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.
As the Los Angeles “chill” continues, it’s only natural to crave the comforting foods in which we take refuge. Luckily, there’s Bar Pinxto, a tapas place that has reinvigorated the Spanish traditions behind the term that was once disgracefully applied to all “small plates.” The place has the most mom and pop feel of anywhere in the tourist hub of Santa Monica, and the reasonable price points, accommodating happy hour specials and prix fixe menu options clinch its status as a neighborhood favorite.
The weather lately has confirmed that it’s officially fall in Los Angeles, and you may be looking for a good spot for a Sunday dinner as you wind down your weekend. Thankfully, Savor Sundays at Whist are back and they’ve got four different rotating themes just to keep things interesting.
I had the opportunity to visit during their “Southern Favorites” theme and Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo as well as Chef de Cuisine Chris Crary did a great job comforting my guest and me with their buttermilk fried chicken. It was perfectly breaded on the outside and incredibly juicy and flavorful on the inside and out. The butter lettuce wedge had a perfect buttermilk dressing, as well. Â The drinks were prepared nice and stiff. I’m curious to see how the other themed menus will turn out – and it’s up to you to find out.
Nov. 14 – Southern Favorites
Butter Lettuce Wedge, Bacon/Tomato/Blue Cheese/Herb Buttermilk Dressing
Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Bacon Cheddar Biscuits/Collard Greens/Grits/Mashed Potatoes/Market Slaw
Pecan Pie, Knob Creek Caramel/Vanilla Ice Cream
Featured beverages: Mint Julep, Sweet Tea Bourbon, Root Beer flight
Oct. 24/Nov. 21 – Spanish Style
White Gazpacho, Crisped Jamon Serrano/Grapes/Almonds/Garlic
Valencia-Style Paella Shellfish/Chorizo/Chicken
Churros and Horchata
Featured beverages: white and red sangria
Oct. 31/Nov. 28 – French Flavors
Frisee aux Lardons, Poached Egg/Hazelnuts/Shaved Truffles
Toulouse-Style Cassoulet, Pork/Sauccison/Duck Confit/Tarbais Beans
Tarte Tatin, Cinnamon Ice Cream Canele
Featured beverages: French 75, Rhone Valley wine flight
Nov. 7/Dec. 5 – Chinese “Takeoutâ€
Hot and Sour Wonton Soup
Spring Rolls/Dumplings/Shrimp Toast/Squab and Lettuce Cups
Moo Shoo Pork, Peking Duck, Housemade Pancakes
Shrimp Fried Rice
Featured beverages: Tsing Tao beer, lychee wine, Greenteani cocktail
So be sure to make your reservation and enjoy a delicious fall Sunday dinner inside the beautiful Whist.
All food was hosted.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a blogger dinner held at Rivera in Downtown LA to preview the new menu, a new concept that combines three categories of Chef John Sedlar’s interpretations of Latin cuisines. Sangre encompasses dishes inspired by the Iberian roots of Latin cooking, Samba is comprised of those with South American, Central American, and Caribbean influences and the Playa Bar menu incorporates seafood-themed cuisine inspired by Mexico. Each of them are served in specific dining rooms in Rivera and come complete with “sound bites,” or the explanations and history behindÂ each dish.Â The Conexiones menu is the main menu that is served throughout the restaurant and, overall, emphasizes the connection between those Latin roots and our city. Local Californian ingredients are used, giving each dish its unique flair and that fresh, home-grown touch.
In an interactive spin that’s brand new at Rivera (and probably anywhere), diners who want to know more about particular dishes are directed by the menus to call 1-310-464-6884 and follow the prompts to hear Angeleno Magazine’s 2009 Chef of the Year Chef Sedlar personally explain the history and preparation of each selected dish.
There was a seemingly endless stream of dishes that came in threes this night, and while Chef Sedlar’s cooking is always exciting, I’ll prioritize detailing dishes that topped my list and save you the 15 dish-long play-by-play.
My first and secondÂ favorites hail from the small plates menu.Â I’ve always been a fan of gazpacho, and if this is “traditional” then perhaps I’ve been missing the execution in so many others. I loved that it made with golden tomatoes, decidedly sweeter than any orange variety I’ve had.Â I really enjoyed this cold butÂ indulgentÂ soup. It was interesting to recall the colors as I learned later (through the press release, but diners will learn by calling the number) that before Columbus, gazpacho was white, not red, because it did not yet contain the fruits of the New World: Tomatoes and peppers. The Flan de Elote ($11)Â was another elegantly simple – and sweet – dish, with a light corn custard topped by black quinoa and dressed with squash blossom sauce.
It’s always a good idea to go to the source. And that’s exactly what La EspaÃ±ola is – the source of meats and supplies for many of the Los Angeles area’s Spanish restaurants. On Saturdays, to those who are willing to trek to Harbor City to get a taste, the reward is in the quality of food and low price. If you came for the ambiance, you’ve been misinformed. But if no-frills, no-nonsense paella is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. Office tables and chairs straight from the warehouse office supply are set up underneath tents so you can enjoy your paella – Juana and Frank themselves will make sure you have everything you need.
Did you mention wine? Don’t fret – you can get a bottle straight from their very respectable and reasonable selection of wino (many of them Spanish, of course) starting with bottles as cheap as $4 to cork right alongside your meal. Maya of ShopEatSleep, Nancy of The Wanderkind and I joined a Sinosoul-organized event in which a total of no less than 25 people got together in the name of grubtastic Spanish seafood rice. And what a spectacular job he did. Also there were: Gourmet Pigs, Kungfood Panda, Diana Takes a Bite and Uncouthgourmands. Our meals were complimented by a value-added $8 meat and cheese plate – most of which is actually meats but is very good, with more than a couple types of chorizo sausage included. The olives that came with the plate were also very good.
Oh right – the paella! It was so delicious. And while there was 3 of us (yes – girls), we really had to struggle to finish two plates, each of which cost $8.50. The pleasant surprise was that we got two different kinds – one had more scallops and the other had more mussels. A good number of mussels, sausage and prawns are in each assorted rice dish; added scallops or mussels made for their seafood variety. YUM! And might I mention – if you couldn’t already infer – it was a killer deal? Since we came with a lot of others, we got a “wholesale-wholesale” (is there such thing?) deal, but even if it were just the 3 of us it really would have only cost ~$12 per person inclusive of paella, meat & cheese plate and wine. Of course – the more expensive wine you get, the more the price goes up.
This place is definitely worth the drive on any Saturday. And while you’re at it – why don’t you go ahead and call together a crowd?
Paella served on Saturdays.
La EspaÃ±ola Spanish Sausage
25020 Doble Ave
Harbor City, CA 90710-3155