This summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week commences today and lasts 10 days – over two weekday stretches and one weekend. And since we’ve had a few of these by now, it’s probably time we got smart on maneuvering through the multitude of menus. The trick with dineLA prix fixe is that it may get people through the door, but it may or may not be quite the deal you had in mind. The danger is that you might just be stuck with fewer, albeit recommended, choices for about the same price you’d normally pay.
May I propose lunch? They tend to be better deals than dinner – often true between both offerings of the same restaurant – because there’s more incentive to increase lunch traffic with dinner reservations filling up more readily. So whether you’ve got a 9-5 in the area or are in a certain neighborhood for an audition or client appointment, there’s probably a great dineLA power lunch strategy wherever you end up.
We got there kind of late, but there were great hits to be had at Great Chefs of LA. It was overcast and we had just come from another culinary extravaganza – still determined to conquer. The range of bite options varied more than ever – right on down to those Sushi Popper People – but those that showed up at the top of the available selection did a really good job doing so.
What the heavyweights brought to the event often came in pairs. Like Lago’s Bone Marrow and a Burrata dish paired with Housemade Pink Lady Apple Gelato and Parma Prosciutto. I have a hard time arguing with either bone marrow or burrata, but the application of especially the burrata made for a refreshing, mildly-sweet take on the fresh, wet cheese. Autumn savory notes were alive and well in Studio City.
Another “solid” was the super generous sashimi plate from Sushi House Unico from the (yes, Italian)Â Giacomino Drago group. I opted for no rice, though you could have ordered sushi as well. The fish was fresh and though I was full from another food event, I just couldn’t leave the pieces down on the plate.
La Grande Orange was on hand to showcase pizzas (including a truffle topped variety) from their newly-opened The Luggage Room in Pasadena. The Border Grill truck returned this year for another stop. Stefan Richter’s L.A. Farm had hand-dipped liquid nitrogen orange ice cream popsicles.
The Beer Chicks curated the mini beer garden, and invited the individual brewers to Great Chefs, which made it one of the best places to consume beer that weekend. The Bruery, Deschutes, TAPS (Pumpkin Ale!), Duvel and Ommegang were all there to represent – and boy was I happy.
There were tons of food event options this particular day (forget about the weekend, period) – but Great Chefs again proved that they were a contender for your time, money and appetite.
Held last Sunday, November 7, 2010
12 – 3:30 PM
CBS Studio Center 4024 Radford Dr. Studio City, CA 91604
I’ve had a lot of ramen. Truth be told, those bowls of ramen don’t come from very many places. My inaugural non-Top Ramen bowl was at Shin-sen-gumi in Arcadia, but my favorite isÂ (and the majority of those aforementioned bowls were from) Santouka with their Shio broth being the trump card to my ramen cravings. With those locations being San Gabriel and the Westside – and my new apartment being inÂ Hollywood proper with Torrance and GardenaÂ even further away – I became eager for other options. Ramen Jinya does a great job filling in.
Another confession: I have a bias against chicken broth ramen. Give me that chashu in all forms – fatty pork slices and fatty pork bone broth. So while Ramen Jinya is like Ramen California (so I have heard, haven’t tried) in offering chicken broth options, I just have a hard time making the leap. So Tonkatsu and Premium (bonito-infused)Â Tonkatsu ramen it is. With, perhaps, a side of curry. In retrospect, it’sÂ not the most complementary side you can order with ramen, butÂ I can always eat curry. For everyone else, I’d go with the gyoza. They’re bite size, but they’re good and have a proper crisp on the outside and a hot center. (Unfortunately, I was off form on my first visit and don’t have a picture.) As far as price point, you can get a salad, side and ramen combo for $13.50 and a bowl of ramen alone for $8.50.
I’m not sure where my menma (bamboo shoots) were, and the egg was perhaps a little stale, but the broth was solid and less salty on my second visit than my first – a good thing. It could maybe use more body, though I did like the Premium broth better than the regular Tonkotsu.Â A bonus: You’ll find yourself scoopingÂ soup less since the spoons are so big.Â The noodles, though, are my favorite thing about Ramen Jinya, and house made from what I could tell. They have good bite yet are plump enough to keep you satisfied.
