VERSE, a landmark union of culinary artistry and sound technology, debuted last month in Toluca Lake. The restaurant marries a dynamic menu that honors Los Angeles’ diverse cultural landscape with a seamlessly integrated acoustic system, presenting an immersive dining experience where sound is at the forefront of the design and intent.
VERSE is led by lauded Chef Paul Shoemaker (Providence, Bastide), Managing Partner Rob Ciancimino (The Sayers Club), and Manny Marroquin (eight-time Grammy award-winning sound mixer and owner of neighboring Larrabee Studios). At VERSE, the talented team presents an immersive dining experience with an eclectic menu that highlights local ingredients, while the state-of-the-art Meyer Sound system transforms the auditory atmosphere of the space.
From the spacious 3,800-square-foot, 140-seat dining room to the intimate 10-seat chef’s table located inside the kitchen, VERSE’s design is intended to foster the intersection of cuisine, music, art, and hospitality with branding by Folklor. Brought to life by Kimberly Biehl Schmidt (Larrabee Studios), the open space is simultaneously inviting and glam. The serene, jewel toned green, blue, and clay velvet chairs and booths were inspired by the fundamental color palette of Renaissance paintings, discovered by Marroquin during a trip to Madrid’s Prado Museum. Original art by Brian Bowen Smith is on view throughout the space, depicting dancing ballerinas. Functional Libra sound panels are disguised by custom graphic design work by Laurent Newman—the dreamlike, flowing pattern featuring subtle tree and floral imagery was refined by Marroquin, meant to represent life and an escape from reality.
A striking bookcase showcasing vintage volumes flanks the rectangular dining room. VERSE tapped Meyghan Hill of (Wh)ore Haüs Studios to create custom elements including the leather strap-studded host stand and metal partition, as well as a sculptural fixture suspended over the bar—a leather rope with spun brass pendants enveloped by leather straps strung with marble weights, inspired by the movement of the meter bridge in the sound recording studio.
Edible Cocktail at VERSE (credit: Jakob Layman)
Attention to detail is evident throughout VERSE’s menus—from the local ingredients foraged by Shoemaker, a thoughtfully curated wine list by Wine Enthusiast “40 Under 40 Tastemaker” Matthew Kaner (Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar), and classic, well-executed craft cocktails. Tableside drinks such as the Smoked Old Fashioned made with Angels Envy Bourbon, angostura bitter, orange peel and sugar, as well as a traditional absinthe drip presentation, served from a bar cart, provide a theatrical, interactive touch. Other cocktail highlights include the Twisted Manhattan made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Cynar, sweet vermouth, angostura bitter and maraschino Luxardo cherry, the Sparkling Sprig made with puree of fresh fig, St. Germaine, honey, prosecco, fresh lemon and thyme and the Pomegranate & The Burnt Rose made with Absolut Vodka, pomegranate juice, orange liquor and fresh lemon
With a Josper grill in the kitchen and a focus on honoring the longtime traditions of local farmers, ranchers, purveyors, and fishermen, highlights of VERSE’s menu include the Edible Cocktail which is champagne on Ice with olive oil caviar + brown butter dime bag, Amberjack Crudo, Maine Lobster Bolognese and American Wagyu Short Rib. Be sure to leave room for Sweets Treats including the Icey Pops, Pool Of Tears Apple Pie, Down and Who Stole The Tarts.
VERSE and Larrabee Studios Owner Manny Marroquin lends his engineering expertise to transform the room itself into an instrument, via custom Libra sound panels (the largest installation of Libra acoustic panels in the world); an SSL mixing console, and 60 strategically placed Meyer Sound Constellation system speakers with the ability to self-balance and circulate sound and energy through the room. VERSE is the only restaurant in Southern California with a Meyer Sound Constellation system, which allows for the creation of unique acoustic environments. Thoughtful, ever-changing playlists curated by music industry visionaries provide the soundtrack for each evening, in addition to a lineup of performances slated to launch in early 2020.
“I believe that immersive audio is the future, and our groundbreaking Meyer Sound system allows us to essentially create a recording studio within the restaurant and brings our vision of a cultural hub of cuisine, music, art, and five-star hospitality to life,” says Marroquin. “We’ve been developing and building VERSE for the past four years and it’s been an honor to partner with an incredibly talented group of professionals to introduce this one-of-a-kind concept to Los Angeles.”
VERSE launched in tandem with the 50th anniversary of Larrabee Studios, one of the top recording and mixing facilities in the world.
4212 Lankershim Blvd., Toluca Lake, verse.la, @verse.la
Our Best Stories Delivered Daily