People Do Walk in LA: Go Metro to dineLA Restaurant Week (July 16 – 27, 2012)

Salmon, Pea Risotto, Shaved Chorizo & Yuzu at Haven Gastropub (Pasadena)

Times: They are a-changin’. So much so, that I’ve grown to love my neighborhood – even after some growing pains – for its walkability to certain things, including the Los Angeles Metro Red Line.

Now the fact that this summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week (which started yesterday) has been scheduled for the very first time in one block instead of only on the weekdays, makes for good incentive to diners to capitalize on the Metro rails and the destinations to which they flow. What better way to enjoy your wine or cocktails with dinner than to finish the trek home liability-free? (Perhaps you’ll want to make a reservation on the the last day of dineLA – the very first day the Metro runs until 2 AM, on July 27 – and make that one a late night?)

For the n00bs, lunches range from $15, $20 or $25 while dinners vary from $25, $35 or $45 for a 3-course prix fixe meal. It’s all so simple. Look below for some of my dineLA Restaurant Week recommendations along the Metro – all sorted according to the rail lines along which they are situated. (Sorry, Westsiders – you have Beverly Hills to blame for your dearth of rails.)

Expo Line

Sang  Yoon’s Lukshon (3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City) in  the  Helms  Bakery  building (one  block  east  of the  elevated  Culver  City  Station)  blends  stand-out  design  with modern  takes  on South-East  Asian  fare in the form of shared, small plates. Try the Hawaiian butterfish: half inch slices of melty cured fish layered just so and finished with slivers of pretty pink
watermelon radish and nahm jim, a coarse, nutty Thai sauce.

Steamed Black Cod, Lukshon

Nearby is one of the stalwarts of Downtown Culver City, Chef Ben Ford’s Filling Station (9531 Culver Boulevard, Culver City), with classic, non-nonsense American pub fare with an seen-and-be-scene outdoor patio with views of passers-by and available dineLA lunch and dinner menus. Or stop in at Akasha (9543 Culver Boulevard, Culver City) for dinner, with some farmer’s market-fresh, contemporary American fare offering unexpected twists on otherwise-classic dishes.

On the other end of the Expo  Line  is  the  brand new & highly anticipated  Mo-chica (514 W. 7th  St., Downtown),  whose  playful  and inviting  space  is  located  just  a  few  blocks  east  of  the  7th  Street/Metro  Station.  The  newest  restaurant (or re-location from Mercado Paloma, depending on who you ask) from 2011  Food & Wine  Best  New  Chef  and  owner  Ricardo  Zarate  is  loaded  with  playful  design  details including colorful  ekeko  figurines  decorated  by  chef  friends  of Zarate. Try the sun  dried  potato  stew with peanuts  and  chimichurri and bisteck a la pobre (skirt  steak with  fried  egg  and  pan fried  bananas).

Gold Line

Stop  one  is  Maison Akira  (713 E. Green St.,  Pasadena)  where  chef  Akira  Hirose  has  been  quietly  crafting modern  Japanese -French  fare  for  almost  14  years.  This  gorgeous  restaurant with butter  yellow  walls, is a healthy walk from Lake Station. But when you dine, you’ll definitely want to choose the tempura soft shell crab served atop wasabi potato mousseline.

Oyster Plate, Aburiya Toranoko

Haven Gastropub (42  S.  De  Lacey  Ave.,  Pasadena),  which  opened  last  December,  is  just  a  few  blocks  further  south on  the  other  side  of Colorado.  With forty beers on tap including a handful of in-house brews, Haven is happiness for beer lovers. But the excellent food will surprise you. Try Chef Greg Daniel’s deviled eggs made with smoked serrano powder and topped with Maldon smoked sea salt and crumbled, house-made bacon (on the lunch menu). For dinner, try their flavorful lamb burger finished with onion jam and tzatziki sauce.

At the opposite end of the Gold Line in Little Tokyo, is Aburiya Toranoko (243 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo) – four blocks Southwest of the stop on Alameda and a pleasant walk past Japanese Village Plaza. Snap up one of the all-time lunch favorites during dineLA Restaurant Week, such as their bento box. At dinner, a ten ounce New York steak with garlic soy will do just fine.

