People do walk in L.A., but – let’s be honest – they mostly still don’t. People drive alone, and they carpool. They vanpool and they shuttle. They ride their bikes. They Über or Taxi Magic all over town. And yes, we Metro railway. Do you ever get the feeling that just because we’re not New York, that’s the only thing they’re rubbing our noses in?
Which is not to say that I’m not envious of their subway access – and many other things. Yet having passed the 2-year mark living near a Hollywood Metro Red Line stop, I’ve learned a lot in the process about our own public transportation options. The Expo Line has opened during that time. And we’re looking forward to more. Just experiencing the drastic transformation in how people choose to get around – myself included, and not only on the rail – have provided so many eye-opening revelations. So when Slate says that L.A. is being turned into “America’s next great mass-transit city,” we’ll take that little bit of validation.
L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, for my third year in attendance, remains one of my favorite food events. The original idea of Alex’s Lemonade arose out of a courageous four-year-old’s battle with neuroblastoma and her desire to donate the proceeds of her lemonade stand to doctors who have helped her. Childhood cancer strikes a chord personally, as my first born nephew was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia at the age of 1 1/2. Thanks to treatment and some faith, he’s now entering his teen years as a survivor. Of course, more research needs to be done.
Times: They are a-changin’. So much so, that I’ve grown to love my neighborhood – even after some growing pains – for its walkability to certain things, including the Los Angeles Metro Red Line.
Now the fact that this summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week (which started yesterday) has been scheduled for the very first time in one block instead of only on the weekdays, makes for good incentive to diners to capitalize on the Metro rails and the destinations to which they flow. What better way to enjoy your wine or cocktails with dinner than to finish the trek home liability-free? (Perhaps you’ll want to make a reservation on the the last day of dineLA – the very first day the Metro runs until 2 AM, on July 27 – and make that one a late night?)
For the n00bs, lunches range from $15, $20 or $25 while dinners vary from $25, $35 or $45 for a 3-course prix fixe meal. It’s all so simple. Look below for some of my dineLA Restaurant Week recommendations along the Metro – all sorted according to the rail lines along which they are situated. (Sorry, Westsiders – you have Beverly Hills to blame for your dearth of rails.)
Sang Yoon’s Lukshon (3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City)in the Helms Bakery building (one block east of the elevated Culver City Station) blends stand-out design with modern takes on South-East Asian fare in the form of shared, small plates. Try the Hawaiian butterfish: half inch slices of melty cured fish layered just so and finished with slivers of pretty pink watermelon radish and nahm jim, a coarse, nutty Thai sauce.
Nearby is one of the stalwarts of Downtown Culver City, Chef Ben Ford’s Filling Station (9531 Culver Boulevard, Culver City), with classic, non-nonsense American pub fare with an seen-and-be-scene outdoor patio with views of passers-by and available dineLA lunch and dinner menus. Or stop in at Akasha (9543 Culver Boulevard, Culver City) for dinner, with some farmer’s market-fresh, contemporary American fare offering unexpected twists on otherwise-classic dishes.
On the other end of the Expo Line is the brand new & highly anticipated Mo-chica (514 W. 7th St., Downtown), whose playful and inviting space is located just a few blocks east of the 7th Street/Metro Station. The newest restaurant (or re-location from Mercado Paloma, depending on who you ask) from 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef and owner Ricardo Zarate is loaded with playful design details including colorful ekeko figurines decorated by chef friends of Zarate. Try the sun dried potato stew with peanuts and chimichurri and bisteck a la pobre (skirt steak with fried egg and pan fried bananas).
Stop one is Maison Akira (713 E. Green St., Pasadena) where chef Akira Hirose has been quietly crafting modern Japanese -French fare for almost 14 years. This gorgeous restaurant with butter yellow walls, is a healthy walk from Lake Station. But when you dine, you’ll definitely want to choose the tempura soft shell crab served atop wasabi potato mousseline.
Haven Gastropub (42 S. De Lacey Ave., Pasadena), which opened last December, is just a few blocks further south on the other side of Colorado. With forty beers on tap including a handful of in-house brews, Haven is happiness for beer lovers. But the excellent food will surprise you. Try Chef Greg Daniel’s deviled eggs made with smoked serrano powder and topped with Maldon smoked sea salt and crumbled, house-made bacon (on the lunch menu). For dinner, try their flavorful lamb burger finished with onion jam and tzatziki sauce.
