Posts Tagged ‘bourbon’

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

National Doughnut Day is better with bourbon

BLD national doughnut day

BLD doughnut. Photo courtesy of BLD restaurant.

Chef Neal Fraser’s BLD is celebrating National Doughnut Day this Friday, June 6, with a special doughnut and bourbon pairing event. I’m not sure anything could sound better.

Pastry Chef Mariah Swan’s doughnuts are amazing, so to add my favorite spirit, bourbon, to the mix is almost too much to handle. But handle it you shall, if you want what promises to be an epic National Doughnut Day experience.

Here’s the menu:

Rocky Road Doughnut: salted caramel glaze, toasted almonds, cinnamon marshmallows, chocolate sauce
Bourbon Pairing: Elijah Craig 12 Year

Spiced Orange Caramel Doughnut: cinnamon and ginger spiced orange caramel, braised farmers market cherry
Bourbon Pairing: Basil Hayden’s

Coffee Cardamom Doughnut: chicory coffee cardamom custard filling
Bourbon Pairing: Crater Lake Rye

Honeyed Chocolate Doughnut: chocolate honey glaze, candied grapefruit peel
Bourbon Pairing: Bernheim Original Kentucky Wheat Whiskey

Butterscotch Toffee Doughnut: muscovado butterscotch custard, chopped toffee
Bourbon Pairing: Evan Williams Single Barrel

One doughnut: $3/$6 with bourbon
Three doughnuts: $9/$18 with bourbon
Five doughnuts: $15/$24 with bourbon

BLD restaurant
7450 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.930.9744
Doughnuts and bourbon available 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 6

03

06 2014

Not Your Mama’s BBQ: Roadhouse LA

Roadhouse Cornbread Pudding

#cornbreadpudding

Internationally inspired barbecue isn’t what one might expect to find attached to a comedy club, but that’s exactly what’s being served up at Roadhouse LA. Helmed by Chef Kyle Schutte, who has taken over for opening chef Robbie Richter, the Improv-adjacent restaurant offers grown-up cocktails from Dave Fernie (Harvard & Stone, Pour Vous) in addition to what’s being called “modernist global BBQ,” which means reinvented dishes such as root beer-cured bacon, Punjabi Poutine and Creme Brulee Mac and Cheese.

Schutte (Vu, The Corner Door) may be best known as the guy who tried out for The Taste with Chicken Fried Watermelon, intrigued judges Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson and Brian Malarkey, was not chosen to be on a team but was actually really good, and Lefebvre kicked himself for not picking him. And while he laments not being able to get away from the Chicken Fried Watermelon dish, I appreciated seeing it on Roadhouse’s menu. I had first tasted it when Schutte was at Vu, and it makes sense here.

The chef, on the other hand, is focused on the future, retooling the Roadhouse menu and adding his own dessert menu to debut later this month (look out for innovative dishes such as a brown sugar and thyme biscuit served with candied preserved orange, tallow ice cream (!) and verbena meringue).

One of my favorites from Schutte’s menu is the #cornbreadpudding (yes, that is its actual menu name) with roasted jalapeno butter, citrus charcoal, and tequila and cilantro jelly. It’s almost like a dessert, but it’s savory enough to be a great starter. The lamb, served with cucumber risotto croquettes (like arancini), ras el hanout spice and mango yogurt, is some of the best lamb I’ve ever tasted — and I’m not a big fan of lamb. Schutte said he uses Colorado lamb, which is less gamey than other varieties. The Wilted Beet Greens, made with ginger beer and served with dried blueberries, pickled beets and crystalized rose petals, was a good accompaniment. The smoked avocado with burrata, mache, pickled raspberries and sweet drop peppers is another interesting flavor combination of smokey and sweet.

Lamb with cucumber risotto croquettes

Lamb with cucumber risotto croquettes

Wilted beet greens

Wilted beet greens

Smoked avocado

Smoked avocado

Unfortunately, the brisket wasn’t available when I visited. Schutte said it takes days to prepare to get it just right. While I don’t doubt this, I would suggest making the brisket a weekly special instead of a regular menu item so people aren’t disappointed on off days. I will be happy to go back on a day the brisket is ready, even if it’s just to have it with Schutte’s squid ink and black garlic BBQ sauce!

As for the drinks, there’s a respectable list of beer and wine, as well as some house-made nonalcholic drinks, including root beer with vanilla, cinnamon, Chinese 5 spice, lime extract, sugar and Balinese long peppercorn. The cocktails are also nice, with the Jimmy Dalton (chrysanthemum bourbon, hickory applejack, sherry, bitters and citrus oils) and There Can Only Be One (Bank Note scotch, Smith & Cross rum, vermouth, maple syrup and smoked saline) as standouts. Mixologist Fernie is celebrating moonshine all this month, with $12 specialty drinks and $8 shots of Old Smokey available through June 5. The Apple Bottom James, with Ole Smokey Apple Pie, Jameson Irish whiskey, lime, honey and thyme, sounds pretty good!

