February 2013

M.B. Post – David LeFevre and his Social House

by Franklin on February 26, 2013

Manhattan Beach might possibly be the best beach in all of Los Angeles. Yeah, Malibu is where it’s at if you are rich and famous, but besides nice cars and huge houses, you aren’t left witch much. I guess Manhattan Beach is unique in that it is a great beach town. With much to see from shopping and unique eateries, the beach has grown to be one of my favorite destinations. Just to make this beach even more sweet, they have M.B. Post. More of a hang out spot than a sit down restaurant, M.B. Post is hip and relaxed.

Chef and ownder David LeFevre started off cooking as a child helping his mom. After working in various restaurants, LeFevre enrolled at the notable Culinary Institute of America. From then, he worked at renowned restaurants in Las Vegas and Chicago. He then traveled to France and hone his classical skills in some of the world’s most distinguished kitchens. He traveled to different countries like Singapore, Bangkok, Stockholm, and Tokyo to diversify his spectrum. LeFevre was recruited as Executive Chef of the Water Grill in downtown Los Angeles. It was under his time there that the Water Grill received their Michelin Star. Now at Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post), chef David LeFevre stated his own restaurant offering a rustic menu with artisanal dishes designed to be shared — a gastropub on the beach. A Manhattan Beach resident, he brings the neighborhood a Social House where guests come for dinner but stay for the spirited and engaging atmosphere. M.B. Post was recognized as James Beard Awards finalist as the “Best New Restaurant.” — A great accomplishment nonetheless.

The wooden benches and tables with the wooden walls all are modern yet rustic. Not having designated tables, but more of a “everyone sits together” on a bench was relaxed and fun. The atmosphere was dark, and the kitchen was in full view from patrons. I had the pleasure of sitting right in front of the kitchen and was watching the chefs at work. The bar is usually packed and rowdy with drinks in everyone’s hands. What I love about this place is that the menu changes daily. I don’t know if I was seeing it right, but the menu seemed like it was written by hand. I know that seems a little crazy, but it is. M.B. Post had a gastropub like feel to it, and the small plates are meant to be shared.

We started things off with the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits with maple butter. These biscuits were probably the most delicate biscuits I ever had. It was crisp and flakey on the outside, and the inside was warm and fluffy. Filled with salty bacon and cheddar, this savory biscuit was complimented perfectly with the subtly sweet maple butter. I am not really a fan or sweet butter, but this overly savory biscuit (not that I’m complaining) was a perfect vessel for something sweet.

The white oak grilled sword squid was perfect. A secret fan of squid, I love it all, from fried calamari, to grilled dishes like this one. The cooking process with use of white oak gave it a nice subtle smoky flavor. It wasn’t on the chewy side at all. It had a nice clean flavor that was complimented with the acidic lemon curd. Acidic flavors from lemon and lime are always welcome in seafood dishes. It kept the flavors very vibrant and light. Interestingly, the marinated gigante beans gave it more substance and meatiness. Not a true fan of beans, the combination of squid and beans was genius. The beans were just as important to the dish as the squid.

As our red meat protein, we ordered the BBQ Moroccan lamb belly. At first bite, I instantly remembered this dish. Did I have it before? Why was it so familiar? Then, it hit me! I first tasted this dish from David himself at the 2012 Los Angeles Food and Wine Grand Tasting. the funny thing is, at the grand tasting, I remembered the lamb was really salty. This time around at M.B. Post, the lamb was near perfect. It was salted just right, and the harissa, caramelized onions, and Japanese eggplant flavored the meat quite nicely. The complex flavors and the tender, near fork tender meat was a bite that was unforgettable.

M.B. Post, fits so perfectly in this beach town, Manhattan Beach. The vibe and ambiance of the restaurant all fit in perfectly. Driving down Manhattan Beach Blvd, and looking at all there is to shop and eat, M.B. Post is probably the coolest place to hang out. They have an interesting relationship with each other. M.B. Post isn’t what it is without the beach, and Manhattan Beach won’t be the same without M.B. Post. The food is amazingly delicious, and the “Social House” aspect of it all makes a destination to meet up with friends. Chef David LeFevre and his team is doing a great job. It was awesome to see him again at the restaurant walking around. After our meal, I said hi, and he seemed to remember me from LAFW. Chef David plans to open another restaurant in Manhattan Beach this spring. Called Fishing With Dynamite, the 30 seat restaurant will feature classic east coast seafood with the relaxed feel of the west coast. I can’t wait to try that when it opens.

M.B. Post on Urbanspoon

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First of all, I want to start off by saying that the Cosmopolitan is starting to irritate me. Everything that is the Cosmopolitan is now obnoxious and boring. The types of people the property attracts is just garbage — the bottom of the barrel. Don’t get me wrong. The building and architecture and design of it all is fantastic. LCD screens everywhere, hip little touches here and there make this property great. I just can’t stand how un-classically Vegas it is. They try so hard to be different, that in the end of it all, they lose themselves. The addition of Holsteins Shakes and Buns to the property is just the cherry on top. I heard ravenous reviews about Holsteins and I was excited to try this place. Things like, “the best burgers in Vegas,” and “I Love Love Love Hoslteins” were some of many glowing reviews. Here is my 2 cents.

The lobster mac and cheese was good, but not great. Surprisingly, the dish had a lot of lobster in it. Unfortunately, the lobster taste was lacking and the texture was not there as well. Lobster usually has a familiarly soft yet firm feeling when you bite it. Theirs was rubbery and lacked flavor. The truffle panko crust on top was nice, but the lack of lobster taste really disappointed me. My favorite part of this dish was the one chip on the side. It consisted of this lobster salad that was full of flavor.

Upon request, which I thought was complimentary, was popcorn. Though it wasn’t your ordinary popcorn, this one was flavored in some weird mixture. I read that it was truffle popcorn. Excited for some truffle infused popcorn, theirs was definitely not so. It was a mixture of a vinegary, buttery flavor that coated the popcorn. This was a weird mix and though not appetizing, I found myself reaching for the popcorn. I ate it, forgot how it tasted like, and then tried it again. The sting from the popcorn seasoning alone was enough for me not to eat it again. I guess my curiosity superseded my palate.

Quite possibly my favorite food, and naturally, the food I am most knit picking about, the burger is a classic. From the bun to the type of meat, and the almost infinite sauces and toppings you can put on, the burger is a great vessel to work with. With such an iconic item, at a restaurant that supposedly specializes in this stuff, you can’t mess it up.

And now, the Rising Sun burger — It had Kobe beef, teriyaki glaze, nori furikake, crispy yam, spicy mayo, & tempura avocado. Their take on a Japanese burger sounds good on paper. The fried avocado alone would make me happy. It was fried and crispy, and velvety smooth at the same time. I just didn’t have enough of it. That probably was the only thing good about this burger. Everything else was a mistake. First of all, what is wrong with this is the Kobe. I hate when restaurants advertise as serving Kobe when we all know most of that is just an American breed, if not, from Australia. Second of all, when you cook a “Kobe” beef burger, it has to be rare. Nothing else will do. What I got was all grey inside. The crust was overly marinated and glazed and turned the meat super dry, and the inside wasn’t any different. That is one way to kill an almost perfect burger. The teriyaki glaze was much too overwhelming and the crispy yam didn’t help with the cloyingly sweet flavors. Did I order the wrong burger? Maybe, but that still doesn’t make up for the overcooked patty.

If anything, the drunken monkey shake may have been the only thing that was considerably good. It had malted banana gelato and peanut butter crunch. The adult version has Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur from Italy. I opted out and went with just a regular. “You are in Vegas. Live a little!”, you say? In hind sight, maybe I should have made this shake alcoholic. It would have made me feel better about the sub-par meal I just had. Still though, the shake was sweet and the use of gelato made the shave quite delicate and smooth.

Pretentious, and yet casual, the restaurant has no identity. I just can’t associate this restaurant with good food. The same food could be served at a restaurant that looks like, maybe Johnny Rockets, with a lower price, and I still wouldn’t think twice about it. I mean, they have red and yellow squeeze bottles for ketchup and mustard. Come on! The food really needs an upgrade. How awesome would it be if finally, the Las Vegas Strip had a go-to burger spot that was hip, and of course, delicious? I think that is a home run and a much needed thing on the strip. I guess I just have to wait a couple years for that to happen. For now at the Cosmo, I guess Secret Pizza will have to do.

Holstein's on Urbanspoon

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Ciao Deli – Clams on my Pizza Please

by Franklin on February 19, 2013

I came across Ciao Deli when I was in Newport Beach / Costa Mesa. It was late, I was hungry, and nothing was around. I found Ciao Deli online and noticed they had garlic knots, just like the ones at C & O in LA. For the time being, Ciao Deli had to do. Entering the restaurant, the ambiance was relaxed and casual. Pictures and memorabilia plastered the walls of this small joint.

