Bar

Library Ale House – Koreans and Grilled Onions

by Franklin on October 26, 2014

After a long day at Venice Beach, we decided to hit up Library Ale House. The somewhat small bar was packed with people. It was almost as small as a coffee shop, but people just stood or sat at the bar. The woodsy interior and small feel felt very “English Pub” like, but with better food. Feeling like something greasy, we were ready to order.

Oddly, this bar/restaurant gave chips and salsa. Now my British pub atmosphere turned into a Mexican cantina restaurant. Don’t get me wrong. The chips and salsa were welcomed nicely. Just your ordinary chips and salsa.

Pouting is one of my favorite foods. I mean, just fries and gravy is good enough, but to add braised oxtail with the house made fries and cheese curds just puts it over the top. The pan gravy was good and rich, but I would have liked it much thicker. At the end, the fries turned soggy from the soupy gravy. The braised oxtail was nice a succulent though. The flavors were complex and rich, and not salty at all –under seasoned if anything.

This was accompanied with the Alehouse burger. Made with ground USDA prime chuck, the patty was tasty. Topped with melted onions, gorgonzola, arugula, garlic aioli on a brioche bun, the flavors seemed reminiscent of the he Office Burger, though nowhere near the caliber of Chef Sang Yoon’s creation. What’s with Koreans and their obsession with grilled onions anyways? Well, it is delicious, and I am Korean. I guess that answered the question. (Where were we?) The burger. It was good. The mixture of blue cheese and grilled onions made a very strong flavor combination. You really can’t go wrong with that. The side salad was a life savor. All the rich flavors of the beef, cheese, and pouting needed to be balanced. Thank you, salad.

Library Ale House was a nice spot. The atmosphere is relaxed and the small space and central bar area really made me feel welcomed. Any beer lover would be happy here. Any food lover would be happy as well.

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Superba Food + Bread – Missed My Kouign Amann

by Franklin on October 17, 2014

I came to Superba Food + Bread for a cup of latte and their famous Kouign Amann. I was looking forward to eating that sweet sweet, burnt sugar crusted bread with a nice cup of latte. I did get my latte, but instead of something sweet I got something savory. Sadly, they were out of the Kouign Amann. Instead of leaving, I decided it was a sign to eat healthier and went with the avocado toast.

The cup of latte was really nice. From the latte art to the coffee, everything was as expected. Honestly though, I don’t like lattes by itself. I needed something sweet. Heck, even a donut sounded perfect at that moment. Still though, the avocado toast and latte

The avocado toast was quite delicious. This being just snack time, we didn’t want to get anything heavy. The toast had a spread of avocado that so ripe and perfect. I liked the addition of the cilantro as an ode to the ever so popular guacamole. The zing of the chilies gave a nice heat and zap to the tongue — otherwise, this dish would have just been much too boring. I liked the addition of sprouts on top — it gave an element of healthy greens and texture. The bread used was quite nice as well — firm and crusty, but not dry.

I wish I could have tried more things, but we really just came here for the Kouign Amann. I hope to get here a little earlier as the bakery closes at around 3PM. The restaurant is a bit interesting though. It’s a casual coffee and pastry shop, yet its high end dining with wine glasses and Sunday supper — and you can eat outside on the benches. I really think their pastries are where they shine. From the Kouign Amann to the everything croissant, they are highly sought after and sell out quickly. More than dinner or lunch service, I am excited to finally get my pastries. Some day.

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Library Bar – Eating While Everyone Drinks

by Franklin on September 26, 2014

The Library bar to me seemed like a hip spot. The high reviews of Yelp and intriguing food items looked hopeful. And it’s a library? Or at least they try to make it look like one. Honestly, the place was small, dark, and the night I went, people were way too drunk. Maybe I was just sober and everyone seemed more drunk. People were just loud and ther were much too many people with glazed over eyes. Good thing I had the food to look forward to.

The burger at a bar has to be their staple. It must be good and their main even as far as food is concerned. The Library Burger was such a disappointment. The patty was dry without a single dribble juice left inside. The bread so stale and dry, it didn’t help with moist factor. Every bite was boring and just unpleasant. I basically cut my losses and just ate the meat with the cheese and veggies.

