It’s kind of a weird restaurant name, Point Easy. It sounds like it should be a young Keanu Reeves surfer movie or something. But no, the owners, Andy Bruch and brothers Denn and Dan Phelps, wanted something to make diners feel relaxed and taken care of once they stepped into the Whittier spot, so there you have it. Point Easy.
It’s a delightful new restaurant, now tinged with a bit of sadness, in a neighborhood that could probably use more delightful new restaurants. Point Easy takes over where The Whittier Pub left off, replacing the dark, wood-heavy interior with a bright bar and geometric ceiling, and the traditional bar food menu with updated seasonal dishes.
Bruch and the Phelps brothers met working at The Kitchen Boulder and wanted to put their own spin on food and drink made with sustainable, well-sourced ingredients. Their spin involves four fresh pastas each night; a rotating selection of charcuterie and cheese; large, mostly meat-centric entrees; and snacks and small plates that run the gamut from French fries to herb labneh to local veggies.
Sadly, just three weeks into Point Easy’s brand-new restaurant life, Denn Phelps died suddenly. The 37-year-old passed away on July 22 after battling health issues, Bruch said, leaving behind the restaurant, but fulfilling his goal of opening his own place.
“It was his dream,” said Bruch. He always wanted to cook his own food in his own restaurant but, Bruch added, in a collaborative way. “He was a huge believer in collaborating with the entire kitchen staff, the whole team. That’s how he believes in being in the kitchen — incorporating different people and different ideas.”
Point Easy had been humming, falling into a groove and already earning neighborhood fans. While the menu was collaborative, Bruch said that Denn’s “amazing palate” is present in each and every dish, and those recipes will continue to appear on the menu.
I was lucky enough to eat some of Denn Phelps’ food in that quick three-week window, and his fresh bucatini with guanciale and chile was so good that it inspired me to track down bucatini of my own and attempt to recreate the dish at home all weekend long. (I failed.)
You can order one of two ways: The normal way is off the regular menu; the Get Fed way is where you tell your server how hungry you are and if there’s anything you can’t eat (or if there’s anything you absolutely must eat). The Get Fed way of ordering is, of course, more fun, and you’ll typically be surprised with off-menu items. Prices for Get Fed range from $45-$60 per person, and the a la carte menu goes from $7-$23 for the sides and small plates, and $19-$39 for the pastas and large plates.
Lovers of tangy cocktails should try the pistachio daiquiri, a blend of pistachio-infused rums, lime and pistachio syrup. Other cocktails are either just as unexpected (the Pacific gin and tonic involves Thai chiles and yuzu gin) or totally expected, like sangria or the de rigueur mezcal and raspberry drink. The 10 wines by the glass cover the varietals you most want to drink, and the beer list is about half local, half not.
Sous chef Laith Sulaiman, who Denn also worked with at The Kitchen Boulder, will become head chef, because yes, Point Easy will continue serving. Bruch said that in spite of the incredible loss, they will open for dinner as planned on July 27, carrying on Denn’s dream.
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