Piedmontese Beef the Star at Star King BBQ

Tomahawk Piedmontese Steak

Known as one of the only restaurants in Los Angeles that serves Piedmontese beef, Star King BBQ is an unlikely destination for the genetically advantageous, double-muscled, super lean meat. But the truth is that you’ll never find this Italian breed at any other Korean BBQ, and at less than a handful of other restaurants, such as in a burger at Stefan Richter’s L.A. Farm.

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V-day or Bust: Make a Miracle Mile Getaway at Kimpton’s Hotel Wilshire

Hotel Wilshire Roof Pool

Back in the Fall, I made a little getaway to a familiar area (no, I won’t use that word that begins with “stay” and ends with “-tion”). It was a welcome chance to really explore what I already thought I knew, and the Hotel Wilshire was the perfect home base.

The Hotel Wilshire is walking distance to LACMA, but also to Petersen Automotive Museum. Both museums are the venues of so many cultural events, which makes the hotel seem like a great place for out-of-town visitors to establish their base or for locals to crash after a nearby gala. The rotating exhibits make it perfect for locals to visit time and time again.

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Kate Mantilini Celebrates 25 Years With New Cocktail Menu

Table 24

There are some restaurants in Los Angeles that have achieved a sort of double-edged iconic status. Their names have been cemented in history due to the decades of their resilience – a resulting longevity which suggests, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Yet. We can all agree that the definition of “ain’t broke,” or “competent,” has evolved in regards to the way we have grown to consider cocktails today, which is in itself a wonderful thing. Kate Mantelini, a place that is all at once regarded as a Beverly Hills “coffee shop” [Zagat], power lunch hub and pinpoint on every star map in existence, has effectively shed their 1980s-era defunct ways of creating and enjoying cocktails thanks to the new menu by Devon Espinoza.

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Nama-Stay: Fairmont Miramar and Exhale Spa Team Up For Free Week of Yoga

Photo credit to lyntally on Flickr

When it comes to The Fairmont Miramar Hotel by the beach, I’m usually raving about FIG Restaurant or covering a food event that has taken place in their driveway circle around one of the oldest trees in the city.

But it’s no secret that the balance to enjoying all the food I write about is physical activity, whichever activity you may be really into right now. While I’ve been attending Pilates classes on the reformer the past couple of years, I’m always applying the principals of yoga not only to that, but also to my minute-to-minute posture and way about moving throughout the day. Yoga is universal.

Luckily, Exhale Spa and the Fairmont Miramar have teamed up this week to offer a special rate to go with a week of unlimited yoga classes. Because who really wants to eat unlimited, heatlamped food at the buffet, anymore? For a special rate of $260 per night, you’ll get this free week of yoga included (until January 8) so you can detox with proper nights’ rest right by the beach.

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Thursday Night Family Dinners at Huckleberry Cafe & Bakery

Free Range Country Fried Chicken & Dwelley Farms Corn Pudding

City-wide pastry and sweets addicts know and love Huckleberry for their wonderful selection of treats. Always a proponent of the highest quality ingredients – down to their organic flour – Huckleberry’s impressive display case is quite the Westside attraction but their fresh salads, sandwiches and weekend brunch dishes also hold their own thanks to Executive Chef, Head Baker, and Co-owner Zoe Nathan.

Now, on Thursdays, nobody will have to bid adieu to the cafe favorite earlier than they have to enjoy a family-style dinner. With a new seasonal menu featured weekly, you’re offered a different experience each time. Take-out options are also available on the 3-course, $30 per person weekly. To get the menu of the week, sign up for the restaurant’s e-newsletter.

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St. Vincent Meals On Wheels & Miss Lilly’s Trading Company Holiday Extravaganza at Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills | Photo courtesy of Donna Grayson on Flickr

I hope everyone’s having a great holiday season! I’m checking back in (with a New Year’s resolution to update regularly come the…you’ve guessed it…new year) since I’m super excited to be live-blogging tonight from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

St. Vincent’s famous food truck, Cart for a Cause, has launched a cookbook featuring 40 of Los Angeles’ acclaimed chefs. Four of them – Mark Gold (Eva Restaurant), Alex Becker (NOBU Los Angeles), Bebe Flynn (Miss Lilly’s Trading Company) and Michael Fiorelli (mar’sel at Terranea) – will be on-hand at the VIP reception at 5 PM today. For $25, you’ll get bites straight from the cookbook and get to take home your own signed copy (call 213.484.7128 to RSVP). You’ll be taking home some delicious recipes while knowing that 100% of the proceeds from your cookbook purchase benefits Meals on Wheels.

