Simone: James Beard Award Winner Chef Jessica Largey’s New Restaurant
Downtown LA has a small, but valuable, spot on the fine dining stage involving multicultural cuisines from all over the world appropriately representing the melting pot of diversity of this great city. However, nestled in it’s new Arts District home, Simone’s dishes are an inspiration of Downtown & Los Angeles itself.
Chef Jessica Largey describes Simone’s menu as Seasonal Californian Cuisine giving the spotlight to locally sourced ethical produce. While assembling her all-star team, Chef Jessica knew she wanted to encompass her naturalist & creative approach to food that was passed down to her by David Kinch during her time at three Michelin star restaurant Manresa.
Backed by the approval of filmmaker and restaurant partner, Joe Russo, Jessica’s vision has come to life inside a historic 1921 art-deco space designed by Deirdre Doherty. The layout offers different experiences with the food, yet all are executed at the same fine dining level. From Duello (the bar) to the dining room everyone is receiving a high caliber meal and service, which makes Simone approachable yet refined. One specific area was marked for a unique dining experience where guests can enjoy an intimate tasting menu by Chef Jessica herself while learning and conversing with her.
Despite being a James Beard Award-winning chef, Jessica widely praises her team for the final product that is Simone. The only thing that was not up for discussion was the location of Downtown LA. Joe, Jessica, and managing partner Bruno Bagbeni, always knew that they wanted to be a part of the renaissance happening here. Their efforts are reflected throughout, for example, Duello’s cocktail menu, curated by Iain McPherson, is an ode to the history of the Arts District itself.
No matter where you’re sitting you can catch a glimpse of the kitchen as it is in full display. This was a very important detail for Chef Jessica’s fine dining standards. Having trained, and learned from, her kitchen team for a year prior to their grand opening, she explained why this brings it all together:
“It gives people an inside look, it really illustrates how we are operating and the level we are executing on. The technique is translated across all the areas of the restaurant, whether it be someone grabbing a bite at the bar or taking a seat at my tasting menu table, it’s the same high level of execution and standards. It also holds us accountable!”
Simone is a fully transparent concept from a dedicated team of professionals that are excited and ready to show off Jessica’s creativity. The combination of flavors and what they’re accomplishing with vegetables is nothing short of magic.
Do not worry carnivores, meats and protein did not take a backseat at Simone. Actually, the Dry Aged Flannery “Jorge” Ribeye is one of Chef Jessica’s favorite dish to prepare, not just because it’s quality product but because the dish involves all hands on deck and no two plates are the same. The ribeye is accompanied by a number of sides, sauces, and other items that are randomly chosen by the team depending on what is fresh and new.
“The sizzling cast iron is brought to the table by the chef with 9-12 sides. So it’s really an array of our staple creativity and a different experience for each bite.”
Now that they have perfected their dinner service, Simone just added brunch to their weekend menu, and it looks just as intriguing. Make your reservation for Simone to witness the stylings of Chef Jessica and her team, I promise you will not regret it.
Written by Mariana Ramos | Photography by Rebekah Lemire