Archive for the ‘Food’Category

SunCafe ups the ante for vegan fare

SunCafe

SunCafe

ShopEatSleep was invited to try out the expanded menu at SunCafe’s new location in Studio City. Being a total novice to vegan food — my experience with veganism was limited to a vegan burger that I had a great many moons ago — I was curious to see if the meatless offerings at SunCafe could satiate my usually insatiable appetite.

Known for serving up imaginative plant-based cuisine, SunCafe operated out of a modest Studio City storefront for five years before moving to its current home on Ventura Boulevard. With more than triple the capacity, including a spacious outdoor patio, the fully renovated 1920s-era ranch-style house delivers a good blend of old and new, lending itself to a cozy and relaxed ambience.

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12

10 2014

Get ready for Barberia restaurant

Expanding from the Barbershop Ristorante pop-up into a permanent space in downtown Los Angeles named Barberia restaurant, Chef Walter el Nagar (Il Grano, La Botte) has been hosting a run of tasting menu evenings to preview what is in store for the new restaurant. As the location on Hope Street downtown nears completion, these tastings are being hosted in Brakeman Brewery, a gallery space off of Jefferson Boulevard along the Metro Expo Line.

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

With a wonderful sound system, cozy bar and golden sunsets to die for, we recently dined on the outdoor patio area at dusk.

After being greeted by a bar inside, a carefully prepared meal was our treat outside. First up to say hello was duck tartare with shaved foie gras and anchovy on sailor bread. The laws in California don’t prevent consumption of foie gras, but the ban on the sale of foie did make this dish a pleasant surprise for many at the table. The theme of pairing these items together is appreciated, but let’s be real: you’re excited about the foie.

Duck tartare with foie gras

Duck tartare with foie gras

In a nod to the sea and barbershop, up next was an uni sponge cake in tomato broth presented in a sea urchin bowl atop a stone with a barbershop pole etching. The taste was subtle, as most of the dishes in the evening would be, and was a refreshing follow-up to the tartare on a warm evening.

Uni sponge cake

Uni sponge cake

The prawns aguachile was quite interesting. It was like a prawn enchilada in green sauce but wrapped in avocado slices instead of tortillas. I would probably prefer this as a snack rather than a dinner course, but I definitely enjoyed it. As always, avocados remind you that you’re in California.

Prawns aguachile

Prawns aguachile

The linguine alle vongole was my favorite dish of the evening. Using wheat germ pasta cooked in clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a kick at the end of each bite thanks to the chili in the spicy sauce that the pasta sat on rather than being coated in it. I could have had three more helpings of this dish, gladly.

Linguine alle vongole

Linguine alle vongole

The abalone and porcini mushroom risotto was a real hit, and for many their favorite dish of the tasting menu. Everything combined perfectly, and each bite had a great taste to it. Seaweed was also used for flavoring in this dish, and it was spot on.

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Dessert came with a message: “Tomato is a fruit.” That’s literally what the dish was called. A sweet tomato in a bowl with strawberry syrup, topped with white chocolate ice cream and vanilla foam, the message was loud, clear and delightful. This wasn’t a decadent dessert, full of sin and scandal; it was more like a peaceful agreement between good looking people who never really wanted to fight each other. This will be a popular dessert for the summertime.

Tomato dessert

Tomato dessert

Overall, this peek at what’s to come for Barberia restaurant definitely shows promise. You can experience this preview (last pop-up takes place Oct. 17) and decide for yourself by making online reservations on the Barbershop website. No word on when Barberia restaurant will open, but there will be quite a few people in the food world interested to see how this joint venture with Adam Fleischman, of Umami and AdVantage fame, will turn out.

Note: This meal was hosted.

29

09 2014

Learning is fun with an Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Looking for a fun and informative way to learn some cooking basics? Then an Eatz cooking class might be just what you need.

Located near the intersection of La Brea and Melrose avenues in a cute kitchen space, Eatz offers a variety of classes, from the casual to the technical. Go for a one-off class to learn how to make Greek food or your steakhouse favorites, or go for a series of classes to learn elevated culinary school skills.

I recently tried a Weeknights Made Easy with Chef Porsche Reid, who has a warm, inviting personality and put everyone at ease quickly. Throughout the process of making our five dishes, she explained the reasoning behind the steps and offered up tips to make cooking easier.