Before you read on, just note that this bar is a bar first, restaurant second. Maybe restaurant third? The food to me was just not there. The pork belly skewers was a turn for the better. This was not that bad, I mean, it’s pork belly after all. The fatty meat covered in sweet glaze was good, but not addicting. As far as pork belly dishes go, this was just ok. If you must order something, order this. Nothing else will do.

I can’t tell you if the drinks at the Library Bar are good, but from the looks of it, it seems to be doing ok. There’re definitely were more people drinking than eating. We were definitely the odd group out on the bar. I kind of understand it. It’s a cool place to meet friends for drinks or end/start the night. Basic rule of thumb here, and you will be happy here: Food no, drinks yes.

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Themed restaurants are cheesy. Public School is literally a school themed restaurant/gastropub. They have composition notebook lookalike menu and a clipboard with the beer menu. Other than that, the restaurant decor is pretty much like any other. What I don’t get is why the theme? I guess it’s a good thing that the “school” theme isn’t just all in your face. I suppose the little hints of the school theme is fine. They should however have the food speak for itself.

The Cutting Board featured a selection of cured meats and artisan cheese. The cheese included a gouda, swiss, and cheddar. The meats were prosciutto and a chorizo of some kind. I liked the addition of the marcona almonds. It gave the whole experience a nice crunch. Eating the different cheeses with the honey and fruit preserves was delicious as well. Though it came with a large variety of items, I would have liked a more variety of meat or just a larger quantity.

The wild mushroom and taleggio lavash was quite delicious. It was probably my favorite of the night. The extra thin, almost cracker like crust was light and crispy. The mushrooms and the creamy taleggio mixture almost mimicked Campbell’s cream of mushroom. It was savory and rich. The mix of the arugula and parmesan shavings gave it an extra depth of flavor. This pizza like dish was quite delicious.

I am a sucker for anything fried, and of course, calamari is one of my top fried delights. the fiery calamari was exceptionally good here. Using a mixture of flour and cornmeal for the batter, it gave it an extra crunch. Though the crunch from the cornmeal seemed to be a fake “crunch” and would liked it to be more fried to a crisp. Dipping these in the togarashi and ginger aioli gave it a nice zing and spice, but not too spicy. A spicier variation in the sauce would have made this calamari stand out more.

The cauliflower and cheese dish was well received. As an avid cauliflower hater (I blame Yoshinoya), the only way I would eat them is if its fried, or covered in cheese. In this case, the cheese sauce did a good job in making the bland cauliflower edible. The addition of the bacon bits on the side and the bechamel made this a rich dish.

Public School is you everyday bar / eatery. They don’t have the outstanding dishes and selection as the other restaurants. School Food is more of a safe choice — better than most, but still generic. They have locations neatly separated — 310 in Culver City and 805 in Westlake Village. All they need is one near Hollywood and they have LA pretty much covered.

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Playa Provisions definitely has an identity crisis. The restaurant is separated into 4 different sections — Dockside, Grain, Small Batch, and King Beach. Dockside is a high end dining space for seafood. Grain is a back room whiskey bar. Small Bach is their ice cream shop. King Beach is their casual breakfast and lunch spot. Honestly, the concept is interesting and confusing. Top Chef runner-up Brooke Williams and husband run the show. The woodsy, artsy, and earthy tones of the decor was very attractive. Honestly though, I came here just for the ice cream.

The ice cream was a treat. The chocolate malted crunch was full of bits and was quite nice. I usually don’t like chocolate malted crunch, and I don’t quite know why I ordered this flavor. The bits of malted balls were nice and the chocolate was rich and flavorful. My favorite was the milk and coffee ice cream. It had a nice subtle coffee flavor and was so clean tasting. This mixed in with the chocolate malted crunch was a perfect match. All of this with their addicting house made waffle cone, and I was a happy little kid with an ice cream cone.

