2/07/2013 02:00:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Balinese Suckling Pig at A.O.C.

By all accounts, the new A.O.C. is completely stunning. The former Il Covo space has been opened up with lighter colors, a new communal table in the bar for casual walk-ins, and that patio. Oh, that patio. The dining room flows right into it, making the whole place feel open and airy. There are new olive trees and and herb garden, and the fireplace roaring in the middle. It's romantic, it's fresh, and it's very, very LA. Last night was the first night of service, and everyone seemed on top of their game. We settled in with a great rum cocktail sweetened with bitter lemon honey marmalade - yes, there's now a full bar - and sipped some of Caroline Styne's wine picks. The place was simply buzzing.

The menu features familiar dishes from Suzanne Goin's original A.O.C. repertoire, but the most notable newcomers are large "platters"meant to be shared family-style at the table. We, like many, zeroed in on the roast suckling pig confit that came on a bed of creamy coconut rice topped with peanuts, greens and a slew of cracklins mostly because it's the biggest departure for Goin. We're used to bacon-wrapped dates (not on the menu last night, by the way) and cavolo nero (it was, and we'll always order it). But this was delicious, the lemongrass sambal adding so much flavor and spice, it was dynamite. The chef told us that a recent trip to Bali with her husband, Hungry Cat's David Lentz, inspired her. We're glad it did.

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