Happy Martin Luther King Day! Also, what a joyous second inauguration day. In this case, it also means the very first day of dineLA Restaurant Week. If you haven’t, already, you best be making your reservations right now – or better yet, take advantage of your day off and find your prix fixe destination for lunch today.
I’ve done a bit of perusing the incredibly extensive list of restaurants and their offered menus around the city and came up with a few categories that struck me. With 3-course prix fixe as the standard, here are some standout menu offerings the week starting today, Monday, January 21 – Friday, February 1:
Best Opportunity to Try New Chef at Venue
Not new chefs by any definition (in fact, the tenure of this group is impressive especially by L.A. standards) – just new venues.
I associate my first experiences with potted rillettes, headcheese and pates in L.A. with Remi Lauvand, and he’s now at Le Ka, having just opened last September. Downtown workers can get their feet wet on the $25 lunch menu, but interesting dinner menu items include escargot cavatelli, lamb’s tongue and scallops with lentils and chicken skin – some things that may be too good to pass up.
With Vartan Abgaryan now serving at a venue in possession of one of the most enviable patios in Silver Lake, I can’t help but simply displace the delicious plates he was just serving at Public Kitchen & Bar and imagine them enjoyed in outdoor dim lighting surrounded by foliage. Sure, he’s changed up a few things, but I’ve always been a fan of his octopus.
Just a week ago, IDG’s RivaBella just started serving dinner in its brand-new, 8,000 square foot space, basically the antithesis of Angelini Osteria. You’ll have to settle for lunch if you want to do Restaurant Week here, but if Gino Angelini’s pasta (such as a green pappardelle in ragu) is part of the 3-course offering, that will always do.
It probably goes without saying that, when ordering ice cream, you’ve never had to worry about showing your ID.
That’s about to change, thanks to The Drunken Udder, an artisanal, mom-and-pop shop ice cream company which sells its deliciously boozy product via wholesale and other storefronts. (It doesn’t quite have the liquor license to sell retail on its own.)
Yesterday, I sampled a few flavors including Salted Butter Caramel infused with Bourbon (boozy, salty-sweet deliciousness), Pumpkin Spiced Praline infused with Maple Liqueur (boozy, crunchy fall on a cone), Raspberry-Orange Sorbet infused with Orange Vodka (fresh, tangy booziness) and Bailey’s Jameson Caramel (especially boozy sweet caramel flavor). Continue reading →
The 10-year-old Grove was built to be the Anti-Mall. Everything, from the height of each streetlight down to the exact height of the curb is so calculated so as to appear as if it were…not. It’s a collection of stores within the same structure, but meticulously manufactured to evoke a stroll down the street – with fake snow in the “winter,” to boot. But that is the masterpiece that is The Grove, and its success at that intangibly cozy feel doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.
I didn’t think much of the space just south of The Greek Theatre when Louise’s, the trattoria chain, occupied the space. It was little more than a place-marker for street parking for those summer concerts. It marked the start of the ascent up Hillhurst from Los Feliz Blvd., the alternative to the stacked parking cattle call that was the official Greek parking. Continue reading →
Free Range Country Fried Chicken & Dwelley Farms Corn Pudding
City-wide pastry and sweets addicts know and love Huckleberry for their wonderful selection of treats. Always a proponent of the highest quality ingredients – down to their organic flour – Huckleberry’s impressive display case is quite the Westside attraction but their fresh salads, sandwiches and weekend brunch dishes also hold their own thanks to Executive Chef, Head Baker, and Co-owner Zoe Nathan.
Now, on Thursdays, nobody will have to bid adieu to the cafe favorite earlier than they have to enjoy a family-style dinner. With a new seasonal menu featured weekly, you’re offered a different experience each time. Take-out options are also available on the 3-course, $30 per person weekly. To get the menu of the week, sign up for the restaurant’s e-newsletter.
Anticipation of Josef Centeno’s upcoming Bar Amá reached fever pitch recently as a result of Bon Appetit naming Bäco Mercat one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants (Michael Voltaggio’s Ink also received a nomination in this category – bravo for Los Angeles). But nothing prepared me for the day on which my cravings actually led me to leave the 49ers-Packers game on my TV during free DirecTV NFL preview week. I wanted eggs. I wanted a Bloody Mary. I also wanted a Bäco.
I have had four Umami burgers in my life and I have really enjoyed only one of them, which is probably due to the fact that all four were consumed after the quick Umami Burger expansion to Santa Monica, Hollywood and so forth. Thus, I found them to be largely inconsistent.
Just last week, I passed the La Brea location and there was a line of at least 20 Yelp reviewers people waiting outside to get seated. I gave the same roll eyes that I reserve for those who drive in to my neighborhood expressly for Saturday night bottle service.
But this…”catessen”…is a whole new ballgame. So nothing really prepared me for how much I enjoyed pretty much everything at Adam Fleischman’s UMAMIcatessen friends and family nightÂ in Downtown LA.Â And is the theatre revival on Broadway ever thankful for this pre-performance dining spot, which is basically a 7,000 square foot bazaar furnished with repurposed furniture in the 1929 Art Deco Ninth and Broadway Building. Down the street at a later date we can welcome Two Boots Pizza, Ace Hotel and Clifton’s Cafeteria reopening. The Cure (read: Kosher “style”), Umami Burger, P!GG, Spring for Coffee selections, & a Donut and of course, the fabulousÂ Back Bar all offered tasty treats and swillerific swigs. Top notch.
Wasabi Potato Salad with Sashimi
The best bite of the night was the just-unveiled-that-night Shrimp Burger with Yuzu-Kosho, which embodied that namesake fifth taste in every way. No soggy lettuce, mind you,Â sat between the buttery, airy bunsÂ but a bit of seaweed in keeping with that shrimp bite.Â It also packs a delicious,Â slight kick thanks to the yuzu-kosho. Also exclusive to this location was the ever delicious Wasabi Potato Salad topped with Sashimi. It’s ingenius and probably the most refreshing taters you’ll ever have, but I’d be lying if the sashimi isn’t the easiest thing to pick off the appetizer, with my somewhat guiltfully leaving some lonely spuds behind.
Chris Cosentino and a can of lardo
But let me backtrack, here. It can’t be overlooked that P!GG isÂ aÂ welcoming of Chris Cosentino, of San Franciscan fame,Â into the Los Angeles foray.Â Don’t forget the Pork in a Can Lardo on crostini nor the Cone O’ Cracklins, the latter of which were delightfullyÂ airier than I expected. TheCountry Pate with cornichons and green peppercorn was pork-solid, as well, and delicious. And don’t forget the “Brainnaise” (whole hog is key), which comes atop P!GG Style Fries. But at the center of the P!GG menu are curedÂ selections from Spain, Italy and the U.S. The Mini Potato Knishes from The Cure were also little bits of pastry heaven. The Matzoh Ball Soup is not to be overlooked, either, since there are crunchy little chicken cracklins dispersed amongst the matzoh. The Corned Beef and Pastrami assessment will have to come at a later date.
9th and Broad Cocktail
And I would be negligent if I didn’t address the delicious cocktails helmed by Adrian Bigg. My favorite was the 9th and Broad, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano Antica formula, Apricot liqueur and Jerry Thomas decanter bitters. The essential drink, of course, is the Bourbon Pig, essentially bacon fat washed Bulleit with Angostura, sugar and pig ear garnish.
As for gin lovers, I loved the Red Sapphire, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Vincent raspberry syrup, Earl Grey tea syrup, Maraschino, fresh lemon juice and egg white. Don’t judge a cocktail by its cover, as this was a, yes – light, but perfectly balanced cocktail despiteÂ the temptation to dismiss it as aÂ girly drink. So tasty.
& a Donut
Feeling more like beer? Ten draft beers are available for your pleasure. And the Spring for Coffee was a perfect, mid-meal pick-me-up. Now that is really good coffee.
And don’t forget dessert. The beignets were delightful as was the perfectly moist, rich donut.
So get yourself down to the UMAMIcatessen. Your appetite for whole hog, burgers, cocktails and all the extra fixins demands it. It’s really not just about burgers, anymore, and at once worthy of all the hype that surrounds Umami.
All food and drink were hosted.
