Author Archives: Julia Latane

My superhero chef

CRW_4264trenchestrenchesValentine’s Day is such a sweet day for us at Ba. It is a busy time for restaurants, and it is a day for thinking about those we love.

I want to post something today in honor of the man I love, the man behind Ba, who asked me to marry him with a brass ferule nut as an engagement ring on Valentine’s Day 18 years ago. He is a chef, he is an artist, he is a storyteller, and he is a superhero.

James recorded many stories in this blog about how he built Ba with his own two hands. He cut up and removed old slabs of concrete, dug the trenches for the drain lines, installed the toilets and the kitchen sinks, and built the walls around the kitchen and bathrooms while also building a community. It was a project born out of love, determination, and recovery. This year marks three years since Ba opened, and five years since James was knocked off his motorcycle and run over by a truck on the 110 Freeway. The fact that he is still with us, and standing, is proof of his super powers.

James is Wolverine. He has the superhuman ability to heal. His pelvis was crushed and his femoral arteries nearly severed, and yet he survived. James is Spiderman. To trace possible places of infection they irradiated his blood. James is Ironman. He came home from the hospital with a carbon fiber frame screwed into his hip bones, and a twelve inch long bolt through his pelvis. Eight months after the accident, still using a cane to walk, he signed the lease on the space that would be Ba. A few months later, he did his first handstand against the dining room wall. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows how physically demanding it is, and James prepared his body for it doing construction.

If you have eaten at Ba, you know the love that goes into his food. The 23 years that we have spent together are mapped in my mind by the meals he has prepared for me. One Valentine’s Day he closed a dining room at Grill, the restaurant we opened together in Tucson, so that we could share a meal of lobster ravioli with raspberry beurre blanc sauce that I still dream about.

James, man of my dreams, you inspire and awe me. Happy Valentine’s Day.



Really famous!

May 16, 2012
French Kissed
Ba opens in Highland Park

It was almost called Le Singe et Le Violon Contreplaqué.

Good thing owner and chef James Graham questioned how Google-able that might be and went with his second choice: Ba.

Everything else about Ba is just as abbreviated: The tiny French restaurant is just 900 square feet of simple charm — concrete floors, paisley curtains, art by CB1-represented artists.

The menu offers just four apps, four entrees, and four desserts that change seasonally.

Flavors are where Ba goes big, with fragrant, flavorful dishes duck liver mousse with caramelized onions, a classic beef bourguignonne, and tarragon chicken.

Close the deal with the chocolate mousse in almond tuile.

Pair up with a French wine or craft beer, both of which also come from very short lists.

So thankfully, you won’t need to read much French.
Restaurant Ba
Open now
5100 York Blvd. (N. Ave 51), Highland Park
(323) 739-6243

Price: 3 (out of 4) Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Parking: Street
Scene: Third dates, Francophiles, and Highland Park elite
Best bets: Swiss chard; beef bourguignonne; chocolate mousse
Hot seat: A two-top in the back
Nearby: The York; Little Cave; Verdugo