Red Line

A five minute walk from the Hollywood and Vine station lies Papilles (6221 Franklin Ave., Hollywood)  at  Argyle  and  Franklin. If you’re not keen on them already, don’t let the strip  mall deceive you when it comes to this quaint little bistro with one of the simplest yet satisfying menus. Go prix fixe as per usual in this quaint spot, which hosts just a dozen tables in its cozy dining room complete with low ceiling, red  walls and open kitchen. For dineLA Restaurant Week, choose from dishes such as roast hanger steak with potato gratin and shelling beans, or market fresh fish with red quinoa and roasted corn slaw. Don’t forget the wine, as Santos Uy has just the perfect pour to complement the excellent food by Chef Tim Carey.

The back patio at Sadie

Try Cleo (717 Vine Street, Hollywood) inside the fabulous Redbury Hotel, which serves up Mediterranean fare for dineLA dinner. Start off with two enticing appetizers before indulging in the Chicken Tagine or the Grilled Daurade. You’ll be enjoying the best of what Hollywood has to offer – trends and tastes to tantalize your tastebuds – all for $35 prix fixe. It’s one of the glitziest places in Hollywood, much less LA.

At Sadie Restaurant (1638 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood) by the Hollywood and Highland station, you’ll get the best of both the food and cocktail worlds thanks to food by Mark Gold and cocktails by Giovanni Martinez. Enjoy their Parlor Room, Lounge, or beautifully lit back patio for a customizable dining experience – all areas with elegance to spare. Start off with the Basil Risotto topped with olive oil-poached baby tomatoes. You’ll have trouble deciding your main entree, whether it be Ocean Water Poached Scottish Salmon with “hazelnut brown butter” or the Creek Stone Beef Shortrib, complete with potato creameux and roasted forest mushrooms.

Blue Line

Flan de Elote, Rivera

For dineLA lunch or dinner, stop by Rivera (1050  S.  Flower  St., Downtown), John  Sedlar’s  gorgeous, modern Latin eatery across the  street from  Pico  Station. Stellar food and cocktails (by Julian Cox) align at this stalwart Los Angeles establishment with no lack of sophistication in any of the senses. Try the  handmade, crisp corn cones  filled  with  fresh crab salad  and  finished with a tequila chipotle vinaigrette. Order the sous vide beef shank with roasted summer vegetables or the Agave-roasted duck.

Corkbar (403 W. 12th St., Downtown), just a few blocks east, is a solid wine bar with great food to complement the all-Californian list. What better way to take dineLA local than to drink the finest wines in the state. Chef Thomas Lamont’s dineLA Restaurant Week menu  features  house  made  corned  beef  brisket  sandwich with  pickled  cabbage  and  steamed  mussels with linguini.

Purple Line

There’s no better time to revisit Water Grill  (544  S.  Grand  Ave.,  Downtown), around  the  corner  from  Pershing  Square  Station, since it has just undergone a facelift with more casual but hip sights in mind. New are chocolate leather booths and a wall of antique fishing rods. But the constant, thankfully, is the beautiful raw bar. Try Chef Damon Gordon’s pan seared skate, finished with brown butter, red grapes and arugula. Perhaps the pan sautéed wild sockeye salmon with asparagus chutney and raw asparagus salad is more your speed. No matter what, your seafood craving will go more than satisfied.

Border Grill Downtown LA (445 S. Figueroa St., Downtown) always feels like a party, thanks to its festive interior and buzzing vibe. Just a short walk from 7th Street/Metro Station, Border Grill is featuring grilled local yellowtail with seared greens and quinoa. Vegetarians will appreciate and love their  take on chilaquiles on the lunchtime  restaurant  week  menu. Think tomatillo salsa and melted panela cheese draped over asparagus, fresh fava beans, artichoke hearts and a happy mix of soft and crispy chips. It’s summer!

Bar | Kitchen (819 S. Flower Street, Downtown) is one of my favorite places in LA for a cocktail and a bone luge, so why not pony on up to their lunch or dinner menu for some Shrimp & Grits for lunch or Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop for dinner? Just a block away from the 7th & Metro station, this stellar restaurant inside the O Hotel is just what you need for some instant satisfaction.

 ***

So enjoy dineLA, Los Angeles. The plethora of options can definitely be overwhelming, but as with anything, a little bit of online research will go a long way. Just use this map for your convenience (bravo, dineLA, on the re-design!), keeping in mind that not all places offer lunch. And remember, whenever you can: Go Green! And Go Metro!

