Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’

Head to The Corner Door for new bites, solid drinks

Lobster and shrimp bolognese. Photo by acuna-hansen.

Lobster and shrimp bolognese. Photo by acuna-hansen.

The Corner Door, which has become a Culver City food and drink mainstay, has gone through its fair share of chefs, with varying success. The latest to helm the kitchen, Executive Chef Brendan Collins and Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji, bring a new dinner menu that has something for everyone.

Collins, who is also heading up the kitchen at Birch and previously worked at Waterloo & City, Melisse, Anisette and Palihouse, brought on Haji, who has worked with Collins for the last eight years, to create a diverse menu that reflects his upbringing in Southern California by Indian parents who were raised in Africa. Talk about the proverbial melting pot!

While not every dish I tried worked for me, many did, and others pleasantly surprised me.

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26

06 2015

Terrine cocktail menu finds balance while packing punch

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

While foodies have been fawning over Terrine restaurant‘s Chef Kris Morningstar’s dining menu of French-meets-California cuisine (and with good reason), the Terrine cocktail menu is not to be overlooked.

Barman Ryan Wainwright, formerly of Tasting Kitchen, has an extraordinary talent for finding balance in his drinks, making each one on his menu dangerously easy to imbibe. The Terrine cocktail menu is divided into categories based on taste. Here are my picks in each group:

Bubbly & Refreshing

Prairie Fire Punch with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, pomegranate, Calisaya herbal liqueur and soda.

Prairie Fire

Prairie Fire Punch

It’s no secret that bourbon is my favorite spirit, so of course I’m going to recommend this one. While there isn’t any actual fire in the Prairie Fire Punch, the Calisaya lends an interesting note while the soda makes it fun.

Crisp & Clean

Beverly Fix with El Silencio mezcal, lime, pineapple, housemade orgeat and serrano tincture.

Beverly Fix

Beverly Fix

This one is everything you could ask for in a flavor-forward drink: it’s a little smoky, a little spicy and a little sweet. If you like bold, this is your cocktail.

Smooth & Elegant

Counter Point Sling with Plymouth gin, Punt e Mes vermouth and Vergano Biano vermouth.

Counter Point Sling

Counter Point Sling

This is my favorite drink from this menu, and the fact that I like it so much surprised me because gin isn’t my favorite spirit. But Wainwright created a cocktail that definitely lives up to its “smooth and elegant” categorization. There’s body, but it’s not oppressive. The Counter Point Sling is just a classy drink.

Dark & Bitter

Pimm’s Pong with Pimm’s, Contratto Bianco vermouth, Ramazzotti Amaro and chocolate bitters.

Pimm's Pong

Pimm’s Pong

Usually Pimm’s drinks are clear or light in color, but this one is dark. It’s an interesting take, with the Amaro and bitters adding dimension.

Sweet & Velvety

Strawberry Puff with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, strawberry, lemon and cream.

Strawberry Puff

Strawberry Puff

Drinking this drink is as close to having a milkshake without actually having ice cream in it. It’s rich and frothy, and will satisfy any sweet tooth without being cloying.

And the food? The entire regular menu is available at the bar, so you definitely don’t lose out by sitting here. My recommendation would be to order a charcuterie plate (three words: chicken liver mousse) and enjoy a drink or two from the Terrine cocktail menu. Go ahead, indulge.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

Note: This tasting was hosted.

Further reading:

Dine on California Comfort Fare at Terrine by Where L.A.

What to Drink at Terrine, Opening Soon by Los Angeles magazine

Terrine California Gold Cocktail (Drink of the Week) by Food GPS

04

05 2015

Best week of the year: dineL.A. Happy Hour Week

Terrine's Pimms Pong

Terrine’s Pimms Pong

Little known fact: my favorite meal is happy hour. With discounted drinks and food, what’s not to like? So when I found out that dineL.A. is holding a Happy Hour Week April 27 through May 1, I thought it was about time!

Happy hour is a great way to check out a restaurant or bar without having to fully commit to a whole meal. It’s an especially good deal for those pricey restaurants you’ve had your eye on but haven’t pulled the trigger on yet.

