First Impressions

Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry Rolls Out New, Homey Dinner

The Hollywood brunch mainstay debuts a delicious, unfussy evening menu.

By Benjamin Tepler January 30, 2018

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Vivienne's chickpea stew, with sage-buttered bread for sopping. 

Vivienne has been one of our favorite coffee and brunch stops since 2016: everything from scratch, devoutly seasonal, and quaint as hell. Its porridge, blinged out with house compote, pickled berries, and toasted quinoa, is a humble breakfast revelation. Now, the no-frills neighborhood eatery (next door to the Hollywood Theatre) has quietly launched dinner service. 

The evening menu is everything you might expect if you're familiar with Vivienne's brunch: seven smallish plates, all under $10, with tons of home-cooked, unfussy seasonal vegetables. Chef-owner Robin Wheelright nails simple salads, like a small, citrusy number with fennel and celery, or thick, hearty toast topped with mashed roasted beets, chevre, and prosciutto. There are a handful of easy drinkin’ cocktails (including a sweet, rose-flavored Paloma), and a short wine list dominated by natural and biodynamic options. Eating here really is like that played-out adage: having dinner at your hyper-talented cheffy friend’s house. 

The chickpea stew is a standout (it’s also available at lunch). Spiced with ginger, paprika, and cinnamon, and swirled with canned summer tomatoes, a citrusy herb pistou, and a dollop of housemade crème fraiche, it’s just about the most comforting winter dish in town. Although Vivienne isn’t meat-heavy, Wheelright turns out a stellar burger: a juicy lamb patty, scented with sumac, cumin, and paprika, and oozing feta from its center, with a few pickled red onions, arugula, and a slick of aioli up top. It’s an even more impressive feat knowing that Vivienne doesn’t have a proper stove or hood vent.

Surprisingly, the low point at Vivienne’s dinner is the dessert—a highlight during brunch service. Both the chocolate cake with ganache and salted caramel and the lemon olive oil cake with Earl Grey ice cream were dry, the result of too much time on display.

For now, Wheelright says she’s letting Vivienne’s dinner service unfurl organically. That means its available Friday and Saturday nights (5–9 p.m.) only through the slow winter season, with a possibility of expanding hours or days this summer. We can’t wait to see how this evolves. Right now, there’s no better place grab dinner before a Hollywood screening.

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