My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Lunch Picks for Summer, 2013: July 15 – 26

RivaBella’s Nidi di Rondine

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.

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Fritzi Dog by Neal Fraser Brings Top Dogs to The Original Farmer’s Market

Memphis BBQ Dog – Porker Dog, grilled peppers, crushed paprika chips

What happens when you take an iconic, American food known for consisting of meat trimmings, fat and preservatives and reinvent it utilizing top notch ingredients and dress them up with imaginative combinations – before framing it all in a delicious bun?

You get Fritzi Dog, now at its first outpost in The Original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, serving up awesome dogs and sausages made with prime cuts sourced from veggie-fed, humanely treated animals. What you won’t find are snouts, tails, antibiotics, added nitrates nor mechanically separated meat. “You’ll find the same quality of ingredients [at Fritzi Dog] as you’ve found at [my other restaurants] Grace or BLD,” Neal states. Continue reading

Chef Bruce Kalman Takes Breakfast at The Churchill To New Heights

Breakfast or Brunch is Served

Brunch remains the fruition of the ultimate Southern Californian snub – a meal Angeleno dilettantes could fit into their schedules almost any day of the year if they wanted to, and on an outdoor patio, at that. While I once considered the tweener meal synonymous with a certain 3rd Street spot known as much for their celebrity sightings as for their fruit cup and egg dishes, brunch has become a fact of life. There is now no shortage of restaurants – most of whom don’t even offer lunch service on the weekdays –  who open early on the weekends for brunch. It’s become a ritual, a pastime that has become justification for that Friday or Saturday night hangover. With that comes competition and an audience that is no longer enamored with the existence of eggs on the menu.

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Five Cocktail Favorites by Mia Sarazen, Who’s Shaking & Stirring it up at The Churchill

Mia Sarazen

I think a gal can be considered lucky when she has top-notch bartenders within walking distance from her separately located home and work. I’ve just reached those ranks thanks to Mia’s new position at The Churchill inside The Orlando Hotel. Now, I’ve realized it can be a dangerous thing when, after a hard day at the office, she’s a mere 3 blocks away and on my way home. And this bar is also inside a hotel, so even when I get off early every Monday through Friday, it’s open!

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Legit Ramen “Pops” at Ramen Bull, Breadbar

Spicy Ramen (with ground beef)

Breadbar, with its regular offerings being that of breakfast through lunch, is the site of many a nighttime pop-up. The latest one is curated by a regular of the space, Chef Noriyuki Sugie of Ironnori Concepts. It’s a casual stint to last through September, but as my recent dining experience has shown, Chef Sugie can sure serve up a solid bowl of ramen.

Corned Beef Side

I accompanied Fiona; together, we were able to try the Oxtail and Spicy varieties. Though the gastronomic foam layer on top of the broth intially threw me off (how good can fancy-looking ramen taste?), when I took a slurp I was pleasantly surprised by both the flavor of my Spicy broth as well as the freshness and bite of the noodles.

Fiona’s Oxtail bowl of ramen differed more than just in toppings; her noodles were even a bit different (round and maybe a tiny bit coarser, whereas mine had four sides and were more tender) and the broth had a decidedly deeper, richer taste. My broth was a bit more “mapo,” with tinges of bean curd in the broth. Both were delicious, but I loved mine for the familiarity.

Beef Tongue Side

You can also get the types and toppings of ramen as sides on a plate. The corned beef “is what it is,” so if you’re a bit more adventurous I’d recommend the tongue. The hibiscus and pineapple sodas, a substantial add-on at $4, are housemade and delicious but also a refreshing off-set to the salty ramen.

So stop on by Breadbar on 3rd Street (not to be confused with the other locations) one of these summer nights. Personally, it’s a closer alternative than the trek to my trusty Santouka, and since it’s temporary, it also carries a bit of welcome novelty.

(Vegetarian? They’ve got you covered, too, with the appropriate modifications and omissions. And apologies for that tongue photo in this post.)

All food and drink were hosted.

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Mon – Sat until 9/30/11

5 – 10 PM

Ramen Bull at Breadbar
8718 W. Third Street
Los Angeles
310.205.0124

First Taste: Son of a Gun Is Not Your Mother’s Cooking

Shrimp Toast Sandwich | Herbs, Sriracha Mayo ($11)

The Animal boys are back at it with their heavy hand. This time, the medium is seafood, and there were certainly more hits than misses when I made my first visit last week.

