First Taste: Terrine, Whether For Dinner or Brunch, is a Delight

Charcuterie at Brunch

There have been a lot of openings as of late, and I’ve been lucky to catch a few, because it’s led to some not-so-surprisingly stellar food already enjoyed in the new year. Terrine was no exception during both visits I made: One dinner and one brunch, one week in from when these respective services were launched. Los Angeles has long-awaited this latest venture from Managing Partner Stephane Bombet and Chef Kris Morningstar, most recently of LACMA’s Ray’s & Stark Bar, and the early results show that the restaurant is actually living up to all the buzz.

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Open Sesame: Legit Lebanese on Beverly (Plus Giveaway)

Sultan’s Platter

In the old space that once housed Hatfield’s, then Eva Restaurant, is now an outpost of a successful Belmont Shores import. The new location of the Lebanese chainlet called Open Sesame is admirably strategic; it’s well north of other Mediterranean haunts on Pico but south of those in The Valley. It adds to the diversity of dining options on Beverly Boulevard, and from my experience a couple weeks ago, a viable choice for flavorful food which also doubles as healthful. Those seeking vegetarian, vegan or Halal compliant will be happy that this popped up in the neighborhood.

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Petty Cash Taqueria Bolsters Baja on Beverly

Aguachile en Molcajete

If the former Playa Rivera, as it stood on Beverly Boulevard, offered a somewhat intimidating Mexi-China concept for the price point at which it met its clientele, then perhaps Petty Cash Taqueria will benefit from all the lessons learnt. The menu is streamlined straight toward Baja, peppered with a beverage selection fit to satisfy the fussiest drinkers in LA. While quality ingredients are in the picture, that doesn’t begin to describe how well the tacos and flavor combinations are executed.

After all, who else would show the people of Hancock Park that a charred octopus taco is always what they’ve wanted?

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First Taste: Cooks County Serves Up Stellar Mains

Braised beef cheek, creamed corn & fresh flageolet bean salsa

With the Gastropub Category in Los Angeles having undergone some oversaturation the past couple of years, it’s easy to dismiss the incoming restaurants that effuse that now-cookie cutter, industrial feel, which may or may not serve as a backdrop for small plates served at communal tables.

Pacific Seafood Soup | Mussels, clams, shrimp & rockfish with wild fennel

It’s not to knock small plates. I’ve always been more a grazer than one to focus on the entrée at the center of my meal. I’m not knocking communal seating, either, since I far prefer bar seating myself. Yes, it’s also “farm-to-table,” as much as I loathe how hackneyed that term has become. But it doesn’t discount the restaurants where it’s actually a practiced philosophy – only at those where it’s feigned.

I guess what remains, then, is really how interesting these small plates are, from the appetizers to the medium dishes to the family-style roasts and main events. What the particular chef’s spin on savory might be. Yes, you can guarantee that there are beets and braised meats on the menu – but why come here as opposed to any of the other gastropubs in the city?

Tagliatelle | Braised rabbit, picholine olives & lemon zest

At least one answer would be its advantageous location on Beverly Blvd. Beyond that, though, my lone experience at Cook’s County was a surprisingly stellar one. With Chef Dan Mattern’s previous post being at AMMO (a place I always had a mind about revisiting more often than I have) and his citing Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton and Suzanne Goin as mentors in the kitchen, you’ll find the taste of his dishes reflecting his practice of utilizing fresh produce while highlighting the properties of each dish’s ingredients. Thankfully, no flavors are masked – just beautifully enhanced. Each dish stops just short of going too far but holds its own with each ingredient serving its purpose in the whole. The flavors pop.

Wood-grilled Duck Breast, Brussels Sprouts, Kabocha Squash & Almonds

I really enjoyed the bulk of the mains. The appetizers, which could have doubled as salads, had arugula weaving a common thread through them – though they were mostly tasty in and of their own. Next time, I might order just one under that column and be done with it. Or, I’ll go straight to the mains.

