A new French and Indian-influenced brasserie called Camphor opens from two Alain Ducasse veterans inside the former Nightshade space next month. Max Boonthanakit, who received the award Young Gun Eater in 2019 (name which has been renamed new guard eater) while he was Nightshade’s pastry chef, and co-manager Lijo George, who both worked at Blue by Alain Ducasse in Bangkok, will open the new restaurant in mid-February with Cyrus Batchan, also owner lock and key in Koreatown.
This means Nightshade, which never officially reopened during the pandemic, is officially closed; Asked about the shutdown, former Nightshade leader Mei Lin declined to comment. The former LA Eater Restaurant of the Year, Best New Eater Restaurant and James Beard Award Foundation Best New Restaurant finalist never announced he would return despite a strenuous effort to stay open with takeout service in the first weeks of the pandemic. Over the past two years, with reopenings and closings, Nightshade has never hinted that it will return.
In its place is a “back to basics” style French restaurant inspired by Indian flavors thanks to George, who is originally from Kerala and worked under Ducasse in Bangkok for more than eight years. The two met at Michelin starred blue by Alain Ducasse, where Boonthanakit served as Executive Pastry Chef under Chef Wilfred Hocquet (interestingly, formerly of Georgia in Beverly Hills).
Boonthanakit and George plan to make French dishes with Indian ingredients, like a whole chicken breast with chicken thigh mousse and tandoori spices, or an iced hazelnut soufflé with hot chocolate. The word the co-chefs keep insisting is that the fare will be “light,” a direct contrast to the typical presentation of rich, buttery French cuisine. Although other dishes have not been announced, expect plenty of vegetable and seafood options for dinner.
The interior look offers plenty of white, with Nightshade’s millennial pink hues giving way to lighter earth tones, marble, and periwinkle blue banquette seating. Otherwise, the space won’t get a drastic change in layout, with an open kitchen and inviting cocktail bar along the other side, with bar manager and beverage director Andrew Panigua whipping up cocktails. French Inhale.
As soon as it opens in mid-February, Camphor will serve from Wednesday to Monday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.