Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Lauded barman Damian Windsor brings craft cocktails to the Salon in North Hollywood

The Salon is located upstairs at The Federal Bar (5303 Lankershim Boulevard) on the north side of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. Walk past the art school kids you’re going to park by, skip the crowd at the main bar downstairs, and tell the host you want to go up to The Salon for some honest-to-goodness handcrafted cocktails. Go through an Employees Only door, up a flight of stairs and you’ll find the entrance to The Salon, a cocktail hideaway tucked into the second floor. Opening up quietly at the end of 2016, but four years in the making, Damian Windsor (The Roger Room, Warwick) created a drink menu that’s both accessible and finely tuned with a focus on classic and craft cocktails.

Crafty cocktails

You have drinks like the Montgomery Martini, which is just a really good martini. But you also have the popular Horse’s Neck that features Lairds Applejack, ginger beer, Angostura and citrus oil. If your friends are just getting out of plastic bottles and into cocktails, chances are they’re enamoured with those mules in copper cups. The Horse’s Neck will be familiar and is the drink you’ll indoctrinate them into The Salon with. Be careful, though, because you most likely won’t be able to get away with just one round of these.

Horse's Neck cocktail at The Salon

Horse’s Neck

Maybe your friends just graduated from Jameson blackouts and now they only drink Old Fashioneds. The Fransisco San [sic] is right up their alley. Taking inspiration from Japanese whisky and San Francisco (as the name implies, despite the curious spelling), this cocktail features Suntory Whisky Toki, Punt e Mes and D.O.M. Benedictine. It’s a bright take on a whisky drink that goes down easy while still remaining respectable enough for Bill Murray to toast while wearing eyeliner.

Fransisco San cocktail at The Salon

Fransisco San


Double dazzle

Fortune Favors the Bold is ironically probably the least bold cocktail on the menu. Double Cross vodka, Carpano Antica Formula, Manzanilla sherry, Cointreau and Spanish Queen olives combine into a smooth but powerful, not delicate, taste. The vodka, vermouth, sherry and triple sec serve to heighten the Spanish Queen olives, making them more than just an accent. What this drinks holds back in adventure, it gives you in unrestrained flavor.

Fortune Favors the Bold cocktail

Fortune Favors the Bold

When you’re ready to commit to a new cocktail experience, go ahead and do yourself the favor of ordering up a Tequila Por Mi Amante. While the pickled watermelon dazzles your tastebuds, the Pueblo Viejo tequila blanco and Chamberyzette dry vermouth await your commitment. The watermelon cubes are more than a garnish; this is closer to a pairing in a glass. