Favorite Places To Eat Raw Oysters on the Halfshell

Market Dozen at L&E Oyster Bar

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you’ve probably noticed how much I’ve been craving oysters recently. For awhile, I wasn’t exactly sure whether it was a by-product of my trip to New York – every day of which I enjoyed raw oysters (and what a glorious trip it was).

As it appears, my itch has failed to taper off whatsoever.

So what am I to do except create a round-up of my go-to spots for raw oysters on the halfshell? It’s pretty much the best seafood to consume in the world, with 95% of all oysters consumed being farmed with sustainable practices. And if bacon were vegan kryptonite, oysters are almost vegan … kale-beet salad? Having no central nervous system, oysters feed off plankton while filtering the waters around them and actually benefiting nearby marine life. Check them out on Seafood Watch to see that they’re “Best Choice” when it comes to consuming seafood.

I’m lucky enough to have great options in my neighborhood offering quite a variety of ambiances, as well as a variety of oysters to enjoy between Oysterholics Anonymous meetings, to boot. Of course, you’ll find more West Coast varieties with a sprinkling of East, but never fear – you’ve a handy online oyster guide spun off Rowan Jacobsen’s book to guide the way. It’s a fantastic way to have info on each oyster handy at your fingertips.

Anyway, back to it. Here’s where I personally break to slurp on those briny and not-so-briny bivalves. And yes, it’s centered on Hollywood and Silver Lake since this is my hood!

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Fanny Bay

Located down from The Satellite and across from LA MILL, the no-reservation L&E Oyster Bar is a great place to grab a dozen – the Daily Dozen, to be clear.  You’ll get three varieties while saving a few bucks off the per-oyster price. Wash each oyster down with one of the excellent varietals of wine (after all, Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner also brought us Bar Covell). L&E is already a neighborhood favorite but also the subject of a recent S. Irene review, so your best bet is to arrive near their 5 PM opening time. It’s often slammed, but when it comes to oysters it’s easy to see why.

Jonesin’ for bivalves on a Tuesday? Escape into the Roosevelt Hotel and into this 1960’s library-esque restaurant with moss-lined dining rooms, high ceilings and rustic interior for their special oysters and Champagne menu. They’ve a dozen varieties of West and East Coast that switch out from week to week – so whether you want $14 for a half dozen, $20 for nine, or $28 for the dozen, you’ve got a few increments to choose from. And if you’re not looking to end on bubbly, there’s two awesome bars in the same hotel: The Spare Room and Library Bar.

Well look at that, little French Champagne & cocktail bar! This latest venture by Steve Livigni, Pablo Moix and Mark and Johnnie Houston is just one of those bars I’m so glad is in town – oysters or not. But hey, if oysters are a go, then you’ll really find no other place in the city with better libations to slurp them down with. If cocktails are the new food-is-the-new-rock, Pour Vous is essentially your rock supergroup with a vast but excellent menu featuring 26 drinks. But don’t come here if you’re looking to grab a dozen in your sweatpants; remember to come with a jacket and/or collar, guys, and ladies – you’ll have tons more fun dressed to these fabulous surroundings in your sharp garb. If you’re lucky, Livigni will be on deck…er, on the decks.

My David Lentz plate at LA Loves Alex's Lemonade

Hungry Cat’s really been the neighborhood stalwart of seafood, so when power duo David Lentz and Suzanne Goin expanded all the way over by PCH in Santa Monica, our city’s beachcombers rejoiced. Whether you supplement your oysters with one of their solid cocktails or get them as a prelude to their annual CrabFest (which sells out soon after it’s announced), you really can’t go wrong. Get the half-dozen for $15 or a full dozen for $30 – and supplement with plenty other shellfish and seafood – including plenty of other raw iterations – at will. Parking in the complex lot is also a cinch thanks to 2-hour validation.

Let’s not forget your own place or event. I was at a Dine LA media party once, and my friends and I were essentially glued to Christophe Happillon’s shucking station. It was the best party, ever. Everything I learned about oysters (away from the internet), I learned from this guy. You’ll learn a ton about oysters in the process, as in how environmental conditions and geography play a role in how each variety looks and tastes. You can also seek him out on Tuesdays at Church & State and Fridays at Joe’s Restaurant.

I’ll see you at the oyster bar!

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L&E Oyster Bar
1637 Silverlake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323.660.2255

Public Kitchen & Bar in The Hollywood Roosevelt
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.466.7000

Pour Vous
5574 Melrose Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90004
323.871.8699

Hungry Cat Hollywood
1535 Vine St.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.462.2155

Hungry Cat Santa Monica
100 W. Channel Road (@PCH)
Santa Monica, CA 90402
310.459.3337

Sponsored Giveaway: Four One Year-Long L.A. Blackboard Eats Subscriptions

Credit to Mike Lanzetta on Flickr

Hallelujah!! Packers won Super Bowl XLV!!

In celebration and in collaboration with Blackboard Eats, I’m happy to be giving out four one year-long Los Angeles area Blackboard Eats subscriptions (valued at $20 each) to four lucky winners. The winners will be chosen at random from a pool of commenters who correctly answer this question:

What kind of car do I drive?

Whether you know me or not, the correct answer to this question is very easily found somewhere on this blog.