Lobster Roll | Celery, lemon aioli ($7)

We started out with a lobster roll each, and were all glad that we turned this “shared plate” into a “per person” situation since it’s on the small side. It was a solid, Maine-style (with mayo) lobster roll with chips on top as a nice, crunchy touch and came in an appropriately buttery bun. Case closed.

The shrimp toast came next, and it was a quintessential umami moment. All conversation ceased as we chewed and thought, our tastebuds absolutely titillated, our eyes shut. We observed and relished the same reaction elicited from our neighbors by the dish at the large communal table at which we sat. This was a shared moment where I found myself not so annoyed by the communal, mess hall-style dining. On the other side of them, however, sat a New York food writer/ex-pat of a full year who amazingly stated that he didn’t believe Mexican food was better in LA than in New York. That’s another story. 😉

Brandade | Soft egg, arugula ($12)

Next came the brandade, which, not to belabor the point, was another essential small plate. The texture of the cod mixture was perfect – not too mushy, not too tacky. The whole grain mustard seeds kicked it up a notch. Though there might have been a period of time not so long ago where I was sick of seeing it everywhere, arugula was a nice choice, here, as the accompanying greens. The bitterness matched the mustard seeds really nicely. Of course, the runny egg with runny yolk is no small detail. What you have here is a bowl full of win.

While everything we had thus far was pretty rich, it wasn’t too much. But it was nice to mix things up with the Albacore Tataki, which was seasoned just perfectly with radish, citrus soy and a few sesame seeds. You could taste the freshness of the fish, and tt was a refreshing reprieve from all the other butter-based dishes we had. I’d order it again if only I weren’t so curious about the other fish dishes on the menu (like the Pink Grouper).

Albacore Tataki | Sesame seeds, radish, citrus soy ($12)

We had heard that the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($11) was a must-order, and so we did exactly that. It had a tasty, peppery breading surrounding hot, tender chicken. The jalapeno coleslaw with pickles was a really nice touch but I actually found myself wishing there were more jalapenos and much more kick in it. It was still solid, though.

The Alligator Schnitzel with hearts of palm and oranges ($14) came last, which was really the only miss in our whole meal. The schnitzel was largely forgettable and seemed an item that was put on the menu in order to widen its range. No matter. There are plenty of other delicious items to try.

With the menu changing daily, depending on ingredients, I feel like I had barely scratched the surface that is Son of a Gun. It’s a bustling dining spot with mostly communal tables and walk-in opportunities. They also have a good selection of cocktails (I did enjoy my Sazerac, but consumed it while occupying “standing room only”) which range from $8 – $16 and is only more reason why I feel like I need to go back. Although they’re open until 11 PM or even 1 AM on the weekends, they do run out of favorites. Don’t wait – it’s a really exciting place to eat. Just don’t be surprised if you bump a few elbows; it’s guaranteed you will.

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Sun – Thur: 6 PM – 11 PM
Fri – Sat: 6 PM – 1 AM

Lunch service coming soon

Son of a Gun
8370 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.782.9033

Thanksgiving In a Sandwich at simplethings

Thanksgiving Sandwich

Something special is coming to 3rd Street in Mid-City West, and it’s simplethings sandwich and pie shop. Third street is one of Mid-City West’s main treasures, and the store is a nice departure from the hustle and bustle of Joan’s on Third and the scene-y brunch hullabaloo of Toast.

3" Bourbon Pecan Cutie Pie ($2.50)

At simplethings, you’ll get to choose pies from three different sizes (3″, 5″ & 9″) in delicious varieties like Pumpkin, Key Lime, Banofee (banana + toffee = deliciousness), Bourbon Pecan, Orange Creamsicle, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Blueberry. Feelin’ like whoopie? They got plenty of varieties of whoopie pie for your hollerin’.

Or maybe you were feeling like a meal, first. They have specialty sandwiches like the Prime Rib sandwich, with their prime rib made in-house, and a Veggie Sandwich that tastes as hearty as a meat party. They also serve breakfast on the weekends until 2 PM and have fresh salads available all day.

But my favorite bite of the media preview had to be the Thanksgiving Sandwich, made with cranberry chutney and jalapeno stuffing. They also use chunks instead of slices of the bird, which helps keep the turkey meat tender. It’s seasonal, comprehensive and everything I could want since I’ll be on the plane on Thanksgiving Day. I’m celebrating early!

And if you’re craving pies and sandwiches now, today’s your lucky day since simplethings just opened at 11 AM. Call in your order or stop by – its simple decor is a charming set-up for the drop-in.

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Open today (Monday, November 22, 2010) at 11 AM

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simplethings
8310 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323-592-3390

Website

The 2nd Annual Taste of Farmer’s Market

Photo credit to da90027 on Flickr

This post is a quickie because this event will be sure to sell out soon – the event is tomorrow. Last year marked the celebration of 75 years of the Farmer’s Market at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax – and it proved so successful that they’ve decided to bring it back. Purchase your advance, $50, $30 or $25 ticket for tomorrow night and enjoy a little bit of everything the historic marketplace has to offer.

VIP will get you Express event entrance, unlimited food sampling at all participating merchants, 4 beer/wine tickets, Farmers Market tote bag, Farmers Market coupon book, a complimentary all-day parking pass for use during a future visit and even a signed copy of L.A.’s Original Farmers Market History Book or L.A.’s Original Farmers Market Cookbook - a $22.95 value by itself.

The $30 price point will still let you have unlimited tastes and the coupon book but allot 2 beer/wine tickets and the $25 price point will give you access to the food along with the same coupon book. Seems to me the additional $5 is a steal for two drinks to wash your food down with – but VIP will enjoy the most perks by far.

So don’t delay – get your ticket. And enjoy Loteria!, Mr. Marcel Pain du Fromage, Moishes, Tusquellas Fish & Oyster Bar, Du-Par’s, Banana Leaf, The Gumbo Pot and more. Personally, this will be a farewell to the neighborhood since I’m moving east in about a month – but the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax will always be a huge part of my Mid-City West experience!! Don’t miss it.

P.S. – Nancy Silverton and Amy Pressman will be previewing a burger from their upcoming Short Order stand to open at The Farmer’s Market in 2011. Trust me – that’s reason enough!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

5 – 9 PM

Tickets and website

Taste of Farmer’s Market
6333 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Vegan Desserts A Delight Around LA

Vegan Red Velvet - Kiss My Bundt

Los Angeles is a perfect city in which to eat – whether it entails having access to the cuisines of countless ethnicities or healthful options that honor our moral obligations. There’s a tricky thing, however, about desserts for vegans – most of which incorporate butters, understandably, into their recipes. LA vegans have reason to rejoice, though, with ever more plentiful options to get their sweet tooth on around town:

Kiss My Bundt (Mid-Town)

Kiss My Bundt offers vegan red velvet on Fridays and Saturdays as well as vegan chocolate on Saturdays. They may be vegan, but they certainly don’t look nor taste like they’re in shortage of any sort of ingredient. Incredibly moist and delicious, the red velvet will never let on what you’re missing…it’ll be a secret between you and your bundt. And if you’d like a sizeable order (6 mini-bundts or more), the vegan bundts are available any time of the week. What are you waiting for?

Mini Bundt – $2.50
Baby Bundt – $4.50

Also please read about Kiss My Bundt on ShopEatSleep. Try a full-sized bundt and help keep the most delicious cakes in town around!

Kiss My Bundt Bakery
8104 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.655.0559

The Bakery at Akasha Restaurant (Culver City)

The Bakery at Akasha has a few options available for vegans at their storefront. Pick from chocolate cupcakes, tarts and cookies – or go for their meyer lemon scone. If you’re seeing a movie across the street, best come early and buy a few treats to sneak into the theatre – it sure beats the $8 popcorn at the concession stand!

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Glaze & Vanilla Icing – $3.25 ea
Salty Chocolate Pecan Tart and Rustic Apple Tart – $4.75 ea
Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle Cookies – $1.50 ea
Meyer Lemon Scones – $2.50 ea

Bakery at Akasha
9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-2618
310.845.1700

Babycakes (Downtown Los Angeles)

Los Angeles vegans rejoiced when Babycakes came to us from New York – to set up shop in the historic Pacific Electric lofts downtown. Not only could you get a french dip at Cole’s and a cocktail at The Varnish – you could also get dessert nearby. There are a lot of vegan options here (loaf? cookie sandwich? macaroon?) with a variety of flavors:

Vanilla Cupcake with Zesty Lemon Frosting – $4.25
Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf – $3.65/slice (Check the recipe from Glutenfreebird.com)
Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Sandwich with Vanilla Filling – $5.00
Cinnamon & Sugar Toasties – $3.75/slice
Vanilla Macaroons – $1.50 each

Babycakes
130 E. 6th St.
(between Main & Los Angeles)
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.623.5555

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