Delicious Bites and Top-Notch Cocktails in Elegant Sadie, Hollywood

The Lounge at Sadie

I was at Sadie last night with some good girlfriend-bloggers – about a week past its official opening. It was a belated discovery that the cocktails at Sadie, curated by Giovanni Martinez, are pretty tasty. Having known Giovanni is a cocktail sleuth behind the bar thanks to his extensive travels, I was definitely not disappointed by the range and execution of the drink menu.

The Sadie Float

Although the crust on the flatbreads were overcooked and tough, the main entrees were way better than I might expect from a Hollywood Boulevard spot. (I’m truly enjoying each time I’m surprised by my own neighborhood, by the way.) Dave Schmit’s Scottish Salmon, Jidori Chicken (with delicious spätzel) and Spinach Pasta were all enjoyed by my dinner companions and myself.

But on those cocktails. My favorite of the night was the White Monk, made with white pepper & cardamom-infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth, silver tequila, Castilian bitters and Benedictine rinse. I love tequila, but this is the cocktail to erase all those college Jose Cuervo memories that have soured some drinkers towards tequila forever. It’s beautifully fragrant and extra smooth going down.

Black & White

But there’s nothing like a secret cocktail menu to spice up a stint at the supper club. Off Giovanni’s public list is “The Badger,” a unique drink made with reposado tequila, egg white and Miracle Mile bitters. But my favorite off this secret menu was definitely The Sadie Float. It’s made with Campari-flavored soda, Peychaud ice cream and, of course, Campari.

Looking at it, you’d think it was the typical, sweet cocktail made sweeter by the fact that it also has ice cream. Once you taste it, you discover pure Italian genius. It’s fizzy, slightly bitter and yet creamy. And it’s pure heaven. Hint: Don’t get it if you don’t like Campari.

Sadie Courtyard

While you’re there, you have plenty of perspectives to choose from as far as seating as the entire interior is pleasing. Sit in the front foyer bar area, dubbed the Parlour, for some darker hues and modern angles. The middle Lounge provides more of a speakeasy feel while the stone effaced Courtyard in back is probably one of the most beautiful patios I’ve seen in all of Hollywood. (Heat lamps are plentiful, if not in overabundance, back here.)

But you’d be committing a crime if you were to leave Sadie without having dessert. Their Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream Sandwich is out of this world, as is their Black & White, or flourless chocolate cake complete with white chocolate ice cream on the side. The “clutch” dessert, however, at this spot is the Homemade Donuts and Irish Coffee Cream.

You won’t visit Sadie for the bargain, but like most places in Hollywood, for the atmosphere which thankfully is not a detractor from the food and cocktails, but instead an enhancement. The food has the potential to stand all on its own while the cocktails make Sadie a destination. Forget Les Deux I, II and IX; hopefully Sadie, with its multi-faceted interior and approach, is here to stay.

All food and cocktails were hosted.

Dinner:

Tue -Wed: 5:30 – 11 PM
Thur – Sat: 5:30 PM – 1 AM

Bar:

Tue – Wed 5:30 – 11 PM
Thur – Sat 5:30 PM – 2 AM

Sadie
1638 N. Las Palmas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.467.0200

Orgasmo de la Boca: The Underground Supper Club of the Senses

Duck Breast, Roasted Cauliflour, Basil Puree, Dried Fig and Brandy Gastrique, Crispy Fennel | Photo credit: Tricia Romano

When Chef Alessandra invited me to her transplanted-from-Oregon (and before that, Spain) underground supper club, I was intrigued. The theme of the night was of the lovers’ variety. And so I traveled to a quaint backyard somewhere in a lovely LA neighborhood to partake in her Aphrodisiac Dinner. I went solo, but was comforted when I found the dinner party also included fun company – no doubt a result of the kind of company the exuberance of the chef naturally attracted.

Oyster Two Ways: Sauteed Cornmeal Crusted Oyster on Red Wine Onion Confit & Fanny Bay on the Halfshell With Red Wine Shallot Mignonette | Photo by Tricia Romano

It was a beautiful setting – and one in which it was comfortable to enjoy a full-on eight courses (plus a bonus course) with wine pairings. Though I admit I was worried when I saw it was to take place outside, it was not too cold nor too warm underneath that cozy, red light-tinged tent. The setting is no detail to be glossed over when it comes to underground supper clubs, but in Orgasmo de la Boca’s case, it was perfect. The explanations behind what was going on through Chef Allesandra’s mind while constructing each dish were lovely to behold as my fellow diners and I pondered each bite.