At the opposite end of the Gold Line in Little Tokyo, is Aburiya Toranoko (243 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo) – four blocks Southwest of the stop on Alameda and a pleasant walk past Japanese Village Plaza. Snap up one of the all-time lunch favorites during dineLA Restaurant Week, such as their bento box. At dinner, a ten ounce New York steak with garlic soy will do just fine.
A five minute walk from the Hollywood and Vine station lies Papilles (6221 Franklin Ave., Hollywood) at Argyle and Franklin. If you’re not keen on them already, don’t let the strip mall deceive you when it comes to this quaint little bistro with one of the simplest yet satisfying menus. Go prix fixe as per usual in this quaint spot, which hosts just a dozen tables in its cozy dining room complete with low ceiling, red walls and open kitchen. For dineLA Restaurant Week, choose from dishes such as roast hanger steak with potato gratin and shelling beans, or market fresh fish with red quinoa and roasted corn slaw. Don’t forget the wine, as Santos Uy has just the perfect pour to complement the excellent food by Chef Tim Carey.
Try Cleo (717 Vine Street, Hollywood) inside the fabulous Redbury Hotel, which serves up Mediterranean fare for dineLA dinner. Start off with two enticing appetizers before indulging in the Chicken Tagine or the Grilled Daurade. You’ll be enjoying the best of what Hollywood has to offer – trends and tastes to tantalize your tastebuds – all for $35 prix fixe. It’s one of the glitziest places in Hollywood, much less LA.
At Sadie Restaurant (1638 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood) by the Hollywood and Highland station, you’ll get the best of both the food and cocktail worlds thanks to food by Mark Gold and cocktails by Giovanni Martinez. Enjoy their Parlor Room, Lounge, or beautifully lit back patio for a customizable dining experience – all areas with elegance to spare. Start off with the Basil Risotto topped with olive oil-poached baby tomatoes. You’ll have trouble deciding your main entree, whether it be Ocean Water Poached Scottish Salmon with “hazelnut brown butter” or the Creek Stone Beef Shortrib, complete with potato creameux and roasted forest mushrooms.
For dineLA lunch or dinner, stop by Rivera (1050 S. Flower St., Downtown), John Sedlar’s gorgeous, modern Latin eatery across the street from Pico Station. Stellar food and cocktails (by Julian Cox) align at this stalwart Los Angeles establishment with no lack of sophistication in any of the senses. Try the handmade, crisp corn cones filled with fresh crab salad and finished with a tequila chipotle vinaigrette. Order the sous vide beef shank with roasted summer vegetables or the Agave-roasted duck.
Corkbar (403 W. 12th St., Downtown), just a few blocks east, is a solid wine bar with great food to complement the all-Californian list. What better way to take dineLA local than to drink the finest wines in the state. Chef Thomas Lamont’s dineLA Restaurant Week menu features house made corned beef brisket sandwich with pickled cabbage and steamed mussels with linguini.
There’s no better time to revisit Water Grill (544 S. Grand Ave., Downtown), around the corner from Pershing Square Station, since it has just undergone a facelift with more casual but hip sights in mind. New are chocolate leather booths and a wall of antique fishing rods. But the constant, thankfully, is the beautiful raw bar. Try Chef Damon Gordon’s pan seared skate, finished with brown butter, red grapes and arugula. Perhaps the pan sautéed wild sockeye salmon with asparagus chutney and raw asparagus salad is more your speed. No matter what, your seafood craving will go more than satisfied.
Border Grill Downtown LA (445 S. Figueroa St., Downtown) always feels like a party, thanks to its festive interior and buzzing vibe. Just a short walk from 7th Street/Metro Station, Border Grill is featuring grilled local yellowtail with seared greens and quinoa. Vegetarians will appreciate and love their take on chilaquiles on the lunchtime restaurant week menu. Think tomatillo salsa and melted panela cheese draped over asparagus, fresh fava beans, artichoke hearts and a happy mix of soft and crispy chips. It’s summer!
Bar | Kitchen (819 S. Flower Street, Downtown) is one of my favorite places in LA for a cocktail and a bone luge, so why not pony on up to their lunch or dinner menu for some Shrimp & Grits for lunch or Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop for dinner? Just a block away from the 7th & Metro station, this stellar restaurant inside the O Hotel is just what you need for some instant satisfaction.
