Links: e*starLA Elsewhere in 2015

Catch & Release, Marina del Rey

Apologies for not updating the blog, but here’s a post to push its revival into the New Year. Here I come, 2016! This week, I’ll be posting a round-up of sorts on 2015 and noteworthy dishes at noteworthy restaurants.

In any case, feel free to catch up with a few of my freelance articles, and my comments forthwith, that I wrote for other online publications the latter half of 2015 here. Also, a plug to follow me on other social media channels, which I’ve been updating pretty regularly: Instagram, Twitter, and eventually Snapchat (@estar_la)!

Happy reading. I’ll catch you guys with another 2015 update tomorrow.

Bánh Mì My-Tho
304 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

Phorage
3300 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Catch & Release
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Langer’s Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wexler’s Deli, GCM
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Old Country Cafe
2 E Valley Blvd #1e
Alhambra, CA 91801

Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
250 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Zankou Chicken
5065 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Fantastic Sandwiches at Torta Company

Milanesa (breadded chicken) Torta comes with a layer of frijol

There are a lot of choices available in the food court at Fig and 7th in Downtown L.A., but only two stands offers a myriad of excellent Mexico City fare. Jimmy Shaw’s fifth installation of Loteria! Grill stands next to the very first Torta Company, a collaboration with his brother Andy that has finally come to fruition after many years of recipe-testing and planning. And while many don’t know it, we Angelenos are so very lucky to have access to such a fine product as Jimmy and Andy’s tortas.

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Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese Serving Up Classics and Much More

The Classic with Tomato Basil Dip

As April and thus, National Grilled Cheese Month, comes to a close, I have come to realize that: 1) This classic sandwich needs no one to vouch for its deliciousness the rest of the year, and 2) Who has time to keep track of the celebratory day or month of every food in existence, anyway? (Oh right: Thank you, PR pitches.)

After all, the sandwich has had its own Invitational here for years on end, to somewhat sadly conclude this year as we food enthusiasts find other foods and combinations of food to fawn over. But let’s not forget that as there have been multiple storefronts dedicated to cupcakes and only cupcakes, for a very long time, dedicated grilled cheese slingers has also become a thing.

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Top Round: The Roast Beef Restaurant You Didn’t Know Was Missing

Horse & Hole

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.

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Clover: The Cold-Pressed Juice Bar on La Brea Opens Tomorrow

Clover Juices

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.

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The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich & More at J. Nichols

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

As far as Los Angeles neighborhoods go, Marina del Rey isn’t exactly known as a culinary hotbed. So imagine my surprise when I found quite a few well-conceived menu items at J. Nichols, a recently revamped strip mall eatery.

Black Pepper Wings

My favorite of the meal was the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – an item that you’ll find under the “sandwich,” not “burger,” column. How many times have I had a pulled pork sandwich where the bun sopped up all the sauce before essentially becoming a shell of itself, having lost its integrity? We all know and even love what a mess any handheld pulled pork item can be, but what if the “mess” part was contained somewhat by a firm, but tasty, pretzel bun? What’s more – the lightly fried, even delicate onion rings also help absorb the sauce, giving the pulled pork sandwich more structure and even crunch than anything this saucy and tasty ever afforded, before.

The Black Pepper Wings were another stand-out, an atypical nod of the Asian (Fusion) Persuasion. Think Black Pepper Beef, but with chicken, instead – and in a manner best enjoyed while your eyes are set on the sports screen. Tasty wings, they are, and there’s no better sauce from which to lick from your lips and fingers.

Of course, there are the menu essentials such as the beet salad and Brussels sprouts, both of which are done as well as anywhere. But my favorite pasta was the Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni, which was done al dente and finished off with that perfect kick. Corn and cherry tomatoes give the dish a nice, sweet touch while the mushrooms sustain its earthy notes.

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Michael Voltaggio Preempts Ink With Ink Sack

Banh Mi

There’s a sandwich shop that just debuted last week and thus far, it has sold out everyday ahead of its scheduled close time of 5 PM. Dare I suggest, however, that it’s worth getting there right at its 11AM opening?

Menu

While I’ve often complained about the selection of lunch options near my office, I was happy to find on opening day that ink.sack was an easy to drive north – I got there in 7.5 minutes. It’s a school-themed enclave with standing room only (if even that). Ink and Ink Sack sandwiches the dessert landmark, Sweet Lady Jane between them on the designer shopping-laden end of Melrose.

The menu features a manageable dozen items with just more than half being 6-inch sandwiches ($4-6 each) and the rest being crispy salt & vinegar potato chips, compressed fruit seasoned with chili and cookies. On a normal lunch, I can devour about two sandwiches with sides.

