Commuting gourmands who find themselves at Barrington Ave. and Sunset Blvd. in Brentwood during rush hour on their way to the 405, or those in need of a casual midway point to meet up with friends, now have Roast Deli & Market for a scrumptious meal.
Open since February, Roast deliciously celebrates the oldest form of cooking, which, says owner and chef Whitney Werner, is unique in its capability “to lock in the natural flavors and nutrients of an ingredient.”
Werner’s culinary methods, also informed by 10 years of experience in molecular cooking, seem to channel Jacques Derrida as much as they might Julia Child.
“When you create a molecular gastronomy dish, you’re deconstructing a traditional dish and then reconstructing the different parts. You build in layers,” Werner said. “I do the same thing when I apply that to basic cuisine.”
A New York native who first landed in Brentwood as a five-year-old when his family moved into a nearby apartment on Barrington, Werner says that his favorite menu item is the Brentwood brisket sandwich.
“Artisan sourdough Bavarian rye is lightly sprayed with olive oil and then toasted, next is spicy, housemade mustard, then you sink your teeth into crispy coleslaw—which has virtually no mayo and is made fresh daily—and then it’s the soft melt-in-your-mouth brisket. After a few chews, it’s just yummy deliciousness.”
The meats are all-natural and prime-grade, while the poultry is free-range and hormone- and antibiotic-free; all are roasted in-house in special slow roasters until they reach perfect tenderness.
“What normal people would roast for three hours, I roast for 14 at very low temps.”
Everything is available by the pound (including the popular Chop Chop salad), and Werner ensures that you won’t run into the age-old deli issue of meat drying out quickly.
“The other thing that’s innovative as far as the deli, I use a vacuum-pack (IVP) machine, so items like the chicken breast with vegetables from the case stay good for over a week. To reheat it, you dip the sealed meal in boiling water and have a hot, fresh home-cooked meal.”
The vegetable selection, which features the likes of celery root, rutabaga, and baby artichokes just stripped from the vine “can really make a vegetable-lover out of people who don’t like veggies.” The roasted romaine, whose only other ingredients are olive oil, garlic and Parmesan Reggiano, is La Petit Mort for taste buds.
Keep your eye out for roast chicken Caesar and romaine heart, a salad still in development featuring the aforementioned romaine and chicken dredged in Parmesan and artisan-bread crumbs, then sprayed in olive oil and roasted.
Even the lemonade is roasted. The chocolate-dipped strawberries and gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, however, are not. Both, however, are still delicious.
Roast Deli & Market, at 147 S. Barrington Avenue, is open from 11 am to 9 pm seven days a week. For information, call (310) 476-1100.
Amanda Traxler is an L.A.-born writer with degrees in journalism from the University of Kansas and creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been rediscovering her roots since she returned to the area three years ago from the wintry Midwest.