Noodles are a perfect way to ring in the Lunar New Year. Representative in Asian cultures of long life, noodles are also one of the most comforting foods that I turn to – perfect in our “chilly” Los Angeles February. So when I heard that the first ever Noodle Bowl Fest would be held at The Viceroy, you could color me skeptical about the representations that would be served – until I actually looked at the participants.
They’re the noodle heavyweights of Arcadia, Thai Town and Little Osaka, but also the culinary heavyweights of Highland Park, Manhattan Beach, the food truck movement and Santa Monica. A $45 ticket (bought before January 31st, $55 after) will get you tastings of the following:
The bites are the kind of thing where you warm up to a beautiful place with just the right ambiance. The tastes are deceptively good. Then, you proceed to order more and more, ultimately staying for what accumulates to an all-out meal. I am a grazer, not a gorger; I love bites.
Now, a great place to do exactly that is Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica – a place where the indoor dining options are just as charming as the outdoor, with the latter coming full circle thanks to poolside and cabana options. Chicken liver mousse with pancetta on crostini? Heavenly. Dungeness crab cake with yuzu on crostinis? Refreshing. And of course, it’s not enough to put just uni on crostini, but to add lardo? Indulgent. And perfect.
The real problem is that if you don’t have a few camarades with you on this little dining adventure, you’ll probably get real full before you either: 1) Get to try all the bites you wanted to, or 2) Get to any of the also-solid main dishes available. After all, you can’t forget about the juicy, flavorful Lamb Kafka Meatballs, topped with orange, pistachio and yogurt. Nor the beautifully cured hamachi with rhubarb “ponzu,” cucumber, radish and celery.
All this, while having to avoid getting full on their extraordinary corn bread, which Chef Tony DiSalvo makes with three different renditions of corn to achieve that robust flavor. Oh, and that perfectly prepared Grilled Octopus with romesco, potatoes and charred wild leeks. It’s the kind of octopus dish that converts all those naysayers who’ve assumed octopus, by nature, is chewy. The tentacles are tender and flavorful, yet finished with a crispy exterior.
But of course, I must move on to the mains, a favorite of which was the Broiled Halibut. The filet came perched on a bed of deliciously smoked potato-miso puree and paired with crispy asparagus and ginger. It was a surprising winner – simple but a perfect combination of flavors. The smoke was a nice and unexpected touch.
And as for some other mains, sweetbreads lovers will love this version prepared with morels and fava beans in sherry. But if you’re looking for something a little lighter than that, the potato gnocchi are just as much a treat (and doubles as a vegetarian alternative), with asparagus and morels rounding out its buttery essence.
If I were to pick the one essential dessert at Whist, it would be the Rhubarb tart with its buttery crust and walnut crumble on top. Of course, it comes a la mode with vanilla ice cream. Just try it. It’s just one of those desserts where if you thought you were full before, you’ll realize you do have enough room for dessert. All of it.
So check out Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary’s new bites, served in their chic dining room or outdoors. The tastes are just too fabulous to allow you to get too distracted by the hotel, pool or any of the beautiful views and ambiance they afford.
When I see “beet salad” on the menu, I’m not expecting anything particularlyÂ revolutionary. I do like a beet in time, however; bring it to me via borsht or even cocktail.Â The bloody beetroot is vivaciousÂ in color and taste. The veggie stands on its own and well, you might have to try extra hard to screw that up.
But none of that really takes away from the heavenly experience I had devouring Chef Tony DiSalvo’s version. I call it a mashup. He adds hazelnuts – a decidedly rich choice and anÂ upgrade from your typical walnuts. And no, that is not feta or goat cheese. That is truffle panna cotta -Â the creamy, decadent umami to the dish which surprisingly doesn’t overpower.Â Â The baby lettuce used is more of a vessel for all these pickled, sweet and rich flavors,Â taking the place of your usual, bitter mixed greens like arugula and escarole.
