Posts Tagged ‘Downtown LA’

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

643 North is welcome addition to Chinatown

Don't Drink This cocktail at 643 North

Don’t Drink This cocktail at 643 North

Chinatown is the new downtown.

That’s what it certainly feels like, with newcomers such as Chego, Starry Kitchen and General Lee’s making their way into the historically low-income neighborhood just north of its rapidly gentrifying big brother, downtown Los Angeles. And now comes 643 North, a restaurant and bar from Los Angeles native and owner of Michael J’s Catering, Michael Ourieff.

643 North, named for its address at 643 N. Spring St., is a new concept for Chinatown. It serves non-Asian food, for one. But unlike its neighbor across the street Spring Street Smoke House, which specializes in barbecue, 643 North offers a full menu ranging from a pickled beet salad and a lamb burger to a roasted eggplant pizza and ossobuco ravioli. And there’s a full bar with a decidedly drinkable cocktail menu.

Chef Oz Ramuco (Dar Maghreb, Caffe Opera and Bistro, The Roosevelt Hotel) helms the kitchen here, and Bar Manager Adam Acuff (Blue Palms Brew House, Far Bar) designs the cocktail program.

Some menu standouts include the mini grilled cheese sandwiches with roasted pears, white and yellow cheddar, wild arugula, honey mustard and white truffle oil, which thankfully aren’t heavy on the truffle oil. The beef sliders come perfectly cooked — which is no small feat, mind you — and are made with grass-fed beef patties, pickled red onions and white cheddar on brioche. When it comes to the mains, the seared diver scallops are buttery and come on a bed of parmesan farro and asparagus tips.

Mini grilled cheese

Mini grilled cheese

Beef sliders

Beef sliders

Scallops

Seared diver scallops

Do not skip dessert here; get the butter cake, which arrives at your table warm, topped with vanilla sugar, chantilly crème and raspberry coulis. So simple, yet so good.

Butter cake

Butter cake

As for the cocktails, first and foremost I have to applaud Acuff for having a menu dedicated to building your own martini or manhattan. This is brilliant. On the regular drink menu, try the Don’t Drink This (pictured above) made with Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon, maraschino liqueur, Dolin sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca and fire. The seasonal Go Figure, with Avion reposado, Benedictine, Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, fig thyme syrup and pinot noir, is an interesting combo, especially with the addition of the wine.

Go Figure cocktail

Go Figure cocktail

There’s also a happy hour available Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:43 p.m. (cute, huh?) with discounted bites, including the beef sliders, and $3 draught beer and $5 wine, martinis and manhattans. How can you beat a $5 manhattan?

So next time you’re in the area on your way to a Dodger game or just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown proper, pop in to 643 North. They’ll treat you right.

Note: This meal was hosted.

18

12 2013

O Hotel keeps scoring with Bar + Kitchen, Oasis City Spa

O Hotel lobby. Photo from Orbitz.

O Hotel, a downtown L.A. boutique with 67 modernly styled rooms, recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. And with the addition of lauded barman Matt Biancaniello to its restaurant Bar | Kitchen, and a 6-month old day spa, O Hotel has lots to be happy about.

While I haven’t seen the hotel’s rooms, I have visited Bar | Kitchen and Oasis City Spa, both of which offer some pretty impressive amenities for such a small hotel. The spa has some St. Patrick’s Day weekend specials for those of you who partied too much (or for those getting ready to party): a signature organic facial with green herbal mask for $100, green tea mint scrub for $55, and a mani/pedi for $40. If you can’t make it this weekend, Oasis also offers a $25 mini facial and esthetician consultation, the cost of which can be applied toward a future facial or spa products. Prices are reasonable, and the facility is simple yet elegant.

Bar | Kitchen is no slouch, either. Chef Vahan Tokmadjian has created a well-executed, seasonally appointed menu with gems such as shrimp and grits with Spanish chorizo sauce (this is one of the better S&G dishes around town), mushroom bread pudding and pork cheek hash.

Shrimp and grits

Shrimp and grits

Pork cheek hash with quail egg

Pork cheek hash with quail egg

And Biancaniello, whose moves have been closely watched since he left Library Bar last year, has brought some of his best-known cocktail recipes, including those for Last Tango in Modena (gin, muddled strawberries, balsamic vinegar and St. Germain foam) and Kentucky Bubble Bath (bourbon, Cynar, lavender simple syrup and lemon), which I could drink all day!

