Affordable Scottish eats from a <em>Top Chef</em> winner

Sheer confidence is one of the surest indicators of success: for proof, look no further than the Spartans, whose faith in themselves may have cost them their lives, but also allowed them to get wayyy toned! Bringing that confidence to food: Gorbals, opening tomorrow

Gorbals is the first restaurant from the winner of Top Chef II, who's so sure his food's good he's provided few distractions: the mid-sized interior's Spartanly (LOL!!) clad, with simple white walls, brick pillars, a massive cedar common table, and a fully open kitchen saddled with a steel bar you can eat at, or just bang on really loudly when you want more rolls. The name comes from a Scottish city, but the food's all non-regional small plates, which're always-changing based on what's at the Santa Monica's farmers market; potential options range from lamb belly w/ cumin-pickled carrots and mint, to octopus w/ gizzards and lemon, to horseradish mayo-accompanied bacon-wrapped matzo balls -- an option that proves two wrongs can, in fact, make a very delicious right. Drinkswise, the menu's similarly without distraction, with no cocktail list, just a couple choice spirits (i.e. the only gin served is Hendrick's) and a list of 10 whiskeys/bourbons (including selections from Macallan, Lagavulin, and Highland Park) that were compiled by the chef's dad, and enjoyed with increasing frequency by yours ("Why don't you just drop a resume off at Starbucks? They're always hiring!")

To instill confidence that you can actually pay, all the dishes are under $15, and they're taking reservations starting today -- make one before the crazy rush, though this isn't madness. THIS. IS. GORBALS!!!