Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Kalman’

Bruce Kalman elevates dining with Union Pasadena

Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union Pasadena. Photo courtesy of Union.

Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union Pasadena. Photo courtesy of Union.

Chef Bruce Kalman’s Union Pasadena in Old Town is good — not just good for Pasadena, but good for anywhere. That’s good news for Pasadena, but not so good for those of us who live nowhere near there.

No matter. You’ll want to try Union Pasadena’s food in any case. The menu by Kalman (The Misfit, Urbano Pizza Bar, The Churchill) is described as a “seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine,” but all you need to know is you want all the pasta. Yes, the other dishes are tasty, too — pork meatballs with San Marzano tomatoes, lardo and caper berries, and wild mushrooms over Grist & Toll polenta topped with Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar — but Kalman’s house-made pasta is where it’s at.

The spaghetti alla chitarra (pictured above), with San Marzano tomato, garlic and fresno chili pepper, is a classic kicked up a notch with a Californian ingredient. It’s simple and satisfying.

But when Kalman starts getting creative, that’s when he really shines. The squid ink garganelli served with lobster, fennel, meyer lemon and truffle butter is holy-moly good. The toothsome pasta sucks up all the flavors, including the richness of the lobster.

Squid ink garganelli

Squid ink garganelli. Photo courtesy of Union.

In keeping with the seasonal theme, some dishes in the pasta section change periodically. One of these seasonal dishes is a duck agnolotti with pickled fiddlehead ferns, another rich dish featuring expertly crafted pasta and two of my favorite ingredients.

Duck agnolotti

Duck agnolotti. Photo courtesy of Union.

When it comes to mains, don’t overlook the pork chops. It’s not a sexy cut of meat, but boy are Kalman’s juicy (that sounded really dirty, didn’t it?). The version I had with mushrooms, root vegetables, Marsala sauce and sage was the best I’ve had in recent memory.

I really wish Union Pasadena were closer to where I live, but that would just be selfish. I guess now I have a reason to make the “trek” to Pasadena.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Bruce Kalman Ups the Ante at Union Pasadena by estarLA

Pasadena’s Union is not your same ol’ Old Town by Los Angeles Times


12 2014

Churchill, Hudson celebrate anniversaries this week

Westside Negroni at The Churchill.

Westside Negroni at The Churchill. Photo by Annabelle Abouab.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, stop by The Churchill on West Third Street for a combined celebration in honor of the restaurant’s 2nd anniversary as well as The Hudson’s 4th anniversary. Starting at 10 p.m., you’ll be treated to passed appetizers from Churchill Executive Chef Michael Bryant, half-off fall cocktails from mixologist Karen Grill and sounds from KCRW’s Garth Trinidad. With Bryant and Grill behind the eats, this is sure to be a tasty affair.

Set to be on the passed-app menu:

*Ahi tuna with cucumber and harissa aioli
*Mini tacos with fresh snapper ceviche, pico de gallo and guacamole
*Beef tartare
*Roasted market veggie kabobs
*Parmesan gougères
*Angus beef sliders

Grill’s new fall cocktails will be half-off at $6 and include:

*24th 1/2 Century: scotch, Punt e Mes, cacao, fresh lemon juice
*Mezcalifornia Dreamin’: mezcal, Cointreau, sage liquer, fresh lime juice
*Westside Negroni: London Dry gin, east india sherry, Aperol, lemon zest
*Caipeira: cachaca, pear brandy, lime segments, Peychauds bitters
*High Tea: tequila, earl grey tea, rhubarb liquer, orange bitters, fresh lemon juice, soda
*Tiki-Tiki Tembo: aged rum, Cynar, pineapple juice, orgeat, lime, grated nutmeg
*Churchill Manhattan: rye whiskey, vermouth, Angostura bitters
*Lily of the Valley: gin, aloe liquer, agave rose soda, fresh lime juice

Bryant recently took over for chef Bruce Kalman, who left to start his own pickle company, and Grill has taken over for Mia Sarazen. I recently tried both Bryant’s food and Grill’s drinks (the 24th 1/2 Century was my favorite, followed closely by the Westside Negroni, which is less bitter than traditional negronis) and can attest to their quality. Should be a good time!

The Churchill
8384 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
10 p.m. to close


10 2013

Standout sips and bites from The Churchill, plus holiday meals

10 Hour Beef Short Rib

10 Hour Beef Short Rib

The Churchill, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has become a staple of West Third Street eating. And with Chef Bruce Kalman and mixologist Mia Sarazen now on board, both of whom launched new menus in the last few months, The Churchill is poised to make a lasting impression.

Kalman (The Misfit, Urbano Pizza Bar) is passionate about his food. On a recent visit, he insisted we try the 10 Hour Beef Short Rib (pictured above), which we were initially going to pass on as short rib has become ubiquitous on L.A. menus, but I’m glad we listened to the chef. This is a must-get dish. It’s super tender, and the braised carrots and apple lend just the right amount of sweetness.

Over at the bar, Sarazen (Harvard & Stone, Black Market, The Tasting Kitchen) has created a cocktail menu that showcases classics as well as twists. My personal favorite is the Thirsty in LA, named after blogger (and friend) Daniel Djang’s blog. It’s a well-balanced mix of Correlejo reposado tequila, Aperol and Amaro Ciociaro with a mezcal rinse. This isn’t a drink I would have normally ordered for myself, but turns out it’s now one of my new go-to drinks. It’s serious without being too serious. I could drink these all day (but I won’t)!

Thirsty in LA

Thirsty in LA

In addition to these standouts, The Churchill is offering special Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners for the holidays.

On Christmas Day, Kalman (The Misfit, Urbano Pizza Bar) will offer a three-course menu for $35 per person that includes choices of carrot, apple and ginger soup; glazed ham with figs and basil; cauliflower mashed potatoes; and Fuyu persimmon cake.

For New Year’s Eve, get a prix fixe dinner for $55 per person that includes a champagne toast, amuse bouche and three-course meal with choices including black truffle risotto and lobster thermidor. Starting at 10 p.m., The Churchill will hold a party featuring an open bar, snack buffet and champagne toast. (Regular tickets $95 for first 100 sold; $115 after that. $150 at the door. VIP packages available for groups; contact or call (323) 655-8384.)

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

The Churchill Ups The Game: New Cocktails By Mia Sarazen And Menu By Bruce Kalman by Gourmet Pigs

The Churchill’s New Cocktail Menu: Choose Your Own Drink Adventure by Caroline on Crack

Chef Bruce Kalman Takes Breakfast at The Churchill to New Heights by estarLA

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12 2012