And so was the pacing. Coupled with the quality and tastiness of the dishes, the dining experience was top-notch. Of course, there was at least one love- (or lust-?) inducing ingredient by any interpretation in each course. Oysters two ways; pork via “Bacon and Eggs” – that is, Poached Arauncana Egg in Iberico Nest with Sundried Tomato Butter poached Fingerlings and Ovan Roasted Grape Tomatoes; chili via Fried Mushroom Salad with Chipotle Chervil Aioli and strawberry via a Strawberry-Ginger Granite as a mid-dinner palate cleanser. The wine pairings were also stellar, bringing in another dimension to each course and even the wine itself as proper pairings should.

Dining the Orgasmo de la Boca Way | Photo by Tricia Romano

I always love oysters – especially on the halfshell – and the spicy Fried Mushroom Salad was absolutely lovely, especially when paired with the ’09 Marina Alta Blanco. My favorite was actually a main – the duck breast with the cauliflour and basil puree with dried fig and brandy gastrique as well as fennel. Apparently, women used to dust powdered basil on themselves as a scent and figs were Cleopatra’s favorite fruit. With fennel (which the Egyptians used as a libido enhancement) making the third aphrodisiac ingredient in this dish, perhaps I was really into the thematics and this is why my appetite ultimately “culminated” with this one!

Also delicious was the Coriander Crusted Salmon with Sunchoke Puree and Latke in Tomato and Asparagus Broth. With asparagus and especially coriander being the key ingredients here, I admit there is rarely an experience where I don’t enjoy salmon and this night would have been no exception. The coriander was a really nice touch, highlighting the richness of the fish.

Coriander Crusted Salmon, Sunchoke Puree and Latke, Tomato and Asparagus Broth | Photo by Tricia Romano

Of course, it’s not a proper “love” dinner without dessert, and the “Chocolate Covered Menage a Trois” with sea salt panna cotta, frozen bananas and almond brittle (or manage a quatre with the ’09 Monticelli Muscato d’Asti) did not disappoint. The saltiness, sweetness from both chocolate and fruit and multiple textures just bombarded the senses and was a conclusion to behold.

While Allesandra is known for her smoked olives (see: Artisanal LA), it is clear that she deserves an honest look at her underground dinners. They’re delicious, professional yet hospitable and are a multiple-course tour de force to be reckoned with. The themes change according to her whimsy and inspiration, so there’s a different experience awaiting each diner every time. One thing is constant, however: You can sense her passion in each bite.

For the next dinner on June 4, be sure to reserve here.

All food and wine were hosted.

Special thanks to Tricia Romano for the photos.

Orgasmo de la Boca

Undisclosed location

Dinners organized on case-by-case basis

Average cost: $125 per person

Wolvesmouth: The Supper Club Worthy of Being Kept Underground

Black Bass | tortilla puree, avocado, onion, cilantro flowers, lime

Underground supper clubs are all the rage these days, but there’s something to be said about the stress placed on their novelty. Does the fact that you are in-the-know and dining in secret digs wear out by the 3rd course? Are the setting, the ambiance and the company used to justify the food? Does defying health codes fail to elicit giggles at the table by the 5th course? Is that pillow you’re sitting on uncomfortable and superfluous dinner entertainment not…entertaining?

Celery Root | parsnip soup, crab, crouton

A night at Wolvesmouth doesn’t warrant a Yes to any of the above. To the contrary, this is innovative and thought-provoking food by Chef Craig. When you book a night at the Wolves’ Den, come prepared to embark on a 10-14 course culinary expedition. It’s not for the faint of heart but for the adventurous and ravenous. Each course is like an art piece, with ingredients being a sight for the senses as well (mmm, flowers). The dishes were each worthy of their own accord. If forced to guess which dish was inserted for “fluff” to fill the 10 course quota, I would have an extremely hard time choosing. The pacing of this underground meal would surprise you; dishes came out expediently and would shame places in which I’ve done half as many courses as at Wolvesmouth. I knew even before entering The Den that this meal was belated; rave reviews came in from friends on a consistent basis. Now, it was finally my turn.

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Allagash Joins the Ranks of Supper Liberation Front: August 4, 2010

Photo credit to nan_palmero on Flickr

Sure, maybe you’ve heard about Supper Liberation Front, the latest project of Josh Gil’s (Joe’s Restaurant) and the supper club that serves fancy, imaginative food – 5 courses at a time – while charging dirt cheap prices. But for one night only, SLF will go “legit” in the name of Allagash. That’s as good of a reason as any to come above-ground, and I’m in full support.