And the beets. They are alternatingly roasted and pickled, and are all deliciously left as the centerpiece of the salad.
Yeah, I just described salad. I can hardly believe it, myself. This is one of those dishes (in addition to the perfect meatballs – but more on that, later) that just proves that Chef DiSalvo’s cooking is underrated. There are gems scattered throughout the menu, and the beet salad is just a teaser.
Breakfast: Mon â€“ Fri 7 AM – 11 AM Sat 7 AM – 11:30 AM Sun 7 AM – 2 PM
Lunch: Mon â€“ Friday 11 AM – 2:30 PM Sat 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Dinner: Sun â€“ Tues 6:30 PM – 10 PM Wed â€“ Sat 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM
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.
For the next eight Wednesdays, it will be hoppin’ poolside at The Viceroy. KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad has teamed up with the venue and Chef Tony DiSalvo (Whist) to showcase four international themes with the launch of “Beats and Bites.” Tomorrow, Garth himself will kick things off with reggae, whereby you’ll enjoy a customized, individualÂ plate of Jamaican and Caribbean bites for $25 each. Plan your visit between 6 – 9 PM each Wednesday in August and September, and you’ll be swinging your hips as your tastebuds are tantalized.
Aug 4 & Sept 1: Reggae – Jamaican/Caribbean *Garth Trinidad will host to kick-off series*
black beans, rice and peas, shredded beef, fried plantains, jerk chicken, beef patties, pork curry with rice and beans
Aug 11 & Sept 8: Cajun/Creole â€“ New Orleans
oysters on the half, crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets and iced chicory coffee
Where are you eating on Sunday? Hopefully you’re looking for a spot to brunch or dine at, because this particular round-up is one I can’t take advantage of myself since I’ll be in Mammoth. Whether you’re looking for bottomless bubbly, a buffet, a prix fixe menu or simply special dishesÂ offered for the holiday, there are plenty of options all around town. Though I tried finding spots to represent the LA neighborhoods equally, apparently theÂ Christians live on the westside as most of the specials I’ve found skew toward that side of town. It’s a curious thing, especially to an adoptive eastsider likeÂ myself.
Take a look below for your Sunday feast of choiceÂ on April 4, 2010:
Santa Monica: Whist at The Viceroy
Spend Easter by the beach. Whist at The Viceroy’s Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo (formerly of NYC’s Jean Georges) will be procuring an Easter feast to extend throughout the day but offered as two separate buffet menus: Brunch and dinner. Expect a shellfish station as well as a leg of lamb/prime rib station whether you do afternoon or night, but omelettes and grits in the first half and a risotto station in the second. The best part? The price includes access to the bellini station and house wine. Not bad for a such a snazzy place like Whist…
From 11 AM – 3 PM, Chaya’s all over Los Angeles will be offering a 3-course prix-fixe Easter Brunch menu. It will cost $35 for adults and $15 for young adults (12 and under), who have their own menu. For the adults, though, bottomless mimosas are included – so I’d highly recommend making a reservation right away to secure your slot. You can do this through Open Table.
At Chaya Venice (full menu), who will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in April 2010, guests can enjoy unique selections such as:
Spring Jumbo Crispy Asparagus with Romesco Salsa
Roasted Beet Wedge Salad with Bacon, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Blue Cheese Dressing
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes
11 AM – 3 PM
$35 prix fixe incl. bottomless mimosas
Chaya Venice 110 Navy Street Venice, CA 90291 310.396.1179
Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills (full menu), pick from an assortment of fresh brasserie-style fare including:
The CHAYA Classic Tuna Tartare
Cinnamon Roll French Toast with Farmerâ€™s Market Berry Compote
Grilled Free-Range Chicken Breast with Apple & Fourme dâ€™Ambert.
11 AM – 3 PM
$35 prix fixe incl. bottomless mimosas
Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills 8741 Alden Drive Los Angeles, CA 90048 310.859.8833