Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’

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.

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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.

07

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

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

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

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.

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23

02 2014