The Hudson has been at the center of many a West Hollywood scene. So when they shuttered over the new year for 3 weeks to renovate their interior, they had in mind to update the feel of the place – without doing so much as to disrupt the reasons their patrons have become regulars. What you’ll feel immediately when you walk in is the added height – 8 feet, to be exact – and a now-exposed, beautiful A-frame ceiling.
As November 6th rolls up, we’re reminded, again and again, that the best reason to vote is to realize our civic duty. We, as a society, have been preparing for next Tuesday for a long time (Californians, with all our propositions, you know what I’m talking about). Decisions will be made as a collective whether or not we decide to personally participate, so why not embrace it?
Whether you take-away a savory dinner to enjoy at home or await the returns in camaraderie at one of the viewing parties, your “I Voted” sticker will score some points with your taste buds and your wallet anywhere around town. If you voted absentee, perhaps you’ll want to carry your stub or some other proof with you so you can make your case. Check below for a deal near you:
There are bites, and then there are bites.
The bites are the kind of thing where you warm up to a beautiful place with just the right ambiance. The tastes are deceptively good. Then, you proceed to order more and more, ultimately staying for what accumulates to an all-out meal. I am a grazer, not a gorger; I love bites.
Now, a great place to do exactly that is Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica – a place where the indoor dining options are just as charming as the outdoor, with the latter coming full circle thanks to poolside and cabana options. Chicken liver mousse with pancetta on crostini? Heavenly. Dungeness crab cake with yuzu on crostinis? Refreshing. And of course, it’s not enough to put just uni on crostini, but to add lardo? Indulgent. And perfect.
The real problem is that if you don’t have a few camarades with you on this little dining adventure, you’ll probably get real full before you either: 1) Get to try all the bites you wanted to, or 2) Get to any of the also-solid main dishes available. After all, you can’t forget about the juicy, flavorful Lamb Kafka Meatballs, topped with orange, pistachio and yogurt. Nor the beautifully cured hamachi with rhubarb “ponzu,” cucumber, radish and celery.
All this, while having to avoid getting full on their extraordinary corn bread, which Chef Tony DiSalvo makes with three different renditions of corn to achieve that robust flavor. Oh, and that perfectly prepared Grilled Octopus with romesco, potatoes and charred wild leeks. It’s the kind of octopus dish that converts all those naysayers who’ve assumed octopus, by nature, is chewy. The tentacles are tender and flavorful, yet finished with a crispy exterior.
But of course, I must move on to the mains, a favorite of which was the Broiled Halibut. The filet came perched on a bed of deliciously smoked potato-miso puree and paired with crispy asparagus and ginger. It was a surprising winner – simple but a perfect combination of flavors. The smoke was a nice and unexpected touch.
And as for some other mains, sweetbreads lovers will love this version prepared with morels and fava beans in sherry. But if you’re looking for something a little lighter than that, the potato gnocchi are just as much a treat (and doubles as a vegetarian alternative), with asparagus and morels rounding out its buttery essence.
If I were to pick the one essential dessert at Whist, it would be the Rhubarb tart with its buttery crust and walnut crumble on top. Of course, it comes a la mode with vanilla ice cream. Just try it. It’s just one of those desserts where if you thought you were full before, you’ll realize you do have enough room for dessert. All of it.
So check out Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary’s new bites, served in their chic dining room or outdoors. The tastes are just too fabulous to allow you to get too distracted by the hotel, pool or any of the beautiful views and ambiance they afford.
All food and drink were hosted.
There’s something about being a Hollywood resident that lends itself to glossing over most of the food and drink choices in my neighborhood. Believe you me, I love my area and all the conveniences it affords – but it’s because they all outweigh the inconveniences.
There are inconveniences like the annoyances of walking past the Thursday through Saturday night crowd, as well as the douche spots themselves that I’d avoid any day of the week. Hemingway’s is an example of a place that I’d go and see Alex Straus make cocktails earlier in the evening but avoid at all costs at peak times. But now, I can add Lexington Social House to that secret non-peak-time list.
I was invited to take a peak at their Social Hour, their thematically dubbed happy hour. And it’s not shabby in the least. With the launch of their new menu, it’sÂ a great opportunity to try new items during LSH Lite, which goes on at the bar Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 until 8 PM and all day Sunday. Their specialty cocktails as well as their entire menu is half-off during this time! Since I love sitting at the bar, anyway, I’ll gladly take my supper club to the stools.
A sure menu bet is Mette Williams’ fried chicken tenders, an unordinarily juicy-crispy preparation. Looking for that hearty bite that doesn’t hold back? The Chipotle pork belly biscuits with aged Gouda and fried egg will be sure to satisfy you and then some.
As for the cocktails, designed by Kyle Ackley, I must applaud this Hollywood-and-Vine institution for putting the brakes on the vodka in their drink menu – just beware that there are pop rocks in one of them. My favorite cocktail, however, was the Spanish Harlem, made with tanteo cocoa infused tequila, maraschino liqueur, agave nectar and chocolate-chili bitters. It was a clean, strong yet flavorful drink and I ended up having another.
Lexington Social House is an unlikely place to find a Spago and CUT alum like Mette Williams, but alas – there she is, surprising everyone with her well-executed, comfort-driven menu. Social Hour is just the time to try it all out and wash it downÂ at half-off.Â And that beats amateur hour any day.Â
All food and cocktails were hosted.
There’s something really exciting going on behind the bar at a certain restaurant in Downtown LA. No, it’s not the craftiness of a Michael Shearin, who has since left for a brand ambassador position – but the hardly rookie beginnings of Jaymee Mandeville as dreamer of the newest winter cocktail menu at Drago Centro.
It’s a menu that has really good range, while at the same time having solid representations in each corner. To be honest, there was only one of ten cocktails on the list that I disliked and over a handful that I would easily order for my friends on recommendation of the spirit they preferred or myself based on that day’s mood. There were even more cocktails I was excited about than I shared an indifferent opinion about.
For instance, the Bols Genever-based Rode Duvel lived up to the high expectations I had for it. It’s enhanced with St. Maria Al Monte Amaro, which is a more bitter amaro and goes so well with the Bols and Miracle Mile Sour Cherry bitters. Be sure not to ignore the dried cherry garnish, as your drink only tastes better paired with each bite of the skewer. It was quite the cocktail to reinforce my love of Bols.
For that friend who may shame you by ordering that Cosmopolitan, order him/her a Grimhilda instead. Made with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Parma, Housemade Chipotle Infused Honey and lemon, its sugar rim is actually an asset and not an obstruction to the cocktail (it has just enough). The chipotle honey does enough to help keep its sugary profile intact but interesting, and you may just wow that craving for cranberry out of your friend.
The every man’s fizzy cocktail would have to be Fated Seeds. This is a cocktail that’s sure to convert former gin avoiders. Persimmons in this cocktail were practically pickled and given a sort of vinegared acidity, without which would’ve made the persimmons evaporate. The basil shrub was a nice aromatic note while a soda topping gave it its effervescence.
An unexpected favorite of the night was the Western All’italiana, made with High West Double Rye, Cointreau, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram, cranberry and oregano infused molasses, and a Gala apple peel garnish. The cocktail really showcases the all spice, cranberry and oregano beautifully. Of course, it goes without saying that I will ever have the double rye in my corner – so while it gets more than its fair shake, I have to stress that all the infused flavors do well to complement.
The Breaking Castagne is Drago’s winter egg nog – only better. The VSOP gives it that warmth and the mezcal just the right amount of smokyness, but the chestnut syrup is, of course, the real, winter-y centerpiece here.
And then there were the drinks that steadfastly held their corner. The Dead Man’s Tale is the menu’s tiki drink and a play on the Fog Cutter – made with Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum, Bombay Dry Gin, Bertagnolli Grappa, Oloroso Sherry, Bietterman’s Amer Nouvelle, St. Vincent’s Orgeat, lemon, orange and Galliano mist. It was delicious, even though tiki drinks aren’t usually my go-to.
The Remedy X holds its own as the ginger lovers’ cocktail. Made with rosemary infused Bushmill’s Blackbush Irish Whiskey, ginger infused agave and lemon – the rosemary gave this drink a nice, floral twist. And of course, it had the essential candied ginger garnish.
The spicy cocktail of the bunch is the silver Screen Quotations, made with 123 Organic Blanco Tequila, housemade thai chili/cinnamon syrup, red bell pepper, mint, lime and saffron salt. The mint is a nice, aromatic twist that gives the whole cocktail a refreshing take.
But if you’re looking for that quintessential, surprise-me hot toddy, look no further than Eve’s Demise, made with Black Grouse Scotch, Belle de Brillet Pear Cognac, housemade hibiscus apple cider (mmm) and maple syrup. The delicious garnish alone deserves its own double take, but I honestly had a hard time putting this cute little jar-encased hot sipper down.
Fortunately, you can taste all of these tonight at the winter menu cocktail launch for $8 each. Bring the gang, since there’s a drink on the menu for everyone. This delicious menu is sure to delight and satiate your craving for that perfect winter cocktail.
Winter cocktail menu tasting was hosted.
