Coffee Code, to me, was a stumble. Wanting some dessert after dinner, this seemed like the perfect spot. The fun atmosphere and unique atmosphere is what made this place attractive.
We had the white chocolate latte and cafe con leche. Both were velvety smooth and sweet. It was a perfect sweet dessert style coffee for our waffle. The little bits of toffee in the care con leche was a nice touch. These dessert coffees were a nice change from the super dark straight black coffee I have every morning.
The mochi waffle was quite nice. It had a chewy texture like mochie, but still had the added bready consistency of a waffle. Layered with ice cream and whipped toppings, this waffle was definitely meant to be a dessert. I absolutely loved the texture of this. Though a bit soggy from the toppings, the inside was where the magic was.
Coffee Code was a nice place to hang out and a have some coffee. It offers pretty much waffles and coffee. The simplicity of it all just makes it a specific destination. What’s a better trifecta combination that coffee, ice cream, and waffles? Can’t really think of it just yet.
Find your passport, grab a plane, and fly over to Paris. Grab brunch at your local brasserie, and there is your European/French breakfast with freshly baked bread and all the classics. Instead, drive down 3rd Street near Crescent Heights and you will be at Little Next Door. The French inspired brasserie is spot on with the colors, cuisine and bakery selections. I enjoyed the food and Little Next Door is a great contender amongst the many breakfast spots in this area.
We started things off with a caramel latte. Doctors say, drink water in the morning to jump start your internal organs. Well, caffeine does the same, except really fast. Coffee Latte over water always! We missed the latte art, but this large cup of caramel latte was delicious. Not too sweet, the coffee flavor was pure and delightful. It was creamy, delicious, and all I could wish was to have had this last with our dessert.
We were treated with some delicious bread. One could only assume this was all made in house. It was light, airy and perfect with the olive oil and balsamic mix. The mixture was sweet, acidic, and was zesty from the herbs and garlic inside. I was glad there wasn’t a lot of bread that was served — that would have been bad.
The Croque Madame is almost the perfect breakfast. It is cheesy, has ham, and of course, a runny egg on top. The grilled ham in this one was really nice in quality. You could taste the freshness and the actual pork flavor came out. This open faced sandwich made with whole wheat bread was a covered in amazingly melted and toasted cheese. The combination with the simple vinaigrette salad was satisfying. The simplicity of this dish is what made me enjoy it.
Eggs Benedict is another one of those classic brunch menu items. We opted for the Wild Mushroom Eggs Benedict. I appreciated the lightness and delicate Hollandaise sauce. It usually is a bit on the sour side or rich with too much butter. Theirs was just a compliment to this dish. The mushrooms were the star — it had a good bite to it with an earthy flavor. The egg was poached perfectly, and the egg yolk was warm and running. I appreciated that the bread was toast with crust cut off instead of an English muffin. This made it easy to cut and eat with a fork. The side house green salad went well with this dish.
Of course, we had to finish things off with macarons. My favorite was the caramel, something the waiter picked out for us. The other 3 were total misses. I tried a bunch of macarons in my day, and these were just so-so. The inside was moist, but a little too moist, almost wet. The outside crust was nice, but the inside was a bit off. A good macaron has a nice firm outer crust, and the inside should be light, then dense as you chew. Their flavors were ok, but the texture was a bit off. I wish I had a chance to try some of their other pastries and baked goods.
Little Next Door does a good job in bringing France to 3rd Street. The decor is on point, and the food items are delicious. I could only imagine food in France to be only slightly better (maybe a little more than slightly). It was relaxing eating brunch outside, people watching and seeing the cars wiz by on the street. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is safe to say breakfast is king here.
Downtown is such a dirty place. You have the coexistence of the rich and poor, and everyone in between. Cars wiz by, polluting the air. The buildings are old, dingy, and most of them block out the sun. With urban development slowly making things better, downtown is certainly looking up. Eats in downtown are starting to get better too. A certain dessert spot has got me scratching my head though. Syrup on Spring St. isn’t really anything special. For some odd reason, it seems to be quite popular. They have their signature desserts and coffees, but nothing is spectacular. Well, their waffles are nice…
No, their waffles are not nice. In fact, their waffles taste like nothing. In another fact, I’ve had better at a brunch waffle bar, at El Torito grill. Now, the waffle bashing will stop. Maybe I was a bit mad that they ran out of their signature blackberry jasmine ice cream. But seriously, it’s just a bland waffle with fruit and whipped cream, with a side of ice cream. Aren’t Liege waffles supposed to be dense and sugary? Syrup needs to take a few pages out of the Waffles de Liege truck.