Kentucky Bubble Bath

Kentucky Bubble Bath

Given the hotel’s combo of good food, drink, decor and spa amenities, I would recommend a stay here for those looking for a downtown hotel with some style.

17

03 2013

Custom made in L.A. at den.m bar

den.m bar's style options

den.m bar’s style options

If you wear denim — which, let’s face it, is most of us — then you’ve probably been on a life-long quest to find the perfect-fitting pair of jeans. And you may have thought about getting a pair custom made, but that just seems cost-prohibitive.

Well, maybe not.

Downtown Los Angeles’ den.m bar, which opened earlier this year, is offering custom-made jeans at a fraction of normal costs. For about $300, you get to choose your own denim (sourced from the United States, Japan and Europe), pocket lining, thread and hardware (buttons, zippers, rivets, etc.) to be fashioned into the style of your choice cut to the exact dimensions that fit you — all within the span of two weeks. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal, especially for a pair of pants you’ll probably wear a lot for years to come.

Denim choices

Denim choices

Thread, lining and hardware choices

Thread, lining and hardware choices

Once your measurements have been taken, den.m bar will keep that pattern on hand for future purchases. And if you have a pair of old jeans that you love but they’ve just worn out, bring it in and the folks at den.m bar will use it as a pattern to make you a new pair.

Patterns

Patterns

While the store obviously fits both men and women, as evidenced by my first photo, it turns out that most of den.m bar’s customers are men. Why am I not surprised? Ah, to be a single man with disposable income!

28

10 2012

Where old is new again: Towne Food & Drink

Crispy Pork Shank at Towne

Crispy Pork Shank at Towne

If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience but also want comfort food, then Towne Food & Drink in downtown Los Angeles is your place.

Helmed by Executive Chef Ryan Morrison, who spent time with Chef Scott Conant’s hospitality group, including as chef de cuisine at Scarpetta Beverly Hills, and consulting chef Eric Hara (Citronelle, davidburke & donatella, Chez Josephine, Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel), Towne is a delightful mix of high and low. Its New American menu features a variety of internationally influenced flavors prepared in a contemporary style. This philosophy extends to the dessert and cocktail menus, which are filled with updated versions of old favorites.

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17

09 2012

Shrubs in my drink? New cocktails at Villains Tavern

Spindle Tree at Villains Tavern

Spindle Tree at Villains Tavern

If you’re looking for something a little different when it comes to cocktails, look no further than the new menu at Villains Tavern in downtown’s Arts District.

There are four fruit- and herb-based drinks on The Garden section of the menu and four flavored vinegar-based drinks on The Shrubbery section. (Read more about shrub syrups for cocktails.) My favorite Garden drink is the Spindle Tree made with Russell’s Reserve rye, Becherovka herbal liqueur, honey, mint and Bergamont bitters. The Lilium, with Plymouth gin, lemongrass, lime, grapefruit, ginger and bitters, is another good choice. As far as the shrub drinks go, I liked the Oleander with its balanced combination of Leblon cachaça, blackberry shrub, muddled lime and lavender bitters, I’m a sucker for anything with lavender.

And if you’re looking for something fun, Villains put its popular snow cone on the menu: the Permafrost is a snow cone with your choice of liquor and fruit. With the weather warming up, this sounds like the perfect summer treat.

Note: This tasting was hosted.

19

04 2012

My Prix Fixe Mondays returns to Roy’s

Mushroom-dusted shrimp at Roy's

Mushroom-dusted shrimp at Roy's

Like prix fixe prices but not prix fixe menu choices? Roy’s, the restaurant that introduced Hawaiian and Asian fusion food to many, has brought back My Prix Fixe Mondays to address this very issue. For $35.95 on Monday nights, you can choose any appetizer, entrée and dessert from the regular menu.

On a recent visit to Roy’s in downtown Los Angeles, I tried out my own prix fixe combination. I enjoyed my potato croquettes, shrimp dusted with mushrooms and pappardelle, and pineapple upside down cake. The shrimp entrée was interesting — I’ve never had shrimp “dusted” with mushrooms, and the sauce the pasta came in was thinner than I expected, but it was satisfying. My dining companion chose the lobster potstickers, braised short ribs and bread pudding for her meal. The bread pudding took us by surprise — it was really spicy, though the menu didn’t describe it as such. Turns out the bread pudding contains cinnamon and dark chili powder, and the dark chocolate ice cream served alongside it has pacia peppers, cinnamon, dark chili pepper and cayenne peppers. The dish was tasty, but perhaps Roy’s should warn its diners of the spicy hotness in it!