846 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015
If there ever was a good time to visit Valerie Confections, this week would be it. Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman are hosting a week-long open house starting today with different selections being featured each of the five days. Peep below to see which sweets suit your fancy, then go visit the shop! Do note the varying shop hours.
Monday, October 31st
Debut and Sampling of SUPER-CHOC-O-FOOD
Valerie has teamed up with Commune Design to create SUPER-CHOC-O-FOOD, which combines stunning packaging enveloping an over-sized darkened chocolate bar filled with a hint of caramel but loaded with dried pears, apricots, golden raisins, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and peanuts.
Tuesday, November 1st
Hot Chocolate and Cookie Assortment
Cookie flavors include Gingersnap, Oatmeal Raisin, Matcha White Chocolate Macadamia and the crowd-pleasing milk chocolate and almond filled Durango. Wash it down with some hot chocolate for the perfect combination.
Wednesday, November 2nd
Chocolate Dipped Fruits and Mendiant Assortment
Locally sourced, organic dried figs, pears and oranges are hand-dipped in either bittersweet or darkened milk chocolate. Spices, cocoa nibs, teas, organic nuts, unique salts and dried and dehydrated fruit are blendedÂ atop disks of chocolate.
Thursday, November 3rd
Preserves with Cheese and Charcuterie Pairings
I love Valerie Confections’ preserves, and apparentlyÂ so does Los Angeles Magazine, whichÂ named themÂ ”Best in LA.” They’re hand-made using locally sourced fruit. Flavors include White Fuji Apple & Vanilla Bean, Blenheim Apricot, Plum Ketchup and Mango Jam. Enjoy them paired with a wide array of fine cheeses and charcuterie at this open house.
Friday November 4th
Mint Petits Fours and the debut of the Valerie Confections Tea Assortment
Specially blended by American Tea Room for Valerie Confections, the new line of premium loose leaf teas are inspired by and meant to complement the line of preserves and treats. Signature flavors include Black & Blue, Moroccan Mint, Blushing Berry, Toasted Fig, Sweet Sencha and Blood Orange & Black tea. Each Mint Petits Fours are a modern take on the classic confection, with three layers of dense chocolate cake and two layers of rich white chocolate mint ganache, all covered in bittersweet chocolate and topped with an organic candied mint leaf
Saturday, November 5th
Seasonal Sweet and Savory Pies from the Market
Seasonal sweet and savory pies are available in full size or hand-sized versions with flavors like Apple & Salted Caramel and Cinderella Pumpkin, Padron Pepper Potato & Fontina and Kabocha Squash & Blue Cheese. All of the pastries are sealed with a buttery, flakey crust.
With holiday season coming up (or is it already here?) – this is a great opportunity to survey really thoughtful gift ideas for your loved ones.
See you at Valerie!
Monday – Tuesday: 10Â AM – 6 PM
Wednesday – Friday: 10Â AM – 6:30 PM
Saturday: 11Â AM – 6 PM
Peking Style Duck | Warm Chanterelle Salad, Duck Skin Cracklin, 10-Spice Confit Figs - Chef Sara Johannes
I’m always appreciative of opportunities to try visiting chefs’ food. A couple weeks ago, on the occasion of the Lexus-sponsored Los Angeles Food & Wine‘s 70-event extravaganza, I had the chance to do so at one of the Friday afternoon not-so-power lunches held all over town (Though in the case of Chef “star power,” yes – it was very powerful). It was held at WP24 in conjuction with Executive Chef Sara Johannes, who contributed half of the 4 courses served at the sold-out lunch.
Kin Medai Snapper w/Geoduck, Papaya, Peanuts & Coconut Foam - Chef Masaharu Morimoto
With his title as one of the winningest Iron Chefs no doubt contributing to the buzz, Chef Morimoto and Chef Johannes sent out passed appetizers, a couple of which I never got to try. I’ll have to return to try out those seared foie gras bao buns and steamed XO scallops with hot oil, scallions & ginger – but the spoonfuls of Parmesan “Tofu” and Lobster & Scallop Shiu Mais were tasty enough as starters.
