If you’re looking for something to enjoy during Sunday brunch time, look no further than the Catherine An’s daytime cafe, which is now serving up a breakfast riff on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. It’ll probably have you wondering why you haven’t had one, sooner.
It was a Saturday afternoon after a morning of Pilates followed by procrastination, and I was in need of a snack. I craved the sort of snack that could double as a quick, reasonably priced lunch. As with most things, however, you risk quality in favor of expediency and price.
And then I read Twitter.
Anticipation of Josef Centeno’s upcoming Bar Amá reached fever pitch recently as a result of Bon Appetit naming Bäco Mercat one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants (Michael Voltaggio’s Ink also received a nomination in this category – bravo for Los Angeles). But nothing prepared me for the day on which my cravings actually led me to leave the 49ers-Packers game on my TV during free DirecTV NFL preview week. I wanted eggs. I wanted a Bloody Mary. I also wanted a Bäco.
As someone who has held a tenure at the same company and building for over 5 years, I’ve seen lunch places come and go from my little perch on Wilshire Blvd. I like to joke that we are in the real “Slums of Beverly Hills” since we, inÂ the stretch closest to the L.A. line, hold a 323 area code instead of the usual 310 everyone west of us is assigned. The most varied of lunch options is a short drive to Miracle Mile because of the food trucks. And yes, I do, thanks to my frustration with the lack of options as well as my resistence to Trimana – the chain deli across the street which unabashedlyÂ microwaves their eggs in plain sight of their customers.
I’ve been in that space at the intersection of Gale plenty of times before, with Red Medicine being the 3rd changeover entityÂ I’ve witnessed. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s dark, dingyÂ bar called The Continental was the scene of learning exactly which co-workers I never wanted to go drinking with, ever again. Hokusai, a Japanese spot,Â offered $7 cash-only, combination bento boxes – the best lunch deal in the vicinity.
Now, Red Medicine is my next-block, one-stop-shop for the best bÃ¡nh mÃ¬ Beverly Hills (and the vicinity) ever did see. Their bar beckons me; liquid lunches are as enticing andÂ accessible as ever, thanks to Matt and his house-made juices and sodas.Â I enjoy his Pimm’s Cup (onlyÂ in L.A. during January is this acceptable, y’see) and his Singapore Sling. The others, I can’t wait to try. Yes, this is Beverly Hills but the cocktails at Red Medicine areÂ also only $10. Fernet lovers (or nay-sayers, depending on whom you ask): They carry MalÃ¶rt, probably one of the only places this west of Chicago to do so.
But back to solid lunch. The main selections are the BÃºn Cháº£ ($12-$15)Â and BÃ¡nh MÃ¬, both of which I have had – with pork belly – and have been extremely happy with. Let’s not fool ourselves: We’re not in Westminster nor Vietnam, and there’s nowhere in Beverly Hills you’ll get away with eating for less than $10. But if you want those flavors with an avant garde flourish, Red Medicine is your best bet. After all, the sandwich is a full foot long. The quality of the BÃ¡nh MÃ¬ is alsoÂ held up in no small part by the Bouchon bread, which I’ve noticed has been tinkered withÂ and increasingly toastedÂ (over 3 sandwiches during 3 different occasions). The cilantro is super fresh as is the deliciously pickled, crunchy carrot. Sliced jalapenos give the sandwich a good kick while the modest helping of mayoÂ addsÂ just a hint of sweetness. If you need some more spice, look no further than the house-made sriracha sauce, plated on the sideÂ - a delicious andÂ freshÂ rendition of the famous Rooster Sauce.
Feel like noodles, or looking for aÂ lighter lunch? The BÃºn Cháº£ delivers a fresh helping of noodles as well as the same, delicious and also noodle-likeÂ carrots. There are more pickled vegetables than in the BÃ¡nh MÃ¬ to match the light, sweet, vinegar-based and refreshing dressing.Â It’s a fancy patch of noodles that you can order with wagyu, pork or chicken but there’s no short-changing the flavor.
Controversies aside, I’m glad Red Medicine moved in. Things looked auspicious when I dined their Test Kitchen run at the debut of TK, itself, and I’m happy to see that once all the kinks (kitchen and PR, alike)Â are ironed out,Â it looks like Red Medicine may be the restaurant to break the curse of Gale and Wilshire. Bring on lunch!
Food trucks come and go. I mean, literally. Everyday, they do this. But now we can add to the fleet a truck that is inspired primarily by bacon. Because we all have that vegetarian friend whose sole weakness is strips of pork – so you know that centering a truck around one ingredient is, well, putting all your pigs in a very big, fail-safe basket.
Yesterday afternoon, I caught their soft launch in Silver Lake. Heather and Jeremiah Crowley, the masterminds themselves who discovered the magic of bacon at home with their kids, were on board and super excited to be putting their home-cooked recipes out on the road.Â Heather says, â€œThereâ€™s nothing like the scent and sizzle of bacon in the early morning, but we felt it could and SHOULD be eaten anytime, anywhere!â€
TouchÃ©. “Fo sizzle.”
Check below for some mouth-watering bacon applications:
- Smoked bacon, over easy eggs & cheddar sandwich ($6)
- Breakfast burrito with potatoes, cheddar & smoked bacon ($6)
- Brioche french toast sandwich filled with crumbled bacon & bacon bourbon maple syrup ($6)
- Bacon pancakes served with bacon-infused bourbon maple syrup ($5.50).