Cooking at Eatz

Cooking at Eatz

Our menu for the three-hour class:

  • Pan-seared skirt steak with herbed rice and jalapeno & avocado dressing
  • Cinnamon spice rubbed pork tenderloin with caramelized apples and onions
  • Chicken skewers with grilled romaine salad and a pistachio-mint pesto
  • Italian sausage and artichoke-stuffed portobello mushrooms
  • Handcrafted donuts with powdered sugar, lemon glaze chocolate glaze toppings
Spice-rubbed pork loin

Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin

I wasn’t sure how to gauge my skill level, so I went in thinking I was somewhere in the middle: a 5 out of 10. But I soon realized that my skills (most of which I’ve learned from watching Food Network shows and practicing on my own) were more on par with a 7 or 8. This Eatz cooking class suits beginners well, as all of the recipes, which are emailed to you after the class, are relatively easy to make. Bonus: You get appetizers and wine as soon as you arrive, and you make so much food that you’ll take home lots of leftovers.

Frying up donuts

Frying up doughnuts

My husband Rory with our donuts

My husband Rory with our doughnuts

Note: This class was hosted.

15

09 2014

Next Door Lounge debuts new menu

Next Door Lounge

Next Door Lounge. Courtesy of Next Door Lounge.

There are times when you need to catch up with a friend, but you aren’t in the mood to go to a club and it’s too late for coffee. Where do you end up? A bar, of course! You might be coming from work, in your work clothes and not trying to deal with over-served rambunctious patrons at a sports bar — you just want a classy place where you can take the edge off with a drink, comfortably talk with your friends and maybe even grab a bite should conversation run later into the evening.

Having been named Best Speakeasy by LA Weekly, Next Door Lounge looks to fit the bill perfectly for these occasions.

ShopEatSleep was invited to dinner with Chef Nikki Martin, who showcased the new menu and carefully concocted cocktails. The Food Network star crafted the new menu with the 1920s speakeasy in mind and put the restaurant’s wood-fired oven to good use.

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26

08 2014

Saint Martha restaurant is pleasant surprise

Saint Martha interior

Saint Martha interior

It’s rare that a restaurant truly surprises you. Sure, I’ve thought that many dishes at many restaurants were good — very good, even. But to find what is almost literally a diamond in the rough is simply a delight.

That’s what I found in Saint Martha, a new restaurant in a Koreatown strip mall serving up modern American cuisine. Following in the footsteps of Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec and Petit Trois, Saint Martha restaurant offers a fine-dining experience in an unassuming location. Named for the patron saint of cooks and servants, Saint Martha is the brainchild of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and TART restaurant team. Executive Chef and partner Nick Erven (formerly of Mess Hall) and General Manager and Sommelier Mary Thompson have put together a food and drink menu that would be impressive even if the restaurant weren’t in a strip mall.

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17

08 2014

ArcLight Hollywood introduces new cafe menu

This post is by ShopEatSleep contributor Eros David, an e-commerce professional on the everlasting quest for the perfect animated gif response. Having lived in both California and New York, he is no stranger to street food and streetwear. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramGoogle+ and Tumblr.

ArcLight Cafe

ArcLight Cafe

With the release of the food culture-centric film “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” ArcLight Cinemas on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood took the opportunity provide a preview of the upcoming menu for its ArcLight Cafe, including courses from the new menu as well as dishes inspired by the film. Using the classic dinner (with drinks) and a movie formula, I was taken on a group date with ArcLight and didn’t even have to text a friend for a rescue.

To shake off the LA traffic on the way to Hollywood, I was greeted with an ArcLight Sour — skillfully made and topped with an ArcLight “A” on top. It was a fine “hello” and a refreshingly light version of a whiskey sour with bourbon to help welcome in the evening’s courses.

ArcLight Sour

ArcLight Sour

The Spicy Southwestern Bacon Cheeseburger was the star of the new menu items. First off, the obvious point: you can’t go wrong with a burger. Secondly, this burger performs the balancing act of being casual enough to order at a movie theater cafe, yet still quality enough to actually make you want to go to the movie theater cafe to eat. For this Southwestern version of the burger, the fresno chili was a great choice to add a kick without overpowering the juicy beef patty. Let’s call it a gentle kick – a kind greeting from your future food baby. Southwestern flavor accents run throughout, but they aren’t used as a crutch as compared to some burgers that tend to rely on the toppings more than they should.

