Alex Ageneau and Kevin O’Connor of Aestus Restaurant. Photo by Westside People
The unassuming aestus restaurant opened recently on Wilshire Boulevard with an intimate feel and a 1960s era motif. The atmosphere – with the bar, dining area and kitchen all in a single room – creates an intimate setting, but it’s the fresh seasonal cuisine by talented young chef Alex Ageneau that will have customers returning for more.
Helmed by former Spago wine director Kevin O’Connor, who is also the co-founder of LIOCO Wine Co., aestus offers a wine list composed of old and new world selections. Ian Harris, formerly of Brooklyn’s Reynard at The Wythe Hotel will serve as General Manager. We caught up to O’Connor on a recent visit where he explained the word “aestus” comes from latin meaning ebb and flow.
“It was just a very compelling word for me because of where we are for one thing based on our proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the fact we are cooking with fire, but aestus conjures up this wonderful ebbing and flowing of emotion, of laughter, of convivialit,y of our passions and our feelings. We are always in a state of ebb and flow. We are never in a static spot. To me that’s what food is about and that’s what nature is about.”
O’Connor’s Zen-like approach to dining shows through in the dishes that Chef Alex prepared during our visit including his homemade charcuterie board complete with in-house pate and smoked duck breast. He also showed off the scallops a la plancha with leaks and a cream sauce along with the roasted carrots and goat cheese with shaved kumquats. Chef Alex, who is originally from France where he trained at a small culinary school, said he plans to change the menu at aestus as often as possible based seasonally available produce.
“Some ingredients are only prime for 2-3 weeks during the year,” he said. “So we’ll use it at that time. Food tastes better that way.”