The good news is dineL.A.’s Happy Hour Week includes not only restaurants with regular happy hours but also those that normally don’t have happy hour specials, such as Terrine and Redbird. That means you should definitely get the truffled chicken liver toast for $9, something you normally can’t get except as part of Terrine’s charcuterie board, and barman Ryan Wainwright’s Rosewater Sour for $9 (regularly $12) or Pimms Pong for $10 (normally $13). Even the storied Polo Lounge is getting in on the act with an entire food and drink menu priced at $10.

Before visiting, make sure to check out the hours for your intended restaurant, as some are doing traditional evening happy hours, while some are doing just late night (and some are doing both).

I’m personally looking forward to five days of drink and food specials all over Los Angeles — because cocktails and bar bites are always a good idea.

Follow dineL.A. and #happyhourweek on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest info.

23

04 2015

French with a Chinese twist: David Feau’s Coin de Rue 13eme pop up

Raw shaved carrot salad

Raw shaved carrot salad

Chef David Feau (Patina, The Royce, Le Ka)’s Coin de Rue pop-up restaurant has made its way to Chinatown and has an Asian-inspired menu to match. Now dubbed Coin de Rue 13eme, after Paris’ predominately Chinese 13th arrondissement, Feau is serving a French-Chinese menu at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar after his stint serving classic French bistro dishes in the old Red Medicine space.

The three-course dinner menu, with optional supplements, is small but varied. If you want to go with lighter fare, start with the tempura asparagus with truffle honey and sea salt or the raw shaved carrot salad. Then move on to the clay pot-baked Alaskan halibut with mushrooms.

Clay pot halibut

Clay pot halibut

If you want a more flavorful experience, start with the soft scrambled eggs with cabbage, sea urchin and crab bisque (this dish reminds me of the Chinese scrambled egg with shrimp and scallions). For your main, choose the chicken oyster and scallops with leeks, fava beans and poached egg.

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Chicken oysters and scallops

Chicken oysters and scallops

For dessert, go with the brown butter caramel ice cream and pretzel crumble. It’s more salty than sweet, allowing your taste buds to end on a clean note.

Brown butter caramel ice cream

Brown butter caramel ice cream

As for supplements, Feau offered two this past weekend: a spring roll with seared foie gras, forbidden rice, lettuce, toasted shallots and duck sauce, as well as pan-roasted frog legs with parsley root juice, bone marrow and spring garlic. Neither dish is overpowering but both are interesting, so getting either one would make a nice complement.

Seared foie gras roll

Seared foie gras roll

Pan-roasted frog legs

Pan-roasted frog legs

Coin de Rue 13eme is taking place again this weekend and next, April 23-25 and April 30-May 1. The prix fixe menu is $49 for three courses, with supplemental entrees for an additional $18 each. Wine pairings are available for an additional $20. First seatings start at 7 p.m., and last seatings start at 10:30 p.m.

But wait, there’s more. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each night of the pop up, enjoy special bar bites ($10-$12) from Feau and a cocktail menu ($12-$15) from mixologist Garrett McKechnie (The Raymond, 1886). The peppercorn croquembouche with chicken liver and foie gras mousse is my personal favorite, with the rabbit rillette on country toast served with peach mustard another good choice. When it comes to cocktails, go with the light and sweet Countryside, a combination of Calvados apple brandy, honey, kumquat and tarragon, or the dark and bitter An American in Paris, with rye, byrrh, amargo Angostura bitters and a cherry.

Peppercorn croquembouche

Peppercorn croquembouche

Rabbit rillette

Rabbit rillette

Countryside

Countryside

An American in Paris

An American in Paris

Coin de Rue 13eme at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar
643 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Reservations 213.604.3421

Note: This meal was hosted. 

Further reading:

David Feau’s Coin de Rue Pop-Up Goes to Chinatown by Eater L.A.