Ramen Jinya is great for this South Bay-averse ramen lover. Who knows? Maybe one dayÂ I’ll be adventurous enough to try the chicken. According to a tweet of Mattatouille’s, however, I hear that the newly-openedÂ Robata Jinya on 3rd Street offers their restaurant family’s ramen – and I just so happen to work in Beverly Hills. Even better. Who can argue with accessible, good ramen?
Sun – Thur 11 AM – 10 PM Fri – Sat 11 AM – Midnight
Ramen Jinya 11239 Ventura Blvd. Studio City,CA 91604 818.980.3977
I’ve been kind of sleeping on this one, because we are already half-way through the first of two weeks of this season‘s restaurant week. But don’t let me be the example, because if there are a couple restaurants in LA you’ve been meaning to check out, now is the time to see if they’re participating in Dine LA. From the Quickfire Challenges that have been held around the city (and culminating last night with Chef Eric GreenspanÂ of The Foundry on MelroseÂ winning the dessert challenge finale) to the incentive to dine at least three times with your American Express (but not before registering your card here), there has been a good amount of hoopla surrounding this fall’s Restaurant Week installment. You get a prix fixe 3 courses for varying price points.
So, if you have an American Express and plan on dining out at least three times, be sure to register it because if you spend at least $21 each time, you’ll get a $20 statement credit.
Of course, not all restaurants nor menus are considered equal. I browsed the list and pulled the ones that I’d be most interested in. Keep in mind there are three different price points each for lunch ($16, $22, $28) and dinner ($26, $34, $44) – and not all restaurants serve a Dine LA prix fixe for both. I also highlighted a menu item that particularly piqued my interest.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres ($$$) – Catalan Pork Sausage Bistro LQ ($$) – Ham Hock District ($$) – Venison Chile Relleno Drago Centro ($$$) – Veal Osso Bucco Eva ($$) – Cod and Caponata FIG Santa Monica ($$) – Red Beet Risotto The Foundry on Melrose ($$$) – Miso Honey Glazed Duck Laxy Ox Canteen ($) – Veal Breast with Pee Wee Potato Salad Locanda del Lago ($$) – Lobster-Dill-Ricotta Ravioli Ortega 120 ($) – Petite Sterling Silver, Pasilla Pepper, Queso Oaxaca, Red Chile Potato Hash Petrossian ($$$) – Crab Risotto Piccolo ($$$) – Pumpkin pasta w/Black Truffle Filling RH Restaurant ($$) – Roasted Boothbay Harbor Lobster Rivera ($$$) – Banana leaf-braised pork shoulder Urban Noodle ($) – Urban Noodle House Special Noodles
I admit, there is no way I’m going to make it out to half on my list so I’m leaving it up to you. They are all restaurants that I’ve had good experiences at so you can call these educated guesses. So get out there and experiment. You’d be remiss to not take the opportunity to try the restaurants you’ve always been curious about.
Last week, the food and restauranteur community of Los Angeles gathered at The Hollywood RooseveltÂ to celebrate the launch of the winter installment of Dine LA – a two-week-long collaborative effort to offer diners three-course lunches and dinners at six specific price points.
$Â Â Â Â Â Â Deluxe DiningÂ Â $16Â $26 $$Â Â Â Deluxe DiningÂ Â $22Â $34 $$$Â Â Fine DiningÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â $28Â $44
The red carpet was out and almost 100 chefs – many donning their white jackets straight from the kitchen – were the stars of the night. Oh – plus Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Writers, journalists, bloggers – what have you – were or weren’t donning our white “PRESS” badges. The purpose was clear: To celebrate food’s imminent role in Los Angeles culture – and the accessibility every man has to fine dining. And why don’t we enjoy some fixins from Dakota Chop House and 25 DegreesÂ with cocktails fromÂ Matt Biancaniello of Library BarÂ to wash them downÂ while we’re at it? Pork belly, tacos, quesadillas, salads, burger sliders and even a shiitake mushroom-infused ManhattanÂ were passed around – but the hits of the night were undeniably the spicy burger sliders and Biancaniello’s arugula gimlet.
