Gorge: Uncharacteristically Fantastic French Food on The Sunset Strip

Charcuterie Board

There was a post I did awhile ago on “Bars That Don’t Belong,” and the essence of that article was that the particular bars listed weren’t categorically all good or all bad – just that their ambiance and drink were divergent from those of the surrounding establishments. What that entails is a problem with the diffusion of foot traffic from nearby establishments.

Belgian endives poached in aromatic broth, vanilla bean sauce, toasted almonds

Located on Sunset Boulevard, Gorge is just a few doors down from The Whiskey. It goes without saying that The Sunset Strip is not a place you’d expect to find a French wine bar, much less one that makes all their sausages, terrine and pâtés in-house, as a proper French wine bar would. So I was surprised as anyone that at Gorge, not only is the food delicious, but the food-wine pairings are exceptional thanks to Master Sommelier Darius Allyn, who just so happens to also be the husband of head chef Elia Aboumrad. It’s quite a departure from where he came – that is, the Montage Beverly Hills – but the results of their efforts have captured all my admiration for doing so. While the food and atmosphere is comfortably no frills, it probably leans towards exotic in the perspective of your typical Sunset Boulevard patron.

The same of which could be said of Night + Market, not too far west of Gorge. And so the culinarily adventurous restaurants along The Sunset Strip continues. Thank goodness both examples are on the mark in their respective disciplines.

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Night + Market: The Best Happy Hour On Sunset Strip

Fried Pig Tail

I met a good friend of mine after he got off work on his vocational side of town, the famous and infamous Sunset Strip. I had heard about Night + Market, the adjacent room to Talesai whereby Chef Kris Yenbamroong is serving up campy (code for “street”) Thai food, and I was eager to get an introduction to this night spot by trying out their Happy Hour.

Fried Chicken

The decor, however, is far from it (it’s way more Sunset Blvd), and you’ll find yourself with plenty of natural sunlight invading the concrete-floored space if you visit during their opening hours – that is, Happy Hour (6 – 8 PM daily or all night Wednesday) this summer. Each plate is $5 and drinks include beer, wine, a Lychee Martini and a Mekong Old-Fashioned (again with lychee) at reasonably discounted prices.

All fried food came out piping hot and therefore fried-to-order, which was really important in maintaining the quality of the bites. My favorites? The pig tail (kind of a mis-placed pork belly since the meat has the same texture and consistency) and the chicken wings. Your server will ask you how spicy you want the dipping sauce for your wings (and be subsequently surprised if you say, “hot”).

Papaya Salad

Never fear, though, if you order the Papaya Salad. It’s a delicious and refreshing reprieve from all that hot sauce and fried food. The Pork Satay Skewers were also really good, tender and flavorful – and come through with 4 skewers in all.

I went with the Mekong Old Fashioned, which, I had to try but was proved right when I suspected it might be a little sweet. There was lychee in it but not much alcohol; my recommendation would be to get a carafe of wine to share or the large sized beer.

Still, though, I loved the value of Night + Market Happy Hour. Indeed, I’m curious to go back and go for a full-blown dinner with some friends. The environment is contemporary (apparently, this also signifies communal seating) and the music selection was actually impressive. Zola Jesus!

Night + Market Interior

Remember, if you have a hard time finding it, you have to enter through Talesai. The doorway is on the right. And be aware that they may not have everything even on Happy Hour menu – as we would’ve surely had the Fried Salmon Head had we had the chance. But the selections on that menu were all solid, so we were very much happy with our experience. We came out with $27 per person after tax and before tip when all was said and done.

Reading this before Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 11 AM? Be sure to grab this free Blackboard Eats code, which wouldn’t apply to the Happy Hour but would be a great opportunity to get a free bottle of wine for your party as well as a small plate per person. It’s quite a steal (and a good reason for me to go back as mentioned earlier)!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Open nightly

6 – 11 PM

Happy Hour: 6 – 8 PM Daily, All night Wed’s

Night + Market
(Enter through Talesai)
9043 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.275.9724

The Von Bondies Do Viper


I think it’s time for a new camera.