David Feau’s Coin de Rue French bistro pop-up heads to Chinatown by Los Angeles Times

Coin de Rue Pop-Up by kevinEats

20

04 2015

Eat well at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge happy hour

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

You don’t always have to spend a pretty penny when dining out in Beverly Hills. Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge — yes, jazz musician Dave Koz — offers not only dinner and a show, but it also has a generous happy hour.

Every Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Spaghettini’s Social Hour offers special food items, regular menu items at a discounted price and a rotating drink menu.

Bar Manager Lauren Trickett highlights a different spirit each week in two classic cocktails, in addition to a selection of wines, sparkling wines and craft beers on tap — all for $8 each.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

When it comes to food, Executive Chef Scott Howard designed a happy hour menu that includes Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge favorites Pommery Shrimp with Pommery mustard, citrus and mache ($15, regular price $24) and the rich Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese ($8, regular price $10), as well as Social Hour-specific items such as the Spaghettini Burger with aged white cheddar, onion jam and arugula ($15) and Fish & Chips with tartar sauce and malt vinegar aioli ($12) — one of my personal favorites.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Orzo gouda mac and cheese

Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese

And if you grab a seat at the bar, you don’t have to pay for the entertainment cover charge to enjoy the live music. Another perk of being frugal.

Note: This visit was hosted.

Further reading:

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge by eaterLA

An evening at Spaghettini Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Times

22

03 2015

Treat yo self: Quality food and drink at good prices

Asa Meza ceviche

Asa Meza ceviche. From Asa Meza.

If you’re like me, you want to enjoy the finer things in life, but you can’t always afford it. That’s when knowing where to score some reasonably priced eats (sometimes free!) at some of Los Angeles’ up-and-coming restaurants and bars comes in handy.

Two new deals from Asa Meza and Now Boarding should whet your appetite.

On Thursday, March 19, Latin- and Asian-inspired restaurant Asa Meza is hosting a Hollywood Social Night from 6 to 10 p.m. Go to check out the menu, craft cocktails and beers while also enjoying complimentary appetizers.

Asa Meza
1718 Vine St.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding.

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding. From Now Boarding.

At Now Boarding, a travel-inspired bar in West Hollywood, Sunday nights are now “You Don’t Know Jack” nights. Starting at 9 p.m., enjoy free live music from funk, soul and R&B bands, as well as happy hour-priced $9 specialty Jack Daniels cocktails. Considering these kinds of cocktails are usually $14, this is a bargain.

Cocktails include:

~Tiny Dancer with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, passion fruit and prosecco
~Blackjack Smash with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, blackberries and mint
~Jackalope with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, pineapple, coconut and Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur
~Elda Fitzgerald with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, orange, lemon, sugar and egg white

Now Boarding
7746 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046

15

03 2015

Travelogue: NYC’s Estela restaurant

Beef tartare at Estela

Beef tartare at Estela

Named No. 3 Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2014, Estela restaurant is a self-described “beverage-driven” eatery from the minds and palates of beverage director Thomas Carter (Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Essex House) and James Beard Award-nominated chef Ignacio Mattos (Isa, Il Buco) in New York City. With shareable plates, an interesting wine list and solid cocktails, Estela focuses on “American food with European influences.”

I visited Estela restaurant earlier this year in the fall, and enjoyed its famous beef tartare with fried sunchoke chips, which give the dish a welcome variety in texture and subtle sweetness.

My dining companion, my cousin Phillip who is studying to become a sommelier, chose a funky white wine for us to drink, as well as the burrata with salsa verde and charred bread, one of the dishes the Obamas ate during dinner here less than a month earlier.

Burrata

Burrata

We also had the razor clams, which come topped with tons of freshly grated horseradish. I’ve never had a dish like this before, and I liked its spiciness, especially because it didn’t overpower the delicacy of the clams.

Razor clams

Razor clams

Since Estela restaurant is beverage-focused, we of course got cocktails. The Il Vittelone, with whiskey, sherry, amaro and vermouth, and the Tuxedo #2, with gin, white vermouth, maraschino, absinthe and bitters, were both winners. Il Vittelone is the bolder of the two — a “real” drink — and the Tuxedo #2 is a smooth operator.

