Willie Jane: Bringing Southern California Comfort to Abbot Kinney

Swordfish, Fried Chicken, Black-eyed Peas

When considering restaurants on Abbot Kinney and the recent upshoot of many restaurants serving Southern cuisine around town, it’s only proper that the Venice hub would receive its own outpost. Govind Armstrong, of Post & Beam and before that, ROFL Café (I know) and 8 Oz Burger Bar, is as recognizable a chef’s name as any other in L.A. and adds himself as another well-regarded name on the Boulevard, the others being Joe Miller and Casey Lane. Continue reading

Taste of Abbot Kinney With VIP Ticket Giveaway + Abbot Kinney Cocktail Clash: October 23, 2011

Tasting Kitchen Interior

That young, Venice-representative food festival called The Taste of Abbot Kinney is back. And this, the third time around, they’ve got a new model to present. As a result of last year’s Taste souring due to food shortages and taste ticket overages, the board had decided to completely revamp the event. To start, they brought one of Abbot Kinney’s most important and veteran proprietors on-board as event chairman: Joe Miller.

The event returns with two ticket levels but with a centralized reception space in the former studio of Charles & Ray Eames. VIPs get early access at 3 PM with a reception hosted by The Food Network’s Adam Gertler; chef demos by Joe Miller himself and Yoshi Shima; appetizers by Primitivo, Joe’s and Gjelina; Calstar Cellar wines poured by Primitivo; Bloody Marys by Tasting Kitchen;  desserts by Crema and even a VIP gift bag.

At 4:30 PM, regular Tasting Tour takers join in with included access to the DJ’ed reception, where they also get to participate in the drawing, which includes hotel and restaurant packages from such destinations as: Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Hotel Wilshire, Hotel Erwin and Terranea Resort and original art by Ellie Riley. Participating restaurants in the Taste of Abbot Kinney also include Hal’s Restaurant & Bar, Lilly’s French Café & Bar, Casa Linda, Lemonade, Otheroom, 3 Square Cafe & Bakery, The General Store/Pop Up Gallery and Abbot’s Habit.

See below to see how you can win one of two pairs of tickets to the VIP reception

And of course, the day of tasting doesn’t just end at 6 PM. Full disclosure: I’m judging this subsequent cocktail competition!

The inaugural Abbot Kinney Cocktail Clash held at Joe’s Restaurant will be held at 7 PM for all who want to attend (free), where Ryan Wainwright of Tasting Kitchen, Dennis Kahn of Hal’s Bar and Grill and Jennifer Zerboni from Joe’s Restaurant will go head-to-head in a cocktail competition.

First round: Each mixologist will be presented with a mystery box of five ingredients that they must use in their cocktail, and will have 10 minutes to create. Potential ingredients include: Portuguese peppers, Persian cucumbers, bacon, lemon verbena, arugula, tomato, passion fruit, cardamom, star anise and huckleberry.

Second round: Each bartender will have 7 minutes to create their own, pre-planned signature cocktail. Wainwright will be making his Navy Sour, Kahn his Sapphire Sunset and Zebroni will be creating her Fisco Pig. Each cocktail will be judged on: best presentation, most original and best overall taste.

Daniel Djang of Thirsty in LA and I will be judges and guests will be able to purchase food from the bar or dinner menu at Joe’s Restaurant.

And now the giveaway…



To enter to win one of two pairs of tickets to the VIP Reception + Tasting Tour of Abbot Kinney, do both of the following:

  1. Tweet: “I want to win VIP tix to @TasteofAK, @estarLA! http://estar.la/e/c1”
  2. Like e*starLA” on Facebook
  3. Leave a comment below (with your email address, which won’t be shared, so I can contact you) on what you’re most looking forward to at TofAK.

Contest closes Thursday at 5PM! I’ll contact the two winners by 7PM. If I don’t hear back by the end of the day, I’ll pick another winner (or two) on Friday morning. Be on standby at your Inboxes.

See you at Taste of Abbot Kinney!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

VIP Tasting Package: $100

3 – 6:30 PM

Tasting Tour Package: $60

4:30 – 6:30 PM

Taste of Abbot Kinney
901 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Taste of Abbot Kinney – A Taste of Venice: Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tasting Kitchen: Taste of Abbot Kinney 2009

Seems like there’s quite a lot going on this weekend – and Taste of Abbot Kinney doesn’t really make the selection any easier. This event is for those looking to experience the overall vibe of Venice, since Taste of Abbot Kinney has changed a bit from last year, its inaugural event. One of the differences is that Intelligentsia and Lemonade aren’t participating, but there are plenty other outposts of their product. What you can expect is a unique Venice experience on a Sunday afternoon tailored specifically to you.