We started off with the cheese knots. Though they were not as good as the ones in C & O, they were still tasty. The blanket of melted cheese was well received. More like cheesy bread than anything else, it had a nice flavor. Dipping it in the marinara sauce helped bring everything together. The acidity helped balance out the fatty cheese. These were a good start, but the cheese knots were easily forgettable.

I normally don’t order spaghetti at restaurants, of course unless its Spaghetti Factory. I was surprised at myself for ordering this dish. For the most part, I was quite pleased with this dish. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the spaghetti sauce was better than most. The meatballs in this dish made this a perfect pasta dish. It was meaty and delicious, just like a home style spaghetti should be — Simple and delicious.

My favorite of the night was the clam pizza. The picture really doesn’t display the clams, and the picture isn’t lying. There really wasn’t a lot of clams on it. I was expecting the clams to be plenty and meaty, enough to have a good bite to it. Though there wasn’t much, the flavor was all there. It was salty and cheesy, and the crust was thin — a perfect recipe for a pizza. I think clams should always go on pizza.

Writing about this meal, I realize how vegetables and fruits are lacking from my diet. Good think I am juicing here and there. That way I can have more meals like this that consist of bready, cheese, and pasta. I guess the tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce counts as vegetables. Right? In all honesty, this Orange County restaurant made me happy. The food was down to earth and tasted great. They even deliver if you are in the vicinity. Places like this keep food humble — nothing fancy here. It is just good food the way it is supposed to be.

Ciao Deli & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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Scarpetta at the Montage was a night to remember. The food was near perfect and my experience here was a positive one. Who would have thought, as I was making reservations weeks in advance, that I would be meeting Scott Connant on that night? My girlfriend and I were enjoying drinks at the bar as we were waiting for our table to open up. From the kitchen doors walked Scott Connant, owner of Scarpetta and a star from the Food Network. A fan of Chopped and everything Food Network, I was elated to see him in the flesh. After small talk and a group picture, my night was made. I was prepared for a night of good food and great memories.

Things started off at the bar. There, we were given some spice mixed almonds and housemade potato chips. The nuts were quite addicting as the coating was spicy and crusty. It was great with our drinks. The housemade chips on the other hand, weer kind of bland. A litte more salt or a dipping sauce of some kind would have been better. It was complimentary at the bar so I was not complaining. Just the almonds would have sufficed, but the addition of potato chips was a nice touch.

Once we were seated, we were ready for an amazing dinner. To start off, we were given dinner rolls — house made focaccia, filone, and ciabatta. The array of different kinds were a treat, but the best part were the add-ons. The eggplant caponata, mascarpone butter, and citrus-infused olive oil all played a key role in accompanying the delicious bread. Though the eggplant caponata was delicious, my favorite was the mascarpone butter. It was soft and creamy, and had a hint of mascarpone that was subtle.

For my appetizer, I opted for the beet salad. I don’t have enough beats in my diet, so I ordered it. I was quite happy with my selection. The variety of different kinds of beats was interesting. Some were pickled, and some were whole. The port poached pears were bright and had a lot of flavor. My favorite in the salad was goat cheese fonduta and pistachio. It gave a nice creamy, tangy flavor married with a nice balance of the pistachio. I think frisee was a perfect choice for the greens. It had a nice bitter taste that was balanced out by the sweetness of the beets.

The creamy polenta was rich and creamy, and quite possibly the favorite of the appetizers. The bed of polenta was topped with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms. Served with its own sauce, the polenta was perfectly balanced in flavor and texture. The dish was unctuous and addicting. The earthiness of the mushrooms had a nice bite to it and the truffle flavor was full bodied.

Before we dug into the entrees, we decided to try the spaghetti. Scott Contant’s spaghetti from Scarpetta is touted to be the best spaghetti amongst foodies. It was on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate as well numerous accounts of how amazing it is. It has definately created a fan base for this dish. At $24 or a full order and $12 for a half, it is questionable as to whether it is worth it or not. Well, I was here at Scarpetta and my interest was piqued. Was it worth it? For me, it was worth it, and here is why. The ingredients itself could not have added up to more than maybe $3. The time and technique that made the dish covers the rest. The noodles were cooked perfectly al dente like. It didn’t quite have a bite to it, but more of a chew and made for a nice mouth feel. The sauce was pure in tomato flavor and wasn’t overly complexed. Basil really shined in this dish as it was strong and gave the spagehtti dish a new dimension. The garlic and red pepper flakes are subtle, but there. The spaghetti beats mine out of the water, and any other one out there. This is definately the best I ever had. After looking online, I found the recipe on Serious Eats where Scott Connant shows us how to make this dish. I will definately be making my spaghetti like this from now on.

