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Adam Perry Lang is not just the eponymous chef and owner behind APL, a buzzy dining room at the corner of Hollywood and Vine that bowed in the spring. He’s also its proud bladesmith, crafting custom steak knives that he offers for sale for $950 apiece, the minimum threshold for a felony in California, to dissuade theft. The DIY cutlery, impressive in its ambition — if not always the sharpest in implementation — is emblematic of Lang’s auteurist, mixed-bag approach to the modern chophouse.
It’s an imagining where a killer iceberg wedge is draped with a tender uncut slab of thick grilled bacon and a daytime takeout window dispenses elevated chili dogs. After stints under Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy, Lang became a competition-winning BBQ phenomenon; fans include Jimmy Kimmel, who’s hosted pop-ups with him, and chef David Chang, who featured him on his Netflix show, Ugly Delicious, and sells “APL style” short ribs at Chinatown’s Majordomo.
The beef at APL is supreme stuff that immediately catapults Lang into the top ranks of local steak masters (he ran the dry-aging program for a time at Mario Batali’s recently closed Carnevino in Las Vegas). The question is, aside from convenience to the Pantages, what will make diners otherwise partisan to Mastro’s, Chi Spacca or nearby Gwen select APL?
That iceberg wedge is certainly an argument, as is a best-in-show jumbo shrimp cocktail with an addictively kicky horseradish-and-Worcestershire-fueled dressing, along with an ace slate of cocktails, like the Cab-spiked whiskey sour. Plus a key pair of desserts: a flourless chocolate cake and a mini fruit cobbler that, if lucky, will be peach.
One of Lang’s key decisions at APL has been to pivot toward the look and feel of a brasserie (art deco bar, woven chairs). In many ways this feels refreshing; in others, a little too laissez-faire for the sky-high check average typical of a destination meat palace. (If diners must pay for bread service, supply them with butter knives.) A bigger problem is consistency: Side orders shouldn’t materialize before entrees, or arrive lukewarm. It’s inexcusable for a steak requested medium-rare to appear medium-well, even if rectified with apologetic haste. To err is human; to forgive is how we must dine. However, at these prices, mistakes shouldn’t happen with the frequency they do.
Those unwilling to undertake such a risk should still visit APL’s takeout window. Lang’s talents are in full glory in the chili made with hand-cut chuck and the expense-account BBQ sandwich you’ll be obsessing over. It’s a marvel of shaved pit-cooked steak interposed with sweet onions, pickle salad and horseradish. Go ahead, dig in to that $50 splurge (hey, at least it’s shareable) right there by the curb.
1680 Vine St.; (323) 416-1280
Recommended: Iceberg salad ($16), Tomahawk chop ($62), cobbler ($12)
Best table: Booths in the front room opposite the bar
This review is based on multiple visits. Reservations are made under another name. Meals are covered by THR.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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