The biggest difference this year, however, is there are “tasting tickets” that you’ll exchange at each venue for food, drink or experience. The day, which benefits Inside Out Community Arts, will have options other than food available. Floyd’s will have a mobile haircutting booth, Nite Spa will provide mini massages and everyone is entered to win a 52″ Sony LCD TV, a night’s stay at The Standard Hollywood and more.

The brick and mortar bites I’m most looking forward to have to be Tasting Kitchen, Lilly’s, Primitivo and Jin Patisserie. Of course, there will be food trucks – because no L.A. food event is complete without them. The highlight will certainly be the Ludo Truck. Dogtown Dogs will be on hand to offer their specialty hotdogs.

So, what are you up to on Sunday?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 – 7 PM

Tasting Tickets (go up after October 22):
15 tickets – $25 ($30)
30 tickets – $50 ($60)
45 tickets – $75 ($90)
60 tickets – $100 ($120)

Taste of Abbot Kinney
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Main Street – Boccaccio Avenue

Christophe Happillon Features West Coast Oysters at Joe’s Restaurant

Fanny Bay Oyster

It may have been another night out in the neighborhood for Chris when I met her and Ken at Joe’s on Abbot Kinney last friday. But it had been awhile since I had a drink from their bartender, S. Hector Bury – and he didn’t disappoint with a delicious cocktail made with bacon-infused bourbon.

Christophe Happillon

But we were there to learn about Christophe Happillon’s oyster program, which is at Joe’s on Friday nights and The Edison on Tuesday and Thursdays. So, whether you’re feeling The Downtown LA vibe early in the week or more in the mood for Venice towards the end, you know where to go for your oyster fix.

Truth be told, I was also at The Edison for their latest Radio Room just three days prior (which prompted Nico to accuse me of “cheating”) and had gotten a preview of Christophe’s awesome oyster display of Fanny Bay oysters. The real lesson would come at Joe’s, however, where he featured three different types of oysters. I have always loved oysters but knew very little – and was really appreciative to get a lesson in the West Coast ones Christophe was carrying that night.

Christophe shucking an oyster

When Christophe set to shucking oysters for us (“Oysters are like women -,” he mused, “you cannot force them”) he started out with San Quintin Bay oysters from Baja, California. This was the strongest, saltiest oyster of the bunch, with this particular bay not receiving much rain and therefore putting the oysters in an environment with more sediment.

The next two oysters proved milder – as they were from areas also on the West Coast but which had more rain and bigger waves: British Columbia. The Fanny Bay oysters, which were also at The Edison, had a tougher consistency than the San Quintins. Because there are more waves, the muscles in these particular had developed more than the previous variety. They were also not as salty as they grew in less sediment.

The final variety, from Metcalf Bay, was also from British Columbia but was the sweetest of the bunch. Christophe pointed out the Metcalfs’ shells in particular – which were especially brittle – as the environment Metcalf has less waves than the San Quintin and therefore had less elasticity. In general, the more muscle an oyster has, the sweeter its taste.

Now Christophe may be a French shellfish specialist, but he stresses that oysters on the half-shell are a primarily American dish. Think turkeys at Thanksgiving being stuffed with oysters, and the search for an aphrodisiac when primarily male emigrants relocated to the continent. Our time at Joe’s was a great lesson in the history and origins of oysters’ chemistry, salinity and temperature, and I came away that much more knowledgeable about the bivalves. Now to eat more… 😉

Half-dozen oysters: $17
One dozen oysters: $30
(Prices subject to change according to availability and market price.)

Oysters in this review were hosted.

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA‎ 90291-3386

Dozen Oysters

The First Taste of Abbot Kinney

It’s safe to say that the first ever Taste of Abbot Kinney can be logged in the books as a success. I had a great time going from restaurant to restaurant (especially in the company of Caroline on Crack, H.C. of LA-OC-Foodventures, Sam of LAist – while running into The Delicious Life and Choisauce), having bites of everything each storefront offered to entice us back on a later date. For the most part, the Abbot Kinney restos put in good effort in making sure each guest got to enjoy a decent-sized portion rather than token smidgens. My main qualm was that there could have been more wine and cocktails served for the pairing. After all, regular price admission was $60 per person (or if you were savvy enough to catch the discount on Goldstar, $41 with ticket fee).