For the entree, I had some of the short rib agnolotti. Agnolotti are typically smaller than ravioli, and the ones at Scarpetta were house made into almost a tiny dumpling. The sauce consisted of brown butter sauteed with hon shimeji, a Japanese mushroom. Tossed in a little horseradish, each bite had a noticeable amount of “heat” to it. The hazelnuts were a nice addition as the dish needed some crunch. To me, the dish tasted good, but it was missing someting. Possibly tossing with some root vegetables or greens would have colored the dish more and balance everything out more.

I ordered the roasted jidori chicken and was impressed with the dish. Though the chicken was salty, it was balanced out by the puereed parsnips and farro. The currants were a bit missing. The sweet and sour would have made this dish more interesting. The chestnuts gave it a good bite and fished off the dish quite nicely. I liked that the chicken was boneless instead of bone in. It was easier to eat and I didn’t have to saw around the bone. Even with the bone off, it still remained juicy and perfectly cooked. It didn’t have that “chickeny” flavor and may possibly be the best chicken dishes I have had in a while. Granted, I don’t often order the chicken when it comes to high end restaurants, so this was a nice change for me.

To me, dessert has to be killer. A bad dessert can ruin a great dinner — A good dessert can save a so-so dinner. Dessert at Scarpetta was great and an awesome ending to a great night. The chocolate cake was decadent and rich and the burnt orange-caramel smeared on the plate was strong. The warm chocolate cake with the gelato made a nice contrast in textures and mouth feel. Espresso sauce was drizzled and helped balance out he sweetness a little. I liked the chocolate cookie crumbles that housed the ice cream. This dessert was a chocolate lovers dream.

The vanila caramel budino was perfect, and quite possibly the best dessert I had. The caramel was sweet and the custardy vanila pudding was sweet but not too sweet. Taken the extra step to sweetness was the addicting and perfect caramel. This was married perfectly with the gianduja chocolate sable cookies. The gianduja chocolate, containing hazelnut paste gave the cookies a taste of Nutella. The cookeis were perfect and as a proud lover of Nutella, these cookies were dead on. It was soft, chewy, and dense — my kind of cookie. The combination of the velvety smooth budino and the addicting “Nutella” cookies was a perfect combination.

Even eating the food as objective as possible, I still found myself in love with it. I kept telling myself, “you did not just meet Scott Connant, pretend this is just a regular restaurant.” I didn’t want any of these things making me think the food is good in a subjective way. I did enjoy the food and the spaghetti was one of the best I ever had. With the addition of Scarpetta and Bouchon in Montage Beverly Hills, the property is beautiful and has some of the best resraurants inside. I enjoyed the food and meeting the Food Network star was just a plus. That night, I went home quite satisfied.

Scarpetta on Urbanspoon

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Nate’s Korner is small, hidden, and though closer to Irvine than anything, it is in Santa Ana. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and that is what I like about it. It all started with Qwik Korner, a nice little convenience store. They then ventured out next door and made Nate’s Korner. Popular for their breakfast sandwiches and burritos, I was excited to try it. Entering the small establishment, I ordered my sandwich and burrito and went next door. There, I bought some drinks and snacks, and I was on my way.

The sandwich was impressive. The bread was soft and cut thick. It had a crusty, but not too hard crust, and the white was soft as clouds. The ham was fresh and and the egg was cooked nicely. The melted cheese was gooey and coated the eggs nicely. I know. I can whip this up at home in 5 mnutes. For some reason, theirs was just a tad tastier. It must have been that thick fluffy bread.

Nate’s Korner is a special place in Orange County. It’s a small little kitchen with a convenient store right next door. They specialize in breakfast sandwiches and burritos. Their breakfast burrito was amazing as well. Filled with bacon, potatoes, egg, and cheese, the burrito was hearty and delicious. Everything about it was filling. One thing that it did need was a little more seasining . Adding a little hot sauce did the trick. Though it isn’t a popular spot where lines go outside the door, the food is simple and filling. Yeah, stuff like this I can make at home, but any time you need your breakfast fix away from home, Nate’s got it for you.

