I’ll admit: I’ve always had a soft spot for crawfish. Once you get the hang of peeling and eating those little mudbugs (and believe me, getting proficient at it is like a rite of passage), it’s like a crafty, delicious feast doubling as entertainment.
There’s a trace amount of apprehension I try to temper when I find myself dining in oversized spaces. The fear stems from the likelihood of spending time and money dining in a space that is less likely to feel personalized – whether in terms of physical sense of space and/or the quality of service enjoyed during the meal.
The Hudson has been at the center of many a West Hollywood scene. So when they shuttered over the new year for 3 weeks to renovate their interior, they had in mind to update the feel of the place – without doing so much as to disrupt the reasons their patrons have become regulars. What you’ll feel immediately when you walk in is the added height – 8 feet, to be exact – and a now-exposed, beautiful A-frame ceiling.
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.
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.
It’s been a few years since Pitfire Pizza had found a special place in my heart. Though I first became surprisingly enamored with the well built-out chain starting with the unveiling of their Culver City location, I was surprised to learn that they’re actually celebrating the 15th anniversary of the first, their North Hollywood location, this year.
Their quality is ensured by a well sized, manageable menu that joins the locations together. If you only order pizza, you’re actually missing a big part of their appeal. They always have excellent vegetable sides and well executed pastas to cover all their bases. And now, you’ll have fall flavors to look forward to on your next visit, starting with their Roasted Pumpkin Pizza with kale and pumpkin seeds.
As November 6th rolls up, we’re reminded, again and again, that the best reason to vote is to realize our civic duty. We, as a society, have been preparing for next Tuesday for a long time (Californians, with all our propositions, you know what I’m talking about). Decisions will be made as a collective whether or not we decide to personally participate, so why not embrace it?
Whether you take-away a savory dinner to enjoy at home or await the returns in camaraderie at one of the viewing parties, your “I Voted” sticker will score some points with your taste buds and your wallet anywhere around town. If you voted absentee, perhaps you’ll want to carry your stub or some other proof with you so you can make your case. Check below for a deal near you:
Brunch remains the fruition of the ultimate Southern Californian snub – a meal Angeleno dilettantes could fit into their schedules almost any day of the year if they wanted to, and on an outdoor patio, at that. While I once considered the tweener meal synonymous with a certain 3rd Street spot known as much for their celebrity sightings as for their fruit cup and egg dishes, brunch has become a fact of life. There is now no shortage of restaurants – most of whom don’t even offer lunch service on the weekdays – who open early on the weekends for brunch. It’s become a ritual, a pastime that has become justification for that Friday or Saturday night hangover. With that comes competition and an audience that is no longer enamored with the existence of eggs on the menu.
Petrossian, at least in West Hollywood and beyond, has essentially become synonymous with caviar as its flagship Los Angeles restaurant serves wide-ranging clientele in its white-soaked dining room, one caviar-enhanced meal to the next. As Chef Giselle Wellman continues to tinker with the always-excellent, savory-focused menu, she has decided to do something a little different in regards to the more casual, often-ignored boutique and patio area of the restaurant. In the daytime, the beautiful boutique is flooded with daylight, with artful floral arrangements decorating high tops and a cushy, long booth lining the inside front wall.
Caviar is often intimidating to those not yet inducted, but in Petrossian’s quest to make all things caviar-palatable, perhaps the omnipresence of its signature ingredient on the menu has ironically become a barrier, of sorts. There lacked a menu that was evidence that the brand – in its dining room incarnation, at least – was content to not beat the ingredient to death by proving its compatibility with everyday dishes.
If there could exist a niche to fill in between lunch, happy hour and dinner at Petrossian, the newly-launched boutique and patio menu of small plates does exactly that. Because small plates are just the thing for us non-committal diners these days. Of course, this doesn’t detract from the elegance of the dinner menu nor the lightness of the lunch menu – nor the introductory nature of the happy hour menu, that is. There’s a perfect mid-day vibe to this menu, what with vegetables and fruit matching the vibrance and breeziness of the boutique and patio without sacrificing any of the taste.
It’s hard to complain about the asparagus, which turned up perfectly cooked and seasoned. I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has said “I hate burrata,” but the apricots, basil and prosciutto make for lovely complements. The nice touch that Giselle brought to the already-delicious olive plate is that she warms the conconction up. You can bite through the tangy-sweet orange peels, while wondering why everyone doesn’t heat up their olive appetizers.
The morels that accompany the farm egg are the menu’s savory sweet spot while the sweet peas are just the perfect sweet touch – and truth be told, I really just can’t get enough of runny eggs. Win-win. The caviar aioli to the pomme frites are basically as “bar food” as you get in the place – but what an excellent version, at that.
And of course, it’s impossible to ignore the Mussels, Fig & Brie sandwiches and Prime Flat Iron Steak Crostinis. The Fig & Brie, with its delicious walnut bread, is like the Thanksgiving you missed last November (because we’d all pick this over Turkey Club leftovers). The garlic aioli atop the uber tender Prime Flat Iron Steak cuts is just the perfect touch. The Mussels are also solid, with the broth being one of those things you just wish was a soup.
You can order from this menu on Mondays through Saturdays from 5 – 11 PM while seated in the boutique or patio – but not the dining room. And if you happen to be there before 7 o’clock on a weekday, you may as well scope their happy hour drink menu as well, including the Caviar Martini.
After all, you’ll want to complement your small plates with a little – or a lot – of caviar.
