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.
What if the Arby’s of your youth finally caught up with you and learned to cater to your tastes for quality ingredients? What if you harbored a hankering for Arby’s and Horsey sauce outside the fast food confines of a nationwide chain you had disowned long ago along with your family’s dinners at Red Lobster?
You’d get Top Round Roast Beef, now serving at the corner of La Brea and Olympic.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Okay, let’s try that again. I very much leave things to the last minute, and now that the new year rush is over, it may just be time to do a juice cleanse. Though I’ve never done one, I’ve perhaps been inspired by my on-going, 2-month long Pilates-spin regimen. Let’s be honest: What I put into my body gets a lot more attention – despite all the events and dinners – whenever I’m working out regularly.
Clover is fittingly located next to a yoga studio for the ultimate environment in mind-body conscientiousness. The organic juices support local sustainable farming with the produce it sources. But it doesn’t stop there; there’s also kombucha on tap, Stumptown coffee, food by Silver Lake’s Flore Vegan but also sandwiches by The Churchill’s Executive Chef Bruce Kalman. Pastries sold in-store will be created by Lauren Lobley of Charm City Cakes, which will also include vegan and gluten free options baked fresh, daily.
With my 9 to 5 located west of Miracle Mile, I’ve had more than my fair share of lunch option challenges. Though many scoff at the food truck phenomenon that seems to never run out of steam, it’s actually been the first silver liningÂ I’ve had since I’ve resigned to witnessing the vast majority of my coworkers with Trimana sandwichesÂ at their desks around noontime.
Thanks to Pat of Eating LA for the tip-off on Tinga on La Brea and thanks to Blackboard Eats for offering their dine-in only lunch 30%-off code last week. Well, I’ve still yet to use it, since I’ve been theÂ take-awayÂ supplier to a coupleÂ coworkersÂ weaning themselves off tuna salad.Â (Proof that Blackboard Eats PR works?)
However, the memory of a particular taco plate compostable cardboard box ($7-9 for two tacos and chips) will forever be a chapter in my book of office follies, and the Cochinita Pibil tacos are to blame. Or thank. The advice I can offer here is to, upon finishing both theseÂ tacos, go to the bathroom and wash your hands five times. Do not rub your nose with your cross-contaminated, salsa-stained forehand. Do notÂ wipeÂ your forehead, either. Do not pass Go. Not quite sure where that salsa is? A tingling sensation (dubbed: The Tinga Tingle)Â on any given extremity will tell you for sure. But like I said, best wash your hands in case your curiosity does not feel the need to be satiated. Put it in your stomach, instead.
My upper lip and the skin lining my nostrilsÂ burned til 4 o’clock.
The ego behind my heat-bearing palate became even more defeated when, after doing a search, I found Jonathan Gold made no mention of this salsa when he mentioned these very tacos in his write-up back in September. No matter. Egos aside, deliciousness typically transcends pure heat. I take that back:Â Bearable heat, anyway, because that burning sensation on my face for the duration of the afternoon sure was distracting.
But I digress I’m beating the dead horse. The other favorite pork dish on their menu was definitely the Grilled Cumin & Garlic Rubbed Pork Loin Tacos ($6.50), served with pepper jack cheese, pasillas and salsa. The Flat Iron Steak Tacos ($8.50) came in chipotle tortillas and topped with tomato avocado relish, “dog snout” salsa, pickled red onions, queso fresco and lime chipotle Escabeche. The strips of steak were really the best cuts I’ve had of anyÂ fresh mex in memory.
And the quesadilla was amazingly still crisp by the time it got to our destination. The goat cheese melted with chorizo in a quesadilla is perhaps blasphemous to the most diehard of diehards but a nonetheless a brilliant combination. Though I’ve yet to try many of the sides, the Arroz Con Crema ($5) came deliciously roasted and coveredÂ with a not-too-sweet cream. Lime juice is to thank for its twist and tang.
Next up: The Dirty Horchata, or horchata with a shot of espresso in it. I’m guessing it’ll be the refreshment to accompany my first dine-in experience at Tinga. There are plenty of other menu selections I’m dying to try, so I’m certainly looking forward to the next adventure a glass of that stuff will be washing down.
Though I’m loath to call Tinga “Fresh Mex,” I think I’m already too late. I apologize for the Baja Fresh associations, because Tinga is so much, much more than that. Their food is creative, colorful and best of all, absolutely delicious. It’s a welcome departure from the $1 tacos of York and Breed Street because they’re not even in the same class. Contemporary decor, check. Compostable wares, check. This is Fresh Mex worth appreciating.
All taco plates come with 2 tacos and chips.
Tinga 142 S. La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90036 323.954.9566
We all know about the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan. As Japan endures aftershocks and the rest of the world does everything in her power – but seemingly never enough – to help the Land of the Rising Sun, we can see that at least some of our going-out dollars go towards relief.
Fortunately, two of my favorite sources of wine and beer in town have kicked off benefits where 50% or even 100% of proceeds from sales will go to Japan.
Cube will donate 100% of proceeds from sales of the following three red wines by the glass to the American Red Crossâ€™ disaster relief programs in Japan:
2006 Brigaldara Amarone ($18)
2008 Nicodemi Montepulciano dâ€™Abruzzo ($10)
2009 Zuani Collio Bianco ($12)
All three wines will be distinguished on Cubeâ€™s wines by the glass (vini al bicchieri) list with a â€˜+â€™.
