Going to Towne On Great Food & Stellar Cocktails in South Park

Wood Grilled Octopus, Tomato Puree, Artichokes, Squid Ink

When it comes to the new food and beverage choices that accompany the gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles, there’s a constant balancing act that goes on between lunch-friendly business spots and places with offerings hip enough to entertain night life. (What kind of nightlife? A whole other question.) But the 3-weeks-old Towne might just be the spot to fulfill both those needs, thanks to their manageable menu and stellar food by chefs Eric Hara & Ryan Morrison as well as outstanding cocktail menu by Jason Bran.

Lobster “Mac” ‘n Cheese

Located in South Park’s upscale Watermarke Tower (you’ll be dining beneath a many Dodgers’ quarters, to be sure), Towne offers an enticing menu with something for everyone. Looking for original yet un-fussy bites? A delicious Clover Club? Or maybe just the $18 per person pork shank that is braised for 10 hours before being deep fried, enabling a super tasty, tender-yet-crispy feast of texturized, steaming and rich meat.

Towne is just the place to wean Los Angeles off its addiction to run-of-the-mill gastropubs – and with it being this early in the game, it seems they’re doing it with plenty of ease. Favorites included their unique rendition of Lobster “Mac” ‘n Cheese, with house-made pasta casings filled with mushrooms and Fontina cheese and whole chunks of lobster topping the array. Other favorites utilize their wood burning oven, which give much of Towne’s dishes a distinctive flavor – such as the delicious Grilled Octopus with tomato puree and apricots but also artichokes and squid ink to match its savory profile. The Lobster Smokey “Pig” in a Blanket also benefits, and the result is an anything-in-a-blanket you’ve never had before.

Continue reading

The Food GPS Beverly Boulevard Walking Tour

Fried Chicken at Eva

As far as Los Angeles neighborhoods in which there’s a high concentration of great places to eat, Beverly Boulevard and its vicinity has to be one of the top destinations. Fortunately, Joshua Lurie a.k.a. Food GPS has set up an eating tour that will take his guests to four such closely-located eateries. You’ll get to visit and sample a creation from each chef at Eva, BLD, Golden State Cafe and Milk all in one afternoon for a low cost of $45, including tax and tip. Meet other food-lovers and learn a little bit about the neighborhood. Sounds like a win-win way to spend an otherwise-lazy Sunday.

Have questions? Look none further than sending an email to joshua [at] foodgps.com

So buy your ticket. I wouldn’t sit on this one. Josh’s eating tours (see: Santa Monica and Downtown L.A.) have historically sold out!

Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 3 PM

Tickets: $45

Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2701
323.634.0700

Golden State Cafe
426 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.782.8331

BLD
7450 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2701
323.930.9744

Milk
7290 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2545
323.939.6455

Favorites From Elements Kitchen, Pasadena

Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks w/Homemade Porcini Fettuccine ($26)

Elements Kitchen rose out of a successful catering business by Chef-Owner Onil Chibás and established its brick and mortar dining room in January of this year. Its menu isn’t traditionally structured; instead of the traditional appetizer-entree distinction, it asks you what you’re in the mood for. This is, after all, “New” American. But you can appreciate the emphasis on ingredients, or “elements” as the restaurant’s theme revolves around.

Pistachio Butter ($19 for PF&J)

Chicken & Birds? Lobster? Duck? Beef? Mussels & Oysters? Squash? It reads like a dozen questions in a row … but who’s to criticize an establishment that wants to pinpoint and cater to your desires to a tee? An extension of that are the extremely tasty, borderline odd creations such as Pistachio Butter, which is presented on the same platter as Foie Gras Torchon and Jellied Sauternes – dubbed “PF&J”. Plus Roasted Grapes. I’ll be honest: My mind was blown at the Pistachio Butter. But the endless combinations that were possible made it hardly polite to complain, because somehow, they worked.

There are a lot of dishes at Elements that work with a few that probably try to do too much, but it’s good to see a spot in Pasadena that is taking risks for once. One of my favorites was the Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks – which sat atop a bed of housemade Fettuccine. The Seared King Trumpets were a perfect middle texture, flavorfully connecting the über tender meat with super fresh pasta.

Oyster & Mussel Chowder: Yukon gold potato cream, crispy pork belly ($12)

The Oyster & Mussel Chowder was a true winner. It consisted of a delicious Yukon Gold potato cream broth and was sprinkled with shavings of crispy pork belly and green onion, thickened further with potatoes yet also crispened with celery. It was a chowder combining all the right textures and tastes, with a good helping of oysters and mussels serving as the center of the dish.

A really good dish at Elements Kitchen that also happens to be pointedly vegetarian is the Spaghetti Squash with Marinara ($9). The sauce itself is quite fresh as the herbed ricotta is substantive, bringing a weight to the stringy contents of the gourd.

While you’re at Elements, be sure to try out one of the cocktail creations by Michel of Neve Ice – the recently-named overseer of their cocktail program. Every Wednesday, Elements features “Sketches” – which is a set of dishes that focus around one ingredient. Every Thursday are new “Liquid Sketches,” cocktails that center around another ingredient. If you’re on Twitter, you can re-tweet @ElementsKitchen on these days for a free dish or $1 cocktail.

And if you’re up for dessert, don’t miss their White Chocolate & Coffee Mousse with Milk Chocolate Ganache – an absolutely divine and indulgent dessert that should send you home with your tastebuds dancing.

All food and drink were hosted.

Further reading:

The Review: Elements Kitchen in Pasadena — all the elements of success – S. Irene Virbila for LA Times

Elements Kitchen
37 S. El Molino Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
626.440.0044

@elementskitchen

An Elegantly Delicious Lunch at Hatfield’s

Lobster Club Sandwich ($18)

It isn’t every night that I can venture out and spend hard-earned dough at the latest and greatest Los Angeles dining spots, lest my wallet cause my “To Eat” queue to become back-logged. Let’s admit it – all of us are a little commitment-phobic. The way of the game, as is also in my Manhattan playbook, is to take advantage of a good lunch menu when I see one. Hatfield’s would certainly fall under this column. And what’s more, I’m even more enticed to do dinner on the revisit.

Buttermilk & Tarragon Steamed Chicken Breast ($22)

On first entry, naturally-lit open spaces are further softened by the pastel and natural wooden hues of the walls and furniture. It’s an inviting and pleasant space well-acclimated to the middle of the day and I could deduce it undergoes an easy transformation to provide a romantic feel come sundown.

Most importantly, however, the food is top-notch. The Lobster Club, which comes framed between two slices of perfectly buttery brioche, is titillating and flat-out unbelievably indulgent. On the side were beautifully battered and fried curry onion rings, probably the best onion rings I’ve ever had – topping all the others in both texture and flavor. The Buttermilk & Tarragon Steamed Chicken Breast was also extremely tasty, with its steamed preparation keeping the white meat tender and even juicy while it and the potato smash are ironically yet appropriately sauced with gravy.

Crispy Confit Chicken Leg

If you prefer a course-built lunch, there are two prix fixe menu options, with the Studio Prix Fixe choice providing a more-than affordable $19. It starts off with a self-declared “Piping Hot” Butternut Squash Soup. They weren’t kidding – and it was a thankful reminder that this is exactly how delicious soup should be served. I craved more, while knowing that my Crispy Confit Chicken Leg was coming to alleviate my dark meat fix – and it didn’t disappoint. It’s imperative to note here that already I had tasted two chicken dishes at the same restaurant that didn’t disappoint but what’s even more, actually impressed. Since then, the main course has changed to Pork Loin and I’d just as easily lunch at Hatfield’s again to try that.

Continue reading