Though I wished the Pacific Seafood Soup was more soup than broth, it was because I was sopping up the last of whatever was in the bowl by the end of the night. Awesome, rich flavor. And it’s not like I haven’t seen Rabbit Tagliatelle before, but this rendition was tops. The freshly made pasta was no detail, and the rabbit was deliciously tender as was the lemon zest a nice seasoning.

Meyer Lemon Angel Pie

The braised beef cheeks were as heavenly as the bean salsa that topped it was unexpected. The accompanying tomatoes made for sweet, little bursts of flavor in the rich canvas. But the wood-grilled duck breast was exceptional. Granted, I do love brussel sprouts all around as I do kabocha squash, but I’d be hard-pressed to find duck that flavorful in all but a few restaurants around L.A.

There’s a modest international selection of beers available but a larger wine list for vinos. I can appreciate the simple menu at Cook’s County, because I’m a believer in too much selection abetting too much indecision (personal quirk). It lends an appreciation for the focus it takes to perfect those delicious mains.

And, they do lunch and brunch. Those are certainly now on my to-do list. I hope Cooks County is here to stay. Though gastropubs are now a dime-a-dozen, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. It may be named after the county which seats Chicago, but Beverly Boulevard and Hancock Park can be proud (and on the weekends, they can be proud until 1 AM).

P.S. – Don’t forget dessert. That Angel Pie was divine.

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Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30 – 2:30 PM
Brunch: Sat – Sun, 10 AM – 3 PM
Dinner: Sun – Thu, 6 – 11 PM
Fri – Sat, 6 PM – 1 AM

Cooks County
8009 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.653.8009

The Weekend Brunch at Playa Rivera: Modern & Elegant Southwestern

Huevos Polenta ($11)

There may be many a nightowl in the circles I run, but I still can’t remember the last time I heard or read about breakfast. Brunch is the meal of leisure over sustenance and a time when friends can order eggs or sandwiches. Brunch makes it okay to drink before noon. And brunch brings purpose to sleeping in on a weekend morning.

Blue Corn Muffins

Enter Playa Rivera, Chef John Sedlar’s newest venture in the space that was formerly Grace. While dinner service may be pricey for some, Playa’s brunch menu (in lieu of happy hour) is a great foray into Sedlar’s Santa Fe-influenced cuisine. Entrees range from $10-15, with no shortage of the chef’s artistic expression – or cinematic appreciation, for that matter (you may find a scene from Clockwork Orange beneath your Tamal).

But do not start with the entree. The don’t-miss at Playa Rivera’s brunch is the blue corn muffins, which are made with organic cornmeal and furnished with almond butter (I could’ve spread that butter on anything). And if you do order a cocktail, be sure you look at Julian Cox’s full selection before you autopilot that bloody mary or mimosa. The sangria is no ordinary sangria, but a complex cocktail with a hint of sour. It’s so good!

Duck Hash ($14)

As for the entrees, I have resigned to the fact that in early-day weekend meals, eggs are king. In a recent episode of “Ladies Who Brunch” at Playa, I sorely wished that my Croque Monsieur Senor was a Senorita. The layers of chorizo and queso in each bite were really good, but when the eggs on three other plates waver at you with their perfectly poached, sunny and easy yolks, you can’t help but become envious.

The duck hash was one such example as two round eggs stood against a colorful plate of potatoes, delicious dark meat and arugula. It was as beautiful a display of savory as it was tasty.

For those more Santa Fe-inclined, go with one of the red chile-laden dishes, such as the Huevos Polenta. Once I was finished with my sandwich, I couldn’t help but steal spoonful after spoonful of Maya’s dish. Sedlar’s red chile really is that good, and dare I include “authentic.” (I am no expert, though I did enjoy a blitz in chile education during a weekend trip to Santa Fe with other food bloggers a year ago, in which we were lucky enough to observe Sedlar in his native environmental and culinary elements.) Ladled over the top of a bed of polenta, the red chile just makes for a super delicious soup.

Ice Cream Sundae ($7)

If you’re feeling like a tamale, you can enjoy that same red chile atop the Tamal – that of which are topped by some beautiful, sunny-side up eggs. Yes, you get the Clockwork Orange mural, as well. (In the latest series of dish art at Playa, expect a controversial radioactive theme – an homage to the chef’s native New Mexico.)

