Photo Credits: Jakob Layman
For Rock Star Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and Master Dessert Artiste Margarita Kallas-Lee, Encino Place — yes, that Ventura Boulevard hybrid of medical offices and lunch places with the carousel — is fast becoming a culinary Monopoly board. Frankland Lee, a fixture on Food Network and Bravo, brings his game back to the Valley neighborhood where he grew up. Following up Scratch/Bar + Kitchen, the couple has launched Woodley Proper with an inventive cocktail program from Devon Espinosa – and of course, out of the ballpark food.
I am madly, deeply, eternally in love with this place!
Rising design star Jordan Olson has created a space enveloped in 100-year old sun-bleached oak with a collection of tableaux from candlit bistro tables perfect for a first date to cozy living room scenes. Winged Chesterfield armchairs mix with geometric pendants and stools, Victorian wallpaper, wave-patterned plaster walls and exotic banana plants. Textural appointments include plush velvet, relaxed linen, and distressed concrete and the color scheme is awash in cool blue, earth tones, black and white.
A hero copper-topped bar spans the length of the open-air kitchen that provides guests with a peek through a kaleidoscope of jeweled bottles and crystal glasses, as well as the comings and goings of the kitchen and bar staff.
Woodley Proper builds on the favorite pastime of hospitality biz stalwarts — dining at the bar — but this time, with beyond creative cocktails, rotating snacks, and meaty plates appointed with the signature “from scratch” housemade bread, cheese, and other ingredients.
Espinosa’s inspired cocktail program is deserving of a separate article — so let’s start with the culinary genius of Frankland Lee and Kallas-Lee.
The pair’s succinct menu spans the palate, whether you want some small plates to accompany a late night cocktail or two (Woodley Proper is open till 2 am) or a full meal. You won’t want to miss Lee’s signature Olive Stuffed Olives crisped with honey-lime syrup and stuffed with kalamata-sweet potato mousse. Lee says he created the menu to reflect spins on nostalgic favorites. His Pickled Shrimp Guacamole pairs fried shrimp chips with guac and pickled shrimp salsa.
The Proper Tower is a unique and spectacular showstopper that layers tiers of house-cured charcuterie, custom Scratch/Bar x Stepladder Creamery cheeses, and chilled shellfish with inventive sauces like nước chấm mignonette.
Like Scratch/Bar next door, The Woodley Proper bakes bread in-house — and shareable toasts here are topped with ever-changing toppings like Grilled Bone-In Salmon with Greek yogurt and cucumber pickles; Ground Tomato with sweet and sour onions and burnt avocado; Roasted Chicken Liver and Pearl Onions with truffle butter and potato hummus. Lee is a master at combining the best ingredients in a simple format to create a dish that is extraordinary in its simplicity. The toast topped with melted Housemade Cheese and Smoked Honey is an elixir of the gods.
Lee says he created his charred and chilled Wedge Salad to evoke the steakhouse classic. House-cured bacon steps in for Baco-Bits and a housemade Ranch complements the bleu cheese. I. Love. This. Salad. A 40-day aged New York strip steak is dressed with schwarma spice and accompanied by a Russian tomato salad. The sweet and sour notes complement the tender meat.
Kallas-Lee is a genius at simple desserts. Did I mention the piping hot Brioche Donuts with Bergamot whipped cream? In keeping with the cocktail theme, the menu has an array of handmade chocolates laced with — you’ve guessed it — booze with selections like caramelized chocolate with vermouth and toffee or white chocolate with rum, coconut, and passionfruit.
Woodley Proper is the second of Scratch/Restaurants to open in Encino Place with the forthcoming Frankland’s Crab & Co. to launch soon. Woodley Proper is open daily from noon to 2am. Reservations are not required but are accepted for parties of five or more.