Honestly, don’t go crazy over this stuff. The upstairs lounge area is cool and all with their board games and what not. If you want to lounge it up with your friends over dessert, stay home, bakes some cookies, grab the ice cream, and whip out Monopoly Deal. Your night is right again.
On a totally random note, but still contenting on about how dirty downtown was, I crossed paths with an actual street rat that day. Not to say that Syrup has a rat problem, but I just saw a rat just roaming around on the street. The only street rats I really know of are Ratatouille, or Aladdin, but to actually see one in real life was kind of cool. Cute in a way, but dirty as can be, the street rat made my day. Why I was looking into maybe buying a condo in downtown is beyond me.
The best place to have breakfast is near the water. It is and has been a long time dream of mine to live near the water. I imagine waking up Saturday morning, walking or riding a bike with my family to our local cafe. The cafe wouldn’t necessarily over look the ocean, but it would be really close. The smell and the vibe of the ocean takes over and you have a relaxing breakfast. The cafe can’t be a Mecca either. No line. No hustle and bustle of waiters and patrons. Just a small cafe with no noise. After breakfast, a troll to the beach for a swim, and I am set. This to me is a perfect start to a Saturday morning. At Alta Coffee in Newport Beach, this dream felt close enough to reality.
I ordered the Bueno Bowl. It had layers with tortilla chips, black beans, potatoes, bacon, cheese, and scrambled egg. It was topped with salsa, and avocado and sour cream. This dish reminded me of Kamil’s Breakfast at Blu Jam Cafe, minus the pasta. The Mexican inspired bowl of breakfast items was a good balance of carb and protein. The bacon did a good job of flavoring everything, and the avocado did its job of bringing everything together. This was perfect with the help of their hot sauce, Gringo hot sauce. Surprisingly, it was a good mix of spices and had the right amount of tang. Props to the Gringo!
To keep up with the Hispanic theme, I ordered the South of the Border Omelette. The addition Ortega chilies, hominy, and jack / cheddar was an interesting mix. Garnished with salsa, sour cream and avocado to finish it off, the omelette was delicious and seemed healthier than most. The best part of this dish was the homemade toast with strawberry jam. Something about homemade bread is so comforting.
We finished things off with a dessert drink — toffee latte. Topped with whipped cream, chocolate, and toffee bits, the drink was sweet and hit the spot. The toffee bits were my favorite — I am sucker for anything that resembles caramel. The drink came in a mug that I would find at my own home. That kind of charm and character is hard to find nowadays.
Alta Coffee is just like in my dream. It is near the water, they serve awesome breakfast and great lattes. The weather was perfect, as was the food and service. I just felt like at home here. Too bad I had to get in my car, and drive really far to go home though. I guess the dream of waking up, walking toward the water and finding myself having the “regular” is a dream. The future is still far away — it’ll happen.
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.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Intelligentsia. Coffee to me is just a daily routine — I need it to wake up. On hot days, I like it iced. On cold days, I like it hot. I am not a big coffee conoissoure. A simple refill in my coffee mug from 7Eleven with some hazelnut cream will keep me happy. Though I don’t know “good” coffee, I know what bad coffee tastes like. I had to give this coffee shop a try. Located next to Akasha, actually located inside Akasha, it’s not really a separate building — it is more of having an Intelligentsia inside of the restaurant. I thought this was interesting, and maybe the trend of having coffee shops inside restaurants will start to grow.
I tried the iced coffee and iced green tea. The coffee was actually really good. Not overly strong like Starbuck’s coffee of the day, and not too watered down. The green tea was good too. Though I don’t like fruit infused tea, this one had a very subtle fruit flavor. The change from the my normal, straight green tea was refreshing.
The interior was nice and very relaxing. I liked the dark wood colors and home feeling I got when I walked in. I can see myself sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and working on some blog posts. Filled with books on cooking and other culinarily related reading material, I thought it would be fun to just hang out here and read book while drinking some dang good coffee. Having only been to the one in Culver City, I can only imagine the ambiance of the other locations. Though not an official location, it was nice to get a taste of the Intelligentsia coffee. As my taste buds grow up a bit for good quality coffee, I will graduate to the other locations.
Los Angeles is changing for the better. Downtown especially, neighborhoods not so hospitable a few years back are now going through metamorphosis. Condos are being built all around downtown and the the urban boom is in full effect. This sudden migration of people moving to the city is good for business as well, especially the food business — people have to eat somehow. The Pie Hole in the Los Angeles Art District is exactly what the urbanites needed. They are a little shop that serves coffees, teas, and of course, pies. Located directly across from Wurstküche, it is around some other popular eateries in the area. With the day’s menu written on butcher paper, and with white walls and concrete floors, they really took the minimalistic approach in design. This type of “charm” suits the area well. This is The Pie Hole.