I need few reasons to return to Sotto. Alas, I may be in trouble since tonight’s launch provides two new reasons to return – daily (okay, Tuesday through Monday, to be exact).
Sotto is launching both an Aperitivo Hour and a Digestivo Hour. You’ll get to choose from a few hunger-inducing cocktails by Julian Cox during this hour for $9 each as well as from a variety of bar bites for $3 each, like Ceci Fritti, Season Crostini, Calamari Fritti, Lupini Beans Sott’aceto and Arrosticini.
The Aperitivo Hour runs from 5:30 – 6:30 PM from Tuesdays through Sundays and includes cocktails like the Sazerac Rusticum, with wild fennel infused Aperol, Grappa, herb-infused Vermouth and a Sambuca rinse; or the adorably named Rome with a View, with Campari, Dry Vermouth, fresh lime and soda. Since I’ve been loving the Negroni, lately, the Aperitivo hour may be my very own adult candy store.
Digestivo Hour runs from 9 – 10 nightly, also from Tuesdays through Sundays, where you’ll also get access to $3 bites but these particular $9 cocktails will be aimed at being a nice little nightcap, like the Il Cattivo – made with Holland gin, Italian vermouth, Branca Menta and lemon peel.
These are all available at the bar, only, so I’d recommend getting there as close to the start of the hours as you can. See you on the Westside.
The people behind The Daily Grill, one of the most recognizable chain restaurants in LA and beyond, have added gastropubs to their repertoire through Public School 612 – the sister and adjacent restaurant to The Daily Grill downtown since last March.
You order at the bar at this new casual hangout, but don’t leave the counter without first choosing your beer. They’ve 20 beers on tap with half of those rotating, and 12 more in bottles and 5 in cans. There’s a decent-sized menu for grub, beer and spirits so there’s pub fare for everyone.
When it comes to burgers, I’ve noticed there’s a complicated relationship between the customer, server and chef when it comes to the “wellness” of one’s burger patty. This became ever apparent since my guest at The Daily Grill was one who prefers “still moo-ing” to my medium rare. Though “pink through and through” is a real preference of his, I’ve known some to order their burgers one grade rarer as a result of chef distrust. Depending on the restaurant, there’s an assumption that the chef will always leave the beef on the grill too long for health code or safety reasons (Islands Burgers and e.coli in early 2000′s).Â Then again, maybe the chef knows something about the meat that the customers don’t?
Public School 612 effectively brought out that seared, rare Pub Burger. It had really good flavor while still falling under the Classic Burger column. No toppings (or the variety of such) are used as a crutch, and, as if for emphasis, even the very delicious balsamic onions the Pub Burger comes with are left on the side so you can dress at will. The bun was perfectly buttered, toasted, textured and sized, to boot. It was a great, basic burger.
For those looking for something a little bit removed from basic, try the Colorado Lamb Burger. Yes, it also comes with brie and tomato cranberry jam – but you’d have to try it to believe just how well all these things work together. The lamb burger is served in the same stellar bun, and even a lamb-shy diner might change his mind after one bite.
I chose a pint of refreshing, summer-perfect Craftsman Triple White sage to wash bites of these burgers down. Be sure to visit Public School often to taste their rotating taps since they have a decent selection thanks to Hallie Beaune, one of two Beer Chicks. Also, the fries are fresh-cut and probably won’t disappoint. On my visit, though they were tasty, they turned out a tad golden – with the latter being an observation the GM made when he came over to the table. An aberration, he said.
If you’re not feeling the beer, they’ve also a couple cocktails but really, all the brown spirits you need to enjoy with or after your burger. The atmosphere is conducive, as well, with dim lighting, communal high tables but also an attractive and pleasant bar to sit at or order from – whichever you choose. I had a great time playing darts (free with your driver’s license on deposit) – and since the place is new the darts and board are still in great shape. All the better to lose three games of Cricket with, my dear.
It’s not as if Downtown L.A.’s Financial District was in lack of places to hang out, but it seems like Public School 612 provides not just the drinks and vibe, but also great food and games. In a time of my life where I’ve most shunned malls and chains, it’s ironic to see that perhaps Public School’s strength is derived from being an offshoot of a major chain (you can find The Daily Grill in Washington D.C. and Illinois as well).
Bottom line? The burgers, beer and spirits selection are solid and if you bring great company, there’s no reason why you won’t have a great time. Educate yourselves, Downtown Los Angeles.
P.S. – Though you can’t get a burger at a discounted price, check out their happy hour, anyway (M-F, 4-7 PM). Nothing is over $4 and they have $5 Margaritas and $10 carafes of wine. They also have a $4 tap handle available all night, so check out what that is.
All food and drink were hosted.