In second thought, the concept here at Playa Provisions is kind of interesting. I wish they did a better job in integrating everything together. The new restaurant in Playa del Rey is turning heads though. I originally thought it was a casual sandwich shop that also had delicious ice cream. I was in shock when I walked in and there were all these different compartments. Back-room whiskey bar? Who would have thought? I will definitely be back for that. Maybe even a sandwich and seafood fare is in order also. For #icecreamtuesdays though this will definitely do.

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I have been on a burger craze these few days — more like weeks. I’ve been ordering the burger everywhere and anywhere I go. When it came to ordering the fried chicken or the PCB at Plan Check, I chose the burger. I know they were known for their fried chicken, but the power of the almighty burger was much too strong. And ketchup leather? Need I say more?

The Check Burger has Americanized dashi cheese. This to me sounds like American cheese with MSG inside it somehow. The flavor wasn’t any different and entire unnoticed. The ketchup leather and schmaltz onions really took over in the flavor department. Caramelized onions is one of my favorite burger toppings, and ketchup is my least favorite. Interestingly, the ketchup leather gave a nice sticky tang flavor whereas the onions were nicely sweet and savory. The mixed pickles were nicely welcomed. The beef patty was perfectly cooked medium rare. As a matter of fact, this is where the PCB shines. The beef was a so pure and delicious. Ithe unalterated beef stood out so perfectly in this burger. My only gripe about this burger was the bun. It was plain and boring. With a little care for an artisan crafted bun, this would be a perfect cheeseburger in Los Angeles.

Plan Check has lots going for it. Being one of my favorite restaurants on Sawtelle, the somewhat small bar and kitchen is popular amongst locals. The staff is some of the friendliest I have ever seen. Extra care is taken in the food by the chefs in the kitchen. Only the best of the best is used. That, I respect greatly, and hope other restaurants follow suit.

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Gordon Ramsey, the restaurant mogul is on a roll. Planting seeds in Caesars Entertainment properties, Chef Ramsey has his name on most of the Las Vegas properties. From a steakhouse in Paris, and an Irish Pub at Caesars, the TV star’s sure has a repertoire of making money involving food. Now, Gordon Ramsey takes on the all mighty burger. As mentioned before, Las Vegas has one too many steak restaurants, but the burger isn’t getting much love. Every other restaurant serves burgers, but finding a gosh darn good burger is Vegas is hard to come by. The restaurant lies right near the entrance of Planet Hollywood. The look and feel of the restaurant was that of a high end sports bar. It is Gordon Ramsey we are talking about after all.

The Roasted Jalapeño Poppers was a must. The menu stated that there was “one fiery surprise.” The surprise? Of the many jalapeno poppers, one of them is left whole without the insides (seeds and all) cleaned out. Think Russian Roullete with spicy stuff. Honestly, the “special” one wasn’t that much spicier. The cheddar bacon inside the jalapenos was delicious. Bathing in their individual shot glasses filled with cheddar ranch, every bite had a lot of flavor and a lot of sauce. A bit salty at times, but the spicy salty mixture was welcome.

To cool off our tongues, we ordered the Shake #4 — layers of crème brûlée pudding and an oreo shake topped off with an Oreo cookie was perfect. The custard filling was smooth and sweet. Mixed with America’s favorite cookie with some cream, this dessert shake was quite satisfying.

Put an egg on a burger, and I am sold. The Farm Burger was a recipe for a perfect burger. Included was duck breast bacon, English sharp cheddar and a fried egg. The beef was impressive in the quality and the way it was cooked. Perfectly medium rare, the inside was pink with no signs of raw meat and no gray meat. The duck bacon was a nice touch, but my favorite was the runny egg. It served as a nice sauce for the burger and rounded out the saltiness really well.

Every burger needs a side of fries. We ordered the parmasean truffle fries, and did not really care for them. Maybe because I really like thin shoestring fries, and hate thick cut fries. The parmesan was good on it, but the best part was the truffle aioli. With real chunks of truffles (because we all know Chef Ramsey hates truffle oil), the sauce made all the difference. Dunking these thick cut fries in the sauce was almost like cheating. The fries could have been from the freezer, but still delicious.