The true standouts, though, were the four courses at the center of the lunch. Never had I had geoduck so tender and the snapper tasted nothing short of beautiful. The papaya and coconut foam were perfect touches to the seafood. It was a refreshing start, and I couldn’t wait for more.
The next course that came up was Sara Johannes’ (and WP24′s) masterpiece – a Peking Style Duck Breast. It came with Warm Chantrelle Salad, the frisee of which tasted like roasted mushrooms, and Ten-Spiced Confit Figs and Smoked Duck Cracklin’. The cracklin was indeed a very nice touch, making a hyperbole of the importance of a crispy duck skin. The figs really completed the platter, adding a tenderized, spice componentÂ to the perfectly-cooked richness of the duck. I have to say that this was probably the best dish I’ve had in a very long time.
Washugyu Flat Iron w/Veal Cheek Tempura, Compressed Apple & Chili Soy - Chef Masuharu Morimoto
The Washugyu (a hybrid between Japanese Black Wagyu and fine American Black Angus) flat iron steak was incredibly delicious thanks to its beautiful marbling, but what really floored me was the tenderness of the veal cheeks within their slight, tempura breading. The veal cheeks were probably twice as tender as the already soft beef. The sweet soy was subtle enough to really enhance the flavors of the meat and let the cuts sing on their own.
The dessert that concludedÂ our afternoon was no less impressive than any of the other courses, thanks to brand-new-to-WP24 pastry chef Cassie Ballard. Sure, you couldn’t really tell it was edamame ice cream until you read the menu (after that, it all clicks), but that sesame crisp is so simple yet ingenius. And tasty.Â Coupled with a Caramel Roasted Apple tart andÂ Butterscotch Miso, the dessert really comes together. It was lightÂ enough weight to elegantly close out the wonderful lunch yet left all our sweetÂ teethÂ satisfied (hello, caramel!).
If the food at WP24 isÂ anything like the refined courses I had during this particular Lexus-sponsored Los Angeles Food & Wine event, it’s clear that thereÂ is much, much more to a reservation there than itsÂ stellar, downtown views. And now,Â for that special occasion to make thatÂ return visit…
All food & wine were hosted.
Sun â€“ Thur
5 – 10 PM
Fri – Sat
5 – 11 PM
Mon â€“ Thur
5:30 – 10 PM
Fri – Sat
5:30 – 10:30 PM
WP24 900 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
There are ladies who lunch and ladies who have afternoon tea. My experience at Tres inside the SLS Hotel has convinced me that there need to be more of the latter.
TGT Green Teaist Blend
If you’re able to fit time in with your girlfriends sometime in between the slim, 2-hour daily window, you’re in for a real treat. Tres has beautiful tea selections to accompany your charming 3-tier pastry stand decorated with tiny titillations for your tongue.
My favorite was one that my girlfriend Chris and I were instructed to eat right away, lest the delicate cookie melt -Â a beet macaron filled with goat cheese. Its sweet, savory and yet tart goodness simply melted in my mouth.
Guacamole Cone, Bagel & Lox Cone
The tea, of course, is an appropriate centerpiece. I chose a The Green Teaist Blend, a variety that is apparently drunk by much of the kitchen at Tres. It’s of a beautiful color and really elegant – much smoother than other green teas I’ve had. Our server came by often to fill our cups and make sure everything was up to par.
Definitively the most wallet-friendly way to experience the luxe Tres dining room (or SLS Hotel at all), the Phillip Starck-designed ambiance at tea is guaranteed to soothe. Travel and other books, fireplaces and translucent glass stag heads line the well-lit library-themed lounge adorned with light brown hues. The furniture has just-kitschy-enough details (silver AK47 standingÂ lamps, anyone?)Â to pique intrigue; thankfully,Â theyÂ stop just short of gaudiness.
Afternoon tea at Tres is an elegant way to catch up with friends while enjoying some savory and sweet tastes. Sit back on the comfortable couches and enjoyÂ tea insideÂ the lovely space at Tres. As for me, I can’t wait untilÂ myÂ out-of-town girlfriends come to visit LA again; Tres will be where we catch up.
Afternoon tea was hosted.
3 – 5 PM daily
$32 per person ($36 with The Green Teaist tea selection)
inside SLS Hotel
465 S. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048