If you haven’t already, make your reservations soon; Dine LA runs Jan 24 â€“ 29 and Jan 31 â€“ Feb 5. The bevy of restaurants this round tops 243. Schedule a lunch in there to save a few dollars – it’s a great occasion to take an extended break from work. EvaÂ (lunch or dinner), PalateÂ (dinner), Cube (lunch or dinner)Â and Petrossian (lunch or dinner) rise to the top of my personal list.
And don’t forget to enter the daily contests Dine LA is holding: Starting 10 AM and running all day, answer a trivia question to be entered to win $100 gift certificates to participating restaurants (today’s is Petrossian, lo and behold). Also follow @dine_la on Twitter for updates.
Bonus: If you’re an American Express card holder, all you have to do is “do” Dine LA three times and you get a $20 credit on your statement. Just spend more than $21 per time.
And if you’re interested in the names behind the scene in Los Angeles food, it might interest you to peep the Dine LA Family Tree to see how they – and we – are all interconnected. Food brings us all together, doesn’t it?
We call this, “November in Southern California.” Sunny and mid-seventies. Of all four, enabling seasons in SoCal – I would pick Fall to have the most misses. Tree leaves wilt to brown with no color in between and … well, who am I kidding? I really don’t think any of that is a big deal – let’s be honest. The weather here is mild in the Fall and we love it. We can be outside and sweating our makeup and deodorant off as the walls of our cavity cave with the weight of braised meats and three-cheese recipes, with a side of yams, beets and potatoes in four different forms (at least when they first went into your mouth). You’re also still going to see that girl walking around wearing a shag fur vest and 5-inch platform suede boots, seasons be damned.
So – barring gargantuan intake – it’s easy to see why the stand singularly serving as the raw oyster bar in the whole of the event won out. Named simply East, the seafood spot is glamorously outposted on that stretch of Hollywood Blvd. – their scene decidedly more Hollywood than seasonal. This actually paid off for them at Great Chefs of LA in terms of standing out on that hot November Sunday.
Of course, those of us with internal clocks triggered by daytime temps “dropping” to the 60s are used to this. We eat the slow-cooked meats and we enjoy it. And the paninis…and the polentas…ahhh, caprese with burrata…relief. California. Bring it on. We can hang.
We hung around Bottega Louie. And we hung around Dakota, Akasha and Saddle Peak Lodge. And there was Bazaar with caipirinhas made with liquid nitrogen, folks – forever reminding us that if it’s theirs then it is trÃ¨s chic. The truck of the moment was Border Grill’s. The libation? Champagne – lest anyone forget the real battle of the day was not to race from outpost to outpost but to prevent passing out. Nothing like cold, refreshing bubbly to the rescue!
It was a collaborative showing of some of the best things happening in the L.A. culinary scene right now. One thing’s for sure – I sure wish I were the best friend of the winner of the Neal Fraser-cooked (BLD, Grace) dinner for 10. As much as $10,000 was raised for the Kidney Foundation with George Lopez and Candice Kumai hosting – and Jennie Garth and Chef Marcel Vigneron making their appearances for a delicious cause.
It’s a good food event to look forward to next year – weather be damned!
On Sunday, November 8 the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California will be holding their 23rd annual Great Chefs of L.A. at CBS Studio Center. The theme this year is “Go Green, Go Organic” and Neal Fraser (BLD, Grace), Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Ciudad) will be the “chefs of honor” for their culinary contributions to the L.A. scene and for their past work with the Kidney Foundation.
Candace Kumai, The Stiletto Chef of TLC’s “Cook Yourself Thin,” will be emcee for this event and will also host the GCLA Webfire Challenge webisode series sponsored by 944 Magazine.
Other “great chefs” at the event include:
Adam Horton, Saddlepeak Lodge
Benjamin Ford, Ford’s Filling Station
Celestino Drago, Drago Restaurant, Enoteca Drago, Il Pastaio, Drago Centro
Govind Armstrong, 8 oz.
