Alma is small restaurant next to a big strip club, down the street from the future location of the Ace Hotel and, with it, the continuation of the so-called revitalization of the Broadway Corridor. And that, in a nutshell, is Alma: On the cusp of today and tomorrow, it's not so much the restaurant of the moment as it is likely a restaurant of the near future when farm-to-table will be less a concept and more a reflex, the response to 2012's excesses—fried bacon, fried Brussels sprouts, et al.—will be thoughtful restraint and diners will be equally wowed by smoked duck breast as by crisp pears and sprouted peanuts that accompany it.
Chef Ari Taymor combines hyper-seasonality with almost confounding modernism that may look odd on paper but works startlingly well in execution: That duck, for example, is finished with a small cupful of coffee, poured over the dish at the table. You might look on skeptically as coffee and duck fat swirl together, but you'll give it a go and take a bite. Time will stop as you try to decipher exactly what astounding flavors you're tasting. You'll figure it out: It tastes like 2013.
Eat This: Alma's short menu is extremely dependent on the season and what obscure ingredients the restaurant may unearth, so the kohlrabi that accompanies tonight's hanger steak ($26) may be replaced by another vegetable from the cabbage family next week. That said, start with the airy chicken liver mousse ($9), served with toasts slathered with a subtly sweet date jam—an excellent appetizer.
Drink This: When the restaurant receives its beer and wine license, it will offer beer and bio-dynamic wines; until then, BYOB or try one of the excellent housemade seasonal sodas.
Sit Here: Seats at the counter will put you inches from the tiny open kitchen. For a more intimate dinner, any of the tables along the restaurant’s side wall will do. And note: While walk-ins are accepted, reservations are recommended as, given the small space and latest buzz around Alma, seats are filling up fast.
Conversation Piece: Ari Taymor started Alma as a pop-up, staging dinners at various restaurants including Flake in Venice and Millie's in Silver Lake, before setting roots at the present Downtown brick and mortar.