If you ever needed a reason to dine at Scarpetta inside the Montage Beverly Hills, I’ve got a few reasons.
After the unexpected exit of Executive Chef Alex Stratta and the re-entry of Freddy Vargas, a Scarpetta veteran, they’ve started offering a rather reasonably priced prix fixe menu featuring the restaurant’s classic dishes in a four-course dinner featuring none other than their famously simple yet delicious spaghetti (that is, if you choose it over the agnolotti, which sounds pretty decadent itself). It costs just $45 per person; the wine pairing option is additional.
There are a lot of freebies and promotion deals to be had in our wonderful city, but I can’t say I’ve run across the offering of an entire dinner in exchange for the test drive of a car, before. And now, we have.
It’s curious that Pingtung is called an “Eat-in Market,” the “market” designation perhaps being a way of propping up the Asian goods that lie on overhead (to me) shelves along the sides of the deep-drawn cafe. Though I have a few guilty snack pleasures such as Yan Yan, Shrimp Chips, that clear, Japanese soda with the swingy little ball, Calpico and the like, I’d make the trek to 99 Ranch, Mitsuwa or Zion if I wanted to go Asian grocery shopping. (I’m trying to cut down on the snacks, much less MSG-laden ones, anyway.)
Short Rib cooked in Pho, Xiu Mai, Scallion Pancake, Herbs
I first visited the space owned by Bill Didonna and Charles Kelly when it was Allston Yacht Club. Since then, the space had taken a 180 degree turn away from its incarnation as a casual, neighborhood spot. Though there’s no warmth lacking from the feel that emanated throughout Allston’s dining room, it has evolved to the kind of environment that encourages diners’ curiosity for new things.
Polibo con Patate e Olive – Roasted Octopus with Potatoes, Taggiasche Olives, and Salsa Verde
There’s a trace amount of apprehension I try to temper when I find myself dining in oversized spaces. The fear stems from the likelihood of spending time and money dining in a space that is less likely to feel personalized – whether in terms of physical sense of space and/or the quality of service enjoyed during the meal.
As the Los Angeles “chill” continues, it’s only natural to crave the comforting foods in which we take refuge. Luckily, there’s Bar Pinxto, a tapas place that has reinvigorated the Spanish traditions behind the term that was once disgracefully applied to all “small plates.” The place has the most mom and pop feel of anywhere in the tourist hub of Santa Monica, and the reasonable price points, accommodating happy hour specials and prix fixe menu options clinch its status as a neighborhood favorite.
The Little Truffle Maker: First Course in Saam’s Black Truffle Dinner
Starting tomorrow and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening only for a limited time (until March 2nd), you can taste a 16-course black truffle dinner at SAAM for the ultimate, seasonal private dining experience at José Andres’ The Bazaar. The masterminds behind the dinner are Think Food Group’s research and development Chef Aitor Lozano, Executive Chef Joshua Whigham and Sous Chef Holly Jivin.
There was a post I did awhile ago on “Bars That Don’t Belong,” and the essence of that article was that the particular bars listed weren’t categorically all good or all bad – just that their ambiance and drink were divergent from those of the surrounding establishments. What that entails is a problem with the diffusion of foot traffic from nearby establishments.
Belgian endives poached in aromatic broth, vanilla bean sauce, toasted almonds
Located on Sunset Boulevard, Gorge is just a few doors down from The Whiskey. It goes without saying that The Sunset Strip is not a place you’d expect to find a French wine bar, much less one that makes all their sausages, terrine and pâtés in-house, as a proper French wine bar would. So I was surprised as anyone that at Gorge, not only is the food delicious, but the food-wine pairings are exceptional thanks to Master Sommelier Darius Allyn, who just so happens to also be the husband of head chef Elia Aboumrad. It’s quite a departure from where he came – that is, the Montage Beverly Hills – but the results of their efforts have captured all my admiration for doing so. While the food and atmosphere is comfortably no frills, it probably leans towards exotic in the perspective of your typical Sunset Boulevard patron.
The same of which could be said of Night + Market, not too far west of Gorge. And so the culinarily adventurous restaurants along The Sunset Strip continues. Thank goodness both examples are on the mark in their respective disciplines.
(What qualifies as) The Los Angeles chill and corresponding grey skies have gotten me into a pasta mood. You may call them carbs with requisite detachment, but I have nothing but reverence for such sustenance. Fresh, handmade pasta is the stuff of comfort: It’s the thick, wool scarf on a windy day. It’s the down fill in your duvet.
So as I sat down at the bar at Bestia for a taste of the menu – a one-top during one of my reclusive holiday moods – I realized immediately that I’d have to come back. There were just too many things on the menu that sounded too good to pass up. But thanks to bartender Karen Grill, who was working that night, I had the inside on the menu highlights…of which there were many. So of course, the hard part was picking just one.
I say bespoke because the act of stumbling into Heirloom was shockingly not via their famously flavor-packed, personal sized lasagna cupcakes found at farmer’s markets around town, but instead by luck of an invitation to a private dinner showcasing Bridlewood Wines in that said tasting room. Fortunately, they’ll be opening it up to the public a few days during the week, and I imagine the Eagle Rock community will meet that unveiling with elation. So bring on 2013, then. Continue reading →