pitch-black shells were pitch perfect.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

Moving on to desserts, we were pleased to find that the sweets here were as exciting as the savories. The Astronomer’s selection, a playful corn-inspired number, featured persimmon pudding, white chocolate, and huitlacoche ($11). It was awesome.

Ink. - West Hollywood - Los Angeles

I went with the “apple, caramel, walnut, burnt wood ice cream” ($10). Infused with applewood ashes, the ice cream was legitimately smokey and paired  fantastically with the caramel tart, compressed green apples, and the apple juice gelée.

My expectations were admittedly low walking into Ink this Sunday night, but I left beaming and excited about the food and fun I had experienced. While Chef Voltaggio’s cooking isn’t the kind of thing I’d desire on a regular basis, I would enthusiastically return here for a celebratory meal or with out-of-town guests seeking something fancy and different.

Ink
8360 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Phone: 323-651-5866

One year ago: Hama Sushi – Los Angeles (Downtown)
Two years ago: Torihei – Los Angeles (Torrance)
Three years ago: Orange Angel Food Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting
Four years ago: Fitz’s American Grill & Bottling Works – St. Louis
Five years ago: Lunching with Bà Sáu
Six years ago: Twenty Manning – Philadelphia

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3 Responses to “Ink – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)”


  • Your reviews always give me the push I need when I’m on the fence about visiting a restaurant. It sounds great!

  • I went the other night and also loved it. One of the bes meals I have had in years

  • My friend Rachael, at Glassofwin.com recommended I check your site for your review of this restaurant. I’m a new CA transplant from NY and I now know that I’ll be reading your site for restaurant recommendations!

    Taking the husb to Ink for his birthday this weekend.

    Many thanks!

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