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Lukshon
3239 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232

Ford’s Filling Station
9531 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

AKASHA
9543 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

@akashacc

Mo-chica
514 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Maison Akira
713 E Green St
Pasadena, CA 91101

Haven Gastropub
42 S De Lacey Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105

Aburiya Toranoko
243 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Papilles
6221 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Cleo in The Redbury Hotel
717 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Sadie Restaurant
1638 N Las Palmas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Rivera
1050 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Corkbar
403 W 12th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Water Grill
544 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Border Grill Downtown LA
445 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Bar | Kitchen
819 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Dine LA Video ft. Acura, Petrossian, Street, Church & State and Me

dineLA’s Acura Tour of the City from Evan Romoff on Vimeo.

Last month, I was asked by Dine LA, a non-profit subsidiary of the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and coordinator of LA Restaurant Week, to shoot a little video on featuring a few restaurants around town. Honored by the consideration, I accepted, and had quite a fun time being driven around in a brand-new Acura TSX Wagon (with Acura being sponsor of the project).

We visited Petrossian on Robertson in West Hollywood, Street by Susan Feniger in Hancock Park and Church & State in Downtown L.A. – all of which you have no doubt seen mentioned here on the blog and in my tweets. It was such a pleasure to work with Carrie Kommers, director of the video and of Dine LA, and Evan Romoff, the DP (that is, Director of Photography) and editor – both of whom put me at ease and helped break my “professionally produced” video cherry. We had lots of laughs, bloopers and takes. I had quite a time avoiding “um’s” in the audio. And really, all the credit goes to Evan, the editor, who made me look and sound pretty decent, despite my failure to reapply some mid-day makeup. 😉

You can see the video above, or embedded into the video section of the Dine LA website, or even Evan’s vimeo page, which has the big version. Hope you enjoy!! And have a great weekend.

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Petrossian
321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
310.271.6300

Church & State
1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
213.405.1434

Street by Susan Feniger
742 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.203.0500

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

Dine LA Restaurant Week Happens Now: My Picks

Duck "Shawarma" With Oven-dried Tomatoes, Fig Confit & Garlic Spread on Homemade Whole Wheat Pita | Momed

I’ve been kind of sleeping on this one, because we are already half-way through the first of two weeks of this season‘s restaurant week. But don’t let me be the example, because if there are a couple restaurants in LA you’ve been meaning to check out, now is the time to see if they’re participating in Dine LA. From the Quickfire Challenges that have been held around the city (and culminating last night with Chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry on Melrose winning the dessert challenge finale) to the incentive to dine at least three times with your American Express (but not before registering your card here), there has been a good amount of hoopla surrounding this fall’s Restaurant Week installment. You get a prix fixe 3 courses for varying price points.

So, if you have an American Express and plan on dining out at least three times, be sure to register it because if you spend at least $21 each time, you’ll get a $20 statement credit.

Of course, not all restaurants nor menus are considered equal. I browsed the list and pulled the ones that I’d be most interested in. Keep in mind there are three different price points each for lunch ($16, $22, $28) and dinner ($26, $34, $44) – and not all restaurants serve a Dine LA prix fixe for both. I also highlighted a menu item that particularly piqued my interest.

The Bazaar by Jose Andres ($$$) – Catalan Pork Sausage
Bistro LQ ($$) – Ham Hock
District ($$) – Venison Chile Relleno
Drago Centro ($$$) – Veal Osso Bucco
Eva ($$) – Cod and Caponata
FIG Santa Monica ($$) – Red Beet Risotto
The Foundry on Melrose ($$$) – Miso Honey Glazed Duck
Laxy Ox Canteen ($) – Veal Breast with Pee Wee Potato Salad
Locanda del Lago ($$) – Lobster-Dill-Ricotta Ravioli
Ortega 120 ($) – Petite Sterling Silver, Pasilla Pepper, Queso Oaxaca, Red Chile Potato Hash
Petrossian ($$$) – Crab Risotto
Piccolo ($$$) – Pumpkin pasta w/Black Truffle Filling
RH Restaurant ($$) – Roasted Boothbay Harbor Lobster
Rivera ($$$) – Banana leaf-braised pork shoulder
Urban Noodle ($) – Urban Noodle House Special Noodles

I admit, there is no way I’m going to make it out to half on my list so I’m leaving it up to you. They are all restaurants that I’ve had good experiences at so you can call these educated guesses. So get out there and experiment. You’d be remiss to not take the opportunity to try the restaurants you’ve always been curious about.