- “The Bacone” – 3 strips of bacon, rotating inclusions ($4)
- “The Baco” – Potatoes and cheddar in a bacon shell served with horseradish bacon sour cream ($4)
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
- Chicken wings covered in bacon hot sauce, topped with hot sauce-covered bacon and served with bacon blue cheese dipping sauce ($5)
- Frisee au Lardon sandwich with fried egg & vinaigrette on toasted brioche ($6)
- â€œThe Lardonâ€ – BLT Nueskeâ€™s peppered bacon, butter lettuce & tomatoes and St. Agur Blue Cheese served on toasted baguette ($6)
- Lark brownies with bacon Nutella spread ($3.50)
- Lark sugar cookies ($3.50)
Desserts come from the popular Silver Lake bakery, Lark.Â As for refreshments, theÂ truck serves canned soda, water and even fresh-squeezed OJ if you’d like Vitamin C with your bacon breakfast.
I very much enjoyed my Frisee sandwich as well as The Baco. And I can’t wait to try other things on their menu. So whether you catch a soft launch (soft stop?) of theirs while they iron out theÂ menu and operating kinks the rest of this weekÂ - or wait til their hard launch on Monday -Â be on the look-out for the Lardon truck via their Twitter account (@getyourlardon) and Facebook page. Your bacon cravings demand it!
BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar is introducing a their lunch service this week. To celebrate, starting 11:30 AM today, they’ll be giving out free lunches to the first 100 people to show up. You’ll get a sandwich, bag of chips and drink.
This should have the UCLA students in a tizzy. Yesterday, I got to try a few of their sandwiches, and the standouts were definitely the Reuben and the Crispy Chicken sandwich. These sandwiches, which go for $10 each when not given out for free, are a great portioned size and a good deal, anyway, for the price. The pickles are housemade and Chef Simon Dolinky – another native Wisconsinite like myself -Â regularly visits the farmer’s market for his ingredients.
Validation for valet is free for all guests visiting BLVD 16 for lunch ($5 during dinner), though this 100 free lunch promotion will be more of a grab-n-go kind of deal. Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?Â Get over there and claim your sandwich! The countdown begins…
BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar
10740 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
The stage was set and the pressers positioned. After countless entries were submitted last December, five finalists emerged to go head to head at The Coral Tree CafÃ© Panini-Off last Tuesday, January 19. Brentwood would be the setting to determine just who makes the best panini in town. A rainy January night would prove to be the perfect backdrop, as few things are more comforting than hot-pressed sandwiches.
Cecilia Fabulichâ€™s fusion-esque Shanghai Spice Pork Loin Panini was the sweet-spicy selection of the night and came with a topping of pickled onions. Michael Haddadâ€™s Breakfast Panini with Egg, Prosciutto, Gruyere and Chive Oil was a perfect morning hangover solution. Firefighters crowded around Tsz Chan and her comforting Holiday Ham Panini to ask for seconds (and thirds and fourths – but whoâ€™s counting?).
But there would be crowned winners of the night. Nico Juberâ€™s Perfect Panini with goat cheese and turkey bacon was the â€œPeopleâ€™s Choiceâ€ – the results of which were reached by tallying everyone-but-the-judgesâ€™ single favorite panini. But it was Chloe Coscarelliâ€™s unique Mango Masala Panini recipe that won the judgesâ€™ favor. The Gourmet Institute student, whose recipe included spiced chickpea masala, roasted cauliflower curry and tamarind mango chutney, went home with a $250 gift certificate to Coral Tree.
The judges on hand for the ultimate sammich show-down were Robert Niksefat, Coral Tree CafÃ© co-founder, Senior Editor Mar Yvette of Citysearch Los Angeles, Founder of FoodGPS.com Joshua Lurie, Co-editor of LAist Lindsay William-Ross and CEO/Founder of Chefmakers Cooking Academy Richard Klein. In all, $700 was raised for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemenâ€™s Fund which is part of the Los Angeles Firemenâ€™s Relief Association and will go towards support for family members of firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty.
Coral Tree Cafe Brentwood
11645 San Vicente Blvd
Brentwood, CA 90049
Photo credit to The Delicious Life
As previously reported, Coral Tree Cafe will be hosting their first-ever Panini-off tomorrow (Tuesday, January 19) evening. After thorough review through all the submissions, five finalists and their named recipes have been chosen to go head-to-head, each of which will be at his/her own station:
Tsz Chan (Temple City) – Holiday Ham Panini
Chloe Coscarelli (Los Angeles) – Mango Masala Panini
Cecilia Fabulich (Marina del Rey) – Shanghai Spice Pork Loin Panini
Michael Haddad (Burbank) – Breakfast Panini with Egg
Nico Juber (Los Angeles) – Nico’s Perfect Panini
So head on over to Brentwood tomorrow to witness this sammich-off, 10% of the proceeds of which benefit the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemenâ€™s Fund, part of the Los Angeles Firemenâ€™s Relief Association. I’ll see you – and the who’s who in LA food as judges – there!
Tuesday, January 19, 2009
8 – 10:30 PM
Coral Tree Cafe Brentwood
11645 San Vicente Blvd
Brentwood, CA 90049