Top Chef winner Mei Lin has finally opened her much anticipated debut restaurant, Nightshade. The L.A. Arts District hospot offers “fine food in a casual setting,” as Lin calls it—from hokkaido scallops in a coconut vinaigrette to squid ink bucatini and cuttlefish bolognese. Much has been written in anticipation of the culinary superstar’s grand opening, and based on early reviews, the experience is more than worth the wait. Our friends at The Coffee Manufactory have worked with Mei to create an exciting coffee program. We’re ready to sink our teeth in, but until we get back down to L.A., a few words (and photos) will have to suffice.
Let’s start by talking food! If you had a long morning to sit, cook, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, what would you cook for yourself?
A potato rosti.
Tell us about the first month after opening Nightshade.
The first month flew by. It was such a great feeling to finally open, but we just kept our heads down to make sure we were making great food and providing a great dining experience. Every day is stressful, but it's nothing we didn't expect. We were ready, as far as openings go, and hopefully we're delivering.
We’re honored to hear the Ratio has a spot in your kitchen.
[The Ratio] was introduced to me by a friend, and right away it presented itself as an efficiency tool. I love a good pour over, but that process for making coffee isn't efficient for a restaurant like ours. Ratio allows a hands free brewing process that delivers on quality. And it doesn't hurt that its aesthetics match ours really well.
As the winner of Top Chef (the 12th season), press has been buzzing for a while now. What else do you want people to know?
I'm really happy there's a lot of focus on the food, which I think informs [people] about my point of view and philosophy. Hopefully you see it on the plate, and understand through the dining experience. While Top Chef was an amazing opportunity, it sometimes overshadows all the work and time that went into getting to where I am now, prior to the show. I understand why that is, but I think that's an important message for young chefs: that spending the time—years and years to build a foundation—while it isn't glamorous, it's invaluable.
Out of curiosity, what’s the story behind the name?
Nightshade is my favorite group of vegetables/fruits and it just sounds badass.
Book a table: nightshadela.com
Photos by Wonho Frank Lee