The sun is out – when June Gloom isn’t in, that is. But when the high of summer arrives, you’ll bet it’ll be time for that picnic. Whether at The Hollywood Bowl, Cinespia or Barnsdall Art Park, picnicking in Los Angeles has become more than a rite of passage. It’s now an act of communal expression, with everyone in the party bringing their own contribution to the portable, potable feast.
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.
There’s something comforting, even relieving, about a 10-seat Kaiseki experience in Tokyo with an especially irreverent presence behind each course, each with unparalleled attention to detail. But that is Jimbocho Den, the brainchild of mid-30’s, owner-chef Zaiyu Hasagawa, whose wry sense of humor delightfully pervades every refined dish.
Last month, I got a chance to partake in one night of the excellent Culinary Masters series going on at The Strand House in Manhattan Beach. The chef of the night was John Besh in the wake of the release of the Louisiana native and home cooking champion’s latest cookbook, “Cooking From the Heart,” and the celebratory 6-course dinner, expertly paired with Bwise Vineyard Wines, was nothing short of fantastic.
If you ever needed a reason to dine at Scarpetta inside the Montage Beverly Hills, I’ve got a few reasons.
After the unexpected exit of Executive Chef Alex Stratta and the re-entry of Freddy Vargas, a Scarpetta veteran, they’ve started offering a rather reasonably priced prix fixe menu featuring the restaurant’s classic dishes in a four-course dinner featuring none other than their famously simple yet delicious spaghetti (that is, if you choose it over the agnolotti, which sounds pretty decadent itself). It costs just $45 per person; the wine pairing option is additional.
There are a lot of freebies and promotion deals to be had in our wonderful city, but I can’t say I’ve run across the offering of an entire dinner in exchange for the test drive of a car, before. And now, we have.
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.
Beer Dinners: You can’t really have too many. Good thing City Tavern, the Downtown Culver City hangout with taps at the tables (a couple of them, anyway) is holding one with Ladyface Ale Companie next Thursday, September 15th.
There will be one seating at 7 PM (up to 7:30 PM, if you prefer) and included in your $46 cost are 4 courses + amuse bouche, each paired with a Ladyface beer. For the full menu, peep below:
Deviled egg, asparagus, roe
6oz., abv: 8.3%
Orzo salad with crab, avocado, grapefruit and beet vinaigrette
6 oz., abv: 8.7%
Potted duck confit and crisps
6 oz., abv: 10.9%
Smoked cocoa-rubbed tri-tip sandwich and potato salad
Picture city porter
6 oz., abv: 7.0%
Spiked watermelon and peppered strawberries
Sazerac-oaked red rye
6 oz., abv: 7.2%
I had a lovely time at one of City Tavern’s other beer dinners, which was in conjunction with Eagle Rock Brewery. My favorite was a stone fruit salad, which was paired expertly with their Yearling Flanders Red Ale. If this is any indication, next Thursday’s beer dinner will be solid. It’s a great way toÂ support local business and beer while celebrating the end of summer (if that’s your thing).
I don’t remember ever having given up anything for Lent. But I always have celebrated Easter in non-ritualistic fashion – just as I eat and celebrate life. Every day is a rebirth, right?
Did I mention that I love eggs?
I compiled a bunch of Easter Brunch specials around town. There are plenty of restaurants offering up 3-course prix fixe menus for Sunday morning, but a lot of them have some pretty solid choices.
Go ahead…you can scan this postÂ for the bottomless champagne or mimosa spots. I totally understand.
(By the way, I can’t believe how Westward this list skews… Do Eastsiders not celebrate Easter?) 😉
Eva (Beverly/Hancock Park): 12 -Â 8 PM
$39 per person.
Bottomless wine. 5-course prix fixe.
I know I said “brunch,” and I know Mark Gold calls this the “Eva Dinner Party,” but the noon start time has to count for something, doesn’t it? You get all of the following: Deviled Eggs, Nicoise Salad with Olive Relish and Roast Peppers, Chicken “Pallard” withÂ Arugula and Mustard, Warm Potato Salad, Prime Skirt Steak, Grilled Asparagus and Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Creme Fraiche. I know. Amazing. This is where I’ll be…sometime during Easter Day.
7458 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323.634.0700
Chaya Brasserie (Downtown, Beverly Hills, Venice): 11 AM – 3 PM
$37 per person, $15 per young adult.
Bottomless champagne. 3-course prix fixe.
You get a couple choices for your 3-course prix fixe, all menus of which vary according to location! Be sure to peep the right Chaya outpost for your menu.
A few highlights from what I can see on all three menus include French Toast with Granola Crust, Kabocha Squash Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi, Grilled New York Steak and Fries with Poached Egg, Pancetta-wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Provencal Grits, Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Cheese Tart. I think the Downtown location is where to be!
525 South Flower, Los Angeles, CA 90017, 213.236.9577
8741 Alden Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048, 213.859.8833
110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291, 310.396.1179
Obika (Century City): 10 AM – 4 PM
$25 per adult, $15 per child under 12.
Comes with one mimosa or glass of Prosecco. Buffet-style plus one family-style pasta.
Not feeling the prix fixe but don’t want any hassle? Obika’s doing it up buffet style – at the mall. Mozzarella di Bufala along with a selection of Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon, Assorted, Salumi, Caponata with Pan Carsau, Artichoke Ricotta Quiche with Thyme and Mint, Ricotta Mousse and four (yes, four) flavors of Tirimisu will all be available. In addition, your table will get to pick one choice of pasta served family style, including Handmade Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage, Lasagnetta with Peas and Tagliolini with Artichoke and Mint.
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067, 310.556.2452
Next Tuesday, the second in a series of special dinners at Asia de Cuba will take place. Chef Philip Du Bose will not only be preparing a 3-course, prix fixe meal for all attendees, but will be demonstrating the preparations of them, tableside.
The menu includes a classic, seasonal and specialty item:
Classic – Tuna Pica
Seasonal – Turbot
Special – Ropa Vieja en Salade
Christina Alvarez of Conde de Valdemar winery will be on-hand to pair each course with wine. It’ll be an evening filled with a great mix of education, delicious food and good company in a beautiful, Philippe Starck-designed dining setting. Be sure to call to make your reservation as spots are filling up fast! I’ll see you there.