So enjoy dineLA, Los Angeles. The plethora of options can definitely be overwhelming, but as with anything, a little bit of online research will go a long way. Just use this map for your convenience (bravo, dineLA, on the re-design!), keeping in mind that not all places offer lunch. And remember, whenever you can: Go Green! And Go Metro!
Every year, there are more and more food events to choose from, making it hard to know exactly which one to support. LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade, however, is pretty much la crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me when it comes to the quality of participants – at least from my inaugural experience last year. This year, it looks like the case will be the same.
Let’s take a look and see why. Participants from LA include Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Vinny Dotolo & Jon Shook (Animal), Neal Fraser (Grace), Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C., Tavern), Matt Molina (Osteria Mozza), Zoe Nathan (Huckelberry), Steve Samson & Zach Pollack (Sotto), Eric Alperin (The Varnish) and Jonathan Graham (Compartes).
And if those weren’t all enough reasons, there will also be stellar showings from other parts, such as April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig – NY), Neal Bodenheimer (CURE – New Orleans), Brian Huston & Paul Kahan (The Publican – Chicago), Johnathan Sundstrom (Lark – Seattle), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto – NY) andÂ Lachlan Patterson (Frasca Food and Wine – Boulder, CO).
As far as tickets, they’re not a drop in the bucket, but they’re mostly tax-deductible. But there’s no better way to enjoy endlessÂ hand-crafted cocktails from top mixologists and dishes from your favorite chefsÂ with the Gone With The Wind mansion as your backdrop. Meanwhile, you pay your taxes forwardÂ and further research on childhood cancer. Yay!Â While the regular general ticket price is normally $175, Thrillist LA is offeringÂ VIP tickets (normally $400) forÂ $225 ($100 is tax-deductible). Given that you get a whole extra hour and admission into the VIP area as well as the pre-event mixology session, this ticket is your best bet.
TodayÂ is Free Pour Wednesday at City Tavern in downtown Culver City. Sit down for dinner (maybe even at one of the tap-equipped tables) and sample your choice of craft beer (6 oz. pour) from the total 22 available on draft, for free. Limit one per guest with food order.
And tomorrow, you can celebrate Sierra Nevada Pint Night.
Spare yourself the drive up to their Chico tasting room. Tomorrow at City Tavern, you’llÂ find Sierra Nevada’s Schwartz Bier, Vienna Lager, Foam Pilsner, Oktoberfest, and Life & Limb 2 (a highly-coveted limited release) on tap. Feeling especially beer-social? One of the reps from Sierra Nevada will be present to answer all your questions and share in your beery cheer. Plus, purchase any one of the aforementioned pints and receive a commemorative glass, while supplies last. And of course, City Tavern would never limit you to just one. Or two. Want to try all five? Go with the tasting flight. Starts at 6PM.
Oops! Almost forgot that Munich Marzen beers (Oktoberfest-style beer) have taken over the City Tavern taps from now through October 2nd. Guests who are able to grab a seat at the table tap booths ON October 2nd will receive a commemorative growler.
Love Firestone beer? They’ll be doing the same format as tomorrow’s Sierra Nevada’s pint night (beer list TBA) on Thursday, October 6th.
After all, it’s just a matter of time before L.A. Beer Week becomes L.A. Beer Day…everyday.
City Tavern 9739 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232-2739 310.838.9739
Beer Dinners: You can’t really have too many. Good thing City Tavern, the Downtown Culver City hangout with taps at the tables (a couple of them, anyway) is holding one with Ladyface Ale Companie next Thursday, September 15th.
There will be one seating at 7 PM (up to 7:30 PM, if you prefer) and included in your $46 cost are 4 courses + amuse bouche, each paired with a Ladyface beer. For the full menu, peep below:
3rd course Smoked cocoa-rubbed tri-tip sandwich and potato salad Picture city porter 6 oz., abv: 7.0%
Dessert Spiked watermelon and peppered strawberries Sazerac-oaked red rye 6 oz., abv: 7.2%
Â I had a lovely time at one of City Tavern’s other beer dinners, which was in conjunction with Eagle Rock Brewery. My favorite was a stone fruit salad, which was paired expertly with their Yearling Flanders Red Ale. If this is any indication, next Thursday’s beer dinner will be solid. It’s a great way toÂ support local business and beer while celebrating the end of summer (if that’s your thing).