I had a few bites of he fresh roasted Chili Dawg. When I saw the list of ingredients, I knew I had to order this. It had roasted fresno pepper, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion, and was topped with chipotle ketchup. It was a chili cheese dog, like the ones from Pink’s or 7-11 — this was a chili pepper dog. The chilies were not spicy though, which was a good thing. It gave a nice sweetness with a little kick. The bun was amazingly soft, and I appreciated it. The actual hot dog was a little salty — actually, a lot salty. It was really overbearing, and had to sauce it up just to cover up the saltiness. It was a nice snappy frank though, and the flavors really worked well together.

Dessert came a second time, and the gourmet burger and hot dog ended with Sticky Toffee Pudding. I had the sticky toffee pudding at Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris, and it was freakishly delicious. The Push Up Pops version wasn’t as refined, but just as delicious. The salted peanut ice cream mixed in with the sticky toffee was a great mixture. This salty and sweet mixture served up in a push pop was fun to eat. I remember eating Flintstones ice cream from these things as a kid. I would prefer to eat it with a fork on a plate, but the delivery was kind of cool and nostalgic.

It looks like Gordon Ramsey has a hit. It does suffer in the identity department. The decor inside seems cheap yet classy, but still exudes sports bar, but not. At the end of the day, the food is all that really matters. It surely doesn’t have that Gordon Ramsey refinement, but the food is still superb. Definitely, this could be a contender in being one of Las Vegas’ best burgers.

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Cole’s – French Dip with Pickles

by Franklin on May 10, 2014

There is an on going feud going on whether the French dip sandwich was born at Philippe’s or Cole’s. I can’t tell you where it started from — I wasn’t there, nor was I even born during that time. Legend says that someone ordered a beef sandwich, and the cook dropped the bread in the au jus. Ina hurry, the customer just took the sandwich as is, and thus, the French dips was born. I can’t tell you if that is true or not. What I can tell you is this. I prefer Philippe’s, hands down. If not for the tastier beef, for their hot mustard.

The French dip was tasty, but the beef was a bit bland and dry — definitely not as “wet” as Philippe’s. Albeit, your an dip your sandwich into the au jus, I personally rather just pickup and eat a wet me say sandwich. The pickles were pretty tasty and helped the sandwich immensely. All in all, it was a solid French Dip.

French Dip vs. French Dip, Philippe’s definitely takes it. As for other items, like the mac and cheese and garlic fries, Cole’s may have an edge. Let’s not forget about Cole’s awesome Bloody Mary’s and bar drinks. With that said, the two restaurants are completely different. You go to Philippe’s for the French dip and epic hot mustard. You go to Cole’s for everything else.

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It had been quite hot these days. Spring is here, and it is making us forget all about the cold winter. Hot days means nice walks on the beach and sunsets. Corona del Mar is by far one of my favorite beaches in Orange County. You have nice homes to look at on one side, and a beautiful seaside sunset on the other. Stumbling across Side Door, the concept of it was what drew me to this place. Just adjacent to the uber expensive restaurant, Five Crowns, Side Door is literally a side entrance to the restaurant. They both share the same space. Side Door, being more relaxed, less expensive and less stuffy, it looked like a good fit. The English-style gastropub specializes in cheeses and charcuterie — just my kind of place.

We started off with the shishito peppers. Blistered, then topped with manchego, the peppers were a good start. It had a nice mild flavor, and the blanket of cheese just finished it off nicely. The peppers were kind of bitter and earthy. Thank goodness for the manchego.

Of course, we went for the charcuterie and cheese. For the meats, I had to go for the prosciutto. The flavor was delicate and buttery. One of the cheeses, La Tur from Italy, was a nice “funky” cheese. It was strong, creamy, and quite delicious. A little went a long way. Eating it all with the prosciutto and fruit preserves was a delight. I also had a sample of some cheese from Vermont, and that was quite good as well. I am a sucker for cheese and cured meats. The selection at Side Door was quite impressive.

When I saw avocado mash, I immediately thought guacamole. This was very much a guacamole, but very much not. Not tainted with any lime, cilantro, or other over bearing ingredients, this one allowed the avocado to shine. To me, this was nothing special. The baked pita chips were a good match with the avocado, but nothing was screaming deliciousness. A tasty and healthy snack — I’ll give it that.