Spicy Southwestern Bacon Cheeseburger

Spicy Southwestern Bacon Cheeseburger

Keeping with a beef theme, the Beef Bourguinon a la Hassan is a dish from the movie inspired by the main character’s take on the French dish. Using a red wine sauce along with pearl onion and mushroom, no one was left hungry after this course. I actually halted conversation to focus on eating this. Of course, conversation picked right back up when we were deciding what to choose for the next round of drinks.

Beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon

But first, dessert. We ended the night with Banana Cardamom Creme Brulee. The crisp top cracked open when lightly struck, and the custard underneath was the perfect consistency. There will be other fruit choices on the new menu, but it was banana’s night to shine.

Banana creme brulee

Banana creme brulee

ArcLight’s take on the Dark ‘n Stormy, the Perfect Stormy, was my companion for the movie. The local-made bitters and specially selected ginger beer are the highlight of this white rum cocktail. I grabbed a carton of popcorn, sat in my seat next to my alcoholic (beverage) date, and enjoyed the tale of an Indian family learning about Michelin stars in France.

Perfect Stormy

Perfect Stormy

The new menu debuts at the ArcLight Cafe in September, and while “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is in theaters, you can order select dishes inspired by the film.

Arclight MovieMenu sizedNote: This event was hosted.

10

08 2014

Choco Chicken’s chocolate fried chicken is a thing

Old School at Choco Chicken

Old School at Choco Chicken

By now, you may have heard about Los Angeles’ latest food innovation — chocolate fried chicken from Choco Chicken. The brainchild of AdVantage Restaurant Partners’ Adam Fleischman (Umami Burger, 800 Degrees pizza), Choco Chicken offers all kinds of chocolate-infused foods, including mashed potatoes, french fries, meatballs and cocktails, in addition to the fried chicken.

The fried chicken, which is marinated in a secret sauce and fried in a batter mixed with chocolate and spices, isn’t as strange-tasting as it sounds. It’s kind of like the fried version of chicken mole, Oaxaca, Mexico’s famous dish. It’s much more savory than it is sweet. The chocolate-dusted fries and white chocolate mashed potatoes are just sweet enough to make them interesting, too. The cocktails are on the sweet side, though, but I suppose that’s less surprising.

Chocolate fried chicken

Chocolate fried chicken

Choco Chicken fries

Choco Chicken fries

Choco Colada

Choco Colada

The standout dish here is the Old School (pictured at top): a chocolate fried chicken thigh on a butter biscuit topped with white gravy. This is comfort food at its finest. Every component of this dish is rich with flavor and complements each other perfectly. The butter biscuit — order this one over the bacon one, if you’re going a la carte — is a revelation in fluffy butteriness.

Caramelized bacon biscuit

Caramelized bacon biscuit

Note: This meal was hosted.

31

07 2014

Bashan Restaurant serves up frill-free fine dining

This is the first post by ShopEatSleep contributor Shirley Lau, a proud native of Los Angeles who loves all things food and travel. She’s eaten at some of the swankiest restaurants in the world and — thanks to her stomach of steel — at some of the grimiest street-side food stalls. Her passion to see the world has taken her to more than 20 states and 18 countries. A seasoned communications professional, Shirley is a freelance writer and editor who, when not gorging on food and jetting off on a plane, loves to spend time with her two dogs.

Pork belly adobo at Bashan Restaurant

Pork belly adobo at Bashan Restaurant

Every year, my husband and I approach dineL.A. Restaurant Week with enthusiasm and caution. We’ve had our share of great experiences — my favorite by far was Spago — and several not-so-memorable ones (and that’s putting it nicely). Bashan Restaurant in Montrose/North Glendale falls somewhere in the middle.

At first glance, Bashan Restaurant may look a bit out of place. Located on Verdugo Road, the restaurant seems to be one of the only sit-down eateries along that stretch. And when you add fine dining to the mix, it becomes even more of a head-scratcher.

But this fine dining establishment is different from the rest — it’s casual. It’s the kind of place you can go in flip-flops and jeans and feel perfectly comfortable. The brainchild of Chef Nadav Bashan, whose impressive resume includes working at Michael’s in Santa Monica and Providence, the restaurant offers a menu that is both seasonal and farmers market-driven. Infusing California, Mediterranean and Asian practices, Bashan Restaurant incorporates classic French technique in all its preparations.