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Sunday – Friday

October 3 – 8, 10 15, 2010

Lunch, Dinner (Not all restaurants serve both)

Dine LA List

All over Los Angeles

Another Dine LA Quickfire Challenge: Starry Kitchen Hosts Cold Noodle Challenge

Starry Kitchen's Japanese Garlic Noodles | Credit to TheHungryHungryHungryHippo on Flickr

Today marks another Dine LA Quickfire Challenge – this time, featuring cold noodles. Starry Kitchen, one of the hot spots to hit for Pan-Asian dishes will be hosting, and it’ll be Chef Octavio Beccera from Palate Food & Wine and Chef Brendan Collins from Waterloo & City going head-to-head.

Of course, there will be a surprise ingredient the chefs will have to incorporate in their dish. It’s Starry Kitchen so it’s only fitting that that ingredient will be either Oyster Sauce, Hoisin Sauce or Coconut Milk. Judging this Quickfire will be Thi Tran, Starry Kitchen Executive Chef, Jeff Miller of Thrillst and Krista Simmons from L.A. Times’ Brand X. And, as a prize, the winning dish will be featured on Starry Kitchen’s regular menu throughout Fall 2010 dineLA Restaurant Week.

During the challenge, $5 bites will allow attendees to preview Starry Kitchen’s Dine LA menu:

  • Crispy Tofu Balls
  • Chicken Wings
  • Egg Rolls
  • Pandan Flan
  • Young Banana and Tapioca in Caramel Coconut Milk

And if you’re still up for more, the official after-party is just across the plaza at CASA Cocina y Cantina with complimentary passed appetizers to preview their own Dine LA menu, including Turduckenizo Albondigas, Tamale de Elote, and Mini Tacos de Camarones Fritos. Drink specials will also be offered.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

6 – 8 PM

Starry Kitchen (judging) & CASA Cocina y Cantina (afterparty)
350 S Grand Ave. (in California Plaza)
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213.617.3474

Recap: Dine LA Quickfire Challenge at Petrossian

Chefs Celestino Drago, Ben Bailly, Akira Hirose

Last Thursday, merely the day after Blogger Prom, I joined Josh Lurie of Food GPS and Chef Ben Bailly of Petrossian West Hollywood in judging the second of four Quickfire Challenges hosted by Dine LA in promotion for their upcoming restaurant weeks.

Potato Leek Soup w/Japanese Eggplant Caviar, Yuzu Kosho, Smoked Salmon, Piquillo, Roasted Hazelnuts & Jerez Vinegar

The challenge was cold soup, and it was a contest of the Italian and French schools of culinary arts. Fifteen minutes were allowed and the “surprise” ingredient was Alverta President caviar – a premier, new American strain of caviar. Chef Akira Hirose prepared a potato leek soup that had much of its treasures buried at the bottom. We, the judges, were instructed to go to the bottom to scoop up the essence of everything that was in the cold soup. And, so we did. The salmon was perfectly smoked, the yuzu packed a refreshing citrus punch, the hazelnut and potato leek carried weight, and the thick soup had great complexities overall. The piquillo pepper that dotted the soup was a nice touch, spicing up the soup a tad.

Gazpacho With Juice of Yellow & Red Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber Juice, Guacamole, Orange Zest, Yuzu Juice, Cucumber, Caviar, Croutons and Basil Oil

Alas, it was then time to try Chef Celestino Drago’s creation. True to form, it was a cold gazpacho incorporating the juices of fresh, yellow and red heirloom tomatoes. Cucumber juice provided a bit of green color and rounded out the sweetness of the tomatoes. The juices enveloped a bit of guacamole – the weight in this soup – along with orange zest and yuzu in the martini glasses, which further brightened the concoction. Then came the caviar and diced cucumber. Basil oil was drizzled and croutons were floated atop the cold soup. Though this was not as unique as Chef Hirose’s soup, Chef Drago’s was the winner in my camp. I really enjoyed the flavors all the different juices – and even caviar – brought to the table, and while gazpacho is a common menu item in Italian menus, I thought this was a well-executed dish.

But the beauty of having three judges is that if not unanimous, a winner would be determined by two, and I was ultimately outvoted by Chef Ben and Josh. They favored Chef Hirose’s cold potato leek because of its complexity. There was speculation that Celestino was outnumbered by those from the French camp. Me – I was content to be outnumbered and stood by my decision. I myself skewed toward the lighter soup since I prefer my cold dishes without a ton of weight, but also thoroughly enjoyed Chef Drago’s gazpacho.