At 6 PM, tonight, is the main holiday shopping event. You can expect lots of treats! Not only will Cart for a Cause be serving up food at the valet, every sponsor will have something special to offer every attendee. Plus, free Pisco Porton cocktails and glitter tattoos. The Guerlain lash bar will be open as will the Frederic Fekkai counter. Check below for what everyone’s got in store:

  • Free glitter tattoos
  • Feed with Fashion Social T-shirt from JUNK FOOD CLOTHING
  • Longer lashes at the GUERLAIN lash bar
  • A hair analysis at FREDERIC FEKKAI
  • The 30-second facelift at CELLCOSMET
  • Hand and arm massages from LA MER and JO MALONE
  • Mini facials at SK-II
  • A chance to enter and win a PENHALIGON’S fragrance gift basket, valued at $385.
  • Makeovers and artistry from ARMANI, BOBBI BROWN, CHANEL, CLARINS, ESTEE LAUDER, LANCOME, LAURA MERCIER, NARS and YSL
  • A special gift with your BOBBI BROWN, CELLCOSMET, CLARINS, DIOR, DOLCE & GABBANA, ESTEE LAUDER, FREDERIC FEKKAI, IOMA, LAURA MERCIER and SK-II purchases.*
  • A complimentary makeup sample when you meet with a CLE DE PEAU or SHISEIDO consultant*
  • Customization of your ESTEE LAUDER purchase by their engraver*
  • With your SISLEY purchase, get your future foretold by renowned psychic Dora Blacman*

*denotes one per purchase

Also, don’t forget to visit me in the Blogger’s Hub! I’ll be live-blogging and tweeting the event.

And, if you decide to do some holiday shopping (for others or yourself, natch), you’ll feel great that during the hours of 6 – 8 PM tonight, 5% will benefit Miss Lilly’s Trading Company, which goes towards feeding pets belonging to homebound seniors, while 5% more will go towards St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, which help feed the seniors themselves.

See you tonight!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

VIP Reception: 5 – 6 PM

Holiday shopping event: 6 – 8 PM

On One in Saks Fifth Avenue East
9600 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
RSVP: 213.484.7128

Ray’s & Stark Bar: A Dining & Cocktail Destination Within LACMA

Beef Tendon | Red braise, mushrooms, mustard fruit, broccoli ($9)

It may be commonplace for a museum to have a gift shop and furthermore, a restaurant, available within its walls for the convenience of its guests. The quality of Ray’s and Stark Bar, however, serves to make it a viable rival as far as being a destination in itself.

Ray's and Stark Bar at LACMA

Upon approach, the beautiful but complementary decor and setting of Ray’s and Stark Bar (so-named after the late film producer and former LACMA Trustee) expertly enable the restaurant and bar to blend in with its surroundings on the museum’s middle patio. But nothing about it dwindles in comparison to even the largest campus of the largest art museum in the western United States.

Certainly not the food menu, curated by Kris Morningstar (District), and certainly not the cocktail selection – which currently runs 25 deep – by Michel Dozois (Neve Ice). The treats are just as savory as what you’ve found on Chef Morningstar’s menus past – thank god – and at first taste during a media cocktail party, just as delicious.

The charcuterie, pates, rillette and cheese are all top-notch. You’ll find your standard selections of meat but also a decent selection of rarer cheeses available to start your evening off on the right foot.

Chile Relleno with Chorizo, Goat Cheese, Dates, Almond Sauce ($12)

The beef tendon – whether or not you’ve ever particularly been a fan of connective tissue – is a must-order as it stands one of the most tender meat dishes on the menu. The chile relleno, with its fillings of chorizo, goat cheese, dates and almond sauce, is such a uniquely rich rendition – it’s no wonder the (venison) version Kris left back at District is one of Alan Richman’s top five eats of 2010 in GQ Mag. This is also an essential item in your visit.

The flatbreads are no slouch, either, thanks to their wood-fired oven and apricot wood upon which they are cooked and browned. The pie crusts bubble up around the edges and are finished off with that charred crisp only an oven like that can achieve. The combination of toppings are simple (tomato and oregano) inspirational (truffle cheese, fontina, mushrooms) or plain thematic (goat shoulder and goat cheese). Truth be told, though, the real danger is letting these fill you up and thereby preventing you from exploring the rarer treats on the menu. Even their burrata is given a not-so-typical treatment with delicious, savory olive oil and tapenade.

Burrata with Tapenade

Feeling the beef tendon was too tame? Try the blood sausage, which comes dressed in pea tendrils and pickled cippolini onions. Or, you can order the crispy, fried head cheese as another savory treat. The mustardy, tangy carrot piccalilli that accompanies it gives the plate a good kick. 

