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.
Let me take this first post in almost one month to deliver some pertinent upcoming event news. It’s now summer and thus, event season, here in sunny Southern California. Now that I’ve somewhat psychologically recovered from a huge picture-data dump from spilling a homemade cocktail all over my non-backed-up laptop, I’m finally ready to move into this crazy part of the year.
So here’s a rebirth of sorts; it’s an intentional start to the summer by tallying up the essential food events continuing into the fall (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is in September). One focuses on cocktails. One focuses on tacos. One focuses on ribs. Three are on the same day; thus, yes – I do wish that these were spread out, more. But practically all of them feature world-class chefs. So without further adieu, here’s where you need to be this summer:
Today’s the day. That is, the last day to get your tickets to this weekend’s events at L.A. Times’ The Taste before they go up in price! Also, there are some events (tomorrow night’s limited-capacity opening night, Flavors of L.A. and the weekend pass) that are sold out, so don’t snooze on it; get your tickets now while you can.
Silver Lake is an anomaly of sorts. It’s known as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, though some easter-siders might argue that its time has past and has already gone by way of the tourist. Take, for example, that there are many movie settings that tout Silver Lake, but not Echo Park, Mt. Washington or Boyle Heights.
Sunset Junction, to be specific, is the site of the Los Angeles coffee resurgence, but the quality of Silver Lake’s new restaurants haven’t really kept the pace of the other burgeoning neighborhood’s eateries. Instead, it continues to be stocked with local favorites in lieu of destination restaurants with nearby residents regularly filling covers – and Silver Lake definitely prefers it that way.
With all the different places I eat at from week to week – or more accurately, day to day – I can’t help but take note of the restaurant trends that follow the seasons. Of course, depending on your tastes, this could either be a welcomed opportunity or a temporary annoyance. (Though if you’ve never fallen for the Brussels sprouts or cupcake crazes, then you’re pretty much screwed since it doesn’t seem like either of them will be going anywhere, anytime soon.)
Recently, I came upon a few meals in a row where there was grapefruit in at least one dish. Since grapefruits are in season, and thus tasting especially fantastic right now, I had a fun time seeing and tasting what everyone did with the ingredient. And it’s not just in salads, anymore (though Tortilla Republic does a good job of it in their Ensalada de la Casa).
It was the acidic component in a sophisticated deli-style trout salad (Sadie Kitchen & Lounge). A complement to Vartan Abgaryan’s fantastic octopus-fennel salad as well as the shining star (along with Passion Fruit) in Matt Biancaniello’s Italian Greyhoud (Cliff’s Edge).
I ended up conducting the bulk of my really fun research time at Michael Voltaggio‘s Ink – thanks to both he and Gabriella Mlynarczykx – the latter of whom ended up with 5 pounds of grapefruit behind her bar, while the citrus abundance became inspiration for the former. Truth be told, Ink was the perfect site to explore the utmost creativity in both the kitchen and behind the stick with that singular ingredient. And the night before I conducted more fun research at Ink, Michael had actually just added a dish meant to be a riff on the dressed sashimi appetizer you’ve most likely seen at every Japanese restaurant. But this was, oh, so inspired.
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.
- Le Ka – $25, $45
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.
- Cliff’s Edge – $35 for dinner
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.
- RivaBella – $25 for lunch
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.
As foodists, we all have a little Francophile in us. Why not celebrate France’s Le Fête Nationale some place around town? Whether it’s to enjoy a couple Kir Royales outdoors under the canopy of the Farmer’s Market, playing Pétanque after having slurped a dozen oysters downtown, a dinner in an intimate French Bistro or out on a gorgeous patio, Bastille Day is a perfect excuse to get out and live it up. (As if you really needed a reason to eat French food, right?)
Check these special celebrations in and around town. Most are on Saturday, but Church & State has delayed their celebration til Sunday just for belated revelers:
Saturday, July 14th, 2012
Monsieur Marcel – Mid-City West, Santa Monica (Open 9 AM – 9 PM)
The little restaurant stand inside The Original Farmer’s Market is now also on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and ready to serve up cocktails for the holiday. Monsieur Marcel will be serving Kir Royales for $7.99 and Kir Normales for $6.99 each on the holiday. After all, you’ll have every reason to toast Felix Kira, a member of the French resistance, the French Parliament and eventual mayor of Dijon in Burgundy.
Prefer to celebrate with some eats? Start off with a French Onion Soup ($6.75) accompanied by a Frisée Salad with Feta Cheese and Hazelnuts ($13.75). Other options you’ll want to consider:
Niçoise Salad with Seared Ahi Tuna, Egg, and Lemon ($19.50)
Ham on Fleur de Sel Baguette with Cornichons and Radish ($15.95)
Moules Frites with Steamed Mussels and Fries ($19.25)
Steak Frites, a classic Hanger Steak with Fries ($19.50)
Duck Confit with Lentils and Kale ($27)
Crème Brûlée ($5)
Macarons, Fruit Tarts ($5-6)
Papilles – Hollywood
At Santos Uy and Tim Carey’s no-nonsense, curiously ambitious wine bistro, they’ll be celebrating Bastille Day with a three-course prix fixe menu for a bargain $30. Enjoy $12 carafes of natural French wines to further Two seatings (6-6:30 & 8-9 PM) are available, as is this menu:
- French Onion Soup or Frisée Salad with French Radishes
- Moules Frites or Steak Frites
- Camembert or Chocolate Mousse
And that shall take care of the all essentials – and then some. Be sure to call to reserve your seating.
Cliff’s Edge – Silver Lake
Celebrate the storming of Bastille with a menu by Ben Bailly on Saturday night while enjoying the patio at Cliff’s Edge – hands-down one of the most beautiful settings in LA. Choose from the following options for a 3-course delight ($45 per person):
- Frisee aux Lardons
poached egg, crispy bacon, bleu cheese, croutons
Escargot au Gratin
braised snails, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes
- Saumon a L’Orseille
Atlantic salmon, puy lentils salad, sorrel butter
Onglet a L’Echalote
Prime hangar steak, shallots sauce, roasted fingerling
- Apricot Tart, Vanilla Creme Brulee or Glacee & Sorbet
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Church & State – Downtown LA
11 AM – 3 PM
If you feel like extending your celebrating to daytime Sunday, Downtown LA’s stalwart French bistro, Church & State has got something just your speed.
Chef Jeremy Berlin will be offering assorted French sandwiches. Maître Écailler Christophe Happillon, will be on hand with his famous raw bar serving up not only oysters (!!!), but clams, crab, shrimp and accompaniments for you to enjoy throughout the day.
Sarah Clarke, Church & State’s Sommelier and Beverage Director has a special menu with a selection of French wines, artisan beers and new summer cocktails for guests to enjoy all afternoon as well. And when in Downtown LA, do as the French do, and play a little Pétanque. It’ll be a perfect way to casually celebrate, as there are “no reservations – just fun.”
Happy Bastille Day, wherever you’ll be! See you around town.
The Original Farmer’s Market
6333 W 3rd St #150
Los Angeles, CA
1260 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
6221 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
3626 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Church and State Bistro
1850 Industrial Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021