And so continues the Dine LA Quickfire Challenges… Stay tuned for today’s rendition: Cold Noodles. It also comes complete with sneak preview of Starry Kitchen Dine LA dishes for $5 a pop and an after-party at CASA.

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Held last Thursday, September 23, 2010

6 – 8 PM

Petrossian West Hollywood
321 N. Robertson Blvd. (one block north of Beverly Blvd.)
West Hollywood, CA 90048
310.271.6300

Dine LA Quickfire Challenge at Petrossian West Hollywood

Borscht at Petrossian

Quickfire Challenges don’t only happen on Top Chef. And in celebration of the upcoming Dine LA weeks, there are themed challenges happening all over the city. Yesterday, Mark Peel of Tar Pit and Campanile defeated Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station) and David LeFevre (Water Grill) with a Guinea Hen dish. Fortunately, there are three more challenges and I will have the honor of being a judge of the “cold soup” Quickfire Challenge to take place tomorrow at Petrossian – the caviar boutique and restaurant in West Hollywood on Robertson. The other judges will be Chef Ben Bailly, Petrossian’s chef and Josh Lurie of Food GPS.

In this challenge, we’ll see Chef Akira Hirose, Maison Akira Owner/Executive Chef go up against Chef Celestino Drago, Chef Drago Restaurant Group Owner/Executive Chef. The winner will go up against the other three winners of the other challenges in early October in a finale (TBD).

Of course, it’s not good enough to just watch. You’ll get to participate, too, by taking advantage of some great happy hour prices of Petrossian specialties:

Caviartinis $10
Beers $5
Chips & Dip $10
Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Caviar $8
Borsht Shooters $2
Shrimp Papillotes $8
Salmon Rillettes $10

Absolutely delicious!

So I hope you can come and attend what promises to be a very exciting challenge. It’s going to be fun, exciting and a close contest, for sure. …Now where is my cold soup?

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

6 – 8 PM

Petrossian West Hollywood
321 N. Robertson Blvd. (one block north of Beverly Blvd.)
West Hollywood, CA 90048
310.271.6300

The Dine LA Chef Roundtable

Joachim Splichal, Josiah Citrin, Karen Hatfield, Susan Feniger, Wolfgang Puck, Mark Peel

At Redcat in downtown on June 8, 2010, there will be a discussion on the Los Angeles food scene by none other than chefs most responsible for shaping the city that we all know and love to eat in, today. Observe the heavyweights wax poetic about their start in the industry, their proteges, and where exactly they think LA’s culinary landscape is headed, next. The panel will take place from 7 – 8 PM with a Q&A by the audience to follow.

What’s more, Starry Kitchen will cater the event afterwards with their delicious home-cooked Thai/Vietnamese-influenced food as chefs and guests mingle. This event is free but space is limited.

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

7PM – 9PM

RSVP

REDCAT Theater
631 W. 2nd Street,
Los Angeles CA 90012

@dine_la

@starrykitchen

Petrossian WeHo: Where We Go For Comfort

Black Truffle Mac 'n Cheese...With Bacon, Orecchiette & Parmesan

My girlfriend and I had a reservation at Petrossian WeHo on the last day of Dine LA. It was my long overdue date with Petrossian and it ended up falling on a day El Nino came out to play. Light rain, grey skies, black umbrellas and puddles on the ground as we zig-zagged into the Robertson boutique.

We had both already studied the menu and decided on the Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese. With bacon. The weather solidified our desire for comfort, and that day we’d start from the belly, up.

Blinis

But I am ahead of myself. We had indulgent blinis, first. No bellinis, that is – though I did have a glass of hibiscus champagne, complete with edible flower at the bottom. But back to the blinis, which were topped alternately with salmon roe, Transmontanus and trout caviar – each pancake perfectly fluffy and each egg providing bursts of flavor atop dallops of creme fraiche. We were ready for more.

Our second appetizers were the borsht and wild mushroom cappuccino ($10 ea) – the former of which was lauded in yesterday’s Tasting Table and rightfully. I almost envied my girlfriend as she spooned mouthful after mouthful out of her electric martini glass…with each bite pleasantly cold despite the weather – so as to not mess with the integrity of the live dish. Who knew beets could be so indulgent and subtly tangy? It was perfect, and topped with more Transmontanus.

Borsht

I would have held more envy if I weren’t so pre-occupied with my foamy wild mushroom cappuccino.

Indeed, it was not soup, but a cappuccino.