Jimmy Dalton

Jimmy Dalton

There Can Only Be One

There Can Only Be One

Note: This meal was hosted.

08

05 2014

Sips and bites at Stocking Frame

Mary's chicken tacos

Mary’s chicken tacos at Stocking Frame

The Stocking Frame in downtown Los Angeles is a great go-to no fuss, no muss restaurant and bar. It’s just trendy enough to please modern palates, but it’s not so trendy that it’s a turn-off. The space is large, so there’s plenty of room to enjoy food and drink with friends, too.

I’ve been here a couple of times, and so far I like the food better than the cocktails, which are fine but nothing special. A recent seasonal menu included a nice concoction of Bulleit rye, Nux walnut, Cynar and sea salt, as well as a fun mix of a spiced mezcal punch with lime and mint. The bourbon, Apple Jack and winter spice drink, which I thought I would like, was a bit too sweet for me.

rye, bourbon and mezcal drinks

From left: rye, bourbon and mezcal drinks

During happy hour (Stocking Frame refers to this as “Mid Day”) from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, you can choose from an abbreviated menu that includes the most delicious chicken tacos (two for $4) topped with a spicy mole sauce (pictured above). These are my favorite food offering here, so too bad they’re available only in the middle of the day.

My second-favorite item that I’ve had here so far is the Pig & Egg BLT with maple pork belly and chipotle mayo. It’s available only on the lunch menu.

The SF Pie with sopressata, wild mushroom and jalapeno is a decent pizza, though I wouldn’t say it’s a standout. I had this at lunch, but it looks like Stocking Frame has been tinkering with its menus because now it seems to be available only at dinner. And the beer cheese with crispy chicken skin, which was on the dinner menu last time I visited, is tasty, though it might be a bit on the salty side for some. I wish the pieces of toast that come with this were bigger, too.

Beer cheese with crispy chicken skin

Beer cheese with crispy chicken skin

Stocking Frame seems to be still finding its footing, with menu change-ups and a back room space whose purpose was still to be determined at last visit. Hopefully it figures out its identity soon, as it’s one of the better options abutting the South Park area.

23

03 2014

East Borough brings amped up Asian food to Culver City

Daikon rice cakes at East Borough

Daikon rice cakes at East Borough

East Borough, which recently opened in downtown Culver City, brings something new to the fast-growing area: Asian food. And not just any Asian food but amped up Vietnamese. John Cao and Chloe Tran, who own a more casual version of East Borough in Costa Mesa, teamed up with Paul Hibler, owner and creator of Pitfire Pizza and Superba Snack Bar, and Jason Neroni, executive chef of Superba Snack Bar, to create this new concept, which focuses on traditional Vietnamese flavors and dishes while also re-imagining some of them.

The menu starts with appetizers familiar to those who know Vietnamese cuisine. The Imperial Rolls made with pork and taro and fried to a bubbly crispiness are flavorful and well-balanced, as is the banh xeo crepe, which in this case is stuffed with lots of crab.

Imperial Rolls

Imperial Rolls

Banh xeo

Banh xeo

The daikon rice cakes (pictured above) served with eggs, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro and spicy soy sauce are dense and kind of a mouthful, but the flavors are nice. Actually, there is a lot of richness at East Borough. The nuoc mam sauce reduction makes the cauliflower and long bean vegetable dish really strong, and the Phocatini, a playful take on Vietnamese pho and Italian bucatini, is almost too rich. The oxtail, hoisin and Sriracha combination nearly make for too much flavor, but it’s still one of the most interesting dishes on the menu.

Phocatini

Phocatini

The cocktails here are serviceable, but I wouldn’t say they were some of the best I’ve ever had. The Mo Bourbon, with bourbon, Averna, St. Germain and apricot was on the sweet side for me, but I do like the mix of bourbon with stone fruit. At least the drink prices are reasonable: $9-10.

Mo Bourbon, left, bourbon sour and The Golden Axe

Mo Bourbon, left, bourbon sour and The Golden Axe

Note: This meal was hosted.

23

02 2014

The Wallace brings international flair to Culver City

Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli

From former SBE corporate chef Michael Teich comes The Wallace, a shareable plates concept in downtown Culver City featuring an internationally influenced menu and a respectable cocktail menu from Mixologist Holly Zack, who also hails from SBE.

My favorites here include the sprouting broccoli served with tahini, marinated feta and dukkah (pictured above), as well as the braised pork cheeks with lentils, apple, horseradish and red onion agrodolce. Both pack flavorful punches.

Braised pork cheeks

Braised pork cheeks

The chicken liver mousse with balsamic onions and five spice and the roasted bone marrow with parsley, radish, tarragon and pickled shallots are solid choices, though I wouldn’t say they were the best versions I’ve ever had.

Chicken liver mousse

Chicken liver mousse

When it comes to dessert, if it’s available (I think this was a special when I went) get the house made gelato, sorbet and cookies. The marshmallow ice cream and  ginger cookie combo was my favorite, followed by the cream cheese ice cream and pumpkin cookie. The cherry sorbet with chocolate cookie was my least favorite, but I personally don’t like cherry-flavored things that much.

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

As for Zack’s drinks, the stirred pleased my palate more than the shaken (though that’s to be expected from me). I liked the Day Rate, made with coffee-infused scotch, cognac, honey syrup and chocolate chili bitters, as well as the Roundtrip with Angel’s Envy bourbon, byrrh, persimmon syrup and sour cherry bitters. I did like the Warm Fuzzies, a shaken drink made with Blackwell rum, cognac, Cynar, egg, lemon and simple syrup.

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Warm Fuzzies

Warm Fuzzies

I really wanted to like the, ahem, Morning Sex, with bourbon, chai fennel syrup, passion fruit, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters, but it was just a bit sweet for me. It’s pretty, though.

Morning Sex

Morning Sex

While I’m glad to see new restaurants opening up in a neighborhood so close to my ‘hood, I’ve grown somewhat weary of restaurants that offer dishes from a what seem like a myriad of influences made from whatever is in season. Not that I’m opposed to fresh, seasonal ingredients — Teich shops at the Culver City farmers market located just steps outside his kitchen, and I think that’s great — but I sometimes feel like restaurants use this as an excuse to not choose a focus. I’ve read in more than one place that Teich’s menu is influenced by Italian food, but when I see a dish such as lamb with farro risotto, chickpeas, harissa and yogurt on the same page as duck confit with hoisin sauce, noodles and a sesame tortilla, I get confused. I appreciate having many choices on a menu, but it can also be a head-scratcher. To each her own, I guess.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further Reading:

Vegetables Take Center Stage at Soon-to-Open Wallace in Culver City by Los Angeles Times’ Daily Dish blog

Wallace Serves Up Playful Sustainable Fare in Culver City by Where LA

24

12 2013

Popping cans and pushing carts at The Church Key

Pear and cheese salad

Pear and cheese salad

When you first walk into The Church Key on the Sunset Strip, you might think, in no particular order, “This place is big. And pretty. And it kind of looks like an Anthropologie store. Are those food carts being pushed around? Am I sitting on a couch to eat dinner?” At least, those were some of the thoughts running through my head, which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy my experience. Because I did, because the food was pretty darn good.

How could it not be? Most of the creative and business team are made up of XIV alumni – Chef Steven Fretz (Top Round Roast Beef, XIV), General Manager Joseph Sabato (The Bazaar, XIV) and Chef de Cuisine Ryan Ososky (XIV, Bradley Ogden) – with Mixologist Devon Espinosa (Pour Vous, ink.) and Pastry Chef Ian Opina (Hatfields) thrown into the mix.

But the dining experience at The Church Key is definitely something new. While there’s the regular food and drink menu, there are also roaming carts serving off-menu specials dim sum style, including frozen-to-order boozy popsicles. This can make for a fun meal, but you can also easily eat too much if your eyes are bigger than what your belly can hold. Also, the cuisine might be best described as “international,” though management calls it “modern American.” Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. Basically the menu is all over the place, but because most of it is executed so well that it really doesn’t matter.

Popsicle-freezing cart

Popsicle-freezing cart

Boozy popsicle

Boozy popsicle

Keep Reading

11

11 2013

Ring in the New Year with Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Shrimp n' grits

Shrimp n’ grits

The pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, helmed by Chef Kevin Kathman (Gramercy Tavern, French Laundry), is offering a special New Year’s Eve four-course prix fixe meal for $75. The Venice restaurant, which just opened in October, offers all kinds of Southern foods, and this holiday menu is no exception.

