Los Angeles: Mother Tongue - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Los Angeles: Mother Tongue

The dining room at Mother Tongue (Photo: Wonho Frank Lee)

You get to Mother Tongue by way of a brightly lit alleyway behind Heimat, the club and spa that now overflows into Michael Mina’s new restaurant. Take the elevator to the fourth floor and you enter a rosily lit, high-ceilinged room with a long bar and an open kitchen. A huge rooftop patio beckons with a commanding view of the Hollywood Hills—as well as the CEMEX concrete plant, an anachronism on this retail-heavy stretch of La Brea.

Executive Chef Fernando Darin combines cuisines, spice palettes, cooking styles and techniques across many plates, embracing the city’s ethnic diversity with-out overplaying it. His Mother Tongue menu is multi-lingual, with Southeast Asian, Japanese, Italian, French, East Indian and continental elements—where caviar, aguachiles, moqueca, spaetzle, larb and lamb neck all coexist.

Beverage Director Ryan Hess connects the dots with a list every bit as eclectic. Hess is Irish, studied in Bordeaux and staged in Burgundy and Châteauneuf du Pape, earning a PhD. in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, which makes him wildly overqualified to deliver the wines that draw these dishes together. On a recent night, the Lumpiang Sariwa appetizer, Filipino crêpes laden with shaved greens and bright fresh herbs, were a prickly pairing; rather than riesling or grüner veltliner, Hess chose Uni, a light skin-contact roussanne blend from Stolpman Vineyards, which had the unctuous breadth to swathe the crepes’ herbal array. His list reflects a solid tranche of natty wines, a selection of classics (some by the glass, by way of Coravin), and a reserve section he calls IYKYK, covetable treasures from France and Italy and unusual old bottles from California, like a rare BV 1963 Georges de la Tour, or rarer still, a San Luis Obispo cabernet from the long-defunct Mario Vincelli Cellars, vintage 1980.

960 N. La Brea Avenue, 4th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90038


New American

Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.

This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2022.
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