And if you’re in the mood for a French classic, the Croque Madame, with its sunny side up egg on top, is cooked to perfection in all its rich glory. You’re best sharing one of these sandwiches unless this eye of the egg is what you particularly crave.

Dr. Blinker | Rye, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, raspberry syrup ($11)

And the cocktails…oh, the delicious cocktails. Michel Dozois, whose cocktails headline Ray’s and Stark Bar and whose Neve Ice keeps said cocktails chilled, said he was given the task of coming up with 100 cocktails yet was able to convince the higher-ups to allow him whittle it down to 25. You will find yourself paging through that still-large selection not able to quite make up your mind and even quite possibly throwing up your hands. No worries, because Michel will be happy to help you discover the cocktail exactly to your liking.

It’s not that the recipes are complicated; to the contrary, they’re quite simple. But the selection of spirits, combined with juices made in-house, make for some very vibrant cocktails. Even Smokey and the Bandit, which employs Laphroaig, made even the band-aid-ish Islay single malt taste refreshing.

Morning Glory Fizz | Scotch, Absinth, egg white, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup ($10)

If you’re looking for a light, airy treat, try the Morning Glory Fizz – with Scotch, Absinth, egg white, freshly squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup. And though I love rye, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d enjoy it with grapefruit juice as in Michel’s Dr. Blinker. If you’re looking for something sweet and spicy, try the Owl and Pussycat, made with rum, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, chilis and cherries.

Truth be told, there are really just so many cocktails and treats – not to mention mains – to try on this menu. I was just lucky to get a peek. In all, though, it was a great window into what promises to be an interesting and exciting place to explore all the corners of your palate. Art on this block has indeed transcended above and beyond to include the other senses, making the kitchen at Ray’s and Stark Bar an essential and rich (in multiple ways) LACMA experience.

All food and cocktails were hosted.

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Ray’s

Lunch: 12 – 3 PM, Dinner: 5 – 10 PM
Closed Wednesdays

Stark Bar

11 AM – 11 PM
Closed Wednesdays

Ray’s & Stark Bar

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.857.6180

Favorite Dish: Bibimbap Style Farro at Black Cat

Bibimbap-style Farro

Though I’ve always been a kind of “over easy” kind of gal when it comes to eggs, more and more I’m apt to go “sunny side up.” Especially when it comes to Korean food. The runnier, the better.

And that’s really the only thing that the so-named “bibimbap-style farro” has in common with the actual Korean dish. I’m not questioning the taste, however; I’m just wondering what exactly is so “bibimbap” about this dish. No chili paste, no silver bowl – but you know, perhaps the mixture of vegetables – including asparagus, roasted tomato and swiss chard - on top of, yes, farro instead of rice is just enough to warrant the name. The most pleasant surprise, though, was the burrata. (If it were “dolsotbop style,” do you think farro could result in a crispy bottom caused by a stone pot?”)

Regardless, this is one delicious and surprisingly filling dish out of many tasty selections on Black Cat’s reasonably priced menu (see: $2 coffee). Though nothing can take away from the cultish longevity that Mani’s had in the same spot, I’m sure glad that Black Cat is now filling the neighborhood space.

They’ve remodeled the interior and kept the decor simple. The best indoor seats remain in the Fairfax-lining bay windows built for 2. Of course, there’s still sidewalk seating for those who like to really make the most of Black Cat’s neighborhood feel.

I came for lunch, so my appetite didn’t exactly call for one of the fresh pastries (baked on-site with breads coming from Homeboy Industries) behind the counter. But thanks to this great experience with the farro, I’ll be sure to return for more menu items, earlier in the day. My wallet can handle it.

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Mon – Fri: 7:30 AM – 5 PM
Sat – Sun: 8 AM – 6 PM

Black Cat
519 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
323.932.1500

Weekday Afternoon Food Coma: Red Medicine’s Bánh Mì

Pork Belly Bánh Mì ($12)

As someone who has held a tenure at the same company and building for over 5 years, I’ve seen lunch places come and go from my little perch on Wilshire Blvd. I like to joke that we are in the real “Slums of Beverly Hills” since we, in the stretch closest to the L.A. line, hold a 323 area code instead of the usual 310 everyone west of us is assigned. The most varied of lunch options is a short drive to Miracle Mile because of the food trucks. And yes, I do, thanks to my frustration with the lack of options as well as my resistence to Trimana – the chain deli across the street which unabashedly microwaves their eggs in plain sight of their customers.

Singapore Sling ($10)

I’ve been in that space at the intersection of Gale plenty of times before, with Red Medicine being the 3rd changeover entity I’ve witnessed. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s dark, dingy bar called The Continental was the scene of learning exactly which co-workers I never wanted to go drinking with, ever again. Hokusai, a Japanese spot, offered $7 cash-only, combination bento boxes – the best lunch deal in the vicinity.