This must have been my favorite item of the night. Ironic that it’s a salad. The combination of some of the best tomatoes ever and balsamic reduction wasn’t enough, they had a nice micro green salad to go with it. To top it all off, they put it besides some of creamiest and smoothest fresh mozzarella slices ever. Everything together, yes, I mean with the tomato, balsamic reduction, cheese, and even some of that prosciutto, each bite was fresh and fantastic.

Have you had really good prime rib? I mean the stuff from Lawry’s or Summit House. Now, slice that up, and put a heaping pile inside a French roll. That is what we have here at Side Door. The prime rib was cooked so perfectly medium rare, and each bite was easy to tear off. The meat was fatty, juicy, and delicious. Dipping it in the au jus and the horseradish made it even tastier. I wasn’t expecting much from this sandwich, but the simplicity of the ingredients and the legit prime rib was all it needed. This is a must order.

I dig the concept of this place. The back door from a more expensive restaurant is all I really need. Less expensive, more casual, and probably better tasting, the Side Door restaurant has it all — a nice beer selection for those coming for drinks, a nice selection of cheap eats for those who come for food. This little corner in the upscale part of Corona del Mar is indeed a gem.

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Let’s talk about the best burger you ever stuffed your face with. I still to this day am still looking for the best burger. Sometimes, an In-n-Out Double Double will do — Animal Style, with grilled onions, raw onions, and secret sauce. As good as that is, it doesn’t scream out gourmet. And every good burger needs the perfect batch of french fries on the side, and In-n-Out is far from it. The Office Burger at Father’s Office is acclaimed by many to be the best burger in Los Angeles. I know that may be a shock to diehard In-n-Out fans, but Sang Yoon’s Office Burger is quite delicious. The gastropub offers some of amazing beer selections and pairs well with the menu. For this blog post, it will only concentrate on the burger and fries.

The Office Burger received a lot of criticism because some say it’s not a burger, but a sandwich. Instead of a traditional bun, they use a French roll of a sort. My question to you is, what makes the sandwich, the patty or the bun? For no reason whatsoever, let’s just call this a burger. Come on.. it’s a burger. The melted gruyere and Maytag blue cheese ain’t enough of a reason to call this a burger? How about the dry aged beef patty? What sandwich has grilled onion bacon compote? Honestly, the reason I like the Office Burger is because of this onion bacon compote. The sweetness of the onions and savory bacon create such a perfectly “umamic” flavor profile. (I don’t know if umamic is a word, but I will try and see if it’ll fly.) This went perfectly contrasting to the arugula in the burger. Everything together with the patty, cheese and compote perform a perfect symphony on your taste buds.

As I mentioned, a good burger needs an equally good side of fries. Father’s Office fries are quite delicious. Maybe it’s because I like shoe string fries, and I like my fries crispy. Dipping it in their tangy aioli puts all other sauces to shame. I see why they still to this day don’t have ketchup at the restaurant. Crispy and firm, the fries are something to reckon with.

I’ve had a few Office Burgers in my eating career, but never really blogged about it. The question remains though, is The Office Burger the best burger in Los Angeles. It possibly is, but tastes vary between people and time. I was surprised to find the waiter ask me how I wanted my burger cooked though. I guess forcing people to eat burgers medium rare like back in the day doesn’t fly anymore. The Helm’s location is second to the original Santa Monica location. Still though, the gastropub offers amazing beer and a burger to compete with anything around.

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I was at Huntington Beach the other days, before it was cold cold. I had wanted to try 25 degrees in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for a while now. On my stroll around Huntington Beach, I was pleasantly surprised to see it in Orange County!

I orders the number three – it had mezzo secco, jack cheese, green chile, chipotle, and avocado. All that was missing was bacon. Honestly though, even with the salty holy grail of all burger toppers missing, this burger didn’t need it. The flavor of the beef was so pure and clean. Juices dripped from all corner of this burger. All this time, bacon burger were masking the pure taste of beef. The avocado and cheeses made somewhat of a mash of guacamole and each bite just dissolved in my mouth. Score!

On the side of the burger was an order of onion rings and sweet potato fries. These were also quite good and I had no complaints. The onion rings had a great crunch on the outside –the batter was perfectly light. The sweet potato fries were a little soggy, as almost all mostly are, but still had a great crisp left in them. These two were a great match with the burger.

For dessert, we order the Guinness shake. I was intrigued and where else can you order such a thing? This shake isn’t a Guinness “taste-alike” kind of drink. It straight up had a lot of Guinness beer in it. They did ask for ID after all. The creamy, chocolaty goodness mixed with Guinness was genius. It worked so well and the flavor was complex with that beer added in. This is a must order when you are here.

The decor inside and out was classic. Adopting cues from the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, the center that took over the majority of the restaurant. I didn’t have my point and shoot or my DSLR, so my iPhone camera had to endure the low light situation. Though the pictures came out subpar, the burgers are a different story.

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I went to Bestia for my 29th birthday. My fiancé’ asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday. Instead of the boring, but oh so yummy steak house, I wanted something lively, fun, and delicious. I didn’t care about the waiters coming around every second filling the water. I didn’t care about a romantic setting with candles and ambient music in the background. I just wanted the tastiest food possible for my birthday. Bestia in the Art District of Downtown was on my radar. Executive Chef Ori Menashe, former Chef of Angelini Osteria, pumps out regional Italian dishes. He even cures his own meats from 60 different kinds of charcuterie, and he also raises his own yeast for bread. With all of this love and care to do everything himself, the food has to be good. With his pastry chef wife, Genevieve Gregis making desserts, the duo is creating a huge buzz around Los Angeles. I could confidently say, I had one of my best meals of 2013 here.

You order everything first, and the dishes come out as they are prepared. Items are meant to be shared with the table.

We started things off with the grilled beef tongue crostino. I am huge fan of beef tongue. I like the texture of beef tongue that has been cooking for hours and hours. The pure beef flavor is unmatched to any other part of the cow. Sitting on top of a huge slice of bread was a garbanzo bean puree, purslane, pickled eggplant, and salsa verde. The beefy beef tongue and garbanzo bean played well with the picked eggplant and salsa. The purslane did a good job in grounding all the flavors. I felt the dish needed more acidic flavors to it. A chimichurri of some kind or picked onions would have balanced it out better. The pickled eggplant was a nice touch, but wasn’t tart enough. Nonetheless, this was still a great start.

One of my favorites of the night was the pan-seared octopus and calamari salad. The mix of fennel, mixed mushrooms and arugula was the base. Atop was some of the softest and tastiest octopus I ever had. The flavor was so delicate, and the texture was so soft which could only be achieved by using a sous-vide. The aged balsamic gave this dish so much tartness and acidity. The flavors were so lively. In hind sight, this would have been the perfect acidic factor for the beef tongue crostino. Too bad I already munched that up by the time this salad came out.

The roasted marrow bone was quite innovative and different. Most restaurants serve it with a side of toast of crostini. Chef Ori instructs us to mix it within the spinach gnocchetti. This way, it makes a little fatty sauce and coats the pasta completely. Each bite of the gnocchetti was perfect. Chewy and dense, the pasta was coated in bone marrow and salt. The aged balsamic on the marrow bone gave the dish the perfect zing to counteract the rich beef fat. This was one memorable dish.

Pizza is all about the dough, hands down. You can have some of the best ingredients on a pizza, but if your dough sucks, then the pizza suffers. Chef Ori is serious about his pizza dough. I can just talk about the pizza dough for days. I tried many times, trying to make pizza dough from scratch — I can never reach this kind of caliber, especially with an over that doesn’t even get above 400 degrees. It is hard stuff. The pizza dough at Bestia is near perfect. It has a nice chew, it is thin as can be, and there are black char marks like spots on a Dalmatian. To me, this is a sign of a true pizza. I ordered the salsiccia. This had housemade lamb sausage which was ridiculously mellow and flavorful. It also had ricotta, spinach, and breadcrumbs. The size isn’t that bad too. I always hate paying 15 bucks for a personal sized pizza. Theirs was quite large for the price.

