REVIEW: Winsome serves quality cuisine for less

review-tab-for-webSituated on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and under the trendy Elysian lofts of Echo Park, Winsome is an all-day restaurant redefining American cuisine with a Californian twist. Owners Marc Rose and Med Abrous are mixing contemporary diner eating with a sultry ambiance that caters to young crowds residing in Central L.A.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is relaxing, with candles lining each table and the light bass of soulful hip-hop thumping in the background. The fast and focused action of the chefs at work in the open kitchen can be viewed from the wood-top bar. If sitting outside is preferred, the spacious outdoor patio continues the relaxed ambiance from the inside with overhead string lights and wooden chairs. Winsome keeps the focus on the food with the menus only displaying the menu item and the price on simple medium-sized white paper.

The breakfast and brunch menu boasts a multitude of options for restaurant-goers, with the duck egg toast being one of the more popular items on the list. This savory dish features components such as rustic toast, raclette cheese and oregano. The duck egg raises the price of this simpler dish to $15, making it not as budget friendly as it could be. For $6 less, the shelling bean and whipped feta spread on rustic toast is a great alternative without sacrificing taste. Items such as toast, bacon and fried egg can be ordered a la carte for a simpler breakfast or an addition to these bigger menu items.

Photo courtesy of Winsome You winsome, you lose some · Winsome, a vibrant neighborhood restaurant in Echo Park, features a walk-up coffee window and patio seating It is also available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Photo courtesy of Winsome
You winsome, you lose some · Winsome, a vibrant neighborhood restaurant in Echo Park, features a walk-up coffee window and patio seating It is also available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

During lunchtime, Winsome offers various salads and sandwiches to curb midday hunger. The speck and comte grilled cheese sandwich is a fan favorite of the restaurant, containing mostarda and Thai basil. Another highly requested dish is the crispy tofu, consisting of meiji tofu, raw peppers and puffed red wheat berries. There is also a wide variety of pastries available to order, including a delicious brûléed caramel rye brownie and a blueberry spelt muffin.

As dinner time rolls around, the menu is shortened and focuses on around 14 key items. Listed as a “snack,” the Kennebec potato chips satisfy both college students’ budgets and taste buds. For $5, a medium-sized bowl is filled to the rim with crispy sliced potato discs and dusted with herbs. The edges of the chips had a delightful crunch with a tender middle. Visually, the chips were consistent, with each piece being pleasantly golden.

The seasoning consisted of herbs that offered more to the potatoes than regular salt could ever do. It offered a fresh, garlic-based complement to the chips that did not overpower. Complementary to the appetizer is a tangy, lime-based white cream sauce. The sauce is light and slightly acidic, which provides contrast to the starchy texture of potato. Overall, the appetizer was satisfying and great as a starter to share among a group.

Looking throughout the menu, the item that stood out immediately was the roasted bone marrow rosti. Served rustically in-bone on a white plate, the bone marrow is crusted with herbs and oil. Alongside is the potato rosti, with vibrantly pink watermelon radish and deep green nasturtium leaves. Included with these components were the subtly spicy red fresno chile and caramelized pearl onions. The vegetables helped cut through the savory bone marrow, while the raclette cheese added saltiness along with the marrow. At $16, this dish is not one to be consumed on a daily basis. On a night out with a couple of friends or a special celebration, however, this dish is the perfect complement. The roasted fall squash is a less expensive option, at around $12, and features dandelion greens and toasted lemongrass.

As a sweet end to a meal, Winsome offers four different desserts to choose from, with a starting price at $9. As suggested by the waiter, the banana tres leches with passion fruit geleé has been a staple of the restaurant since it opened. The dessert was presented in a white shallow bowl, with the cake sitting in a light pool of milk and cream.

The beautiful canary yellow of the passion fruit geleé and the brûléed banana slices took the presentation of the dish to the next level. The tres leches was executed beautifully, with the cake moist and saturated with just the right amount of milk. Atop and surrounding the cake were clusters of the passion fruit geleé, adding a bright fruit flavor to the sweet layers of cake. The brûléed banana slices infused the cake with a tropical banana flavor in every bite. Although this is on the pricier side at $9, the presentation and flavor are unparalleled.

As the menu states, the main dishes of the meal are meant to be shared, implying that the cost will be split among those sharing. With this in mind, the prices are not unreasonably high for groups. These dishes would then, however, have to be eaten sparingly for those tight on money. With that being said, the food is delicious and the service is impeccable.

Winsome is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dinner is served Wednesday through Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.