The insider’s view of Downtown’s culture, food, drinks, and the people who shape it.

Oriel: Neon Romance

Oriel: Neon Romance

You can add one more neon sign to Chinatown’s brightly lit landscape. Tucked under the Metro gold line tracks you’ll find newcomer Oriel - a wine bistro spot with the kind of cozy charm that’ll have couples happily penciling in frequent date nights.


Your first step into Oriel, defined in the dictionary as a bay window, places you in tiny atrium-like front room space with greens dripping from the ceiling as a romantic rose colored hue spills across the room thanks to a pink film coating the large windows making the sunset colors so much dreamier. It’s a great first impression that might have you settling in for the night.


The tiny and perfectly tailored space is the vision of famed restaurateur Dustin Lancaster (Hermosillo in HLP, L&E Oyster Bar in Silverlake, Bar Covell and honestly too many more to list but you get the point, this man’s touch is gold!). Lancaster is known to surround himself with a star-studded team to bring his projects to life. In this case he called on Interior Design queen Sally Breer, drool dish maker Chef Evan Algorri and Bar Marmont’s Alain Jeu, now Oriel’s Operating Partner and Manager. “We’ve worked together in the past and we’ve been very good friends for a long time … All his staff loves him,” says Alain of the no-brainer decision to come work with Dustin. The crew here is capable but more importantly, they’re kind - just pull up a seat and meet them yourself.


“We’re bringing a different food than what’s available here in Chinatown,” says Alain of the classic French fare offered at Oriel. Thanks to a limited space layout the food and wine menu is slim and perfectly curated which de-complicates your decision-making. Alain says the wine selection is a lesson on how things are evolving in the wine world, “A lot of our wines are organic or biodynamic.”


Now for what to eat - Might we recommend ordering up the French Onion soup paired with a 2013 glass of Chinon. This combo is just what a chilly night demands. The soup is filled with a velvety 15-month Comté cloud of cheesy depth you’ll eat slowly just to preserve the moment.  Then there’s the rich and spreadable goodness known as “Duck in a Jar” served with the highly adored carb connoisseurs known as Bub and Grandma’s Bread.  “It complements our food really well,” says Alain. Or just go for a trusty Charcuterie platter!


Already Alain says Oriel’s been on the radar for regulars,“We have a nice after work crowd. It’s one more place for them to unwind.”

So pull up a seat and unwind at the beautifully uncomplicated Oriel.

Written by Linda Hosmer | Photography by Rebekah Lemire


Speedplay: Work(out) Hard, Play Hard

Speedplay: Work(out) Hard, Play Hard

“Tattoo” at the Natural History Museum

“Tattoo” at the Natural History Museum