At first bite: Comfort with class
Made L.V. breathes new life into a corner of Tivoli Village with an artisanal take on familiar classics
Much like fashion, dining trends tend to trickle down. What’s innovative one day is available at your local suburban restaurant the next (see: Korean tacos, kale salads, Sriracha on everything).
Serveware is no exception. Consider the Mason jar. Eating and drinking from granny’s pickling supplies initially had an old-fashioned appeal, but after years of enduring this trend, I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with basic bowls and tumblers. So when I came across an entire section dedicated to jarred foods at Made L.V., a new American tavern at Tivoli Village, I let out an admittedly obnoxious groan.
But my disdain dissipated upon sampling the contents of the cutesy, quilted glass vessels. Pimiento cheese, made with chopped red peppers, grated cheddar and mayonnaise, is served with saltines, pretzel chips and fresh veggies for a simple snack with Southern charm. And the chopped chicken liver, studded with chunks of hard-boiled eggs, makes a tasty, rustic spread for thick slices of charred bread.
As a first impression, both starters accurately capture the spirit of the restaurant. Made L.V. is an unpretentious destination for well-executed comfort food. It’s a bit of a departure for chef Kim Canteenwalla, who uses his Strip experience (Society Café) to woo legions of locals at his nearby farm-to-table venture, Honey Salt. But with his partner, wife Elizabeth Blau, and chef de cuisine Daniel Boling (The Lodge at Torrey Pines, San Diego), the trio’s new casual concept is a saving grace to the neighborhood’s chain-heavy restaurant scene.
Perhaps there’s a behind-the-scenes feng shui consultant who also deserves credit. How else could one explain the restaurant’s instant popularity? Until now, the space — formerly occupied by Double Helix Bottles & Burgers, and later replaced with Bradley Ogden’s short-lived Hops & Harvest — seemed doomed to be a revolving door.
If you don’t share my enthusiasm for Southeast Asian sub sandwiches, that’s okay — Made L.V. is a something-for-everyone kind of place. Health-conscious diners can settle for a Tivoli market salad (made with, you guessed it, kale) while unabashed hedonists can sample macaroni and cheese with burnt pork ends and a Ritz cracker crust. Only a couple items were lackluster. A plate of cheesy garlic toast could have come from any Italian-American pizza joint, and a pulled-pork sandwich with sweet potato fries was satisfying but not particularly memorable.
Until the initial buzz wears off, reservations are recommended. I’d also suggest inviting the least klutzy among your dining companions. You’ll thank me when you’re up to your neck in glass jars.