If you’re like, really, way into local beer but Orange County still seems like a schlep (yes, we’re lazy Angelenos), you’ll want to make it over to Steingarten on the Westside for some tap takeover action by one of our favorites, The Bruery.
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.
Something special is coming up on Sunday – it’s so special it’s “to die for,” and luckily there are a few tickets left, so grab them quick. Yet again, there’s something brewing down in Long Beach – but for this 11th installment of Dionicess, you can forget it being holiday themed, and instead Walking Dead themed. Zombie themed. What-have-you.
To match, the series has been temporarily renamed as “Die”-nisis and will be serving food to accommodate their vision, including food and beer inspired by corpses, skeletons, brains and all of the above. Though they say it’s a 5-course dinner, if you’re familiar at all with their events, you know there will be some extras.
I didn’t think much of the space just south of The Greek Theatre when Louise’s, the trattoria chain, occupied the space. It was little more than a place-marker for street parking for those summer concerts. It marked the start of the ascent up Hillhurst from Los Feliz Blvd., the alternative to the stacked parking cattle call that was the official Greek parking. Continue reading →
Beer cocktails. Beer floats. Sour beers. All-you-can-drink beer. Beer crawl set to music. Crappy-for-happy beer trades. Prickly pear beers from all over town. Los Angeles is comin’ up beer. And in its 4th year, not only is LA Beer Week bigger and better than ever, it’s also more unified. The camaraderie around the LA beer community is unmistakable – so get ready to drink some tasty brews while learning a lot and meeting some cool people along the way.
After perusing the 10-day schedule, I’ve come up with a few events I’d personally want to attend. With the LA beer scene at the strongest it has ever been, there’s bound to be some (or a lot of) conflicts during this extravaganza, but all we can do is do our best, right? While you’re at it, you might as well check off the four quandrants of this LA Beer Week Bucket List. Then, bring your four stickers to the LA Beer Week Festival on September 30th and get a free bottle of the official beer of the week, Unity, from Eagle Rock Brewery – a play on a traditional Berliner Weiss, yet jazzed up with a touch of rye as well as red and green prickly pear. You’ll also get to enter a drawing for tickets to the BAM Fest on October 6th in Santa Monica.
(If you don’t complete the bucket list, never fear – it’ll be on draft at select retailers throughout Los Angeles and Orange county as well as at the LA Beer Week Festival itself.)
Without further ado, here are my Top Ten of LA Beer Week:
As far as Los Angeles neighborhoods go, Marina del Rey isn’t exactly known as a culinary hotbed. So imagine my surprise when I found quite a few well-conceived menu items at J. Nichols, a recently revamped strip mall eatery.
Black Pepper Wings
My favorite of the meal was the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – an item that you’ll find under the “sandwich,” not “burger,” column. How many times have I had a pulled pork sandwich where the bun sopped up all the sauce before essentially becoming a shell of itself, having lost its integrity? We all know and even love what a mess any handheld pulled pork item can be, but what if the “mess” part was contained somewhat by a firm, but tasty, pretzel bun? What’s more – the lightly fried, even delicate onion rings also help absorb the sauce, giving the pulled pork sandwich more structure and even crunch than anything this saucy and tasty ever afforded, before.
The Black Pepper Wings were another stand-out, an atypical nod of the Asian (Fusion) Persuasion. Think Black Pepper Beef, but with chicken, instead – and in a manner best enjoyed while your eyes are set on the sports screen. Tasty wings, they are, and there’s no better sauce from which to lick from your lips and fingers.
Of course, there are the menu essentials such as the beet salad and Brussels sprouts, both of which are done as well as anywhere. But my favorite pasta was the Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni, which was done al dente and finished off with that perfect kick. Corn and cherry tomatoes give the dish a nice, sweet touch while the mushrooms sustain its earthy notes.
