When learning that we would be visiting the restaurant Eveleigh on Los Angeles’ Sunset strip, my first instinct was to think of the word “trendy.”
Maybe it was just the first-timer in me that engrained the perception into my mind, but Sunset Boulevard is a staple of the city’s nightlife, and I figured Eveleigh would match that personality.
Walking up to the restaurant, it was clear that this wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill chic spot, instead relying on family-like relationships and personal communication that appeals to its guests.
With both a shaded front porch and a massive back deck, Eveleigh has a stunning, open atmosphere.
Rustic metal accents, solid wood tables, creative art and a fully stocked bar fill the entire restaurant, making it as beautiful as the smell of the food cooking in the kitchen.
The staff is as friendly as can be, putting aside any notion of entitlement, a common theme among other L.A. restaurants, with a number of different employees introducing themselves and offering suggestions based on our likes and dislikes.
As we introduced ourselves to General Manger Jeremy Adler, it became clear where the backbone of the entire operation comes from, as Jeremy talked about how Eveleigh gets its fresh ingredients, changes its menu daily—which, alone, makes it unique—and what the future holds for the restaurant that is just shy of its fourth anniversary.
First things first, how did you make the decision to go with Caffe Vita in your restaurants?
“I think we just tasted a bunch of different kinds of coffee, and we really just liked the flavor profile.”
Are you currently, or plan to use, Vita coffee in any dishes or drinks?
“We haven’t, but we’re not opposed to the idea. I feel like, coffee in dessert makes sense, sometimes coffee in meats makes sense, but it’s a little gimmicky at times, and we try to stay away from that and use our natural ingredients; that’s our approach.”
Prior to Eveleigh, you were in New York City at En Japanese Brasserie, what made you head out west?
“A headhunter actually found me. I know, very undramatic. A friend of mine’s a chef, and he worked with this particular headhunter and they contacted me. I was very reticent in moving from New York to L.A. because it’s a very different vibe in terms of restaurants and culture. In addition to that, preconceived notions of this area are divergent from who and what we are. Still, I met the guys in New York, we got along really well and I’ve been here for almost three years.”
You mentioned the location; do you guys get a lot of celebrities in the restaurant?
“You know, every restaurant in L.A. gets a lot of celebrities. Like Seattle is the nexus of coffee, Los Angeles is the nexus of entertainment, and with so many people living here and going out, that’s just part of it. You know what I get excited about? Regular guests.
I was just going to ask you that. Do you have the regulars that come in all the time?
“Absolutely. That’s the foundation of any restaurant. We are trying to show such a good time, that people have no choice but to come back. We want to manufacture and cultivate regulars. We want to create an environment where people feel comfortable and enjoy themselves and they can have a relationship with the people who work here. The food, drinks and coffee that we serve create a sense of community.”
Building a community. How important is that, and does it come more from word of mouth or marketing?
“I really don’t believe in marketing. We do PR. We do social media. Word of mouth is so important. There’s a farmer’s market across the street, on Thursday’s, and we’re going to try and sell some of our bread and butter that we make in house—not because we need the money, but because it’s a nice way to remind people that we’re baking bread everyday and you can have fresh bread at three o’clock that was baked just a couple hours ago, which a lot of restaurants around here aren’t doing. We make our own butter from heavy cream each day, too.”
Can you talk about the farmer’s market a little bit, and how you work with them?
“For a long time, we were the only restaurant that was buying vegetables from them, so most of the farmers stopped coming. One of the farmers that we work with, Sabrina from Shear Rock Farms, has a seven-acre farm in Santa Rosa, and we buy about half of what she grows. That’s a pride inducing statement, and I’m really stoked about that. I’m really happy about that and is one thing that I’ll show-off about.”
Do you have any stipulations on how far you will, or won’t, go for your ingredients?