But just like the muffins, you best not miss dessert. The Sundae comes with a blue corn chocolate chip on a jar with goat’s milk ice cream, cocoanibs, hazelnuts as well as hazelnut syrup. If the blue corn muffins were mind-blowing, the dessert rendition is really the icing on the blue corn cake.

With just one experience under my belt, Playa Rivera brunch is in the ranks of being one of my favorite brunches in town. It won’t break the bank and isn’t one of your standard issue pancake-waffle breakfasts over mimosas. Not that those are necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to change the pace – and the cuisine – when the results come out this good.

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Brunch: Sat – Sun

10 AM – 2 PM

Playa Rivera
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.933.5300

@playarivera

New Chef and New Menu Bring New Favorites at Petrossian

Truffle Fontina Agnolotti | Asparagus, Mushrooms, Parmesan Foam, Prosciutto

The other night, I again had the privilege of visiting Petrossian on Robertson – the caviar boutique that doubles as a dining hotspot with a clean and casual ambiance. I know the space well from my numerous visits to Chef Benjamin Bailly and have even had the honor of judging a cold soup Dine LA Quickfire Challenge (recap) held in the boutique area.

But things have changed since the end of Chef Bailly’s year-long tenure as Executive Chef. He has moved on to Fraiche in Culver City and now, Giselle Wellman has taken over the kitchen. She has some big names on her resume, including New York’s Del Posto and most recently Beverly Hills’ Bouchon. Armed with just a basic pasta recipe by Tony DiSalvo, she taught herself how to make 20 kinds of pasta at his Jack’s La Jolla for the purposes of its reopening as an Italian restaurant – quite a feat that would be perfected by working in Mario Batali’s kitchen thereafter.

Smoked Sturgeon Risotto | Chive, Apple, Pressed caviar

And the agnolotti that I had at Petrossian happened to be my favorite dish of the evening. The house-made pasta was tender and the filling was perfectly cooked – with fontina being one of my favorite cheeses, of course. The pasta was topped with perfect prosciutto, accompanied by fresh asparagus and extremely flavorful mushrooms while finished off with a further savory, non-frivolous parm foam. Everything in this dish worked together extremely well in no small part by top-notch ingredients and good execution. Not bad for a chef in her new kitchen. (She still has Ben’s pistachio creme for the Pistachio Creme Brulee.)

My second favorite dish of the evening was the Smoked Sturgeon Risotto with pressed caviar cooked into the dish in order to fully integrate the eggs’ flavors. The topping of sliced apple slices was an elegant, sweet reprieve from the rich risotto. Everything on the plate made for a really delicious combination while the risotto itself was amazingly complex in its richness. If I weren’t so full, I might have licked the plate.

Of course, we had to have dessert and with a vendor like Petrossian and their delicious chocolates, it’d be premature to leave their dining room without having done so. Giselle was especially excited about her on-theme espresso pearls, which, of course, look like caviar. She showed us a video of her making them by dropping the espresso mixture into clear liquid with an eye-dropper. The result? A glorious topping to spread over panna cotta.

Vanilla Panna Cotta | Espresso Beads, Cardamom Shortbreads

The beads weren’t especially potent but they were indeed novel and well, espresso goes extremely well with vanilla. The cardamom shortbreads had good spice and were a nice, crunchy side note. This is definitely my go-to dessert at Petrossian.

Overall, I was impressed with Giselle’s new but solid menu – especially given that she just moved in a few weeks ago. It seems like she’s fitting in well into the space at Petrossian and will continue to evolve in that space, given her unbridled passion for cooking. I can’t wait to revisit to try more dishes, which she’ll have time to perfect. The blogger-friendly boutique-restaurant hybrid has great things to look forward to.

Also, Petrossian is participating in Dine LA (going through Friday this week and Sunday – Friday, January 30 – February 4 next week). Fortunately, the risotto, agnolotti and espresso panna cotta I’ve mentioned are all on that menu so this is the opportune time to try them out.

All food and wine were hosted.

