Chef Bernhard Mairinger opening Lustig in Helms Bakery next year
By Dolores Quintana
Chef Bernhard Mairinger is returning to the restaurant world with his new restaurant Lustig which will open in Culver City as reported by Eater Los Angeles. The location is at 8758 Venice Blvd. in the Helms Bakery shopping area and has been scheduled to open in early 2023. Lustig will take over the former La Dijonaise space.
Mairinger formerly worked in Patina and Nick & Stef’s kitchens before opening his own restaurant Bierbeisl, which served Austrian-influenced cuisine. His restaurant was a revelation within the more staid Beverly Hills area. The restaurant was elegant and served excellent wines and “polished European fare” according to Eater Los Angeles. Mairinger was nominated as a James Beard Rising Star Chef and the Los Angeles Times restaurant critic at the time, S. Irene Virbila, gave the restaurant a positive review.
Bierbeisl was only open for two years and closed in 2013. Mairinger did open Bierbeisl Imbiss in a space inside the Spring Arcade building complex, which was more of a casual bakery and cafe concept, but Imbiss closed only a year later.
In the interim, Mairinger has been working as a private chef and in catering for his customers who are very loyal and frequently employ his catering company for their parties and other special events.
The six-foot eight-inch chef told Eater Los Angeles that “With Lustig, I’m thinking less Imbiss, more of a République except no counter service. This will be full service with a casual lunch for the neighborhood and a nicer place for dinner.” while reportedly cutting hamachi into separate pieces during the interview according to Eater Los Angeles.
Mairinger is known as a friendly and good-natured person who occasionally used his notable height as a promotional tool and it is easy to understand why he has retained his base of customers during this time away from the restaurant scene. Those private clients have kept him going since the closure of Bierbeisl but clearly, the chef is spoiling to get back to having his own restaurant and feels this is the right time. Eater Los Angeles quoted the chef who said, “I’ve always missed having a restaurant, to be honest. There’s something about it, the energy, that routine. I do miss seeing all my customers and loyal clientele. It doesn’t get much better than this, with a great landlord, excellent neighborhood, and already a lot of excellent food around. I want to be known as a place to have a good time and a good meal. I think there are all the key factors that will hopefully allow this restaurant to last much longer.”
Eater Los Angeles spoke to him about the ideas for the food in his new restaurant and he said, “All the components are replaced by something else. Instead of green bean, I’ll do fava or sugar snap or English pea. The egg is a different preparation, like a confetti. Fish will be sashimi grade bluefin or albacore. It’s a Nicoise salad but it will be the lightest and most delicious version you’ve ever had of the classic.”
Mairinger’s famous schnitzel will be back for dinners at Lustig but will feature a yuzu cranberry sauce rather than the traditional lingonberry. The chef plans to debut a raclette pizza which is a traditional German dish, but it will also have a new twist according to Eater Los Angeles.
The restaurant’s design will be handled by Studio UNLTD and it will hold 55 seats indoors and 30 more on the patio. According to Eater Los Angeles, the renderings are of a “colorful, modern interior with big windows and a semi-covered alfresco area”.
Mairinger has also brought in Martin Riese, who was best known as the first “water sommelier”, and a former co-worker from Patina. Riese will help Mairinger manage the full workload of the new establishment. Riese has gained a following of over two million followers on TikTok because of his posts on different types of bottled and spring waters. Mairinger said, as quoted by Eater Los Angeles, “I’m a water snob as well. I don’t drink tap water. I do events with Martin all the time, and we’ve been working together for so long. It will make my life easier to not worry about every aspects [of the restaurant]”