Having eaten lunch elsewhere, I skipped the savory hand pies and went straight for dessert. I ordered their 2 popular pies — Mexican Chocolate and Maple Custard. Of the two, it was difficult to choose a favorite. The Mexican Chocolate had a very unique chocolate flavor. The filling was creamy and thick, and the topping of whipped cream had a coffee flavor to it. Together, it all worked well. The chocolate had a bitter and acidic flavor. The crust was crumbly and cookie like (think cheesecake crust) — it was great with the chocolate filling. The maple custard on the other hand, had a phyllo dough style crust. Drenched in butter, it was flakey, doughy, and dense. The maple custard filling though, was my favorite. It was gooey and sticky, kind of like hardened maple syrup. Though it was similar to the filling in pecan pie (minus the pecans), the filling wasn’t overly sweet. It was a perfect pie. All I needed was some whipped cream. I guess in the end, I liked the maple custard better.
It was a treat to have tried the pies at The Pie Hole. Certain not your average hole in the wall, The Pie Hole is unique and found a nice little niche in the city. Serving hot drinks and desserts as well as savory items, the menu is plenty yet not overwhelming. They definitely serve some delicious pies — don’t expect to go and get a whole pie for a party either. They are more of a place for orders on the go or a small bite to eat with friends. Thank to this spot, pies are cool again.
Search for Urth Caffe at Google, and under the Images tab, you will find more pictures of celebrities than actual food. Weird right? Kind of ridiculous if you ask me. They must do a lot of business just on the paparazzi alone. I wonder if normal/regular people go here. I mean, I’m normal — I’m no celebrity by any means. I work, I go home, and I don’ drive a Bently. I know Urth Caffe is a celebrity hot spot, but I am all about the food. Naturally, I have been wanting to see what all the fuss is about. Surprised, I found it to be a pleasant evening with a latte and desserts.
I can’t go to a cafe and not try their drinks. Their most popular drink, the Spanish latte, was superb! Filled in an over sized mug, there was enough to keep me caffeinated for a while. The flavor was dark and rich with a strong coffee flavor. It reminded me of the Vietnamese coffee at Lee’s Sandwich, but more refined. It wasn’t sweet at all, but very balanced. The latte was on the thick side, but very creamy. Even the latte art of the dog was impressive. It was a great cup of latte, and definitely a perfect drink to compliment my desserts.
The flour-less chocolate cake was a toss up. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. The inside was too watery to be enjoyable. Instead of having a creamy custard like consistency, it was more of a smiley goop of chocolate liquid. The cake on the outer crust was nice, but wasn’t chocolatey enough. I even think they microwaved the dessert. This left some pieces cold, and some pieces dried up to a crisp. This was not a favorite of mine. Thankfully, I had my Spanish Latte to wash it all down.
Which was and always will be a favorite of mine is their pumpkin pie. Possibly the best pumpkin pie I ever had, I always dream of this during Thanksgiving. The filling is nice and thick with a great pumpkin puree texture. It wasn’t too sweet or too bland — It was perfect. The best part, hands down is the crust. Made with some sort of cookie mixture, the crust, usually my least favorite part of a pie, was my favorite. It was thick and desnse, just like a cookie. This pie was delicious!
Urth Caffe impressed me with their amazing Spanish latte and pumpkin pie. Though I haven’t eaten a meal there, I was glad to try some of their signature items. The price wasn’t cheep, although you do get what you pay for — premium coffee for a premium product. The cafe is located perfectly near all of the high end shops. I guess its no wonder that celebrities frequent Urth Caffe so often. They have the funds to get the best stuff possible on a daily basis. For me, I am a fan. I wouldn’t mind dishing out a few extra dollars for something so sweet and delicious.
It is not every day you get to eat Vietnamese at a sit down, and it’s not pho. Usually its spring rolls or a bahn mi sandwich to go, or a nice big hot bowl of pho at a hole in the wall. Brodard in Garden Grove has some of the best Vietnamese food around, especially the rolls. They even have some french pastries as well. I wasn’t a real fan of Vietnamese food, until I gave it a chance. Coming here though was a challenge. Their main entrance is actually in the back. You will get lost, like I did, if you assume the entrance is in the front. I don’t even think they have an entrance in the front. Even if they did, the sign wouldn’t read “Brodard Restaurant”. It was all in Vietnamese — or maybe that was an entrance to something else. Either, way, the entrance is difficult to find, and it is in the back. Once you find this place though, you will be glad that you did.
