MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View
Find this tiny sparkler tucked inside the historic Hotel Normandie and helmed by Chef Gary Menes along with his talented team. The name, French for “counter,” is a literal description of the space, which seats no more than ten guests before the stainless-steel kitchen, and features little more than a wine alcove to adorn the room. Such intimate seating means that the ambience depends primarily on the patrons, who are either uniformly quiet and contemplative or lively and interactive. Dining here is a personal experience, emphasized by the fact that the chef is cooking and plating everything right before your eyes. Dishes turned out of this kitchen are innovative and handled with great care, with the chef focused almost entirely on vegetables—protein plays a subsidiary role. Keeping that in mind, anticipate the likes of a savory carrot velouté or morsel of cured squash, both of which are as monumental as the supplemental grass-fed beef. Much of the produce arrives fresh from the chef’s Long Beach garden. An amazing accompaniment to this meal is the skillet-toasted sourdough bread-it's made from a starter that may be older than some of the diners in the room.