All food and cocktails were hosted.
Truffle Oil, Parmesan, Pine Nuts, Lemon
Apricots, Basil, Prosciutto
House Pickled Vegetables
Cucumber, Cauliflower, Carrots, Pear Onion, Fresno Chili
Citrus and Herb Marinated Olives, Grilled Baguette
Morels, Fava Beans, Peas, Baguette
Soy Sesame Vinaigrette, Chives, Caviar
Prince Edward Island Mussels
Saffron, White Wine, Fresno Chili, Parsley, Grilled Bread
Trout Roe, Salmon Roe, Caviar
Fig and Brie
Walnut Bread, Arugula, Honey
Prime Flat Iron Crostinis
Watercress, Caramelized Onion, Garlic Aioli
There are a few places to eat and drink in town that I might be guilty of having prejudged based upon what I know about their location and reputation. I’m not saying that restaurants that are celebrity favorites couldn’t possibly serve good food. But let’s be honest, we’re afraid of risking bad service at a “hotspot” as non-celebrities. The food’s probably more expensive. And lest we be mistaken for those scenesters who seek validation via famous elbow-rubbing… *shudder*
(Can anyone tell me if The Ivy actually serves good food and provides prompt service in a manner on par with the concluding check? And how is that service – and how famous was your “up-and-coming waiter” - at Gjelina?)
In a former life, Cecconi’s was still Morton’s and the site of Elton John’s post-Oscar party, wherein my college girlfriends and I cruised by just to get a glimpse of some major motion picture star waiting for valet. Internally, I made the location die in relevance along with my n00b Angeleno self.
Full disclosure: Leave it to a media dinner to allow me to reassess.
I don’t valet. I drive a convertible with the top down all the time (now with the weather being warm) that, in what I am sure is a subconscious way of acting out my love-hate-love LA self, I keep so dirty you could write “Wash me” on my rims in brake dust.
But let me describe what a great time I had a Cecconi’s. While I don’t comment on service when it’s a media dinner, I have to say that I immensely enjoyed all the cocktails, which had stronger pours than I expected (don’t be fooled by their often pinkish colors). The food was not ground-breaking but appreciatingly solid in their execution. Gin lovers will appreciate this 14 drink menu and some selections, like the Mexican-influeced Jalisco Sour or Picante Paloma, will surprise you.
The selection on the menu is especially savvy. There’s variety without the dangers of being overwhelming. Clear categories line the all-day one pager from apps to salads and ”Carpaccio & Tartare.” “Charcoal Grill” and “Wood Oven” items are the priciest yet half-portions are available for all the salads and almost all the pasta and risotto. In combination with the tasty, Italian-influeced cocktails, it’s all perfect for a day on the patio with the ladies.
Their most popular items, and understandably so, are highlighted as Cicchetti, which are also served in the middle of the day. They effectively supplement or comprise your meal, these Italian “tapas” (the scallops and bone marrow qualify as such).
But don’t gloss over the pasta (I have a hard time doing so, anyway). Their linguine with clams comes flavored with a bit of sea urchin and the rabbit pappardelle is as solid as any in the city – or even better – as there were generous yet complementary chunks of meat in lieu of the usual strings of meat I often see interpersed between the fat noodles. And it was all al dente.
The best part in regards to the pasta is that they’ve just released their Tris di Pasta special on Tuesdays at dinner: Try a sampler of 3 rotating pastas for $18. They’ve also started to feature a different, seasonal pizza with ingredients sourced from the local farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
And back on that celebrity tip: Our table, which was positioned on the beautiful outdoor patio separated from the driveway by foliage as is typical for Melrose place, sat next to another who was celebrating the wrap of a certain dance competition TV show while I spied a certain Elizabeth Taylor impersonator at the bar. So that celebrity factor was certainly still there; it just failed to validate my prejudices.
(All food and drink were hosted.)
Mon – Wed
8 AM – Midnight?
Thur – Sat
8 AM – 1 AM
8 AM – 11 PM
8764 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Since Jason Neroni left Osteria La Buca, Hollywood’s been feeling a little blue since he was the center of some of the best Italian the neighborhood ever knew. It’s a great thing, then, that he’s scheduled to make a comeback with his and Paul Hibler’s own Superba Snack Bar (nay, not so great that it’s all the way in Venice). But we can take advantage of the pop-up going on this week, however, at the West Hollywood location of Pitfire Pizza.
The pop-up at Hibler’s Pitfire is essentially a preview of what’s to come in about a month at Superba Snack Bar, which will be located at 933 Rose in Venice. So check the menu below (subject to change) and hop on over to the Fairfax District in the next couple of days:
- Snack: Chicken Liver Mousse, Rye Toast, Balsamic Cherries, Basil Buds ($10)
- Salad: Eclectic Acres Greens, Superba Ricotta, Famers’ Market Vegetables, Blossoms, Picked Jalapeño Dressing ($8)
- Pizza: Ramps and Ramp Greens, Ricotta, Crème Fraiche, Smoked Bone Marrow ($12)
- Pasta: Garganelli, Lamb Bolognese, Black Garlic, Smoked Ricotta Salata ($14)
- Sandwich: Porchetta, Wild Arugula, Preserved Lemon, Garlic Confit ($12)
- Drinks: Beer Sangria ($7), Belgian White, Prosecco, Chardonnay, Apricot Juice ($8)
It promises to be a hearty yet flavorful set, so I’m looking forward to it. Buon appetito!