We ordered the Cha Gio (egg rolls). The crispy rolls willed with pork, shrimp, crab meat, clear vermicelli and vegetables. It was served with and array of Asian greens and lime chili fish sauce. I wrapped the egg rolls in the Asian lettuce, put some mint and cilantro inside, and dipped it in the sweet and sour sauce. To say the least, my taste buds were having a party. Every flavor was present, and the cilantro and mint leaves gave it that depth. Texturally, it was a treat as well. This was an all in one flavor packed appetizer that is a must order.
The Nem Nuong Cuon (pork spring roll) is what they are known for. The grilled pork paste was wrapped in rice paper with lettuce, cucumber, carrot, daikon, and mint. It was served with house special sauce. In my opinion, the sauce made this dish shine. The spring rolls in itself were tasty, but the sauce is what makes this dish. The house special sauce was some sort of shrimp paste sauce. It went very well with the rolls.
As a hot dish, we ordered the Bo Luc Lac (Shaken beef) The dish had filet minon chunks, mixed with onions, mushrooms, scallion and spices. It was served with tomato rice with a salad. The filet minion was very soft and tender — not an ounce of chewiness. The vegetables were fine and the rice was alright. I didn’t really like the sauce it was in as much. It kind of tasted like bean paste, but milder in flavor. It would have been nice to have more meat, but we all know how pricey filet minon is.
At the end, we ordered our Vietnamese coffee and it completed the meal. Not as good as Lee’s, but still very good. I realized how much flavor Vietnamese food has. It was fun to see the spring roll making station as workers almost endlessly rolled each one. It’s no wonder that they need so many people making these things, everyone orders them. If you are in the area, and want some Vietnamese food, Brodard is all you need. There is a Brodard Chateu down the street. I don’t know if it is related or not, but this one is the real deal.
So you are shopping at Fashion Island and you get a little hungry. You want something good and fast, but not fast food. Maybe you want something from a bakery or cafe. How about a sandwich maybe? Something like Panera Bread or Corner Bakery, but not exactly that? Well how fitting, because Fashion Island has Pain Du Monde. Pain Du Monde is French, and it means bread of the world — this place is serious about their bread and baked goods.
Upon walking it, I just had a feeling it would be good. It’s a small bakery and cafe situated next to all of the expensive restaurants. And since it’s a cafe, it won’t hurt your wallet. It looked like a coffee shop, but most of the people there were eating. “Hmm, must be some good eating over here”, I thought to myself. I saw in the front, a whole display of baked goods and a menu full of wraps and sandwiches. I ordered half of their southwest chicken sandwich and tuna salad sandwich.
The Southwest had chicken, jack cheese, guacamole, and other veggies on a cheddar jalapeno roll. The kick from the southwest sauce really made this sandwich stand out. The tuna salad sandwich was great too — It had a fresh tuna taste that was clean and not overly “mayonnaisey”. The fresh tomatoes and greens were perfect in it as well. Both sandwiches were delicious as I would want to try the others. I also gave in and ordered a cinnamon twist. I was hesitant on getting a dessert, but sometimes I have to indulge myself on trips like this. Are you with me?
This thing was massive — they served it on a plate, and it didn’t even fit. I could tell by looking that the outer layer was going to be flakey — you could see all the layers of the dough. The inside was also very yummy — the best part. You bite in, and you get the crunch from the outside, and inside you get that mix of the dough with cinnamon and sugar. The whole thing was scrumptious — when I start using words like scrumptious, you know it’s good.
I’m glad that this was one of our stops. It was good food done simple — none of this fancy shmancy stuff. They also have these cafes in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, and Dana Point. I think these guys like to stick near the water. That is alright by me because I like the beach, and I like Pain du Monde.
Coffee Bean hosted the South West Regional Barista Competition on March 5, 2011. I had the chance to check out the continuation of Round 1 at Siren Studios in Hollywood. Baristas were set in front of a panel of judges. Competitors created creative mixtures of coffee drinks — the baristas battled it out.
During the competition, free goody bags were given out ($5 dollar gift card to Coffee Bean). Also, Lake Street Creamery and Buttermilk truck were there to satisfy hungry spectators. Other non-competing baristas were there to make cappuccinos and serve drinks as well. All in all, it was a successful event. Check them out Sunday, March 6, 2011 for Round 2.
(Buttermilk Truck Post will come shortly. In the mean time, check out the video of the competition.)