Nate's Korner on Urbanspoon

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Having lunch at The Penthouse at The Huntley was a no-brainer. Inside and out, the property is exquisite and fancy. Chic, modern, and clean, the food was almost out shined by the beauty of this property. Typically, I would not choose such a fancy, and such a far place. Fortunately, the Dine LA menu was hard to pass up. Once I entered the roof top property, which should be the “penthouse” of the hotel, I was shocked at the view. from almost every window, you can see the ocean or Los Angeles. Luckily, I was seated at the corner where I had views of Downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. It was such an amazing view as I enjoyed my lunch.

Even though we had reservations, we needed to wait for our table at the bar. It may all be part of the business, but I feel like restaurants make patrons wait at the bar so that we buy overprices drinks. Well, call me a sucker. I was bored and sat at a bar. Naturally, I ordered a cocktail. Not having breakfast made me yearn for some coffee. In hind sight, ordering the coffee liqueur cocktail was a mistake. The coffee taste was there, but the aftertaste of the sour alcohol was not pleasant. I love coffee in the morning, but I like it rich and full bodied with no signs of sourness. To me, sour coffee is a sign of spoilage, and this cocktail being sour was not for me.

We started things off with the young romaine. Chopped romaine dressed with a lemon caper dressing was topped with shaved Parmesan and sourdough crouton. The salad was nothing special, but the lemon caper dressing was better than expected. A bit on the boring side, I was left wanting some color and vibrance from the dish.

The crab cake here is not traditional, only because it is amazing. Most crab cakes are mostly filler — eggs, bread crumbs, veggies, etc. Their was nearly 100% crab meat. Cutting it with the fork, all that was inside was crab meat — no bread crumbs or filler, and not even mayonnaise. Though the breading on the outside didn’t have much of a crunch, the celery salad and remoulade sauce made up for it. Only if all crab cakes had all crab in it, I would order it more often. Theirs was surprisingly as advertised — all crab meat.

For the entree, my choice was the grilled cheese with short rib. This sandwich was full of flavor. The short rib was juicy and flavorful from braising in red wine. The sourdough was toasted to a crisp and a perfect bread choice. The choice of cheese was the best and spoiled me. The chimay grand cru was delicious and creamy, almost a perfect cheese for a sandwich like this.

The fennel sausage pizza was also a favorite. Topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and housemade fennel sausage, the pizza was surprisingly good. The crust to me is the most important factor of a pizza, and theirs was quite nice. Not necessarily the best, but it had a nice chew and aroma. My favorite part of the pizza was the housemade fennel sausage. It wasn’t too salty or oily. It had a nice meety flavor with a lot of aromatic fennel.

Dine LA is all about 3 courses or more. That meant, dessert was part of the plan. I opted for the profiteroles, though I wish I had great remorse. It’s not that it didn’t taste good, it was just that it was uninteresting and the other chocolate sweet savory dessert would have excited me a little more. The profiteroles were filled with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream though, which kind of saved the dish. The best part was the hot fudge sauce drizzle. It all came together to make a tasty dessert.

Their vanilla creme brulee was good, but again, boring. I don’t know how many times I order the creme brulee for dessert, but I always have it. Maybe its the creamy custardy inside or the burnt sugar candy topper. The fruit in their creme brulee was a nice touch. This dessert was boring, and not of any fault of their own. My over stimulated taste buds yearned for something different — I just didn’t order it. Overall though, I was happy with our dessert choices.

Lunch at The Penthouse was a fun experience. Not only was the property amazing, the food was impressive as well. Hanging out at 3rd Street Promenade was a must after lunch. The beach and sun was all an acompaniment to our full bellies. Below is a short video of the elevator ride down. I don’t know what it is about elevator rides, but if it’s got an awesome view, I have to capture it on video. Anytime you are in Santa Monica, you must make a stop at The Huntley. The near 360 degrees of ocean, beach and Los Angeles is hard to pass up.

The Penthouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Dine Delish Turns 2!

by Franklin on February 9, 2013

Happy Birthday to Dine Delish!! Today, this food blog turns 2 years old! I started this food blog 2 years ago, wth my first post on February 9, 2011. I remember because it was right around the time it was Chinese New Year. Relatively a baby in the food blogging club, the past 2 years were a lot of fun. I ate a lot of delicious food, met some amazing people, and traveled to some awesome spots. I wish to continue to share my food eating adventures in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Las Vegas. Thank you everyone for reading my blog and visting the site here and there. Please continue to check and read my blog. Your love and support for this blog means a great deal to me. Can’t wait to see what this year has it store for me.

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Thomas Keller made an empire for himself. Though it may not have been intentional, the guy is a legend. I was fortunate to be blessed by his presence at last year’s L.A. Time’s The Taste event. Though I wasn’t able to meet him, he did say a simple “hello” to me. Just being in the presence of one of today’s best chefs was an honor. That is why this time around during Dine LA, Bouchon in Beverly Hills was part of the plan. My Bouchon experience at Las Vegas was memorable — it was time to give it a whirl at my city. Lunch from the Dine LA menu was exceptional and quite a deal.

We started off with the bread and butter. The familiar pain de epi was perfect. Basically a fancy baguette made in a zig-zag, the crust was crusty and the inside was perfectly dense. Eating it with the butter was simple enough and delicious. Honestly, I was full after the bread.

For my appetizer, the tartare de saumon was a perfect choice. The Scottish salmon tartare was chopped finely which made the flavor very mild. The hard boiled hen eggs were also chopped finely and was topped with red onions and capers. The Kendal Farms creme fraiche on top was a great touch. Placing everything on top of their toasted croutons was a complete appetizer. It was crunchy and buttery — Delicious!

It was 5 dollars more, but we opted for the assiette de charcuterie. Served with pickled vegetables, Dijon mustard, and petite baguette, this was amazingly tasty. We made mini sandwiches with the bread, lettuce, and mustard. The duck prosciutto and salami was perfectly salty and fatty. Silky and savory, the thinly sliced, salted cured meats were my favorite.

I ordered the moules frites for my entrée. Simply a mussels and fries dish, this was a great combination. The Maine bouchot mussels were steamed with cider, tarragon mustard, and shallots. The addition of Hobbs Shore bacon lardons were fatty, great with the somewhat sour, yet addicting broth. The mussels were cooked nicely and melted in my mouth. The french fries were similar in shape and size to that of McDonal’s fries. Of course, Bouchon’s tasted a lot fresher and actually tasted like potatoes. Everyone loves fries, and theirs is a classic favorite.

Another dish that had the supplemental 5 dollars charge was the tagliatelle . Not a traditional flat noodle, the noodles were more of a long, noodle like macaroni — homemade of course. Topped with an all day braised beef short rib and sauce Bordelaise, it was meaty and stew like. My favorite in this dish was the forest mushrooms. It had a nice bite to it and was just as meaty as the beef. The wilted swiss chard and Parmesan was perfect in this pasta.

Dessert is a must. The creme caramel was simple as can be. The caramel custard was fantastically pudding like, but it was firm. Think silky soft tofu, but not. It was lightly sweet and the caramel cream had a nice burnt taste that complicated the whole thing. It was delicate and perfect.

I was feeling “Frenchy” because, well, I was at a French restaurant. I ordered the assortment de macaron. It came with 4 mini macarons — caramel, chocolate, earl grey, and a mystery flavor. No, it isn’t really a mystery flavor. I just have bad memory and forgot the flavor. The macarons were delicate and perfect. Crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside. My favorite was the caramel. It was so sweet and delicious. What a perfect ending to our lunch at Bouchon!

Bouchon, located at the second floor of the Montage Beverly Hills was a beautiful spot. The weather was perfect and the Montage courtyard was picture perfect. The ambiance and decor of the restaurant was similar to the Bouchon in Las Vegas. The aesthetically decorated interior and the excellently prepared cuisine put me at ease and made me happy. This had Thomas Keller written all over it. The food was splendid and the experience was all worth it. Anything Thomas Keller touches turns to gold, and Bouchon in LA is quite golden.

Bouchon Bistro on Urbanspoon

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The Bazaar by Jose Andres has been on my radar for quite some time. Knowing my best bang for the buck would have been during DineLA, I planned it for a while. One week it was all booked every single day. Another time, DineLA didn’t even have Bazaar. Saddened a little, I was delighted with the news that The Bazaar is coming back for DineLA. Quickly, I tried making reservations, but it was all unavailable except for one spot. 10:45 PM on a Friday — it was set! It was dang late for dinner, but I didn’t care. At this point, I was determined to go.