It was my birthday, and my fiancé wanted to spoil me. Heck, I myself wanted to spoil me. We went ahead and ordered the spaghetti rustichella. This was their rendition of the sea urchin spaghetti. Mixed with calabrian chile and garlic, the dish had a subtle tinge to it. To me, the squid ink bottarga was the kicker. It gave the dish such a depth of seafood flavor. It was creamy, and full of the ocean’s goodness. Some mentioned that the pasta was too al dente, meaning, it was undercooked. To me, the pasta was cooked exactly al dente and had a nice mouth feel. Perfectly cooked noodles with a creamy sea urchin mixture is heaven. This was a great dish to end on.

Though I was stuffed, it had to end on a sweet note. It was my birthday after all. We ordered the chocolate budino tart. The salted caramel down the middle was good, but I wished there was more. The cacao crust cookie was a great crunch with the smooth budino. The olive oil was a head scratcher though. Nonetheless, it was a great dessert to end all things.

To start off my 29th year in this world with Bestia, I can tell this year will be a good year. From pastas to pizzas and other Italian dishes, Chef Ori is the man to see. With painstaking details from curing his own meat for charcuterie and raising his own yeast, the food is nothing but excellent. It isn’t about the location — Bestia is in the middle of nowhere in Downtown Arts District. They made best of what they have in one location and is pumping out some high quality foods. I wish to come back again soon and see what the chef has in store. Bestia is something to look out for in 2013. It is a beast!

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Mohawk Bend – Echo Park Doing a Complete 180

by Franklin on July 18, 2013

Echo Park is getting there. In the past years, the sub city has been making strides to beautify and clean up the mess. Echo Park in the 80’s and 90’s was terrifying. As a child, I remember visiting my grandparents who lived in Echo Park. Those were some rough memories, but still fun. Today, the remnants of that era still linger, but in a beautiful way. Boutique shops and restaurants popped up all over Echo Park — on Sunset, west of Alvarado at least. One such restaurant, Mohawk Bend is one of many that turned something ugly into something amazing. Owner Tony Yanow turned the 100-year old Vaudeville Theater into what Mohawk Bend is today. For awesome pictures and to learn more about the architecture, check out Freshome. Mohawk Bend is a restaurant and bar that sources everything locally. They appeal to meat eaters like me, to vegans and vegetarians. It opened it’s doors on August 1, 2011, and has been a popular spot of the neighborhood ever since.

A good buddy of mine and co-worker decided to catch happy hour — beer was in order. My buddy, @joeschai had the Victory Golden Monkey, a Philadelphia brew that he is more familiar with. It was full bodied and had a great taste. It made my beer seem like water.

Nachoes were on the happy hour menu and it was a great start. The nachos were quite standard though, and the pico de gallo and guacamole were fresh. I’m glad it didn’t have any chili or beans in it, but the cheese could have been more gooey. I am a fan of more of a cheese sauce than just melted cheddar on my nachos. That way, the cheese won’t harden and make it nearly impossible to enjoy. Other than that though, the nachos were quite nice.

The Buffalo-style Cauliflower was interesting. I felt we were ordering everything standard bar food. Beer, pizza, burger, and nachos? I wanted something to spice up our regular items and this seemed interesting enough. For a guy who hates cauliflower, this was a gamble. The cauliflower was a great blank vessel for the buffalo sauce. The most interesting part of this dish was the vegan “bleu cheese” dressing. Blue cheese was made of some kind of soy cheese. It tasted like plastic blocks, but the dressing itself was good. The dish was salty, zesty and full of flavor — not a bad veggie dish, fit for a vegetarian looking for some buffalo wings.

I appreciate a good pizza with a balance of flavors and textures. This flatbread had an amazing balance. The short rib and blue cheese gave the pizza a rich flavor to it. All was countered by the red onions and greens. The kicker was the smoked grapes. This gave it a nice subtle sweetness that this pizza needed. The balsamic reduction on top finished it off perfectly. The crust was decent — not all that great actually. The toppings helped with masking the shortcomings of the dough.

