Twenty-One Reasons to dineL.A.: January 19 – February 1, 2015

Lobster Roll – Blue Plate Oysterette

DineL.A. is back and it’s time to scour the menus of participating restaurants all over town. I’ve come up with some reasons to jet to a particular dining establishment near you, whether for lunch or for dinner. Some restaurants offer exclusive dishes to dineL.A., others are offering a particularly enticing lunch and/or dinner menu. There are also participants that might normally be out of your price range or sense of adventure, but dineLA might just be the right occasion to give them a try.

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First Moments at Curtis Stone’s Maude

Chicken Terrine, Pain Perdu, Dijon Mustard Ice Cream

A reservation at the tasting menu-only Maude will present you with 9 courses, with the first course actually being a series of precious but oh-so-delicious bites. Expect to be here from 3 – 3.5 hours. Naturally, you’ll have a conversation with the server about your allergies and preferences, to tailor your meal to you. Here are my foremost thoughts on my experience:

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A Hotel Rooftop For All Occasions

SLS Hotel’s Altitude Pool

We’ve had quite a heat wave lately, but as it cools off (as much as it does here in Los Angeles, anyway), you’re probably going to want to spend one of these lazy days enjoying the view. Sure, there’s not as much urgency to the end of summer because we’re in lovely, if sometimes scorching, Southern California, but there are some great specials around town that are incentive to enjoy the weekend or evening panorama. Discover a new scene with opportunities like Sunday suppers, pop-up vendors and wine happy hours.

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Scarpetta’s $8 Until 8 Happy Hour Launches Today

Scarpetta Happy Hour

It doesn’t get much simpler than 8 dishes and 8 cocktails for $8 each (until 8PM, that is) at Scarpetta, who just launched their brand new happy hour on Mondays through Saturdays. The great part is that the special goes for 4 hours, from 4 until 8 PM.

Of course, this means that you’re pretty much susceptible to get reeled in to their famous spaghetti, but that’s if you don’t get full on these bites, which really hold their value. A jar full of delicious chicken liver pate? Lobster croquettes served with saffron aioli? Mascarpone ravioli and sliders filled with porchetta? All these bites by Freddy Vargas pretty awesome, and vegetarians will love that they can enjoy 4 of the total 8 bar bites – just peep the menu.

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Enjoying Scarpetta Classics at the Chefs Counter

Scarpetta Spaghetti

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.

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Sotto: An Amaro Wonderland in Los Angeles

Dux di Lux – Luxardo Bitter, fresh lime, dry vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, egg white, housemade amaro “Sotto-pop”

With amaro cocktails being really popular right now – and with good reason – you can count on there being one to three of them on the menu of any semi-serious bar program. But I can’t think of any other bar that even compares to how Julian Cox’s program at Sotto has really advanced the cocktail classification in Los Angeles.

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The Little Truffle Maker Cocktail Kicks Off 16-Course Black Truffle Dinner at SAAM, The Bazaar

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.

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Kate Mantilini Celebrates 25 Years With New Cocktail Menu

Table 24

There are some restaurants in Los Angeles that have achieved a sort of double-edged iconic status. Their names have been cemented in history due to the decades of their resilience – a resulting longevity which suggests, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Yet. We can all agree that the definition of “ain’t broke,” or “competent,” has evolved in regards to the way we have grown to consider cocktails today, which is in itself a wonderful thing. Kate Mantelini, a place that is all at once regarded as a Beverly Hills “coffee shop” [Zagat], power lunch hub and pinpoint on every star map in existence, has effectively shed their 1980s-era defunct ways of creating and enjoying cocktails thanks to the new menu by Devon Espinoza.

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My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Picks for Winter, 2013: January 21 – February 1

Braised Beef Cheek, Taleggio Pureed Potatoes, Chanterelles

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Also, what a joyous second inauguration day. In this case, it also means the very first day of dineLA Restaurant Week. If you haven’t, already, you best be making your reservations right now – or better yet, take advantage of your day off and find your prix fixe destination for lunch today.

I’ve done a bit of perusing the incredibly extensive list of restaurants and their offered menus around the city and came up with a few categories that struck me. With 3-course prix fixe as the standard, here are some standout menu offerings the week starting today, Monday, January 21 – Friday, February 1:

Best Opportunity to Try New Chef at Venue

Not new chefs by any definition (in fact, the tenure of this group is impressive especially by L.A. standards) – just new venues.

I associate my first experiences with potted rillettes, headcheese and pates in L.A. with Remi Lauvand, and he’s now at Le Ka, having just opened last September. Downtown workers can get their feet wet on the $25 lunch menu, but interesting dinner menu items include escargot cavatelli, lamb’s tongue and scallops with lentils and chicken skin – some things that may be too good to pass up.

With Vartan Abgaryan now serving at a venue in possession of one of the most enviable patios in Silver Lake, I can’t help but simply displace the delicious plates he was just serving at Public Kitchen & Bar and imagine them enjoyed in outdoor dim lighting surrounded by foliage. Sure, he’s changed up a few things, but I’ve always been a fan of his octopus.

Just a week ago, IDG’s RivaBella just started serving dinner in its brand-new, 8,000 square foot space, basically the antithesis of Angelini Osteria. You’ll have to settle for lunch if you want to do Restaurant Week here, but if Gino Angelini’s pasta (such as a green pappardelle in ragu) is part of the 3-course offering, that will always do.

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Get Out the Vote: Election Day Food & Drink Specials Around Los Angeles

Tavern Red State Burger – Pork, pork, pork, Manchego, Romesco

As November 6th rolls up, we’re reminded, again and again, that the best reason to vote is to realize our civic duty. We, as a society, have been preparing for next Tuesday for a long time (Californians, with all our propositions, you know what I’m talking about). Decisions will be made as a collective whether or not we decide to personally participate, so why not embrace it?

Whether you take-away a savory dinner to enjoy at home or await the returns in camaraderie at one of the viewing parties, your “I Voted” sticker will score some points with your taste buds and your wallet anywhere around town. If you voted absentee, perhaps you’ll want to carry your stub or some other proof with you so you can make your case. Check below for a deal near you:

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