At first glance, the SLS looked like the hot spot of west LA. Most of the people were out for drinks or meeting people, but I was there for one thing — the food. Entering the restaurant, the design and feel of the Bazaar felt like the Cosmopolitan at Las Vegas. It had random LCDs displaying random things, hip and modern design cues, and played DJ inspired mashups and house music. If I didn’t know any bette, I was in Vegas. Luckily, I was seated comfortably on a bench

Philly Cheese
This was small, but it was redeemed by the flavor. The air bread was filled with white cheddar. Inside was airy and cheesy. The wagyu beef on top was cooked perfectly and soft. The flavors together were perfect and rich. I could easily have a thousand of these.

Tortilla de Patas “New Way”
This was in a egg shaped bowl. Inside was an egg cream kind of custard and on top was some tasty potato foam. The mix of caramelized onions made this soup like dish so delicous.

Mediterranean Mussels
This dish was in honor of Spanish canning tradition. With a deep red color from the pimentón, the olive oil and vinegar created a perfect taste. The dish was served cold, but the mussels were cooked down so well. It wasn’t rubbery at all. Each bite was silky and smooth with a little kick from the Spanish paprika (pimentón).

Wild Mushroom Rice
This was one of my favorites. The dish was risotto like, creamy and heady at the same time. The earthy wile mushrooms have a perfect bite to them and the idiazabal cheese was rich and complex.

Sea Scallops
This was probably my favorite protein. The scallops were cooked perfectly, as the center was smooth and silky. The romesco sauce was perfect with the scallops. It was perfectly mild with a very subtle peppery flavor.

Japanese Taco
This one was interesting, but the taste wasn’t anything exceptional. The “taco” had a thin sheet of cucumber and shiso leaf as a tortilla. The grilled eal topped with a hint of wasabi was nothing spectacular. Even the addition of chicharron on top didn’t necessarily help the dish.

Seared Strauss Veal Loin
This dish came out a bit cold. Topped with local onions, scallions, cippolini, it was obvious the chef wanted this to be very “oniony.” The meet had little flavor and the aromatics were a bit bland.

Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks
This was much better than the veal loin. The texture was similar to that of lengua, but had a beefier taste. Fork tender, the beef was succulent and soft. It was a bit on the salty side, but the california citrus and tangerine helped cut the fattiness of the meat. This was a ultimately tasty eating it together with the wild mushroom rice.

Once we were done with our appetizers and main course, we were offered dessert. We have a choice of moving to the pattiserie or staying at our tables. Never have I ever had a choice of going to another spot to eat dessert. Intrigued, we opted to sit near the pattiserrie. In hind sight, we should have just stayed in our comfortbale, well lit table. The pattiserie area was more of a sit down lounge area. It was dark, and loud because it was next to the bar. The desserts in my opinon were not special. Yes, their small plates and savory dishes were special. The conconctions they made were almost genius. The dessert on the other hand was quite normal and boring.

Traditional Spanish Flan
The Vanila in this dish was prevalent, but the element that stood out the most was the citrus in it. Each bite had a velvely texture, but had a hint of lemon lime. The name states traditional Spanish flan, but I don’t think the recipe calls for any citrus. It was different, but not as good as I had hoped.

Pan Con Chocolate
This dessert was a little better. I love choclate in almost anything, and this had a lot of rich flavors. The chocolate flan had caramelized bread on top with olive oil and brioche ice cream. The brioche ice cream was dusted with chocolate crumbles, almost like oreos. This was rich in chocolate flavor, and wasn’t too sweet. This was a good end to our amazing meat at The Bazaar.

The SLS hotel is hip. Located in Beverly Hills, it attracts the rich as well as the middle class, like me. José Andrés has restaurants all over the world. In Las Vegsas, é by José Andrés inside The Cosmopolitan is my next go to spot. After trying his food at Bazaar, it is a no brainer. He is inventive and passtionate and named “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. His Spanish roots are prevalent in the dishes that he creates. Since opening in 2008, The Bazaar received multiple awards from best restaurant of the decade to Top Newcomer. From then until now, the restuarnt still remains popular. The food in itself is delicious. The unique approache and fresh new styles is exciting. Thanks to Dine LA, I was able to try a lot of different items on the menu for a set price. I do want to say that some of the items are not stellar, but the ones that are are spectacular. I am excited to see what new items will be created in the near future.

The Bazaar By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

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