Why Is Dave Beran Opening His Ambitious Debut Restaurant in a Food Hall?

Eater; June 8, 2017


Summer is here, and it’s high season for restaurant openings. Now it’s time for Dialogue, the tasting menu experience from Chicago chef turned Los Angeles restaurateur Dave Beran, in a location nobody was expecting — inside a food hall, where most chefs of Beran’s caliber would go the opposite way, using the opportunity to explore quick-service casual concepts. Beran’s fellow tenants make for strange bedfellows, including a stunt ice cream brand and a salads-and-bowls mini-chain.

News of his first solo restaurant, Dialogue, broke this week — but really, dining obsessives have been waiting for this opening, ever since Beran left his post at the helm of the shapeshifting restaurant Next last year.

Who is Dave Beran?

Dave Beran is an American chef, best known for his work as the executive chef of Next in Chicago. During his tenure at that restaurant, where he and chef-owner Grant Achatz would reinvent the restaurant and its tasting menu multiple times per year, Beran won the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes. Prior to Next, Beran was the chef de cuisine at Alinea. He’s a Chicago fine-dining all-star and a name to know.

What’s he doing in Los Angeles?

Beran headed out to LA in 2016, with the intention of opening his own restaurant. On his path, he did a series of dinners this year at Wolfgang Puck’s Test Kitchen.

So what do we know about the food?

Beran says when it comes to style, the most important thing is that he “tells a story with food.” He thinks of tasting menus like albums — pop album tasting menus have songs/courses that can be swapped out and rearranged — and he wants his to be the kind of album that’s like a book. “You would never take out chapter seven without having to change chapter six and chapter eight,” he says. He’s finding inspiration in Japanese kaiseki menus, which might nod to the previous growing season at the beginning of the meal and end with a look ahead toward the coming season.

He’s also trying to hit the right balance of what he describes as “super, super complex” dishes juxtaposed with dishes where “you just want to literally lay down and take a nap in a bowl… that course that just wraps its arm around you and holds on to you, and you never want to let it go.” He’s thinking about carrying elements from one course into the next for continuity, and he’s also thinking about ways to play with the space itself, whether adjusting the lights over the course of the meal or perfuming the room.