If you’re not familiar with Blackboard Eats, it’s only one of my favorite websites for discounts at restaurants around Los Angeles. Unlike pay-ahead services where the failure to show up is built into the business model, Blackboard Eats will give its subscribers a straight 30% off for using their code – just be sure to tell your server before you close out (and tip based on the pre-discount amount of the check). 

Recently, they started charging $1 per code (or $20 for unlimited codes for a full year, which is what you can win here) to recoop their administrative costs and to encourage those who rush to get the limited-in-supply codes to actually use them. Be sure to check out the upcoming specials on their website.

So, back to my giveaway. In order to be entered to win, put your answer to the above question in comments, while making sure to correctly fill in your email in the comment form (or sign-in via Twitter/Facebook accordingly and check those accounts on Friday) so I can notify you in the case you’ve won! The contest will close on Friday afternoon (February 11, 2011) at 4 PM, when I’ll pick the four winners at random. You must respond to me within the 36 hours thereafter or I will have to pick a runner-up.

Good luck!!

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

Dine LA Restaurant Week Launches Sunday

Last week, the food and restauranteur community of Los Angeles gathered at The Hollywood Roosevelt to celebrate the launch of the winter installment of Dine LA – a two-week-long collaborative effort to offer diners three-course lunches and dinners at six specific price points.

$      Deluxe Dining   $16  $26
$$    Deluxe Dining   $22  $34
$$$   Fine Dining       $28  $44

Burger Slider

The red carpet was out and almost 100 chefs – many donning their white jackets straight from the kitchen – were the stars of the night. Oh – plus Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Writers, journalists, bloggers – what have you – were or weren’t donning our white “PRESS” badges. The purpose was clear: To celebrate food’s imminent role in Los Angeles culture – and the accessibility every man has to fine dining. And why don’t we enjoy some fixins from Dakota Chop House and 25 Degrees with cocktails from Matt Biancaniello of Library Bar to wash them down while we’re at it? Pork belly, tacos, quesadillas, salads, burger sliders and even a shiitake mushroom-infused Manhattan were passed around – but the hits of the night were undeniably the spicy burger sliders and Biancaniello’s arugula gimlet.

Arugula Gimlet

If you haven’t already, make your reservations soon; Dine LA runs Jan 24 – 29 and Jan 31 – Feb 5. The bevy of restaurants this round tops 243. Schedule a lunch in there to save a few dollars – it’s a great occasion to take an extended break from work. Eva (lunch or dinner), Palate (dinner), Cube (lunch or dinner) and Petrossian (lunch or dinner) rise to the top of my personal list.

And don’t forget to enter the daily contests Dine LA is holding: Starting 10 AM and running all day, answer a trivia question to be entered to win $100 gift certificates to participating restaurants (today’s is Petrossian, lo and behold). Also follow @dine_la on Twitter for updates.

Bonus: If you’re an American Express card holder, all you have to do is “do” Dine LA three times and you get a $20 credit on your statement. Just spend more than $21 per time.

And if you’re interested in the names behind the scene in Los Angeles food, it might interest you to peep the Dine LA Family Tree to see how they – and we – are all interconnected. Food brings us all together, doesn’t it?

Further reading:

DineLA Flickr Set

Restaurant Deals Ahead: It’s dineLA, the winter version; plus a “family tree” of L.A. chefs & restaurants – LATimes

DineLA Restaurant Week Kicks Off With Celebri-Chef Party – LAist

Dine LA Restaurant  Week Launch Party – ShopEatSleep

Jan 24 – 29 and Jan 31 – Feb 5, 2010

Dine LA Website
Various locations throughout Los Angeles
Call early for reservations

Lindsay, Dawson and Sabrina

OC Eating: South Coast Plaza Restaurant Tour

I always knew that South Coast Plaza was one of the premiere places in Southern California to shop. Until recently, I’d never the opportunity to find out that it’s also a destination to eat. I, along with a few other bloggers, were invited by the PR company representing the South Coast Plaza restaurants to go on a tour, extending overnight, of a few of them.

Our first stop was Hamamori – a Japanese restaurant headed by James Hamamori. While I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised – mostly by the sushi dishes that came out. Above is freshwater eel sushi with foie gras and a torch taken to the top layer – rich texture and taste. Also good was a yellowtail sushi prepared with lemon salt and topped with chili paste, which actually had me wishing there was a bit more chili paste on the sushi as I tend to prefer spice in each bite if given the choice. A scallop version also prepared with lemon and shiso salt but topped with caviar, instead, was also good. The appetizers were also respectable. There was a dish of chopped, seared albacore prepared with soy, vinegar and fried green onions which seemed rather typical but a creative option was an asparagus tempura but the dish – instead of being simply battered and fried – was encrusted with bits of fried japanese crackers. A heated stone option is also available if sizzing, fine slices of kobe beef dipped in sauce fits your fancy. Chili salt, apple sesame and steak sauce are paired for the dunking. The first was a sort of unremarkable dipping option (tasted simply as salt – not much chili) while the apple sesame reminded me of a Korean BBQ marinade. The steak sauce was a tad smokier yet still sweet. The experience of cooking one’s own meat on the table, in any case, makes for an interactive experience fit for family outings and dates alike.
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