The film-producer-owned cocktail bar, Psychic, hasn’t been itself lately. Which is to say, the bar has remained closed for much of the last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, owners Neil Kopp and Anish Savjani made use of their space in the way many others have in recent months: They rented it out to a pop-up.
Diane Lam, once a chef de cuisine at the hip restaurant and bar Revelry, had started the pop-up Sunshine Noodles with her friend, David Sigal; Lam handled the food, which involved dishes like potato chip salads and Phnom Penh noodles, while Sigal handled the drinks. When Revelry closed and Lam lost her job, she and Sigal moved in to Psychic and operated Sunshine Noodles out on the bar’s patio; Sunshine Noodles, in those months, behaved more like a restaurant than a pop-up, with regular hours and service out of the outdoor bar. Psychic, housed in a spooky black-and-red Victorian, laid dormant.
However, with Sunshine Noodles on hiatus, the bar will reopen for indoor and outdoor service March 4, with a few distinct changes: Diane Lam is running the kitchen at the bar, using it as the home for her originally delivery-specific fried chicken brand, Prey and Tell. Lam hired a new bar manager, Kiernan Garrett, to handle a swath of fruit-centric cocktails. Upstairs, she’ll run Sunshine Noodle pop-ups and dinners with other chefs around town, including regular collaborator Colin Yoshimoto of Eem. “I just love the space,” Lam says. “I was just so comfortable there... People are like, ‘Diane you could have just opened your place...’ But I didn’t want that pressure on the brand.”
Once Psychic reopens, it will look and feel different from its original days open. The dining room is getting a fresh coat of paint and an upgrade to the lighting; tables will come with QR codes for menus, to limit the contact between servers and diners. Those menus will include the roster of fried chicken and sauces Prey and Tell is known for. Lam’s take on Cambodian fried chicken is gluten-free and arrives unsauced, with dipping sauces like lime-leaf Buffalo, a French-Cambodian-style ranch, and fish sauce caramel butter. The menu also includes fried cauliflower, another vehicle for Lam’s sauces.
The cocktails will also step away from Psychic’s original menu: Garrett has planned out drinks reliant on the perkiness of pineapple and grapefruit, like a gin-based piña colada, a margarita pairing a blend of mezcal and tequila with grapefruit, and a take on a jungle bird made with aquavit in place of Campari. More spirit-centric drinks, like an Old Fashioned, use cardamom for spice; a gin rickey gets a bit of fragrance from lemongrass.
Lam thought that the fried chicken central to Prey and Tell fit more with the day-to-day of the bar, but she’s excited to dive back into the freedom of the pop-up format for Sunshine Noodles. “The private dining room will make it feel more like an exclusive, special event,” Lam says. “Having Sunshine Noodles events-focused, allowing people to reserve the space or patio space — We just want to make it more experiential.”
• Psychic [Official]
• Prey and Tell [Official]
• How Former Revelry Chef de Cuisine Diane Lam Opened an Outdoor Restaurant During a Pandemic [EPDX]
• Diane Lam’s Next Project: A Delivery-Centric Cambodian Fried Chicken Spot [EPDX]