UPDATE: Cube has just added 2 pastas to the Red Cross – Japan benefit menu: Maltagliati with Oxtail Ragu and Red Cow Parmesan, Gnocchi with Lamb Sausage Bolognese and Red Cow Parmasan. They both are dressed in red sauces in keeping with their “RED for RED” Japan relief theme. So enjoy either (or both?) of these delicious pastas and wash it down with a RED for RED wine while knowing those dollars will help with disaster relief.
Raise a pint of Solidarity for Japan in Eagle Rock Brewery’s own taproom.Â They’ll be donating 50% of proceeds from every pint of the dark mild ale sold to UNICEF’s efforts to help the children in Japan who have been impacted by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.
So get out there and make every liquidÂ dollar count towards Japan earthquake and tsunami relief. You might as well support local biz and enjoy some solid wines and beers while you’re at it.
Cube benefit: Today – Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Cube 615 N. La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90036 323.939.1148
If “November” and “turkey” have become a little too synonymous for you, you’re lucky to have the option of some good ol’ fried chicken at Cube. It’s available only until Wednesday, November 24 – and if you don’t catch it now, you can expect to see it again in about a year.
The recipe is of the Tuscan variety and for $23 you get a a half-chicken chock with lemon wedge, Maple Roasted windrose Farm White Acorn Squash and sauteed McGrath Pea Tendrils. This isn’t your usual, butter-filled entree but rather a zesty, juicy bird that packs a punch; red pepper flakes are in the batter. The fluffy breading crumbles beautifully under the weight of your knife (should you feel like sharing) and between your jowls to reveal an extremely tender, semi-boneless masterpiece by Executive Chef Erin Eastland.
While you’re at Cube, don’t forget a custom cheese-salumi plate of your choosing and glass of wine to start. It’s always a delightful experience whenever I’ve dined there; tryingÂ the limited edition fried chicken plate was no exception. To finish it off, go seasonal andÂ try their Warm Hachiya Persimmon Pudding or satisfy your chocolate craving with Dark Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake.
All food and wine were hosted.
Fried chicken available through November 24, 2010
Tue – Sat, 11 AM – 11 PM
Cube 615 N. La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 323.939.1148
I had been meaning to try outÂ Cube, on La Brea,Â 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,Â farmer’s market-to-table (Santa Monica, to be exact)Â 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.
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.
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.
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.
Mark Peel of Campanile and Audrey Saunders of Pegu NYC have teamed up to crash straight into the post-speakeasy era, and they’re dragging us with them. We’ve landed in the 40’s – after Prohibition, of course – and the beautiful Art Deco interior of The Tar Pit is our proof. Elegance and class ooze from the cushion of each booth lined up along the wall while live jazz gives the ambiance a cozy touch.
Old American classics line the bar and dining menu while Saunders’ specially-created cocktail menu lands its place as the freshest compilation in town (for now). Probably the nicest breath of fresh air is the price point being $11 per cocktail – reinforcing the notion that you don’t have to bleed at the nose for a solid cocktail…and that you should stop paying $16 for a ordering the Grey Goose-Red Bull.
Once I absorbed my surroundings, I was relieved I’d worn a dress. Indeed, I wondered if the death of the speakeasy meant the birth of the unspoken, ante’d upÂ dress code in LA. Who are we kidding these days? I took my mother, hailing from the midwest, to see Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat at The Pantages and she was shocked to see people wearing jeans to the theatre.
Another indication The Tar Pit aims to evolve the scene is the surprising lack of whiskey drinks on the menu – quite a departure from the other well-known mixology bars in town. You’ll find plenty of gin, however, with a dash of rum, tequila and vodka. Samples of most of their original cocktails were being passed around in coupe glasses on media night, which were perfect for sampling a little bit of everything (even sharing with fellow bloggers) while not getting absolutely trashed in the process.
Of the ones I did get to try, Cucumber-mint creole – made with gin, aquavit, sherry, muddled cucumbers & mint, fresh lemon juice – was a good, refreshing mainstay to have on the menu. The Gin gin mule, their classic gin and ginger beer cocktail, is seasoned with mint and garnished with a slice of lime and candied ginger – the latter of which is a wild card with me, actually.
Tied for my favorite cocktails, one of which actually wasn’t served en masse this particular night, were the Palm frond (lemon myrtle-infused gin, green chartreuse, muddled mint and simple syrup) and Jamaican firefly (dark rum, housemade ginger beer, fresh lime juice, simple syrup). The Palm frond comes with a reed of lemon grace through which you can enjoy your cocktail. Since I like darker spirits, I guess I preferred the Jamaican firefly just barely over the Gin gin mule – or more accurately, prefer dark rum with my ginger beer over gin.
I had the opportunity to join bloggers Caroline on Crack, H.C. of LA-OC-Foodie, John of Social Domain and Lizzie of FoodSheThought for a Small-Batch Social at Ammo Restaurant on La Brea. The tasting featured Santa Barbara-based Telegraph Brews and Christina Perozzi – the “beer chick.” Ammo provided the food portion of the pairings, which on the menu carried more weight as you moved down the menu but really could be mixed and matched to any of the four Telegraph brews. Formerly a strictly catering company, Ammo has enjoyed success to the point of expanding to first a restaurant, and then renting out the neighboring space to expand that restaurant. The simplicity seems to really work for them.
The lighter bites included a red endive topped with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, toasted walnuts and wild honey; also House-cured salmon with crÃ¨me fraÃ®che on cucumber. Both were refreshing as the Humboldt Fog was a light goat cheese with the perfect amount of gummy. The mini Gruyere grilled cheese sandwiches, though, were probably the favorite of everyone’s the entire night.