The interior of Dusty’s Bistro, at the corner of Descanso and Sunset, is decidedly Silver Lake. It has a cozy feel typical of an established neighborhood bistro, yet it isn’t afraid to stand out: Subtly yet stylishly, amid its inviting booths and dark tables, it wears oddities like attractively quirky lampshades, a Grandma’s Tamales sign, oil lamps cradled by brass hogs and colorful butterflies descending from the ceiling.
There’s a lot of buzz about brunch at this place, with its sunny spaciousness, filling portions and down-to-earth, friendly service, but dinnertime offers its own entrancing experience. Slide into a booth, and in dim candlelight you will instantly be enveloped by the warm, nerve-soothing ambiance. This casual place takes the edge off, in a way that makes one want to hang out a while.
And the food, nourishing and tasty, goes hand in hand with the interesting environs. However, save room to give it a fair trial: It’s hard not to go overboard with the big basket of bread set out soon after seating. Made at La Brea Bakery but baked onsite, the collection includes a wheat-walnut with raisin, foccacia and some sourdough, ready to be slathered with a creamy whipped butter.
The range of salads includes such tempting foodstuff as the Sheherezade salad ($14), with hummus, eggplant caviar, tabouleh and olives. On a recent night, though, I couldn’t pass up the special: warm goat cheese with sautÃ©ed oyster mushrooms on a bed of baby spinach ($13). The mushrooms were deliciously substantial, and the walnut vinaigrette mild and refreshing. I requested the omission of the otherwise-included pancetta.
Indeed, the menu is geared more toward meat-eaters than vegetarians, but the veggie items available are satisfying to the belly. In a shallow broth-like sauce, the orecchiette ($14), a pasta shaped like teeny-tiny ears, comes with broccoli raab and gobs of garlic. What makes this dish so flavorful is the taste-bud-wrangling combination of the raab-garlic duo.
Another good vegetarian option, and one that’s available breakfast or dinner, is the spinach crepe ($14). A traditional French-style crepe, it is served with spinach and goat cheese, and proves more hearty than delicate.
The array of sides ($7 each) adds more possibilities to the crafting of a meal. Options include string beans, assorted vegetables, French fries, mashed potatoes, three-cheese macaroni and onion rings. The potatoes au gratin is a good choice, not falling short on the nearly universal expectation of this dish: a Swiss-cheese laden interior delightfully offset by a slightly crisp, browned outer layer.
Desserts ($6) include a tart, tiramisu and chocolate mousse, the latter a deeply reaching mound of rich chocolate in a large ramekin. It is topped with a fresh batch of whipped cream that is crowned with a sole blackberry. It’s lovely for the looking, and like a good chocolate frosting, better for the savoring.
If you’re tempted to top things off further (or even start things up again, for that matter), have a gander at the beverage list. Soju martinis come in flavors ranging from watermelon to mango, and the wine list offers over 30 options by the glass.
With all these goodies, and a roomful softly abuzz with an indie rock soundtrack and chatter from locals and other regulars, this Silver Lake eatery is the kind of place that feels instantly homey. Chances are that once you’ve formally met it, you’ll be back again, only to linger even a little longer the next time.
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