When Chef Sean Lowenthal moved to Los Angeles two years ago from Colorado, he stayed with his cousin on Townsend Avenue in Eagle Rock. Since then—for the past 18 months, to be precise—Lowenthal has been sous chef at the iconic Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.
But Northeast L.A. and its burgeoning food scene made an impression on Lowenthal. Six months ago, he and his wife Deborah Schwartz, a photographers' rep, started looking for a permanent space in the Eagle Rock area to set up a restaurant.
"We first came up with our concept and the name Little Beast,” says Schwartz. "And we realized that our concept fit best on the Eastside, where we live."
At one point, Lowenthal and Schwartz, who now live in South Pasadena, thought they'd found a permanent home for Little Beast. "We had the idea that in the time that it would take to go through escrow on the space, a pop-up would be a great way to get our name out there and let people know what we were all about," says Schwartz.
The couple knew that , the well-known French restaurant on Colorado Boulevard, was only open for breakfast and lunch—and that it had a beer and wine license. “So we approached the owners about doing a Little Beast pop-up in their space for dinner,” says Schwartz. “And they agreed." A bonus, according to the Little Beast’s Facebook page, is that the French restaurant has a post-sunset vibe that is “very romantical.”
Ultimately, the permanent space that Schwartz and Lowenthal were pursuing did not work out (they can't discuss the details.) While they look for a permanent home for Little Beast, says Schwartz, the couple will continue with the pop-up “whenever we are able to until that time.” Adds Schwartz: “We feel confident in knowing that Little Beast would fit perfectly into the neighborhood and that we will find the right space within this community."
The good news for Northeast L.A. residents is that chef Lowenthal will debut his rustic American food at the Little Beast pop-up at Le Petit Beaujolais on Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Little Beast Summer 2012 Pop-up Teaser set menu consists of five courses:
• First Course: Sweet Corn Veloute / Crab Cucumber Corn Salad / Crème Fraiche ($10)
• Second Course: Shredded Cabbage Salad / Scallion / Almond / Mint / Apple / Vinaigrette ($8)
• Third Course: Calamari “Fritto”/ Citrus Arugula Salad / Pecorino / Vinaigrette /Aioli ($10)
• Fourth Course: Pan-Roasted Organic Chicken / Roasted Butternut Squash / Charred Long Beans ($15)
• Fifth Course: Hazelnut Chocolate Brownie / Dulce de Leche / Charred Meringue ($8)
Diners will be able to choose a three-course option for $35, the five-course option for $55, or sample one or more individual dishes—which range from $8 to $15—a la carte.
Lowenthal advises that all guests will receive a complimentary Amuse Bouche, or starter: Edamame Hummus / Gyoza Crisp / Micro Cilantro.
Wines from Argentina and Spain, beer from the Czech Republic, and Prosecco will be available
Lowenthal, who hails from Georgia, attended the culinary program of the Arts Institute of Colorado and subsequently refined his culinary style at several restaurants in the Front Range area of Colorado, including Juniper in the Vail-adjacent town of Edwards, and a stint as executive chef at the Greenbriar Inn in Boulder.
The chef reports that his colleagues at Chateau Marmont are enthusiastic about his new venture. Executive Chef Carolynn Spence is “very supportive,” according to Lowenthal, and many of his colleagues will even be helping out at the pop-up on their nights off.
The Real Little Beast
The restaurant’s name comes from Schwartz’s term of endearment for her nine-year-old son Miles, from a previous marriage. During our interview, Schwartz said she’d suggested that Miles attend the Little Beast’s opening with his dad and his dad’s girlfriend.
“I’m the Little Beast,” Miles responded. “I’m going to be working at the restaurant!”
Lowenthal overheard his wife relate the anecdote and decided on the spot to have his stepson prepare and/or deliver the Amuse Bouche.
Lowenthal plans to debut a new menu for the next set of pop-up nights, which are tentatively planned for Tuesday, August 7 and Wednesday, August 8. (Tuesday and Wednesday are Lowenthal’s nights off from Chateau Marmont.)
New dates will be posted after each pop-up, however, so check the Little Beast website before venturing out to dine.
After all, the real Little Beast needs a night off, too.