Daytime view from open patio at Simmzy’s Long Beach
Long Beach is that sister city, south of Los Angeles. If you are one who truly loves being an Angeleno – without the irony, that is – you accept The LBC as the L.A. away from L.A. Each block is potentially completely different from the next, and it’s one vast county hosting a cornucopia of cultures and backgrounds.
Blue Cheese Haystack
And then there’s Long Beach-Belmont Shore. At Simmzy’s second location, their corner on the block is bustling with flip-flops, beer and pub food. It’s a true pub without having bowed to the recent “gastro-” trends as of late. Besides, Simmzy’s are beachy places without the beachfront. People sometimes just want good weather, good beer (offered up by two dozen taps), a good time and good food – not groundbreaking culinary trends.
While I tend to think the Manhattan Beach location is a tad small, the Long Beach one also has no problems filling its space to the gills. They’ve got day-of-the-week special, which happened to be the Short Rib & Chocolate Porter Chili on Saturdays – a sweet, tangy treat. Though their crust is not a lot to write home about, their pizzas showcase some original topping combinations, such as a smoked Bacon & Date Marscapone, made with garlic, mozzarella, sage and balsalmic syrup for a slightly sweet treat.
And while I know that Brussels sprouts are a bit of a shoe-in for many places, I can’t say that I’ve had many executed so impressively as their carmelized rendition, with butter, garlic, lemon, anchovies, capers and bruschetta for a succulent yet zesty combination.
There are a few places to eat and drink in town that I might be guilty of having prejudged based upon what I know about their location and reputation. I’m not saying that restaurants that are celebrity favorites couldn’t possibly serve good food. But let’s be honest, we’re afraid of risking bad service at a “hotspot” as non-celebrities. The food’s probably more expensive. And lest we be mistaken for those scenesters who seek validation via famous elbow-rubbing… *shudder*
Wood Roast Bone Marrow, “Agrodolce”
(Can anyone tell me if The Ivy actually serves good food and provides prompt service in a manner on par with the concluding check? And how is that service – and how famous was your “up-and-coming waiter” - at Gjelina?)
In a former life, Cecconi’s was still Morton’s and the site of Elton John’s post-Oscar party, wherein my college girlfriends and I cruised by just to get a glimpse of some major motion picture star waiting for valet. Internally, I made the location die in relevance along with my n00b Angeleno self.
Full disclosure:Leave it to a media dinner to allow me to reassess.
I don’t valet. I drive a convertible with the top down all the time (now with the weather being warm) that, in what I am sure is a subconscious way of acting out my love-hate-love LA self, I keep so dirty you could write “Wash me” on my rims in brake dust.
Pink Lady (Bombay London Dry Gin, high proof apple brandy, housemade grenadine, lemon, egg white)
But let me describe what a great time I had a Cecconi’s. While I don’t comment on service when it’s a media dinner, I have to say that I immensely enjoyed all the cocktails, which had stronger pours than I expected (don’t be fooled by their often pinkish colors). The food was not ground-breaking but appreciatingly solid in their execution. Gin lovers will appreciate this 14 drink menu and some selections, like the Mexican-influeced Jalisco Sour or Picante Paloma, will surprise you.
The selection on the menu is especially savvy. There’s variety without the dangers of being overwhelming. Clear categories line the all-day one pager from apps to salads and ”Carpaccio & Tartare.” “Charcoal Grill” and “Wood Oven” items are the priciest yet half-portions are available for all the salads and almost all the pasta and risotto. In combination with the tasty, Italian-influeced cocktails, it’s all perfect for a day on the patio with the ladies.
Their most popular items, and understandably so, are highlighted as Cicchetti, which are also served in the middle of the day. They effectively supplement or comprise your meal, these Italian “tapas” (the scallops and bone marrow qualify as such).