Even with the surprise spiciness, Roy’s $35.95 prix fixe is a good deal — this is considered Hawaiian fine dining, after all.

Note: This meal was hosted.

12

12 2011

It’s All About the Crust: Urbano Pizza Bar

Selvatica Pesto Pizza at Urbano Pizza Bar

Selvatica Pesto Pizza at Urbano Pizza Bar

What goes nicely with beer and other libations? Pizza, of course!

Urbano Pizza Bar, conveniently located next to Library Bar at 6th and Hope streets, offers a great food option. With pizza crust that’s perfectly chewy and crisp at the same time, as well as good side dishes and respectable beer and wine lists, Urbano is a new go-to for downtown revelers.

Chef Brad Winnaman, best known for his baking skills with stints at La Brea Bakery and Campanile, has created a menu focused on Neapolitan-style pizza and some stand-out bread, which obviously includes the crust and extends to grilled bread topped with crushed tomato sauce and/or hearty meatballs. Winnaman has had help from Top Chef alum and The Gorbals chef Ilan Hall, who was on-hand the night we visited.

Urbano Pizza Bar

Urbano Pizza Bar

Ilan Hall

Ilan Hall

Our favorite pizzas included the seasonal Scimmietta made with pureed pumpkin spread across the crust topped with applewood-smoked bacon, scallions and goat cheese, as well as the Selvatica (shown above) made with basil pesto, slow-roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, fresh basil leaves and burrata. While the Selvatica was more traditional in flavor, the Scimmietta was a nice departure from the norm.

We were also impressed with the side dishes, especially the Mozzarella Trio and charred corn with balsamic butter. The Mozzarella Trio includes burrata with roasted tomato and basil pesto, smoked mozzarella with grilled radicchio and crushed tomato, and mozzarella with cherry tomato and basil oil. All were complementary combinations. And the charred corn took on a whole new dimension of flavor with the balsamic butter, which melted all over the corn and created a savory, creamy, smoky concoction.

Mozzarella Trio

Mozzarella Trio

Charred Corn with Balsamic Butter

Charred Corn with Balsamic Butter

Hall plans to continue helping out with the menu for a while longer, but rest assured Winnaman’s delicious bread will be a staple at Urbano. Paired with a glass of California central coast wine or a pint of locally brewed beer, such as the Craftsman 1903 Pale Lager, you’ll have a tasty meal.

Note: This was originally posted on LAist. This meal was hosted.

26

09 2011

Happy hour report: Public School 612

PS 612

Recess happy hour at Public School 612

If you’ve been to the downtown L.A. Daily Grill lately, you may have noticed a separate bar space just past the host stand. That’s Public School 612 (AKA PS 612), a new gastropub concept from the owners of the Daily Grill restaurants. This is the first of what the owners hope will be many PS 612 locations.

The bar opens every day at 4:00 p.m. and features food and drink, including a nicely edited beer list. There’s also a Recess happy hour on weekdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with a bar bites menu that tops out at $4. The drink specials don’t include the bar’s cocktails, but there’s a $4 handle of beer (that’s actually available all night long), a $5 Skinny Margarita and a $10 carafe of wine.

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09

08 2011

KCET’s Free Lunch at Lazy Ox Canteen

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of having lunch at Lazy Ox Canteen in Little Tokyo with some cool folks from KCET. Actually, they filmed me while I ate my lunch (it was a little awkward). See, this meeting was for a webisode of KCET’s Free Lunch, in which KCET buys you lunch and you talk about it. Anyone can do it — just leave a comment on one of their videos, and you’ll have the chance of being chosen for a gratis meal on the station. Cool, huh?

So, without further ado, I give you my small-screen debut.

I had the burger, which came with cantal cheese and green peppercorn mustard, as well as a side of fries dusted with dill. The burger was juicy and flavorful, and the fries were cooked perfectly. The dill was a really nice touch, too. I also ordered the roasted cauliflower with chili, mint and pine nuts, which I loved. There was also some lemon juice in it, too.

Lazy Ox burger

Lazy Ox French fries

Roasted cauliflower

You’ll notice in the video and KCET’s blog post that I waited a long time for my order to be taken. It was a bit ridiculous, though I couldn’t tell if they were just giving us space to do our thing, or what. The servers also didn’t want to be on camera, so that’s why it looks like I’m talking to no one. Oh, well, I had fun anyway!

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30

06 2011