Il Vittelone, left, and Tuxedo #2

Il Vittelone, left, and Tuxedo #2

Estela restaurant is pretty small and gets crowded, but we were able to walk in on the early side of dinner on a Friday night without a problem. It’s kind of great, actually.

Further reading:

25 Things to Do When Traveling Solo to NYC by Diana Takes a Bite

29

12 2014

Brunch gets fancy at Tanzy in Westwood

Tanzy Westwood

Tanzy Westwood

Tanzy, the Chef Bryan Podgorski-helmed restaurant housed inside the iPic Theater in Westwood, conveniently offers brunch to go along with your weekend matinee (there is an express menu available inside the movie theater, too).

Once inside and embraced by the wrapping tree branch decor, you’ll find sweet and savory on the brunch menu from Podgorski (The French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro Las Vegas). My favorites are the brioche French toast, which is served bread pudding style, and the bacon and eggs raviolo with a soft poached hen egg, ricotta cheese, wilted spinach and bacon vinaigrette. Both are decadent options sure to satisfy. Getting the orange currant scone would also be a good choice.

Brioche French toast

Brioche French toast

Bacon and eggs raviolo

Bacon and eggs raviolo

Other items didn’t quite hit the mark for me when I visited Tanzy. Dishes were either too salty (corned beef hash, hash browns) or suffered from poor execution (pistachio shells in the Cali Colada). But these are easy fixes that hopefully have been made by now.

Another thing to note: bottomless strawberry mimosas for $14, and any fresh juice concoction on the menu can be turned into a cocktail. Sounds like a good time to me!

Note: This meal was hosted.

11

11 2014

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.

Keep reading

12

10 2014

Summer cocktails all year round

Even though summer is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink like it’s summer all year ’round, especially here in Los Angeles. From the herbaceous to the tiki, here are some of my favorite refreshing cocktails.

Headhunter’s Repentance at Sonny’s Hideaway

Headhunter's Repentance at Sonny's Hideaway

Headhunter’s Repentance at Sonny’s Hideaway

John Kelly O’Hare, who heads up the bar at Sonny’s Hideaway in Highland Park, is doing some great things. Aside from the overproof punches and barrel-aged Campari and Fernet, there’s a Tiki Tuesday menu with some of the best tiki drinks I’ve ever tasted. Some real thought went into these cocktails, which also means they’re not cloying sweet. My favorite, which isn’t on the current tiki menu but is available if you ask nicely, is the Headhunter’s Repentance with rye, chai, lime, pineapple and toasted coconut, a combination of some of my all-time favorite things.

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

The Garden Cup at Faith & Flower is a twist on the classic Pimm’s Cup. With Pimm’s (a gin-based liqueur), basil, citrus and a pickled carrot garnish, this cocktail is fresh-tasting for any time of the year. Unfortunately, the pickled carrot isn’t always available, so when you can get it, consider yourself lucky because that bit of vinegar gives the drink a little extra kick.

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman’s Pub

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman's Pub

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman’s Pub

One of the things that sets the newish downtown watering hole Beelman’s Pub apart is its take on the gin and tonic. Here it’s served Spanish style with a bunch of herbs, citrus and a cinnamon stick, taking the classic G&T to a whole new level. I usually don’t go for a gin and tonic, but throwing in a bunch of aromatics freshens up the cocktail and is sure to make you think of summer any time of the year.

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

I was going to recommend Wood & Vine‘s Black Star, which I previously described as “summer in a glass,” with its tiki-leaning combo of rum, banana liqueur, housemade orgeat, Angostura bitters, fresh pineapple and lime, but that would be too obvious. Instead, I’m recommending the Street Spirit, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, strawberry balsamic shrub, sherry, ginger beer and lemon peel. The shrub, or drinking vinegar, may not be for everyone, but I think it adds an interesting, funky dimension to the drink. But you’ll need to hurry for this one — the summer cocktail menu will be available for just another three weeks or so.

Note: These tastings were hosted.

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07

09 2014