Le Grand: Bringing the Mediterranean Coast to 7th and Grand
It is said that April showers bring May flowers, but springtime carried in so much more to DTLA’s culinary scene this year, and we’re all over it like bees to honey. Taking up residency just a few months ago in the old Tomgeorge space across from the ever-packed Bottega Louie on the corner of 7th and Grand, is Le Grand, a new Euro-inspired fine-dining experience standing out amongst their numerous award-winning neighbors. With the ability to hold up to 202 guests at a time, this massive, euro-chic hotspot dishes out high-quality international cuisine much like it’s predecessor, but with a heavy focus on Mediterranean fare, and more importantly -- family.
With brothers Alex and Chris Manos leading the kitchen as Executive Chef and Sous Chef, the duo holds down the gastronomic backbone of the establishment with their accrued experience, both earning their degrees from Le Monde in Athens, Greece. Carrying French techniques from their classic training and marrying those skills with Greek flavors and beloved ingredients of their upbringing translates to colorful, artisanal dishes deriving from Mediterranean staples.
A little bit about these two powerhouses: After earning his degree in culinary arts, Executive Chef Alex Manos was brought on as a part of the opening chef team for a luxury collection resort in Greece, where he was able to contribute to 18 food and beverage outlets on the property. In 2011, Alex made the move to American soil that he had always dreamed of and landed in our fair city, working at not one, but two Michelin star establishments within a matter of just a few years-- Melisse in Santa Monica, and Providence in Hollywood under Chef Michale Cimarusti.
Sous-Chef Chris Manos, on the other hand, spent a little more time in Greece after earning his degree, first working at the Vedema Resort in Santorini, and later, yes you guessed it, working his magic in the kitchen of two Michelin-starred restaurants in Athens, Hytra and Spondi, also within a matter of just a few short years. Joining his brother in 2015 at high-end retail-restaurant concept Wally’s Wines in Hollywood, Chris then spent time as lead line cook at Gwen in Hollywood, honing in on his fine-dining approach and signature techniques, which then carried the two to the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, and most recently, put them at the helm of Le Grand.
“In working together, the inspiration behind our food comes mostly from our memories, so we try to bring some classics recipes and add our experiences and approach” says Alex. “Coming from Greece, we grew up with a lot of seafood, and then working at Providence, a lot of influence came from that experience and from working with Chef Michael -- I learned to appreciate seafood even more.”
With house-made pastas featured in culinary gems such as their surprisingly light and aromatic penne dish, you’ll find components of garden-fresh vegetables, fennel pollen and toasted pine nuts which are directly inspired by the essence of the Greek coastline. Mediterranean classics such as Chef Chris’ perfected Greek Oregano Pita, which is baked to be more-so like a lavash which is thinner and crispier than traditional pita bread, is served with whipped citrus & nori butter crème fraiche, (Le Grand’s take on bread and butter) and can be paired delightfully with any circuit of your meal. With USDA Prime steaks that will have the carnivore in you shaking, on the other hand, Le Grand also has an array of vegetarian and vegan options to boot. Popular seafood dishes include seasonal oysters plated with caviar and edible flowers, flush with color and enticing flavor, and tuna poke served atop wild rice and seasoned with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and a bit of calamansi juice for just enough acidity. Oh, and did we mention perhaps the most succulent octopus on the west coast? Braised for up to two hours, grilled with the use of Japanese charcoals, and fried to crispy perfection, good things take time, and these tender tentacles are proof.
The good times keep on rolling folks. With the beverage program, the philosophy remains the same as with the cuisine in the sense that there’s a large focus on high-quality ingredients, as well as farmer’s market-fresh produce that’s procured weekly. A gratuitous happy hour is offered daily: including small plates, as well as half off beer and cocktails and $6 house wine by the glass. Additionally, brunch on the patio on Saturdays and Sundays is an absolute must with guest appearances by smoked salmon tartine and bourbon pancakes, and on the other hand, a $25 three-course pre-fix lunch menu available on weekdays, which is of INSANE value. Do you and your tastebuds a favor and join this dynamic brother/chef duo and their incredible staff daily for a breath of fresh air amidst the smoggy city streets.
Written by Dakota Nate | Photography by GL Askew II