Sometimes, you don’t want something fancy, high-maintenance or completely out of the ordinary when you’re hungry, but you can always appreciate a reliably delicious, no-nonsense lunch at the ready.
Enter TWIST, a new eatery on La Brea, which has some pretty tasty selections that you’ll enjoy in a tasteful, slate and wood-tinged dining room with just enough industrial and cheery, yellow accents. Already a popular lunch spot, it’s easy to see why as the deli selections include a refreshing mint-beet salad, sumptuous greek orzo, spicy whole grain chicken salad and a subtly sweet chickpea and carrot salad. Since I’ve always been a “sides” kind of person, this is right up my alley.
One night, after an outing somewhere in Downtown LA, Caroline had a need to cleanse her palate with a little something that would ultimately wash away all the dissatisfying drinks we everyone else had consumed earlier that night. (I had gotten there late and benefited from the experience of those who were punctual and who found their cocktails too sweet and frankly sub-par. I ordered Highland Park 12, neat.)
We were done and I might have gone straight home to crash, but instead decided to accompany Caroline. A few tweets later and we were set to drop by Drago Centro – especially since it was known that Michael Shearin would be there. Though now set for next week (delayed from a date this week because of filming schedules – ohhh, LA…), Caroline and I wanted to possibly get a peep at drinks that are to debut as the collective Spring Cocktail Menu. It is set to debut next Wednesday, to be exact, and Michael indulged us in a couple of them – without names but with ingredients. Sweet. Caroline did a fantabulous write-up including names she made up for the cocktails themselves – so let’s defer to L.A. Weekly’s Best Drinking Blog of 2009, shall we? Just remember to get the sneak preview for the Spring menu next Wednesday, April 14th all day – all new drinks will be only $6 each.
While Michael – by choice or not – accompanied us while we sat at the bar, Chef de Cuisine Ian Gresik greeted us and sent out beautiful mini iron pans of peas, gnocchi and crispy sweetbreads. They were perfectly savory and had just the perfect amount of salt. The gnocchi were tender but had good flavor and great bite. Since this was my third stop this night, I panicked a bit that Chef Gresik would send out more food, but was consoled when Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz had also come out to visit us and decided to grace us with her beautiful desserts as our edible night cap. Michael Shearin had us covered with our liquid ones.
And out came trays of 3 desserts each – which coincidentally were the first 3 on the dessert menu but couldn’t have covered ourÂ sweets palateÂ more diversely. The light, fruit-adorned one intrigued me in that I had never had grapefruit for dessert, before. But there the sour fruit was, in all its glory while accompanying tiny biscuits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cake, Avocado Mousse and even Basil Gelato. It was aromatic, light and refreshing. The delicious, clear pink chips of Campri candy were the icing on the cake, as Pastry Chef Jashmine had apparently collaborated with Michael to use them as garnishes for both dessert and cocktail – so definitely look for this candy garnish on the new Spring cocktail menu.
And oh, the budino! No, this isn’t the famed Osteria Mozza budino – but it’s practically as good and aesthetically elegant, to boot. The chocolate custard was the close-your-eyes heavenly centerpiece and the caramel gelato put the dessert over the top in sinful delight. The pecans gave the dish good weight and crunchy texture while the date carpaccio framed it well.
As for the I Bomboloni – it’s the dessert for doughnut lovers, everywhere. The doughy holes were a perfect, airy texture while the brown butter ice cream was savory-sweet. The tiny chopped-up apples with cinnamon brought me back to my favorite apple pie but the amaretto caramel added a note of sophistication to the dish. Mmm.
So next time you go to Drago Centro – whether for a full-on tasting menu or just a night cap – remember to not skip dessert. I was very much impressed, especially for someone with a penchant for salt-over-sweet. The desserts here are a sleeper in Downtown LA, and Jashmine Corpuz has the talent and imagination to keep your experience at Drago interesting through the very end…
Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM Dinner: Mon – Sat, 5 PM – 10:30 PM Now Open Sundays: 5 PM – 9 PM
Drago Centro 525 S. Flower Street Los Angeles, CAâ€Ž 90071 213.228.8998â€Ž
Los Angeles is a perfect city in which to eat – whether it entails having access to the cuisines of countless ethnicities or healthful options that honor our moral obligations. There’s a tricky thing, however, about desserts for vegans – most of which incorporate butters, understandably, into their recipes. LA vegans have reason to rejoice, though, with ever more plentiful options to get their sweet tooth on around town:
Kiss My Bundt (Mid-Town)
Kiss My Bundt offers vegan red velvet on Fridays and Saturdays as well as vegan chocolate on Saturdays. They may be vegan, but they certainly don’t look nor taste like they’re in shortage of any sort of ingredient. Incredibly moist and delicious, the red velvet will never let on what you’re missing…it’ll be a secret between you and your bundt. And if you’d like a sizeable order (6 mini-bundts or more), the vegan bundts are available any time of the week. What are you waiting for?
The Bakery at Akasha has a few options available for vegans at their storefront. Pick from chocolate cupcakes, tarts and cookies – or go for their meyer lemon scone. If you’re seeing a movie across the street, best come early and buy a few treats to sneak into the theatre – it sure beats the $8 popcorn at the concession stand!
Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Glaze & Vanilla Icing – $3.25 ea Salty Chocolate Pecan Tart and Rustic Apple Tart – $4.75 ea Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle Cookies – $1.50 ea Meyer Lemon Scones – $2.50 ea
Bakery at Akasha 9543 Culver Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232-2618 310.845.1700
Babycakes (Downtown Los Angeles)
Los Angeles vegans rejoiced when Babycakes came toÂ us from New York – to set up shopÂ in the historic Pacific Electric lofts downtown. Not only could you get a french dip at Cole’s and a cocktail at The Varnish – you could also get dessert nearby. There are a lot of vegan options here (loaf? cookie sandwich? macaroon?)Â with a variety of flavors:
Vanilla Cupcake with Zesty Lemon Frosting – $4.25 Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf – $3.65/slice (Check the recipe from Glutenfreebird.com) Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Sandwich with Vanilla Filling – $5.00 Cinnamon & Sugar Toasties – $3.75/slice Vanilla Macaroons – $1.50 each
Babycakes 130 E. 6th St. (between Main & Los Angeles) Los Angeles, CA 90014 213.623.5555