But don’t gloss over the pasta (I have a hard time doing so, anyway). Their linguine with clams comes flavored with a bit of sea urchin and the rabbit pappardelle is as solid as any in the city – or even better – as there were generous yet complementary chunks of meat in lieu of the usual strings of meat I often see interpersed between the fat noodles. And it was all al dente.
The best part in regards to the pasta is that they’ve just released their Tris di Pasta special on Tuesdays at dinner: Try a sampler of 3 rotating pastas for $18. They’ve also started to feature a different, seasonal pizza with ingredients sourced from the local farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
And back on that celebrity tip: Our table, which was positioned on the beautiful outdoor patio separated from the driveway by foliage as is typical for Melrose place, sat next to another who was celebrating the wrap of a certain dance competition TV show while I spied a certain Elizabeth Taylor impersonator at the bar. So that celebrity factor was certainly still there; it just failed to validate my prejudices.
(All food and drink were hosted.)
Mon – Wed
8 AM – Midnight?
Thur – Sat
8 AM – 1 AM
8 AM – 11 PM
8764 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Pizza Port Representing Solana Beach at Firestone Walker Invitational
There’s a lot to be said about inaugural events and beer festivals – we’ve all had our fair share of either trying to outstretch the growing pains involved. But the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival was a special example of both, and it really is by luck and privilege that I was able to attend the June event in Paso Robles.
3 Floyds Dark Lord: An Extremely Rare Russian Imperial Stout
First of all, breweries could not send representatives as with a slew of other beer festivals where that would be protocol. Instead, Firestone Walker required each brewery to send two of its actual brewers. Given not only the rise of the craft beer scene in California and across America but also the underground geekery that buttresses the craze, maybe it was only inevitable that the event was sold out after only one month after they even went on sale – in February. Not bad for the first time, and with 2,500 tickets to unload, at that.
The set-up of the event was, in short, impressive. We media folks were lucky to get an extra hour before the others to score some pours, but when the event started at 1 PM, we heard the cheers of queued-up beer drinkers on-the-dot. As they stampeded the Mid-State Fair Grounds, the lines to the rarer beers were to be expected, but overall, it really seemed like there was a perfect balance in the quantity and quality of beer to attendees where everyone got to try the ones they wanted. Each brewery in attendance generally brought a session beer along with a rare beer – with Firestone Walker of course hosting with a larger portion of their repertoire. Well done.
#FWIBF at Midstate Fair Grounds
While I love California and West Coast beer, the real treat was getting to try a few of the Midwest breweries that came all the way to Paso Robles to educate and pour a few for us festival attendees. Among them were Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI), Founders (Grand Rapids, MI), Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO), Revolution (Chicago, IL), Sun King (Indianapolis, IN) and Three Floyds Brewing Company (Munster, IN).
After fellow attendee Caroline and I got the scoop on the rare beers to try, we swooped on in to try Three Floyds’ Dark Lord with Vanilla Bean, a crazy delicious (and super rare) 15% ABV Russian Imperial Stout that was surprisingly and beautifully balanced. The Curmudgeon Old Ale from Founders was a dark, malty beast, since it was brewed with molasses before being oak-aged. Also delicious.
Caroline and I at #FWIBF
Boneyard Brewing and Full Sail represented the Oregon set, and after awhile I was craving a sour to shake things up on my palate. Boneyard’s Femme Fatale, a raspberry tart brown ale brewed with 14 lbs of raspberries per barrel. Full Sail brought their 2010 Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter, which, for all intents and purposes singlehandedly debunked the process of my having had it with over-the-top, high ABV beers. Though there were hints of chocolate, vanilla and oak, I especially loved the figs. It was dark in color yet surprisingly and refreshingly drinkable.
