Housed in the landmark of faded twentieth century glamour that is The Alexandria, in Downtown LA, The Gorbals is easily one of the best restaurants in the city.
What makes it so is a conscious but relaxed refusal to identify itself by the ethnicity of the food, or as another token of the LA restaurant type. Instead, the owner and chef, Ilan Hall, identifies The Gorbals by a refreshing indistinctness, underlined by a willingness to taste all foods, of all cultures. Inspiring this ethos is the post-war neighbourhood of Gorbals in Glasgow, where Ilan’s immigrant father was raised. Like downtown LA, Gorbals was a soup of different cultures and foods, inconsistent with its surroundings. Being driven by such an erudite curiosity, The Gorbals has achieved what most restaurants can only dream of-a self-created identity-The Gorbals is simply The Gorbals.
Its menu, frankly organised by type (Pig, Cow, Bird, Lamb, Aquatic and Herbivore), demonstrates true ingenuity, and I wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy all that it has to offer. Nonetheless, the roasted bone marrow (with walnuts, mushrooms and malt vinegar), lamb neck (with creamy oats), and tomahawk oyster (with macadamia nut mignonette) are standouts. On one visit, I shared a whole pig’s head with four of my friends, which was roasted for a total of thirteen hours (one hour on the night). It was the most memorable meal of my life. Vegetarians can be satisfied, but minus the barley risotto with ratatouille, the herbivore section feels like a collection of side dishes. Undoubtedly, The Gorbals favours the carnivorous.
The Gorbals is an essential LA destination for anyone who has the desire – left unfulfilled by many other LA restaurants – for food to be the focus. Have your meal with one of the expertly crafted cocktails, and finish by buying the kitchen a ten dollar round of beers.