Los Angeles

Little Next Door – Parisian Brunch

by Franklin on February 15, 2014

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.

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon

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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.

Father's Office on Urbanspoon

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Spitz (Little Tokyo) – Topped Fries Make Me Happy

by Franklin on February 6, 2014

It all started with two Occidental College graduates. On a semester abroad in Spain, there were Doner Kabobs everywhere. Doner kebabs are basically minced meat that is cooking on a spit. The meat rotates and caramelizes as it spins on the broiler. Upon graduating, the students opened up their first Spits in Eagle Rock, just a mile away from Oxy. I am more familiar with the Little Tokyo location, and only been to this one. The food is always amazing and the ambiance, artsy as usual.

I always get the street cart doner. Freshly carved lamb Doner meat accompanied by romaine, onions, cucumbers, green pepper, and tomatoes create this tasty wrap. With garlic aioli and fried lavash chips, the sandwich wrap is zesty and delicious. The kicker is the tzatziki and chili sauce. The meat is seasoned perfectly and the veggies and sauce all come into play perfectly.

My most favorite thing here is the street cart fries with the works. First off, the fries are perfectly crusted and crispy. Instead off traditional potato fries, theirs are a Cajun style. Topped with garlic aioli, feta, onion, green pepper, tomato, olives, peperoncini and chili sauce, this be easily be one of my favorite “topped” fries dish in Los Angeles. I opted to add chicken Doner meat, and everything was perfect. Each bite had a little bit of everything — think crane asada fries, except its chicken fresh off the spit and Mediterranean ingredients. I absolutely loved the feta as it gave a nice zest to everything. The veggies were an absolute must to keep this gut buster in check.

Spits is one of those places where you just dream about. Sometimes, the cravings are too strong and you just need your street cart fries and Doner fix. The zesty taste from the Middle Eastern ingredients is too addicting. Bordering the downtown Arts District, the minimalistic industrial design with funky metallic designs makes this place fresh and casual. The home of the doner kebab is where it’s at.

Spitz on Urbanspoon

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Johnnies Pastrami is a Culver City landmark. The 50s styled restaurant is small. It has a diner feel with the central bar area — everything is just smaller in scale. Their pastrami sandwiches though, are quite large. I will undoubtedly compare this to The Hat. If you want to stop reading, I will tell you right now. I like the pastrami at The Hat better. Call it biased if you wish, but I call it how it is–you can read the comparison below.

The pastrami sandwich at Johnnies was packed full of meat. The sandwich was just pastrami in between a sliced roll. Granted, you can get it with coleslaw and cheese, but I wanted the pure pastrami sandwich to shine (for the sake of the comparison). Bread for bread, both Johnnies and The Hat was a tie. As for the pastrami, Johnnies was a bit on the dryer side and had less flavor. The Hat’s was more juicy and saltier (in a good way). Both was probably achieved with a dunk in their special au jus. Sorry to say, The Hat’s pastrami was better than Johnnie’s.

But wait… There is something that Johnnie’s kills it in, and that is their pickles. These pickles were tart, salty, and crisp. It went so perfectly with the pastrami sandwich. I finished the whole bowl of complimentary pickles that was offered. These were probably some of my favorite pickles I have ever eaten. I did dream of eating these pickles with a Hat pastrami sandwich from the SGV. In hind sight, I should have bought a jar of them. Interestingly, the pickles were better than their pastrami.

I guess in comparison, it should be Hat’s pastrami a sandwich vs. johnnie’s pastrami with the pickles. If that is the case, it would be a much tougher comparison. Honestly, the Tito’s Tacos neighbor is a hot sport for late night diners in Culver City. I understand you can’t drive all the way to the SGV to get the best “thin” pastrami in LA. I guess you can stay in Culver City for pastrami, but it would only be 2nd best. And all of you “how about Oinkster pastrami?” folks, you can just keep those kinds of irrelevant questions to yourself. :)

Johnnie's Pastrami on Urbanspoon

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Syrup (Downtown) – Waffles and Ice Cream

by Franklin on January 18, 2014

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.

Syrup Desserts on Urbanspoon

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