Amongst a packed house and the likes of KJLH Radio and NBA Hall of Fame Legend Reggie Miller, I found myself in the heart of Louisiana this past Saturday as the community partook in the grand opening of the Flavor Table, a New Orleans style breakfast restaurant located at 2812 W Florence Avenue in Los Angeles.
Hot plates swooshed by, folks carried smiles and good conversation, and music charged the air with good vibes, as guests, family, and friends indulged in the Southern cuisine that’s become quite a fan favorite in the last few decades.
The newly opened establishment is actually the return of a Los Angeles gem that has been around since the early 1980’s, previously located on Western Ave and 39th Street. The former restaurant was titled Red’s, for the once red-haired, fiery and effervescent personality of its proprietor and Head Chef, Marilyn Wallace, a native of Marksville a small city in and the parish seat of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.
A student of the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, Wallace was keen on pursuing her career as an actress at the time of the restaurant’s inception. “It wasn’t my dream to open up a restaurant, it was my dream to become an actress, and that’s how it all started. After we would do different performances at different theaters, everybody was always hungry. And we’re like, starving actors and actresses, we don’t have a lot of money, we had all our money going to school.”
Wallace joked about the first time he peers tasted her food. “So, we would prepare our own meals, everyone made a dish, we took turns, and every time I prepared something, they thoroughly enjoyed it. So, they would say, you’re so good, you’re a good cook, and I actually resented that, I’m a good cook? No, I’m a good actress!”
Being an actress has in its own unique way, rendered a competitive advantage to Wallace due to the fact that with acting, one learns the skill of quick thinking. “It’s all about improvisation, you know you have to think fast when you’re an actor or an actress. You better think fast when you’re in that kitchen.”
The establishment is cozy, it feels like your favorite aunt is going to come out from the kitchen and smother you with a big hug and kiss after you take your seat. The dining area is draped with photos and Louisiana inspired memorabilia that accentuates the ambiance.
As I made my way out back, there was a beautiful and elegant patio area, or New Orleans style “living room” fully furnished with intimate seating, a garden, and a comfy red sofa for the moment when the shrimp and grits hit the spot, forcing you to lie down.
The atmosphere is riddled with the vibe of family, and according to Quintella Smith, Wallace’s first cousin who also runs the establishment, “Lynn is a huge advocate of family, bottom line. She’s the matriarch of our family now, and she believes in family, she pulls the family, and it’s like the most important thing to her is keeping the family together. I think that’s the driving force.”
With a celebrity chef for a son, daughter, son in law, nieces, cousins all at the helm of this business, Wallace is definitely a proponent of family.
Ambiance and family are all great starting points to a successful restaurant, but there is no greater advertising agent, than the food. With various southern dishes on the menu, The Flavor Table offers shrimp and crab omelets, shrimp and grits, a heavenly peach cobbler French toast, and a host of other down home delicacies. After you eat there, that patio couch will most definitely be your best friend.