Oysters, Lamb, Derby Pie: This Holiday Feast Has It All
L.A.’s reigning king of pescatarian restaurant perfection shares holiday-worthy recipes from his new hot spot, Queen St.
A few years ago, a little restaurant called Found Oyster opened on Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles and put a very SoCal spin on the New England seafood shack: It had impressive platters piled high with shellfish (one is cheekily called the Baywatch), and scallop tostada with yuzu kosho, and caviar service with potato chips.
Before pandemic rules added much-needed patio dining, it was just one long counter with stools and a handful of two-tops crammed into a space about 12 feet wide and about twice as deep. It had a smart, short list of zippy wines that go great with seafood, and a convivial vibe typical of little restaurants with tons of seafood and good wines.
Despite the requisite pandemic detour, the spot was pretty much thronged from the minute it opened. It didn’t take reservations, so savvy folks knew to line up at opening time, snag a seat early, and immerse themselves in an evening of freshly shucked oysters and crudos washed down with chilled bottles of orange wine alongside other folks just happy to be crammed shoulder to shoulder in the hands of a crew that knows what it’s doing.
That crew is led by Ari Kolender, a chef who’s worked around Los Angeles, with a fresh bivalve-sourcing assist from general manager Joe Laraja, whose family conveniently owns an oyster farm in Massachusetts. Now Kolender and crew have taken a similar approach with their new restaurant, Queen St., in L.A.’s Eagle Rock neighborhood, where they (and their guests) can stretch out and get more personal. The new restaurant’s name refers to a fabled commercial street in Kolender’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and the menu marries Southern and Southern California influences in dishes like blue crab fritters with buttermilk ranch, oysters topped with Santa Barbara urchin and caviar, and fried flounder served with spicy apricot agrodolce.
Not only is the menu more wide-ranging, but the space is larger, with a horseshoe bar in the center and a raw bar piled high with pebble ice and oysters, and, for the first time, reservations, making it all the better for groups and parties. And parties are exactly what we had in mind when we approached Kolender to share some of the more celebratory dishes from his menu that would be right at home at a holiday feast. He came back with these recipes: broiled oysters spiked with Parm and Worcestershire, crudo dressed with dill, rich lamb ribs topped with a vibrant salsa verde, and more. They are simple, satisfying, a little indulgent, and sure to impress your family and friends.