I met a good friend of mine after he got off work on his vocational side of town, the famous and infamous Sunset Strip. I had heard about Night + Market, the adjacent room to Talesai whereby Chef Kris Yenbamroong is serving up campy (code for “street”) Thai food, and I was eager to get an introduction to this night spot by trying out their Happy Hour.
The decor, however, is far from it (it’s way more Sunset Blvd), and you’ll find yourself with plenty of natural sunlight invading the concrete-floored space if you visit during their opening hours – that is, Happy Hour (6 – 8 PM daily or all night Wednesday) this summer. Each plate is $5 and drinks include beer, wine, a Lychee Martini and a Mekong Old-Fashioned (again with lychee) at reasonably discounted prices.
All fried food came out piping hot and therefore fried-to-order, which was really important in maintaining the quality of the bites. My favorites? The pig tail (kind of a mis-placed pork belly since the meat has the same texture and consistency) and the chicken wings. Your server will ask you how spicy you want the dipping sauce for your wings (and be subsequently surprised if you say, “hot”).
Never fear, though, if you order the Papaya Salad. It’s a delicious and refreshing reprieve from all that hot sauce and fried food. The Pork Satay Skewers were also really good, tender and flavorful – and come through with 4 skewersÂ in all.
I went with the Mekong Old Fashioned, which, I had to try but was proved right when I suspected it might be a little sweet. There was lychee in it but not much alcohol; my recommendation would be to get a carafe of wine to share or the large sized beer.
Still, though, I loved the value of Night + Market Happy Hour. Indeed, I’m curious to go back and go for a full-blown dinner with some friends.Â The environment is contemporary (apparently, this also signifies communal seating) and the music selection was actually impressive. Zola Jesus!
Remember, if you have a hard time finding it, you have to enter through Talesai. The doorway is on the right. And be aware that they may not have everything even on Happy Hour menu – as we would’ve surely had the Fried Salmon Head had we had the chance. But the selections on that menu were all solid, so we were very much happy with our experience. We came out with $27 per person after tax and before tip when all was said and done.
Reading this before Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 11 AM? Be sure to grab this freeÂ Blackboard Eats code, which wouldn’t apply to the Happy Hour but would be a great opportunity to get a free bottle of wine for your party as well as a small plate per person. It’s quite a steal (and a good reason for me to go back as mentioned earlier)!
This one is a bit of an oldie but goodie – and it appears on the blog today merely because my visit to BLT Steak is very belated. If you want to get a taste of the place without going for a full-blown dinner (which promises a perfectly-cooked steak, mind you), a good step to take would be to try out their Happy Hour, 5 at 5. It precisely means 5 available wine options plus 5 bar or lounge bites options at 5 PM. All of them are pretty solid.
You can handle that.
And even though popovers aren’t a part of the package, I recommend you get them, anyway. You won’t come across these big bad babies made nearly as well anywhere else in town. They’re crispy on the outside, soft and steamy (not too moist) with a touch of a gruyere on the inside. And the recipe below isn’t so sacred; each order comes with the recipe card. Could it be because they know it’s really that hard to replicate?
If you’re so enticed to try out Executive Chef Brian Moyers’ full menu as a result, all the better. After all, this is one of the few valid reasons to venture towards this end of Sunset Blvd. (Tip: The steak tartar is pretty awesome, too.)
BLTâ€™s Popovers (Makes 12)
4 cups milk, warmed
4 cups flour
1 1/2 heaping tbsp salt
2 1/4 cups grated gruyere cheese
Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350Âº
Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside.
Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs).
Set the mixture aside. Sift the flour with the salt.
Slowly add this dry mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stock vegetable spray. While the batter in still slightly warm or room temperature (definitely not cool), fill each popover cup 3/4 full.Â Top each popover with approximately 2 1/2 tbsp of the grated gruyere.
Bake at 350ÂºÂ for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.
Remove from pan and serve immediately.
Everyone knows Los Angeles is a wonderful place to eat, with unmatched culinary diversity – and mobility – found anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, there are two food events happening today and tomorrow with focuses on food trucks – O.G. and nouveau – that bring you their goods in a special setting for one night only. If I weren’t out of town, I’d personally attend these two events. Instead, you’ll have to go in my place, represent and see what they’re all about.
One is brought to you by the celebrated return of Street Food Mondays, curated by Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA) and Evan Kleiman (owner of Angeli Caffe). Antojitos de mi Abuelita, a food truck representing Mexico City-style antojitos, or masa-based â€œlittle whims,â€ will be serving up “Comida corrida,” or a 3-course meal for only $28.
The other is a collaboration between Cast Iron Gourmet and Frysmith food truck – more on that after the jump.