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


I passed by this place many times, and it never appealed to me as a nice place to eat. The outside doesn’t look like a restaurant, and the word monkey doesn’t sound tasty. There is something special about Monkey Business Cafe — they are for non-profit. All of their proceeds go to Hart Community Homes. They deal with the community’s youth in enriching kids with family issues. Finding this out, I was glad to be a supporter of it. Trying it, I was once again taught a lesson — Don’t judge a book by its cover. The inside felt cozy and comforting. Each dining table set was unique. Each one quite possibly being the exact one at someone’s house. The eating area was large and even had a sofa and coffee table. After going inside for breakfast, I just wanted to stay for lunch.

Weirdly, we started off with the chocolate chip cookie and green tea. Yes, we were hungry. The cookie was alright, and the green tea made everything better. I am a chewy and soft cookie kind of guy, but their crunchy one was large and tasty.

My favorite was their ricotta pancake. Made from scratch, the pancake was amazing. It didn’t taste like pancake mix — you could actually taste the flour. I don’t know how, but you could. The creamy ricotta, and buttermilk, and lemon creme fraiche with powdered sugar gave it all the flavor. With the lemon and sugar accent, it was a reminder of a dutch baby. Sweet and tangy, it was a delicious pancake.

The bacon and cheddar scramble was not special. This was something so normal and everyday, I felt I ordered the wrong thing. The potatoes and toast were good and filling. The scramble was not exciting enough for me.

I was quite impressed with their burger. The western burger, which had chipotle mayo, onions, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar was served on a ciabata. The meat was very fresh and perfectly cooked. The meat was bloody, cooked to a medium rare like we ordered it. The patty was thick and juicy and the chipotle mayo really set the tone for this burger. It was smokey and delicious. Their side cole slaw was perfect with the burger. I can tell it was all freshly made.

Honestly, I was impressed with the food here. The outside was very unassuming and unappealing. Once I tasted the food though, I was amazed. The food was great and the inside is relaxing. I can see myself eating a cookie, drinking some tea, and getting some work done. They pride themselves in serving healthy, organic food all from local growers. For a place doing good for the community, they are doing good for their stomachs as well.

Monkey Business Cafe on Urbanspoon


Halloween was last month, but thinking now, it wasn’t even a week ago.  Having plans to go on the Hollywood Hay Ride, we needed a place to lunch near Los Feliz.  Alcove Cafe was perfect. The seating area was peaceful and the menu was plentiful.  The pay first, then sit was perfect for our group. Sometimes, splitting the check among all of your friends can be a headache to you and the servers.

Upon entering, the outside seating facing the street was very refreshing.  The trees and almost home style building made it very inviting.

Waiting for our friends, we sat at Big Bar which is located inside.  There, they offer a full bar menu as well as coffee and teas. Once our friends came, we ordered at the front counter and sat immediately.

I ordered the americana panini.  It had three scrambled eggs, aged Vermont cheddar, tomato, and applewood smoked bacon. The bacon was nice and crispy which I liked.  The homestyle potatoes were perfectly cooked — mushy on the inside, and nicely seared on the outside.  It was a nice panini sandwich with potatoes– and it served both as my breakfast and lunch.

I didn’t get to try my friend’s white albacore tuna melt, but it looked delicious.  It had cheddar and tomato with grilled bread.

The philly cheesesteak panini had shaved roast beef, caramelized onions, sauteed bell peppers and mushrooms, and pepperjack cheese with au jus on the side.  I got to try a small bite, and I thought it was ok.  There was just too much bread.  Maybe dipping it in the au jus would have made it better. The pear salad on the side was a bit odd for me as well.  It was seasoned with pepper and the flavors did not work for me.

My girlfriend’s chilaquiles was my favorite.  Some of the tortillas were crunchy, some were soaked in that red sauce. The runny, velvety eggs coating the tortillas was so delicious.  Eating it with the curds of Mexican cheese (maybe pannela) on top was perfect.  It was a great dish.

We over did it with the dessert.  One of us wanted the strawberry cake, some wanted the bread pudding.  To satisfy our wants we ordered both

The strawberry cake was huge.  It was quite possibly the biggest slice of cake I have ever seen. The cake was nice and moist, a bit on the sweet side, but the strawberries were perfect with it. Nothing beats strawberries with cake. (strawberry pancakes, strawberry shortcake).  This dessert was creamy and sweet.

I will admit it.  I was the one who wanted to chocolate bread pudding.  I heard great things, and they had a whole stack of them, ready to devour.  When we got ours, it was warmed up.  The chocolate was all melted on the inside and the bread part was so dense and chewy. This was chocolate overload, and I loved it.  Too bad I had to share it.  Otherwise, I would have eaten it like a muffin, with chocolate all around my mouth thereafter.

Alvoce Cafe and Bakery is a really nice spot.  It is one of a kind, unlike Panera Bread or Corner Bakery. Though they have the similar styles of ordering, the food is night and day.  From hot breakfasts, to lunch, baked goods, coffees, teas, and even alcohol, they had it. Alcove’s home like decor is inviting and all you want to do is stay — maybe even just live there.

Alcove Cafe & Bakery/Big Bar on Urbanspoon

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