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Mon – Fri: 11 AM – 10 PM
Sat: 10 AM – 10 PM
Sun: 10 AM – 4 PM
Happy Hour: Mon – Sat, 4 to 7 PM

Petrossian Restaurant & Boutique
321 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048-2415
310.271.6300

Eva Restaurant Launches Holiday Sunday Brunch

Interior of Eva with waiter (probably making refills on mimosas)

Snow season has started, which means many weekends away at Mammoth for me. And if there weren’t a storm this weekend, I know where I would certainly be on Sunday. But it looks like I’ll have to save Mark Gold’s Sunday Eva brunch for next week with the girls. I have a lot to look forward to.

For only $29, you’ll get to have two courses of Mark’s delicious food – in addition to unlimited mimosas, which they present as the “main course.” Fair enough. Check out your non-liquid choices in the menu below:

first course:

fresh fruit: pear, apple, tangerine from the market

salad: organic greens, emulsified vinaigrette

granola: house made, dried fruits

second course:

a sandwich: pain de mi, organic eggs, smoked bacon, avocado, buttered onions

a piece of meat: prime steak, organic eggs, roast potato, salsa verde

an omlette: fine herbs, braised artichoke, crème fraiche

some bread: brioche french toast, warm maple syrup, french butter, nothing else!

for vegetarians: hand crafted tofu, roasted matsutake mushroom, smoked sesame seed, seaweed salad

fish: a piece of white fish, potato pancakes, capers, lemon

main course: unlimited mimosas!

The seafood and vegetarian option will be changing weekly throughout the holidays. Got some little ones with you? Eva, so named after Chef Gold’s 2 1/2 year-old, will also serve a kids menu that will include French Toast and Build-your-own Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Looks like Eva, known for being one of the most delicious bangs for your Los Angeles buck, is continuing to live up to their reputation. Brunch is served!

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Sundays during the holidays

Brunch: 10 AM – 1 PM

Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.634.0700

Dominick’s Introduces New Fall Cocktail Menu

Dominick's Bar

Sometimes, it’s not enough that you get a strong pour from the bar. You want that bar to be worth your time as you enjoy your drink. Fortunately, Dominick’s has not one but a couple beautiful bars (a smaller one is just outside on their newly re-done patio) at which you can sip – and it’s a perfect setting within which to try their new fall cocktail menu. Much of what was there in 1948 is still at Dominick’s now, and the place has the charm and hospitality to match.

Is West Hollywood not your speed? No problem – just hop on over to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz, where for the first time, they’ll also be featuring the same cocktail menu as Dominick’s. I was a latecomer to a preview first started off by Caroline on Crack, Daniel of Thirsty in LA and Aaron, the Savory Hunter, but got some pretty tasty sips in and deemed the Scotch Leaf my favorite original cocktail of theirs.

Find the menu below with their explanations. My notes (if any) follow each cocktail.

  • Scotch Leaf ($12) with Famous Grouse Scotch, Maple Bitters, Maple, Egg White, Lemon and Orange Peel 

It was probably the maple bitters that really did it for me. The egg white wasn’t too obvious and I love how everything just really worked with the Scotch.

Italian 75
  • Dom’s Manhattan ($13) with Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye, Carpano Antica, Angostura Bitters and Amarena Cherry

Not the best executed Manhattan I’ve had (pretty watery) but it paled so much in comparison to the others that I’ll call it a fluke.

  • Southside ($12) with Damrak Gin, Cucumber Slices, Basil Leaves, Simple Syrup and Lemon served up with a skewer of Cucumber and Basil (Didn’t get to try, so here are Dominick’s notes:)

This drink was created in the early 1920s by the Mob on the south side of Chicago. The gin at the time was not as palatable due to prohibition, so mint and/or basil and lemon were used to cover up the flavor. Dominick’s version uses basil and cucumber and a very floral gin, Damrak, from Amsterdam.

Patio at Dominick's
  • Pink Elephant ($12) with Plymouth Gin, Lime, Simple Syrup, Triple Sec and Raspberry served on the rocks with a skewer of Lime and a pink elephant Tiki garnish

Basing my assumption on the color (a bright pink), I thought this would be a sweet drink but I was pleasantly surprised at how nuanced it really was. It had just enough Triple Sec and Raspberry to compliment the juniper in the gin. Delicious. Apparently, it’s meant to replace the Raspberry Lemonade from summertime, and I’d say it’s a great adaptation.