Russian River brought their Supplication, which was another helpful thirst quencher for my sour appetite. Also representing Northern California was FiftyFifty Brewing, with their rare beer being the 9.5% ABV Eclipse Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout being made even more awesome by being aged for 200 days in Elijah Craig 12 Year barrels. So. Delicious. I also think I found my new favorite sour beer in Tiny Bubbles by Hollister Brewing. It’s such a great introductory citrus sour. It’s refreshingly light yet fizzy enough to keep things interesting. Bear Republic Brewery brought their Altered Beast, an Imperial IPA made with two rounds of dry hopping then finished with American oak.The Lost Abbey brought their A-game with 4 beers, not the least being the Lost & Found, a spiced saison style ale, nor the 12% ABV Angel’s Share Bourbon. After all, bourbon aged barleywine in Paso Robles is as quintessential beer-festival-in-wine-country as you can get.
The Golden Road Brewing Crew Representing LA in Behind the Beer Panel
But I’d be remiss not to mention how the Invitational had international representatives. Yo-Ho Brewing flew all the way in from Karuizawa, Japan while the Danish Mikkeller, known as the “gypsy brewer,” travels to different breweries just to brew his 100% collaborative beer selection. I was super excited to try his beers after I learned about him, since he doesn’t even have a brewery that he calls home. His Big Worse, Red Wine Barrel Edition, was a super huge barley wine that was as big as it was delicious. Like crack. (Just don’t ask Mikkel for a business card, as gypsy brewers don’t typically carry, much less make, them. Because then they wouldn’t be gypsy brewers. Duh. Now that you mention it, don’t even try getting in touch with him again at all.)
The food issue was also handled well, as everyone was provided with a meal ticket good for a bratwurst or steak sandwich. Additionally, local Paso Robles restaurants were on-hand to distribute bites from their menu. Not only were our stomachs properly lined for the brews, there were some positively delicious bites. It was also great to learn that the festival was also beneficial to Paso Robles as a community, since festival-goers booked reservations in town to follow the festival. Bravo!
If this was the inaugural event, I can only imagine the level at which next year’s Invitational will be at. It was a great representation of what the multi-award-winning, mid-sized Firestone Walker Brewery set out to achieve on their home turf: Folks of like mind and spirit sharing a passion for making craft beer by drinking beers brewed by the leaders in the revolution.
And with that, you’re officially on alert for FWIBF, 2012. If you love beer, you might as well follow @FirestoneWalker right now.
Festival admission thanks to media pass courtesy of Firestone Walker.
I don’t make it a secret that M.B. Post is practically my favorite restaurant in the South Bay and one of my top picks for all of Los Angeles. So it pains me to admit that I wish I lived closer so that I could take advantage of their new “Nooner” menu - essentially a weekend daytime menu that’s served from 2 – 5 in the weekend afternoon but also lunchtime until dinner on Friday afternoons.
You can count on Chef David Lefevre’s terrific truffle honey laced fried chicken to be on the mid-day list, as well as Albondigas and Meyers’ Farm “Never Ever” Skirt Steak. Order the Pomegranate Cous Cous with lavender feta, Marcona almonds and grapefruit and the Blistered Green Beans with Thai basil, chili sauce and crispy pork to pair, and you’re pretty much all set.
Oh, but wait. You’d be remiss not to try one of the awesome cocktails at M.B. Post. Since it’s daytime, go for the Coughlin’s Law, or the glorified Bloody Mary. Complete with quail egg, dill and picante, this will likely be the best Bloody Mary you’ve had in awhile.
If you’re good to actually make it to weekend brunch at M.B. Post, even better. You’ll have your choice of egg dishes, including the incredible Breakfast Frittata and the same Meyers’ Farm steak but with a sunny side up egg. Their Benedict incorporates the famous bacon cheddar biscuit and La Quercia prosciutto and truly makes me do a happy dance.
Either way, any time of day – even dinner – is prime time at M.B. Post, since there’s such a great selection and execution of small plates for every occasion.
Peep below for a slideshow of their brunch items:
Brunch: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday Nooner: 2 – 5 PM
Friday Nooner: 11:30 AM – 5:30 PM Nooner menu
1142 Manhattan Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266