Now, Red Medicine is my next-block, one-stop-shop for the best bánh mì Beverly Hills (and the vicinity) ever did see. Their bar beckons me; liquid lunches are as enticing and accessible as ever, thanks to Matt and his house-made juices and sodas. I enjoy his Pimm’s Cup (only in L.A. during January is this acceptable, y’see) and his Singapore Sling. The others, I can’t wait to try. Yes, this is Beverly Hills but the cocktails at Red Medicine are also only $10. Fernet lovers (or nay-sayers, depending on whom you ask): They carry Malört, probably one of the only places this west of Chicago to do so.

The bar at Red Medicine

But back to solid lunch. The main selections are the Bún Chả ($12-$15) and Bánh Mì, both of which I have had – with pork belly – and have been extremely happy with. Let’s not fool ourselves: We’re not in Westminster nor Vietnam, and there’s nowhere in Beverly Hills you’ll get away with eating for less than $10. But if you want those flavors with an avant garde flourish, Red Medicine is your best bet. After all, the sandwich is a full foot long. The quality of the Bánh Mì is also held up in no small part by the Bouchon bread, which I’ve noticed has been tinkered with and increasingly toasted (over 3 sandwiches during 3 different occasions). The cilantro is super fresh as is the deliciously pickled, crunchy carrot. Sliced jalapenos give the sandwich a good kick while the modest helping of mayo adds just a hint of sweetness. If you need some more spice, look no further than the house-made sriracha sauce, plated on the side – a delicious and fresh rendition of the famous Rooster Sauce.

Feel like noodles, or looking for a lighter lunch? The Bún Chả delivers a fresh helping of noodles as well as the same, delicious and also noodle-like carrots. There are more pickled vegetables than in the Bánh Mì to match the light, sweet, vinegar-based and refreshing dressing. It’s a fancy patch of noodles that you can order with wagyu, pork or chicken but there’s no short-changing the flavor.

Controversies aside, I’m glad Red Medicine moved in. Things looked auspicious when I dined their Test Kitchen run at the debut of TK, itself, and I’m happy to see that once all the kinks (kitchen and PR, alike) are ironed out, it looks like Red Medicine may be the restaurant to break the curse of Gale and Wilshire. Bring on lunch!

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Lunch: 11 AM – 2 PM

Dinner and Lounge: 6 PM – 2 AM

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323.651.5500

Cowboys & Turbans For Indian Street Food

Shrimp burrito

I first stumbled across Cowboys & Turbans after a show at the El Rey. I was with my girlfriend and of course, we needed up to sop up the overpriced vodka tonics in our bellies with some grub. We ended up discovering the joint immediately next door, with lit-up signage labeling it simply, “Diner” and banners adorning Cowboys & Turbans’ correct name.

Diner food it is not, Indian street food it is. Nothing like a little spice to spruce things up before diving into bed. We ended up sharing a shrimp burrito for $9 and at the time, it was worth every penny. There’s a decent amount of shrimp in the burrito (despite what the picture may depict) and they keep a variety of 3 sauces with which to drizzle your tacos or burritos. I could come back to this taco stand.

And during a lunch break at work, I sure did. I ordered the same thing since it was “safe” – and found out the lunch menu on average is $2 less per item than their late-night “show menu.” But now I’m ready for some more. Thank goodness for Twitter; I got recommendations from Abby of PleasurePalate who got to sample more of their menu. The potato samosa, fish taco and apple samosa for dessert are next on my list!!

Know in order to go:

I love KCRW! KCRW members get 10% off which provides even more incentive. Also, the storefront serves as an El Rey box office during its business hours. So if you are feeling wallet-savvy and don’t want to give Ticketbastard any more of your hard-earned money with convenience and venue charges for a show at the El Rey, stop in while you’re getting tacos and buy tickets for any show that’s upcoming.

Lunch menu (11 AM – 6 PM):

Samosas $3
Naanwich (chicken or tofu) $5.99
Chicken tikka $5.99
Masala $5.99
Tofu or spinach Masala $5.99
Tandoori quesadilla (chicken, chicken jalapeño or tofu $5.99; shrimp $6.99)
Tandoori tacos (chicken or tofu $2, fish $2.50, shrimp $3)
Tandoori burritos (chicken, tofu, spinach tofu, breakfast burrito $5.99, shrimp $6.99)
Chips and masala (large $4, small $3)
Basmati rice $2
Naan $2
Masala fries (large $4, small $3)

I want a report back on all the menu items! Enjoy. 🙂

Cowboys & Turbans
5515 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.936.6400