For the table:
Complimentary black eyed peas (a Southern good luck charm!)
Jalapeño cheddar cornbread with pear butter

First course, choice of:
Cauliflower soup, almond, gruyere and brown butter
Smoked trout salad, Meyer lemon, potato, fennel, horseradish and caviar
Kumamoto oysters, lime, cucumber and cilantro

Second course, choice of:
Braised pork belly, chicories, pickled watermelon and spicy mustard
Shrimp ‘n grits, garlic, bacon, shallot and cheddar grits (pictured above)
Caramelized salsify, and roasted, puréed and raw sun chokes

Third course, choice of:
Pan seared venison chop, huckleberries, turnip, onion and potato
Halibut, Maine lobster hash, pickled herbs and root vegetables
Dry aged New York strip steak, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, shallot and bourbon béarnaise sauce

Dessert, choice of:
Sweet potato pie, cinnamon cream and candied pecans
Warm chocolate cake, vanilla bean ice cream and salty bourbon caramel
Passion fruit panna cotta, blueberry, grapefruit and basil
Plus ginger cookies for the table

Monday, Dec. 31, 2012
Reservations available from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
(310) 392-2425

Daniel Nelson, head mixologist at the Writer’s Room in Hollywood, designed the restaurant’s cocktail program, so you know the special New Year’s Eve drink, the Louisiana Purchase Champagne Cocktail ($12) with Peychaud’s bitters, brown sugar and praline liqueur, will hit the spot. The Car Car, with gin, jicama, ginger, apple, kaffir lime leaf and anise seed, is interestingly tasty, too.

Car Car

Car Car

If you can’t make it to WiSC for New Year’s Eve, then weekend brunch is another good option. The shrimp n’ grits are available then, and don’t miss the pancakes topped with candied pecans, bourbon roasted bananas and maple cream.

Pancakes

Pancakes with candied pecans, bourbon roasted bananas and maple cream

Note: A brunch meal was complimentary.

Further reading:

Good Morning Eats: Brunch at Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by LAist

 

29

12 2012

Travelogue: Louisville, Kentucky

I’ve been to Louisville before and have even been to the Kentucky Derby. But on this last trip, I tried a bunch of new food, some at old-but-new-to-me places and some at places that have opened since my last trip nearly eight years ago.

First off, I was told that I needed to go to Graeter’s, which specializes in French pot ice cream (dense, custard style). I had both the Bourbon Ball and Black Raspberry Chip flavors, and surprisingly, I liked the Black Raspberry Chip better. Perhaps the best part of this ice cream is the chocolate chips, which are created by pouring melted chocolate into the pot and letting the paddle break up the then-hardened candy into various sizes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a big piece of chocolate in one of your bites. Since visiting this store, I’ve found Graeter’s ice cream at my local Ralphs, though not all flavors are carried there. They do carry Chocolate Coconut Almond Chip, my new favorite flavor. How can you go wrong with chocolate ice cream dotted with coconut and almond pieces surrounded by those special chocolate chips?

Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip ice cream

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream

Keep Reading

08

08 2012

Chef Ben Bailly’s new menu at Cliff’s Edge

Cliff's Edge lamb cheeks

Chef Ben Bailly shows off his lamb cheeks. Photo by John Ales.

Is third time the charm for Ben Bailly? Bailly recently joined Cliff’s Edge as executive chef, where he was brought on to revamp the menu after stints at Petrossian and Fraiche Culver City. Cliff’s Edge is Bailly’s third restaurant since arriving in Los Angeles, and his food complements the Sliver Lake location nicely. The menu is elevated but not stuffy, which seems to speak well to the discerning hipster neighborhood.

During a recent visit to Cliff’s Edge, I enjoyed both the cocktails and the food. I really liked the Bitter Pill (Zaya 12 year rum, Fernet Branca, brown sugar, fresh lime juice, egg whites, orange oils), which had great depth of flavor. The Gold Rush (Buffalo Trace bourbon, honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange oils) and Question Mark (Bols Genever gin, lavender simple syrup, fresh grapefruit and lemon juice, Peychauds bitters, flamed grapefruit oils) were also winners, mostly because I love the bourbon-citrus combo as well as lavender in general.

As for the food, the Whipped Ricotta with lavender (again!), honey and olive oil is a must to start. It’s fluffy, creamy and fragrant. The Crispy Polenta served with mushrooms, egg, and Pecorino Romano cheese, as well as the Seared Scallops with lebne yogurt cheese, cauliflower, Vadouvan spice and salsa verde, are solid savory options.

The Skate Wing served with sunchokes, brown butter, pine nuts, lemon and capers was hands-down my favorite main dish. It was reminiscent of a fish and sunchoke dish that Bailly served at Fraiche that I also enjoyed. The Lamb Cheeks with celery root purée, rapini and hazelnut gremolata is another good choice.

The Chocolate Torta is what you should order for dessert. At once light, smooth and decadent, this cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had in a while. I don’t normally order the chocolate cake at restaurants, but I would definitely do it here.

Note: This meal was hosted.

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails

01

03 2012