It was served hot, steamy and frothy and I just couldn’t put the spoon down. The rich creamy-ness comforted my tongue as I bit on each crouton with each spoonful seasoned with micro green onions and paprika. “Cappuccino sounds more luxurious,” Chef said. I agreed. Foam is an attribute.

And then came our main lunch entrees. Chef Ben Bailly, whom I’ve had the pleasure of running into a few times around town, visited with us from the kitchen and at my inquiry, insisted the bacon in the mac ‘n cheese was listed on the menu. Apparently, I had an appreciatingly selective memory this time around, because it was such a pleasant surprise when I tasted it along with the incredibly rich cheese and black truffles.

I wanted to eat it all. I could only eat enough to barely make a dent since our appetizers were solid and the dish was so rich – in the very best way. I have to say, though, that I had never been so excited for leftovers in a very, very long time. Even the leftovers were the best mac ‘n cheese I had ever had.

Dine LA may be over, but the dishes are still there. Whether for the borsht, blinis, black truffle mac ‘n cheese ($18) or to try the foie gras creme brulee with fig marmelade ($14) - I’ll be back at Petrossian. Next up is dinner – not excepting many more lunches in between.

Petrossian WeHo
321 N Robertson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310.271.0576

@petrossianweho

A Divine Dine LA Lunch at Cube

Cube Truffle Burger

I had been meaning to try out Cube, on La Brea, for awhile now. I’ve consistently heard good things about the cafe doubling as a market and though it’s located next to The Tar Pit – which has been open only a few months yet I’ve managed to visit three times, already – I knew I was missing out on a good thing. A place that places itself under the organic, farmer’s market-to-table (Santa Monica, to be exact) and humane column, Cube – combined with Dine LA – gave me an opportunity to to prove myself right. Now I likely won’t make that mistake again by letting much time lapse before I go back.

Maple-Braised Bacon, Celery Root Puree, Cipollini Onions

Sam graciously met up on a last-minute proposal (“I just threw out my gross lunch,” his text read) for late lunching. We were lucky because by the time we had gotten there, we the grid had just regained electricity. Someone came out to take down their temporary signage indicating being closed for business until electricity was restored.

Dine LA was on. Cube’s lunch is $22 ($$), which – no matter how you feel about prix fixe menus – is a good deal because the truffle burger is usually $15 and the maple-braised bacon, $10, all before dessert. Let me tell you – I can get behind almost any restaurant that serves bacon as an appetizer. My slice – which was on a bed of pureed celery root and adorned with cipollini onions – was so tender and delicious, I had barely realized it was a filet of bacon until I had devoured the dish and finally felt its weight in my stomach.

Cube Garden Greens & House Ricotta Ravioli with Braised Oxtail Ragu Sauce

I got the Cube Garden Greens and House Ricotta Ravioli with Braised Oxtail Ragu instead of the San Marzano Tomato Sauce, which proved to be very tasty in no small part by how fresh the pasta was. The braised oxtail gave good additional texture to the entree that had everything (psst – the greens are inside the ravioli and the ricotta is outside).

Sam ordered the Cube Truffle Burger, which came in a shiny House Brioche bun with Caramelized Shallots. Perfectly-fried Crispy Potatoes accompanied the burger as well as a side of Chipotle Ketchup, which was good but probably could have used more spice since ketchup is inherently sweet. The burger itself, “trufflized” by way of oil and not truffles themselves (for a $15 price point? let’s be realistic), was very good and though seemed smaller at first glance by comparison, is actually a more-than-generous size. The patty was fresh and juicy with a perfect pink center.

Torched Meyer Lemon Meringue Cake

Of course, next was dessert. Sadly, they were out of the Valrhona Chocolate & Butterscotch Pot de Creme Duo but we were content on the Meyer Lemon Meringue Cake and Blueberry Crepe with Rosemary Syrup and Rosemary Gelato. Heavenly!! I loved how fresh the lemon tasted in the cake (with candied peel as an added bonus) and well, I am partial to blueberries as well as rosemary – so this was a win-win situation all around. The blueberries tasted fresh in the rosemary syrup.

You can do Cube during Dine LA, but it’s highly advised to do Cube, period… Not only is the food delicious and made with quality ingredients, it’s incredibly fun.

Cube Dine LA Menu (Lunch – $22, Dinner – $34)

Dine LA runs through Friday, February 5

Lunch, Dinner, Cheese & Salumi and Wine Menus

Cube
615 N. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.1148

@cube_la