But there were pleasant surprises. It was my first time at most stops – with mental notes made to revisit Lemonade, Intelligentsia and Tasting Kitchen. Avoid: The Brig – an Abbot Kinney “dive” bar undergoing an eastside identity crisis, who served up a Brazilian Lemon Drop. It was Brazilian in the sense that it was made with rum, not vodka – but rum is sweet and lemon drops are sour, so the point escaped me. Stick to the 1:2 pours here, as the point of this bar is to knock ’em back rather than to actually taste. The rib from Beechwood served at The Brig, while an unfair gauge on the establishment’s food as a whole, was sweet, average and unremarkable.

Back to Lemonade (yes, it’s a chain) – who gave us a generous portion of their delicious cucumber mint lemonade and a sampling of three salads (above): Sesame vinaigrette atop snap peas and edamame, Hazelnut vinaigrette atop roast beets and pickled red onions, and roast cauliflower, golden raisins and almonds in a light curry sauce. Three salads, three words: Bursts of flavor. Super fresh ingredients. Perfectly, lightly seasoned. Must try it.

Continue reading

Don’t Leave Just Yet: Cocktail Competition after Taste of Abbot Kinney

I hope you bought your tickets for the First Annual Taste of Abbot Kinney taking place tomorrow (Sunday, October 11) – after all, the event is sold out of presale tickets but don’t despair. According to the website, a limited number of tickets will be available on Sunday.

But I’m planning on staying the evening, too. I’ll be sauntering back on over to Joe’s Restaurant to top off my tastes and personally witness “Raising the Bar: Battle of the Bartenders.” A collaboration between Joe Miller of Joe’s and John Sedler of Rivera, the competition will showcase the best mixologists from BOA, Church and State, Providence and Comme Ça in addition to the obvious (Joe’s and Rivera).

This will also be the first in a series of six-for-six hosted at each of the aforementioned restaurants – once per month. During the Mix-Off, bartenders will be required to mix three rounds of drinks:

• The “Classic Cocktail” Host bar will supply all traditional spirits and ingredients.
• “The Theme” – Utilizing the Spirit of the Evening, bartenders will create their choice of cocktail while using their own ingredients. Joe’s will be featuring Rum.
• “Free Style” – Bartenders will create a cocktail, using any trick or ingredient they come up with.

The actual competition is free to all attendees and you can buy any one of the creations made for $10 per cocktail. A bar menu of bites will also be made available for purchase to accompany your libation.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

6 – 9 PM

Joe’s Restaurant
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291-3386
(310) 399-5811


Party On, Singles: First Friday With The Lek

Photo credit to Gema Campos Hernando

You may be familiar with First Fridays – the one day of the month people crowd surf in Abbot Kinney art galleries – but this August 7th, TheLek.com has collaborated with Air New Zealand to promote their joint tourism effort entitled “The Matchmaking Flight.”

From 6 – 10 PM this Friday, August 7, enjoy an open bar right on Abbott Kinney with RSVP – whether you’re single or not. (But better RSVP soon – there are only a certain number of spots!) Wines from New Zealand will be featured and Steinlager Pure, New Zealand’s most famous beer, will be on tap along with other New Zealand spirits in keeping with the theme. DJ Jeremy Sole (KCRW, Afro Funke’, Musaics) will be spinning Afrofusion, Funk, R&B, Hip Hop and World Beats in putting out the beats all night long.

I’ve flown Air New Zealand to London before and remember being quite impressed with the airline, which is government subsidized. There’s a screen at every seat and a great channel selection. I was also extremely surprised to find the food, which included hot entrees at dinner, decent – certainly a ton better than other airline food out there.

Their first attempt at matchmaking crazy singles abroad is set for October 13th of this year. The experience is suited for hooking up, as passengers “will be encapsulated in the matchmaking experience, including: a pre-flight gate party at LAX; themed food, drink, and games throughout the flight; entertainment; and a large-scale, singles-only party in Auckland, New Zealand.” Roundtrip ticket prices start at $780 – which would be extremely cheap assuming that’s from Los Angeles but when does the “starting” range of airfare ever pertain to LAX? They are also offering three add-on packages: “Romance” will include relaxing activities and lush destinations; “Culture” will immerse travelers in New Zealand’s rich heritage and national treasures and “Adventure” is suited for the adrenaline junkies in the pack.

And guess what – The Lek will be giving out two free Matchmaking Flight tickets to New Zealand at the party this Friday! I wish I were going – too bad I have to rehearse for a wedding! Good luck, hope you win and enjoy!

RSVP to First Friday, August 7

6 – 10 PM

The Stronghold
1625 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291


Inquire about The Matchmaking Flight