Sack lunch, indeed. (With Mexican Fruit)

My favorites were the Jose Andres, or “The Spanish Godfather” (Serrano ham, chorizo, lomo, Manchego) and the Banh Mi (pork cheek, chicharrones, pickled vegetables). I also really liked the Maple Turkey Melt, complete with Camembert, mustarda and arugula. The bread is also solid and while good quality, doesn’t overwhelm the small sandwich.

I’ve yet to try the two chicken varieties (with cold fried chicken and chicken liver mousse, each) but rest assured, for the amount of hype the Voltaggio name garners, the bottom line is that each sandwich is a reasonably priced dosage of delicious goodness. Just remember that they’re so popular, Ink Sack has been forced to institute a 6-sandwich maximum per person.

Don’t forget your fruits. (The veggies are in the sandwich.)

Wed – Sun
11 AM – 5 PM

ink.sack
8360 Melrose Ave., No. 107
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Greenleaf Chopshop Rolls Out Discounts on 3rd Anniversary

Zorra the Great Salad

As much as I am skeptical of some food trends – for instance, I don’t get the mindless love for cupcakes while I totally relate to the on-going bacon craze - there are some upshots that I can get behind. For instance, this fast-casual-and-healthy thing: I actually hope that it’s a pattern that turns out to be longer lasting than a fad. After all, we can only hope it’s an indication that we as an audience are becoming more aware of eating in a healthful way – nothing but good can become of it, right? And when it’s presented in ways that taste delicious, it’s proof that healthful doesn’t have to be boring.

Anti-Oxidant Orchard Salad

I was recently introduced to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which is currently in Beverly Hills and Century City and serving clientele from boutiques, law offices, accounting & consulting firms alike on the east-of-Westside. They also serve wine and beer, which come complete with pairing suggestions. Talk about a delicious lunch or take-home salad. The head chef is from the Patina family, so you know they’re not kidding around when they call this chopshop “gourmet.”

The good news is, they’ve stuck around for 3 years and to celebrate their anniversary, they’re rolling out some discounts starting now through this Saturday, June 4th. You get 10% off on your 1st visit, while working your way up in 5%-off increments to 30% off your in-store meal on their 5th visit (no more than 2 visits per day for discounts). And, on Saturday, you can also look forward to 30% off all meals at the Beverly Hills location. And about that beer and wine - imbibers can also enjoy 50% off beer and wine selections all-week-long, including an organic Alma Rosa Chardonnay (regularly $8/32), Talbot Kali Hart Pinot Noir ($9/34), and Lost Coast Great White Ale ($3.50).

Lemongrass Chicken

Got a couple buddies? Bring two “green” newcomers to dine in a “3Some” (kinky) and if you each purchase a salad or entrée, you’ll receive your choice of a complimentary bottle of housemade salad dressing or handcrafted dessert for the table. Options include Owner & “Commander in Leaf” Jonathan Rollo’s signature Citrus Basil Vinaigrette, Corporate Chef Kristi Ritchey’s “Grandma Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and “Carrots Are Good for You” Carrot Cake.

My personal favorite is the Greek-esque “Zorra the Great” salad, which has a good amount of kick thanks to the peppercorns in the dressing. If you’re looking for something naturally sweet, try “The Antioxidant Orchard.” Feeling like a refreshing salad topped with coconut and other tropical flavors? Try the “Lemongrass Chicken” – probably my second-most favorite. 

So if you’re near Beverly Hills or Century City, enjoy a salad, panini, sandwich and/or soup with a glass of beer or wine for lunch this week. Greenleaf’s menu is not only health-conscious but creatively and utterly delicious. Enjoy!


Order online

Mon – Fri

11 AM – 6 PM

Sat

11 AM – 4 PM

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
9671 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
310.246.0756

Mon – Fri

10:30 AM – 6 PM

1888 Century Park East
Los Angeles, CA 90067
424.239.8700

Thanksgiving In a Sandwich at simplethings

Thanksgiving Sandwich

Something special is coming to 3rd Street in Mid-City West, and it’s simplethings sandwich and pie shop. Third street is one of Mid-City West’s main treasures, and the store is a nice departure from the hustle and bustle of Joan’s on Third and the scene-y brunch hullabaloo of Toast.

3" Bourbon Pecan Cutie Pie ($2.50)

At simplethings, you’ll get to choose pies from three different sizes (3″, 5″ & 9″) in delicious varieties like Pumpkin, Key Lime, Banofee (banana + toffee = deliciousness), Bourbon Pecan, Orange Creamsicle, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Blueberry. Feelin’ like whoopie? They got plenty of varieties of whoopie pie for your hollerin’.

