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Final Menu: Ilan Hall's The Gorbals Opens at 5th and Spring

By Rich Alossi
Published: Friday, August 28, 2009, at 04:27PM
The Gorbals Restaurant, Downtown Los Angeles Rich Alossi [Flickr]

Wednesday, 4pm: See note below about temporary closure.

With a bold menu some would describe as a head-scratcher, Top Chef winner Ilan Hall's new restaurant The Gorbals opens its doors to the public at 6:30pm tonight. Hall, a resident of the Arts District, has been working to bring the space to the neighborhood for just under a year.

The Gorbals is named after a working-class neighborhood in Glasgow, Scotland, and the menu reflects a Jewish-Scottish mix that Hall ascribes to his mother's way of cooking.

Thanks to the Downtown Center BID's location assistance, Hall connected with the Alexandria Hotel's manager and fell in love with the space at 5th and Spring. After a lease was signed in May of this year, construction took only two months from start to finish -- an expedited schedule by any means considering the Byzantine regulations the City of Los Angeles imposes upon restaurant operators.

An efficient 1,400-square-foot dining room greets patrons, the traces of a former diner which once occupied the space now erased by a few coats of clean white paint and scraped floors. "These floors were really bad," said Hall. Luckily, construction crews uncovered original marble flooring beneath layers of linoleum, which has been polished and cleaned.

Bigger parties are accommodated at the large communal table in the center of the room; singles can make use of the wooden stools at the bar and in front of the open kitchen.

Though The Gorbals is dinner-only for the time being (lunch hours are planned in the next month), there's enough on the final menu -- which you can find below -- to keep us occupied for a while: octopus with gizzards and lemon, bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, a haggis burger and Manischewitz-braised pork belly. Beers on tap include Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Anchor Porter, and Gordon Biersch Pilsner.

As I tailed Hall around the building during frenetic opening-day preparations -- questions asked and answered in efficient assembly-line style -- I got a sense of the last-minute headaches any new restaurant owner feels: beer taps needing repair, last-minute recipe tweaks, an unexpectedly late wine delivery. All this four hours before a scheduled opening.

Still, one gets the sense that the chef-owner wouldn't trade it for anything.

Update (Wednesday, 4pm): Those last-minute headaches are back. The L.A. Times reports that The Gorbals is shutting the doors indefinitely to fix a boiler issue. The health department flagged the equipment -- managed by the building, not Hall -- for a violation, and apparently it had been responsible for delays in opening.

The Gorbals: 501 S. Spring (inside the lobby of the Alexandria Hotel), Los Angeles, California 90013 / Hours: 5:30pm-Midnight (opens Friday, August 28, 6:30pm) / (213)488-3408 / thegorbalsla.com

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