If you’re of a mind to reinvent yourself, remember, the Kodiak bear is the new phoenix. Valiant and posed with hipster swagger, the taxidermied 7-foot beast is both greeter and bar sentry at The North Left. When The Crosby folded last January, it didn’t vanish so much as reincarnate. Ryan Adams, chef-proprietor of Laguna Beach’s Three Seventy Common, in concert with Crosby veteran chef Aron Habiger, joined forces to push the New American cuisine into the spotlight. The tightly curated menu, prepped in a hypertiny kitchen, renews itself every month or so, reflecting the season’s bounty. Prepare to see hanger steak with wild mushrooms appear on the compact list of small and share plates.
Small doesn’t mean lightweight here—superrich salmon belly with crumbled egg yolk, creamy yogurt, and peppery radish has huge flavors, as does Pacific sea bass with espelette pepper and pistou. More winners on the “small” side are fresh-shucked garbanzo beans tossed with garlic, chile, and mint, and first-rate fries so delectable they hardly need their house ketchup or seasonal aioli. Too bad the roasted cauliflower with thyme, honey, and goat cheese is so shy on cheese; more would make this tame dish soar.
Share plates are megaportions of protein (expect a rotation of fish, pork, or chicken) heaped on wood boards and drizzled with jus or sauce. Upgrade the juicy array of rib-eye, lardo, and potatoes to a Swanson Special and get two shots of select scotch. Yes, the upgrade is named for the “Parks and Recreation” character. Apparently, bears and brown liquor are kindred spirits—the bar also sports six new barrel-aged cocktails.