Jason Johnston, Dakota
Jorge Chicas, The Bazaar â€“ SLS Hotel
Josie Le Balch, Josie Restaurant
Roberto Maggioni, Lago
Sam Marvin & Christopher Goossen, Bottega Louie Restaurant & Gourmet Market
Simon Dolinky, BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar
Steven Fretz, XIV
There will be an eco-conscious lounge serving up eco-conscious cocktails with VeeV AÃ§ai Spirit and each guest will receive “SWAG bags” with SWAG worth$250 in value courtesy of 944 Mag and Get Hip Get Green.
So you want me to tell you how to enter to win a pair of tickets valued at $300, already? All right:
Henry’s Hat, the new gastropub in Studio City brought to you by the same folks behind the all-favorite and consistent Luna Park are featuring comedy and food “highlights” specials celebrating Monday Night Football – starting tonight.
Five- and six-minute sets during halftime (tonight at 7:15 PM, future Mondays at 5:30 PM) will be performed by notable comics from The Improv, The Comedy Store, Comedy Central and led by Henry’s Hat bartender and doubling stand-up comic Minnie Goode. These performances will occur in the “Den” – a separate room from the screens showing the game.
Specials will rotate weekly, but you can expect to see things on the “hightlights” menu from Executive Chef Nick Cobarruvius following the game such as:
Aggiesâ€™ Chili Con Queso with Molten Cheese and Salsa – $4.25
North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw and Chipotle BBQ – $4.50
Banana Split with Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry Ice Cream and housemade Fudge and Strawberry Sauce – $3.50
Pitchers of select draft beers will be also be half-price following the game – or Henry’s Hat isn’t a gastropub.
You’ll have no shortage of laughs or screens as there’s a projector screen as well as fourteen 40″ and 50″ flat screens around the pub. I’ll see you tonight!
Monday Night Football
(Check your local, PST listings for kickoff)
Henry’s Hat 3413 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90068 323.512.2500 @henryhatla
I’m going to New York next week. Though I’m very much a subway girl while there, there will be a lot of taxis – and at that, ones you can hail. I doubt any of us ever instructed anybody to “hail a cab” as a means of getting around Los Angeles. Despite our best efforts, that is. But let’s get serious here. Outside the airport or hotel complete with taxi lanes, we’re most accustomed to calling one if we had planned to use a cab, at all. I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced many a frustration with operators on the other line while trying to call one.
This Labor Day weekend might be prime time to try a new experiment. I know you’re on your phone texting your dogsitter, anyway!!
I may end up loving where I live even more (the key phrase for that would be, “central to everything”) because I just found out about a new service that makes cab service even more conducive for my friends and I to take around town. You can now text the address of your location to “777222” and GoFastCab will dispatch a cab directly to you, wherever you are in L.A. – even South Bay and Long Beach! Sweet!
After texting your address, you get a confirmation text back to you so you know they received it (and that your text didn’t get lost in outer space). If you change your mind, you can also text “CANCEL” to the same number and that will cancel your cab. If you’re wondering where your cab is before he gets to you, you can text “STATUS” for a status message back.
I think the best part about this, though, is when you’re out at the bar and not exactly sure when to cash out because you want to secure the cab you called – for fear of someone else snatching your cab from you. The service calls you when they’re outside!
If you’re looking for a different kind of nightlife, it looks like there are now more options out there. Come out on May 14th and get interactive in Studio City.
The launch will happen at Aura Nightclub. Interactive art installations by Eric Gradman, inventor and artist, of Mindshare Labs will be the feature of the night. Prog house, breaks and trance will set up the groove. The stage and dance floors will turn psychedelic for the night. Interactive video projection displays digitally enhance the space in which visitors explore “the expanding boundaries of physical computing.” Hell if I know what that means but I’m gonna be there to find out! Past Mindshare appearances include at Hangar 1018 (covered by L.A. Weekly) and the TED Talks recently at USC. VIP plans to make this a monthly.
What’s even better – my readers will get an extra $10 off the ticket price! Hurry to takeÂ advantage of this offer by buying your ticket through this link with discount code “estarla.” The Early Bird deadline is May 1st so buy before then to get the best possible ticket price!