Every bar, gastropub, whatever you want to call it needs a burger. From all of their selections we opted for the one with bacon, short rib, and cheddar. The beef was nicely seared cooked to a medium. The beef was the star — the pure beef flavor from the patty and short rib shined through the burger. The bacon and everything else seemed like an afterthought. The bun was actually better than I thought. Though a burger isn’t a must order at Mohawk Bend, you wouldn’t be doing wrong by it.

I hate to say this, but the concept and interior design of it all is the most impressive part of Mohawk Bend. For them to have carried out a great interior with all of the amenities in a such a rundown property is amazing. Sorry to say though, the impressive interior is not reflected onto the food as well. Nothing I ate was amazing. The only thing that really stood out was the burger, and maybe their selection of beers. Other than that, their dishes were uninspired and boring. This may be a gem in Echo Park, but in the grand scheme of the City of Los Angeles, they are just “okay.” It was still great to catch up with my friend and coworker. Good company always makes things better.

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The LA Wine Fest on June 8 & 9 was a pleasure to attend. Taking place at Hollywood’s Historic Raleigh Studios, the event venue was expansive and fun. Dr. Joel M. Fisher founded the LA Wine Fest in 2005. This marks the 8th Annual LA Wine Fest, serving over 500 wines and spirits. If unlimited wine wasn’t enough, the array of small food bites and vendors from anything you can think of made it worth while. A lot of vineyards and wine companies were pouring that day. Click here for an extensive list of what they were pouring. My favorite, and the star of the LA Wine Fest was the Venetian’s Carnavale exhibit. They had people in elaborate costumes and masks celebrating and promoting Carnevale in the Summer at the Venetian. They were giving out tasty macarons too! After a trip to the Lobsta Truck and having burgers and fries from Hot’s Kitchen, we were tipsy and stuffed.

My favorite part was watching Chang Sivilay of Asia de Cuba do a cooking demonstration. He cooked some amazing octopus, sea bass, and some of the largest shrimp I have ever seen. All of the dishes, of those that I could get my hands on were delicious and fresh from the kitchen. I was sad that I missed celebrity chef Eric Greenspan from The Foundary do a cooking demonstration. The cooking demonstration was a nice shade from the sun and a break from drinking. What’s a better break from drinking than eating?

It was a fun time in the sun. We went home with our wine glasses and Stella chalice. We opened up our goody bags and found awesome chocolates, snacks, cook books, and coupons galore. The whole event was awesome and I can’t wait to attend the Malibu event later this year.

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Playground – Where Chef Jason Quinn Goes to Play

June 10, 2013

The Playground, a small gastropub in Santa Ana is in it with the rest of them. It seems like Santa Ana’s Art District is attracting a lot of new chefs and restaurants, but The Playground is a bit different. Jason Quinn, the head chef and owner started with The Lime Truck. Winning in The Great […]

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Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille – Not Just a Clothing Store Anymore

May 7, 2013

I’m not a retired old man, nor am I rich. Tommy Bahama clothing represents just that. Old male clothing, preferably rich, relaxing at a beach or island somewhere, and preferably of which you own, thats what I think of Tommy Bahama. Never in a million years would I associate this with a restaurant or bar. […]

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La Cave (Wynn) – Wine and Food Hideaway

May 3, 2013

The Wynn and Encore are some of my favorite properties in Las Vegas. Their elegant styling with classic and luxurious design cues all make for a perfect resort. Walking into SW Steakhouse with no reservation, I realized I was being too optimistic. Reservations is a must at SW — lesson learned. Scratching that idea, our […]

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Lazy Ox Canteen – Downtown / Little Tokyo’s Very Own Gastropub

March 20, 2013

Lazy Ox Canteen was on my radar for a while. Any time I was in Downtown or in Little Tokyo, I always had Lazy Ox in the back of my mind. Luckily, it was food blogger appreciation week at the restaurant, and the owner invited me and a guest for some food. Though I realize […]

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Haven Gastropub (Orange) – Fried Pig Ears and a Burger

March 4, 2013

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon. Warren G was on the streets, trying to consume. Some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk. Just rollin’ in my ride, chillin’ all alone. That was some regulators action for you. I always feel like the OC can use some more […]

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The Penthouse at The Huntley – Lunch on Top and an Elevator Ride Down

February 12, 2013

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 […]

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