The power duo is back – and they’re bringing back more options than ever to the Culver City cosplay cafe called Royal T. Chef Joseph Mahon and Sommelier David Haskell have expanded their thrice popped up pop-up to … you guessed it, three nights, starting onÂ Sunday, April 17Â and ending on Haskell’s 35th birthday,Â Tuesday, April 19th.
Mahonâ€™s French cuisine will be paired with Haskellâ€™s sake, Asian beer, and French and Italian wine selections. Choose from the five ($62), seven ($80), or ten-course menu ($118) with optional wine pairings ($45-92 additional) – orÂ go for theÂ special uni menu and separate wine pairings on Tuesday, April 19 in celebration of Haskellâ€™s 35th birthday (The Feast LA).
Magnum is working in collaboration with Tomo Kurokawa to donate a portion of the event and silent auction proceeds to benefit the Japanese SakeÂ AssociationÂ and subsequently sake breweries affected by the tsunami inÂ northern Japan.
Courses will include thoughtful selections such as:
Fennel Royale with Sea Urchin, Apple Cloud, and Nori Powder
Braised Baby Octopus with Leek Risotto, Pine Nuts, and Pancetta Vinaigrette
Miso-Cured Hangar Steak with Creamed Spinach, Shitake Mushroom Tempura, Sesame Seeds, and Ponzu Sauce
All wine, beer, and sake pairings will be announced the day of the event viaÂ Magnum and Royal/Tâ€™s Facebook and Twitter pages (@Magnum_dh and @RoyalTCafe).
At the bar, small plates and sake pairings will be available throughout the three-night series. Inspired by Royal/Tâ€™s newest street art exhibit â€œFACEMAKER, the bar bites will reflect graffitiâ€™s free-form streaks, which include:
Sliders with Grass-Fed Beef, Potato Chips, Bibb Lettuce, and Chipotle AÃ¯oli ($15)
Tuna Rolls with Crab, Jicama, Mango, and Spicy Mayonnaise ($19)
Oysters with Brown Butter and Lemon ($14)
Everything sounds absolutely delicious. Pop-up restaurants may come and go…and come and go…but this bigger and badder rendition of MagnumÂ looks like one not to be missed. Be sure to call or email to reserve. Zeus The Cat will be standing by.
Also, be sure to check out the items up for silent auction, which are constantly being updated on Twitter and on the official Magnum website.
I have always loved a good stack of spring rolls to start off my Asian, Asian fusion, Asian-influenced, AsianÂ what-have-you meal. That love, however,Â has just transcended to a whole new level of appreciationÂ thanks to Lukshon’s Duck Popiah.
Since you can’t have a good burrito or taco without a good tortilla; the same applies to their Asianfied counterparts.Â The overall quality is owedÂ in no small part to the wrapper – the freshness of which was apparent from the moment my dining companion and I observed the Chef de partie rolling the skinnyÂ scrolls from our seats at the bar of Lukson’s beautiful, open kitchen. The balmy textureÂ of the wrap made it undeniable thatÂ the skinsÂ were battered and rolled in-house. It made me yearn for the makers of even the best Chinese beef rolls I’ve had in San GabrielÂ to trade in their often dry, flourÂ wraps for these.
And theÂ freshÂ cilantro, the pickled jicama,Â all those vibrant flavors coming together with the rich bird that isÂ duck, and altogether dressed in aÂ house-made hoisin chile sauce. So delicious. The collapse of that soft shell revealed the crunch of bright, pickledÂ flavors paired with tender duck meat, all of which is dressed in sweetÂ and spicy. The popiahÂ were pretty much my favorite thing at Lukshon during my first and only visit thus far. I enjoyed my other dishes (and also loved the cocktails), but I still feel unqualified to say what they were until I visit a few more times. But the duck popiah and its refined execution on all levels…I already know this one is a wash. A favorite. Rinse, repeat.Â
I’ll be back for more, dear Lukshon. As for you, go – and report back on what your favorites are.
Mon – Sat
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Lukshon 3239 Helms Ave. Culver City, CA 90034 310.202.6808
It’s about time there was an approachable French Brasserie on the block; thankfully, Le Saint Amour is just that restaurant. With Walter Manzke having consulted on the menu and Chef Bruno Herve-Commereuc in-house to see that vision through, the Culver restaurant is putting out traditional French dishes that delight.