The one-off will take place away from their usual spot and at one of the best places to consume beer, period. The Library Alehouse will host the special dinner prepared by SLF. Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing and a pioneer in Belgian-style ales, will be co-hosting with Tom Kelley, Library’s Certified Cicerone™. Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News will host a Q&A session with Rob Tod, who will discuss the beers. Your price for all of the above and below is a mere $70.80 including gratuity but not tax, which will get added at checkout.

Check out the menu below for the pairings:

lil bites
allagash white

mackerel
victoria ale foam, gari sheet
allagash victoria ale

red roast pork croquettes
slaw, kung pao glaze
allagash curieux

lamb reuben
two ways
allagash four

foie gras gelato
stout swirl, kubocha tempura
allagash black

There will only be one seating at 6:30 PM for the night so be sure to buy your advance tickets – no walk-ins are allowed.

Wednesday, August 4

6:30 PM

Tickets: $70.80 for 5 courses + beer pairings

Supper Liberation Front
Allagash Beer Dinner
Library Alehouse
2911 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
310.314.4855

First & Hope Supper Club: Because She’s In That Part of Downtown

Triple Mac 'n Cheese Flight

Engage her only a little, because you might get her worked up. Leave soon, before you find her trying too hard to keep you there. Know her for her strengths, be cautious of her weaknesses – of which there are many. If there were a list of those weaknesses, it would be the majority of her menu.

Amuse Potato

She was up-front. The featured quote on her website is by Coco Chanel: “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Though Coco undoubtedly valued substance, the focus of First & Hope is on appearances – starting with the intent to impress, overcompensating by talking too much – as if the ingredients in her dishes were names in entertainment.

Like the amuse bouche we were provided: A simple fingerling potato with creme fraiche was executed well, but as with all bad romances, beginnings are ever so misleading.

Moonshine Meatloaf - $27

…And as you escape to the opera, or the L.A. Philharmonic – remember the style and class First & Hope Supper Club exuded, as that would be her heavily weighted strength. Remember the deftly chosen Mac ‘n Cheese flight – another of her few strengths, and by a landslide. How the Triple Cream Brie pot was so deliciously rich and the natural honeycomb cut across it so well. Remember how the Aged Goat flavor contrasted well with the inherent creaminess of a well-baked mac ‘n cheese. How delicious it was to wash down the sharpness of a cheddar mac with dark Porter. And how through it all, you basked in the high-class essence of the blue-tinged light…

Crabmeat Justine Pot Pie

Like all those who give way too much, however, you’ll have to stay disciplined for the both of you. If there ever were so blatantly brandished a trump card like foie gras, know that when combined with even high-quality ground chuck to make meatloaf, it will not work. Even the blackened bacon which wraps it cannot save it nor the green beans which accompany it. Back away; she tries too hard and the results are disastrous.

Back to the menu, where she starts by talking too much. What a tiny little and unremarkable crabmeat “pot pie” (where the pot was, I’m not exactly sure) she serves up for $13. The significance of the buttery french toast topping was lost on me. And there’s nothing “grits” nor popcorn about the Popcorn Shrimp & Grits ($17). Truth be told, I didn’t see what her point was in either of these and felt rather underwhelmed by the prospect of paying so much for small dishes that didn’t deliver…for free.

Duck-Duck-Goose (Sugar & Spice Seared Duck Breast, Duck Leg Confit, Roasted Foie Gras, Spring Onion Hoe Cake & Wilted Baby Mustard Greens) - $28

If there were one other strength at First & Hope, it would certainly be the Duck-Duck-Goose. Tender, juicy and yes – even sweet, the rich bird was cooked well and even complimentary to its natural characteristics. Avoid the Nenaw’s Picnic Basket – the deep-fried buttermilk hen was extremely dry and straight-up bland.

LAPD Doughnut Shakedown

The curious thing that everyone in my party could not ignore was that there were many a fingerling potato used as garnishes throughout the dinner…let me rephrase. Make that: …There were many a raw fingerling potato that garnished our dishes. How could she fail to cook potatoes correctly, or at all? The devil is in the details, girlfriend. But like I said, engage her for her strengths – and that would be the duck, mac ‘n cheese flight and bubbly cocktails (OK – and the LAPD Donut Shakedown, which was rather heavenly, actually, for dessert). Let’s not harp any further on her weaknesses, shall we? After all – luxury and class don’t preclude feelings. Hopefully she includes desire to improve upon substance to match.

All food and cocktails were hosted.

Further reading:

Lots of Style, Little Substance: First and Hope – ShopEatSleep

First & Hope Supper Club
710 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2442
213.617.8555

Open 7 days per week
Lunch: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Dinner: 5 – 11 PM
Sun – Thur, Bar: 2:30 – 11 PM
Fri – Sat, Bar: 2:30 PM – 12 AM