  • Italian 75 ($11) with Plymouth Gin, Dimmi (winter wheat spirit w/Nebbiolo grappa infused w/peach & apricot blossoms), Lemon and Simple Syrup topped with Prosecco and a Grapefruit Peel
El Matador

This would easily be my mimosa replacement at any brunch time. So much more complex and even refreshing, with the absence of weighty orange juice.

  • El Matador ($12) with Crème Yvette, Ginger, Simple, Lemon, El Jimador Silver Tequila and Orange Bitters, served on the rocks with a flamed Orange Zest garnish
  • The solid tequila cocktail stalwart of the bunch. Very delicious and a great introduction – you’ll be hard-pressed to find another tequila cocktail that goes down smoother.

So head on over to Dominick’s or Little Dom’s and taste the new fall cocktails we were lucky to enjoy. They’re really good and with the charming atmosphere and neighborhood vibe, you just can’t lose.

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Dominick’s
8715 Beverly Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90048
310.652.2335

Little Dom’s
2128 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323.661.0055

Eva Restaurant Hosts Weiser Family Farms Dinner To Benefit Share Our Strength: September 15, 2010

Eva Restaurant (not on menu for event)

Mark Gold is at it, again. This time, Eva will be hosting a special one-night engagement with Share Our Strength to showcase produce from Weiser Family Farms. Also included in the 4-course, prix fixe menu will be wine pairings by Robert Oatley and special, eco-friendly cocktails with Veev acai spirit.

I can’t think of a better way to enjoy great, locally sourced food with wine – while fighting childhood hunger all at the same time.

Make your reservation soon. If you’ve ever been to Eva (and tried Mark Gold’s food) you’ll know that space is very limited.

Here’s the menu:

Potato with clam
Cod with caponata
Chicken with charred onion
Chocolate with chocolate

I’ll see you there!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

4 courses with wine pairings + Veev cocktails
Call to reserve, space is limited

$65

Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.634.0700

Petrossian’s New Cocktail Menu and the Caviar-tini

The Caviar-tini ($18)

If one could eat luxury, one should also be allowed to drink it, too. Petrossian in West Hollywood thought as much as they recently have expanded their liquor license and integrated vodka flutes and cocktails into their menu. It may be as obvious to bacon lovers as bacon salt; for caviar lovers, Petrossian created the Caviar-tini.  

Thank you.

Salmon Sandwich | Capers, Caviar, Onions, Mixed Green Salad

Two and a half ounces of vodka with a half ounce of dry vermouth and maybe a dash of orange or Angostura bitters are the martini, but the skewer with 1 Petrossian caviar-stuffed olive, a cocktail onion and 1 Petrossian Caviarcubeâ„¢ – essentially caviar pressed into a cube – make it the Caviar-tini. It was the perfect amount of dirtiness. I saved the skewer for the last few martini sips and found my patience rewarded me well.

There are other cocktail options like their Basil Gimlet ($12), Vodka Sunrise ($12) and Russian Cider ($12). (Don’t worry – there’s also a Cosmopolitan [$14] for you Carrie-types.) Their Hibiscus Champagne ($12) will remain available – just don’t forget to eat the flower, too. If you were thinking straight-up, choose a vodka flute of the European variety from Beluga or Russian Standard Premium (Russia), Linie Aquavit (Norway) or of course Jean Marc XO (France). Belvedere and Chopin are your Polish options.

Chef Ben Bailly’s menu is reason enough to get you in the door – now you can wash down each bite of his dishes with a complementary, caviar-topped cocktail. Because you don’t need vermouth to make a martini dirty.

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Mon – Fri: 11 AM – 10 PM
Sat: 10 AM – 10 PM
Sun: 10 AM – 4 PM
Happy Hour: Mon – Sat 4 to 7 PM

Petrossian Boutique & Restaurant
321 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
310.271.0576