DuringÂ our media dinner, I even caught MaÃ®tre Ã‰cailler (that is, shellfish expert) Christophe Happillon stopping by to visit old friends and enjoy dinner at the bar – proof that even an industry Frenchman will stop by Le Saint Amour to get his fix of back home.
All charcuterie, pates, sausages and terrine served at Le Saint Amour are made at the restaurant. Luckily, you can get your taste of them with little commitment, with a plate of pates and terrines starting at $11, or $12 including a serving of foie gras.
My favorite hors d’oeuvres of the night (besides the pates and terrine) was the Moroccan Merguez ($11), with refreshing couscous, arugula and baby carrot salad surrounding two tender, spicy and flavorful lamb sausages. This salad is a great way to start off a meal here, with pickled ribbons of carrot and radishes bringing bright flavors to the beginning of your meal.
Or, you can order a traditional Escargots de Bourgogne, in which you get 6 for $10, each encased in their little containers for you to peel the buttery tops off onto which you spoon the snails in all their garlic and parsley buttered glory.
As for entrees, the mussels in white wine-cream sauce are definitely a must. They come with fries frites, which you can use as sauce and sop up all that goodness thanks to the crispy potatoes. Each mussel was almost like candy – you can’t have just one.
The Boeuf Bouguignon was also an indulgent main and one that I wish I had more room for. The peasant staple at Le Saint Amour was as well an executed dish that I’ve had in memory – though admittedly, my memory hasn’t spanned across numerous Boeuf Bouguignons. I think I’ll let it stand as being a dish of flavorful, braised goodness.
And don’t forget dessert. Their chocolate profiteroles (Profiterolles au Chocolat – $8) were delicious and appropriately hot and saucy on the inside, garnished well with a small scoop of banana ice cream, but what I really loved was the off-menu Blood Orange Granite, atop tangerine ice cream and panna cotta. This was a tart treat, a dessert that never made it so fun to suck in your cheeks.
All in all, you’re in for a rendezvous in France when you visit Le Saint Amour. The best part is, it’s not an experience that will break your bank. It’s down-home, approachable and traditional French fare that’s serious yet doesn’t take itself too seriously.Â Â They’re also open for brunch, which will add a great weekend option to your calendar.Â
All food and wine were hosted.
Mon – Fri: 11:30 AM – 3 PM
Sun – Thur: 5:30 – 9:30 PM
Fri – Sat: 5:30 – 10:30 PM
Brunch: 10 AM – 3 PM
Le Saint Amour 9725 Culver Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.842.8155
I had a wonderful dining experience at Fraiche the other night, and the standout dish was an amazing bowl of basil sauced and perfectly cooked risotto. The rice grains altogether made up a creamy consistency but had a firm bite underneath it all.
Of course, the real treat was the four snails that rested atop the green bed. Buttery and flavorful as ever, their richness was a pleasure to apportion to every other bite of risotto, which stood by itself thanks to the vibrant basil. The tomatoes were a perfect addition, providing a subtle sweetness that complimented the other rich flavors in the dish.
Paul, Fraiche’s sommelier, poured us a delicious 2008 Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc – the crispness of which made a perfect pairing to the richness and creaminess of the risotto dish. Every bite I took was beautifully finished off and washed down with a sip of Sancerre.
There are other spectacular dishes you should try at Fraiche, like their Endive Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette and Copa de Parma – a savory and indulgent yet balanced salad (thanks to the dates) like you never had, before. Their House-Made Agnolotti, filled with mascarpone and topped with wild mushrooms and truffle butter were another favorite of mine. The mild mascarpone was a good match for the heavy truffle butter, with the delicious wild mushrooms that lined the plateÂ making meÂ close my eyes for a moment. Of course, if I failed to mention Chef Ben Bailly’s awesome truffle burger, I’d be omitting a huge reason why foodies across town dine in Culver City. Try it for yourself, and unless you also had the tasting menu, plan on eating the whole thing yourself. No room for sharing.
These are the kind of dishes that cause food-gasms, and it looks like Chef Bailly has settled in to his new home (since Petrossian) pretty well. Drop in to see what he’s up to – that is,Â a rustic menu with some solid dishes.
Mon – Fri
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Mon – Sun
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
5:30 – 6:30 PM ($3 draft, $4 house wine, $5 well drinks)
Fraiche CC 9411 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 310.839.6800