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25

07 2014

Wood and Vine’s new summer menu is best yet

Burrata and peaches at Wood & Vine

Burrata and peaches at Wood & Vine

Hollywood’s Wood and Vine has gone through a few changes over the years, but the restaurant’s new summer menu from Chef Marc Johnson might be its best yet.

With a sharing-plates concept, you can try many dishes at Wood and Vine — a good thing, considering the high quality of each.

Start with the burrata and peaches (pictured above) served with prosciutto crisps and micro basil. I love stone fruit, so summer is always exciting for me, and the peaches in this dish pair well with the smooth cheese and crunchy ham.

Move on to the braised bacon with fried grits, cheddar, pickled ramps and jalapeno. The pork belly is super tender, and the fried grit balls topped with the pickled veg are an interesting way to get a creamy sourness in as an accompaniment.

Braised bacon

Braised bacon

For your pasta course, get the basil capellini. The basil-flavored pasta topped with charred cherry tomatoes, proscuitto, mushroom, preserved lemon and duck egg yolk is somehow light and substantial at the same time. My favorite part is the lemon.

Basil cappelini

Basil cappelini

The striped bass comes on top of an interesting concoction of nduja (spreadable salami), peaches and cauliflower, and is topped with fresh peppercress. The fish is perfectly cooked with delightfully crispy skin, and its lightness paired with the flavorful meat combo is a pleasant complement.

Striped bass

Striped bass

For dessert, get the butterscotch pot de creme. No question. Its sweet-and-salty combination makes me happy.

Butterscotch pot de creme

Butterscotch pot de creme

Don’t forget the cocktails! Wood and Vine’s bar manager Justin Stidham’s summer drink menu includes some good ones. The Black Star, with House Spirits rum, Giffard Banane (banana liqueur), housemade orgeat, Angostura bitters, fresh pineapple and lime, is summer in a glass served over crushed ice. And the Street Spirit, with its slightly sour combo of Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, strawberry balsamic shrub, sherry, ginger beer and lemon peel, might not be for everyone, but it is certainly for me.

Black Star

Black Star

Street Spirit

Street Spirit

Note: This meal was hosted.

13

07 2014

Neapolitan heaven at DeSano Pizza Bakery + pizza making class

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Do you love pizza? Like, really, really good pizza that has the perfect balance of toppings and cheese on a crispy-but-chewy crust? Then we share this love, you and me. So let me tell you about DeSano Pizza Bakery, a Neapolitan pizza joint in East Hollywood where you can not only eat these delicious pies but also learn how to make them.

Tomorrow, July 12, DeSano’s proprietors, Italy natives Marino Monferrato, formerly general manager at Cecconi’s, and pizzaiolo Massimiliano Di Lascio, will host a pizza-making class that includes tastings and your own dough to take home. Maybe you’ll get to make the classic Margherita (pictured above), with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic. Or maybe you’ll make the San Gennaro, a sweet-spicy-tangy combination of sausage, peppadews, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and caramelized onions.

San Gennaro pizza

San Gennaro pizza

You’ll use ingredients sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and you’ll be firing up these pies in one of the restaurant’s four 6,000-pound, 900-degree wood-fired ovens imported from Italy and traditionally named after Italian saints.

DeSano's pizza ovens

DeSano’s pizza ovens

While you’re there, try a calzone. The Vesuvio, with spicy salame, prosciutto, pepperoni and garlic, is a meat lover’s dream.

Vesuvio calzone

Vesuvio calzone

For dessert, get a housemade cannoli or biscotti, or a small-batch gelato made by local Alessandro Fontana (his is the recipe over at Cecconi’s, too). Or get more than one; no one will judge. The blood orange sorbet is amazingly creamy, given its lack of dairy.

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

This is the third location for DeSano Pizza Bakery (the other two are in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina). DeSano’s space is cavernous, so you can bring a bunch of friends, order a bunch of pies, and eat them with abandon — hopefully with a bottle of something Italian soon (wine and beer will be served here as soon as the license gets worked out — a notoriously difficult process).

More information on the Neapolitan pizza-making class:

Saturday, July 12
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$40 per person, which includes personal instruction from Massimiliano DiLascio, a tasting of the pizzas prepared and dough to take home.
Call (323) 913-7000 for reservations (ask for Marino Monferrato)

DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

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11

07 2014