I may go to a lot of shows, but as far as blog posts, my music mojo is a little rusty. As they say, writing about music is like dancing about architecture – but live music sometimes needs to be inked. It can’t be rewound, re-recorded nor can the experience be reproduced. It’s a new era.

I’m not gonna lie - I love that The Von Bondies hail from Detroit. Jason Stollsteimer spoke of Don as he sat behind the drumkit by saying, “He goes, ‘…'” and just then I was transported back to the Midwest. Y’see, in SoCal when you quote, mock or say someone said something you describe it as, “She’s all…” In the Midwest it’s “She goes…” Stupid to point out? Yes. But if you were from the Midwest, you would just know.

Maybe as a result of this tour, The Von Bondies can finally escape the shadow of (getting into a fist fight with) Jack White – because I think they deserve it. Their live show deserves it, because if you aren’t having a good time – chances are you’re a hater. Their energy, mostly carried by Jason himself on top of Don’s über-tight drumming, was vivacious and totally contagious. The girls, Veronica and Christy, were jammin’ on either side of the stage while providing back-ups – responses to the calls - and were a pleasure to watch and grin at.

Jason’s got jokes. And no place better than Viper to do it. It’s intimate. And he’s actually really funny – constantly engaging the crowd like the cool kid in class that likes to hear himself talk and it’s fortunate that everyone else does, too.

The Von Bondies got hooks. They’re not the most original but I don’t think they’re anything less than catchy, if even punchy. Just short of edgy – if that’s what they were going for. But I was certainly moving to it in my little standing square close to the stage, and my Michigonian girlfriend whom I dragged along was perhaps having an even better time than I (it’s the Detroit thing). I did notice that their style was more poppy than I expected – and I’m taking a guess it’s a result of their last record. No room for moody brooders, here. Angst-ridden, perhaps. Anguished. Jason belts and he shreds, and sends you home with a smile on your face.

The Viper Room
8852 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.652.7869

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Shout It From the Rooftop: Blogger Prom Venue Finalized

Preface: This post is brought to you by my work for the Blogger Prom Committee. Blogger Prom (official blog) takes place on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 in West Hollywood, CA. Free cocktails, delicious food, sweet giveaways, a gorgeous venue and only bloggers in kitschy, cool, weird prom attire. It’s closed to bloggers and invite-only so if you are a blogger and can make it, contact me (esthert at gmail) with your URL via email. “Closed” also entails no more invites once we reach capacity!

As they always say: Location, location, location!! We have finalized the venue of our phat Blogger Prom, and it will be on the rooftop of The Hyatt Andaz Hotel, located right on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

That’s right – the rooftop. Caroline and I (Esther) made a visit to the space and were absolutely floored – so to speak! The north view is of the Hollywood Hills and the south, The Sunset Strip in all its glory.

Not only that, Andaz will be providing food featuring their very own chef Sebastien Archambault, who hails from France by way of a short stint in Mexico. He procures the menu at the hotel restaurant, RH, with fine detail and is always revising and perfecting. Our blog-happy guests will enjoy a very special Summer Californian menu at Blogger Prom.

Credit to TripAdvisor.com
The Andaz Hotel just finished their serious $35 Million remodel in January of this year so Blogger Prom guests will be some of the first to really experience the “reformed” hotel known as The Riot Hyatt. Yes – this is the famed stop-off where members of Led Zeppelin have rented entire floors and driven motorcycles through the hallways (the movie Almost Famous also recreated these scenes here), Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones dropped a TV off the balcony and Jim Morrison permanently lived for years.

So be ready to enjoy nothing short of a posh, pool-side setting nestled in between some of the best views available in all of Los Angeles. Better wear your bathing suit underneath your cummerbund or sea-green ruffle dress. 😉

Because bloggers are the new rockstars.

Andaz West Hollywood
8401 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, California
90069

323.656.1234

Cross-posted at The Official Blogger Prom Blog

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