“It’s really not too discrete. Food is not a black or white situation, there’s always a shade of gray and there’s some give and take. Our chef really likes to use grass-fed beef, which begs the question if it’s better to use corn-fed beef from California or do you go elsewhere because there’s a drought going on here, so obviously grass-fed beef is very limited, it has become expensive, and the quality isn’t all that good because there’s not that much grass. So, do you eat the beef from California with limited distance from your restaurant, or do you pursue other locations a little bit further away, but are more specific to what resembles your philosophy on food and how to raise cattle? We’ve chosen to go with the latter, so we do get some beef from a little bit further away, which we think is more delicious. If there’s product that’s 199 miles away and it’s good, but there’s something that’s 201 miles away and it’s f–ing delicious, we’ll go the extra couple miles to break any restriction.”
Can you talk about where chef Jared Levy gets the inspiration for his different menus?
“I think products speak to him, he doesn’t speak to the products. Jared goes to the farmer’s market and gets inspired and goes to the garden in our restaurant to get inspired, and we work with a couple different farmers who come and bring ingredients here, and he’s really been into edible weeds lately because it’s fun to use on dishes.”
OK, I’m sitting down for the first time at Eveleigh, what’s the recommended dish I order?
“Well because the menu changes everyday, it’s a difficult question to answer. The dish that’s on the menu that probably won’t go away is the lamb meatballs. We sell a lot of them. It’s house ground lamb, we make a breadcrumb salsa with some capers and lamb chopper Gouda cheese on top, so it’s a classic dish. On another level, last Thursday, we got a whole, baby lamb. They butchered it Friday morning and on Friday night we had nine different cuts that were sold in different ways. The roasted leg, the braised neck or shoulder, all the different chops, the ribs. You know, there were nine different cuts that you could buy from one animal on Friday. That animal was delivered on Thursday and by Friday night we were out of the whole animal, and we had guests who were clamoring to sit down (that night) because they knew we were going to run out of lamb. There aren’t a lot of restaurants in L.A. that do that and because we change the menu each day, you have to have the volume of people to come in each day to eat all that product, and then it’s also not an inexpensive dish, so people have to feel like it’s worth it. It’s awesome, man. I think doing something like that is just so special.”
I’m a vegetarian, so can you talk about what you offer for those who don’t eat meat?
“I’d say about 30 percent of our menu is vegetarian. The menu is broken into three columns, garden, sea and land, and the garden stuff has meat in it, but we can normally remove those items. It seems that everyone in L.A. is vegan, or gluten free, they all have something, and we’re not going to change L.A., so we’re adapting, being flexible and dynamic. We’re true to the creativity of the chef, but we’ll never sell something if we don’t believe in it and it’s not delicious.”
If there’s one thing that you’re most proud of about Eveleigh, what would it be?
“If you looked at Sunset Boulevard four years ago, you would see the Sysco truck pull up to all of these other restaurants and have individual packets of chicken would come out of the truck in their box, and eventually go onto the grill and into the deep-fryer. Those restaurants are busy, full and successful. That’s great. There’s a lot of complexity involved in running a restaurant on a philosophical way that you think is correct. And while it’s a challenge and can be a pain in the ass, at times, I wouldn’t be working here if we used those individually wrapped packs of chicken breast. I think we’re most proud of being a leader in helping those other restaurants mimic some of our philosophies, because it’s a testament to our process. Another thing are the relationships that I’ve built with guests and other people in the industry because of what we do here.”
Can you talk about the culture at Eveleigh a little bit?
“We’re trying to change the preconceived notions that people have of this place. When people think of Sunset Boulevard, they think of plastic, Ferrari’s, neon lights, that the food doesn’t matter. We try to have the valet’s park all the Prius’ and Honda’s out front, instead of all the Corvette’s, Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. We’re not flashy. We just try to create a sense of hospitality and warmth.”
What does the future hold for the restaurant?
“(Laughing) I think that this place always feels like it’s just on the wheels and ready to tilt away, you know what I mean? Just printing a new menu every day is, in and of itself, a long process. You’re always worried that people won’t come back tomorrow, or that they don’t like you, or understand what you’re doing. That’s plenty to think about, so we’ll worry about today, and think about tomorrow when it comes. Good things will happen if you continue to take care of people.”