Or maybe you were feeling like a meal, first. They have specialty sandwiches like the Prime Rib sandwich, with their prime rib made in-house, and a Veggie Sandwich that tastes as hearty as a meat party. They also serve breakfast on the weekends until 2 PM and have fresh salads available all day.

But my favorite bite of the media preview had to be the Thanksgiving Sandwich, made with cranberry chutney and jalapeno stuffing. They also use chunks instead of slices of the bird, which helps keep the turkey meat tender. It’s seasonal, comprehensive and everything I could want since I’ll be on the plane on Thanksgiving Day. I’m celebrating early!

And if you’re craving pies and sandwiches now, today’s your lucky day since simplethings just opened at 11 AM. Call in your order or stop by – its simple decor is a charming set-up for the drop-in.

Open today (Monday, November 22, 2010) at 11 AM

Menu

simplethings
8310 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323-592-3390

Website

Newly Re-Opened Mäni’s on Maple Launches $6 Happy Hour

Fresh Lime Daquiri

There’s a new cocktail bar and eatery on Maple Drive in Beverly Hills, and the employees of MySpace and surrounding internet biz office buildings are rejoicing. Valerie of Red Vines for Breakfast, Daniel of Thirsty in LA and I had the opportunity to take a sneak peak at what exactly the new cocktail program and newly-relocated kitchen at Mäni’s on Maple were up to – and I have to admit, I was completely surprised. Though I never became familiar with Mäni’s on Fairfax – except for perhaps a late-night cappuccino with a friend – it seems, save for the healthful cuisine angle, there is something completely different going on at their location in Beverly Hills.

Now at the site of Patina’s failed sushi experiment, Paperfish (even with its interior intact), Mäni’s is huge. And now they serve cocktails. From 3-7 and 9-11, a selection from the cocktail and appetizers menu will run only $6 each. Organic and house-made ingredients are touted, and rightfully so as whatever is sweet about the drinks is subtle and natural. Of the happy hour options, my favorites were the Daquiri and Ward 8. The bites are also solid, and of all the available bites in front of me I found myself coming back to the vibrant Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta again and again.

    Padre's Margarita
  • Bees Knees – Fresh lemon & honey with gin. A prohibition era cocktail named after a popular saying, meaning “The Height of Excellence.”
  • Fresh Lime Daiquiri – Not the blended version so often found, this is a classic, straight-up cocktail invented outside the United States.
  • Ward Eight – Classic cocktail out of Boston, named after a famed election district. House made organic grenadine, lemon & a touch of orange with bourbon.
  • Moscow Mule – A mixture of ginger, Smirnoff and lime created in 1941 at the Cock’n Bull Bar on the Sunset Strip. A classic.
  • Padre’s Margarita – A classic, on-the-rocks margarita with a cinnamon stick, no salt.
  • Classic Pimm’s Cup – Wimbledon classic with Pimm’s No. 1 – a gin flavored with fruits & herbs – ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and cucumber.
  • Gin Rickey or Original Gin Rickey – Named after famed lobbyist Joe Rickey in 1893, the Rickey’s defining characteristic is the refreshingly tart omission of sugar. The original, and the more modern with a touch of sweetness, both come up with a splash of soda.
  • Splash & Dash – Pick a spirit & a mixer: Vodka Soda, Rum & Cola, Gin & Tonic…

Six Dollar Small Plate Specials:

    Slow Roasted Salmon Salad
  • Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta – Red Onion, Basil, Garlic, White Balsamic, Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad – Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Slow Roasted Salmon Salad – Farmers’ Market Peaches, Bleu Cheese, Greens, Seasonal Vinaigrette
  • Ceviche – Market Fish, Mango, Cucumber, Red Onion, Jalapeno, Mint, Cilantro, Chips
  • Arugula Salad With Beef Tenderloin – Warm Feta, Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Charmoula Marinated Skewers with Whole Wheat Pita – Tofu with Butternut Squash OR Beef with Yoghurt Mint Sauce
  • Sliders – Grain/Nut, Moroccan Lamb, BBQ Short Rib, Turkey, or Beef

The new Mäni’s is worth checking out – especially if you’re local during rush hour or late night and can take advantage of the $6 happy hour. It’s a good chance to give their cocktail program a shot. The drinks would surprise you and won’t leave you with that sugar crash when it’s time to go home. The produce in the bites are fresh and it’s a great way to catch that light bite.

$6 Happy Hour:

Monday – Friday

3 -7 PM & 9 – 11 PM

Mäni’s on Maple
345 N. Maple Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210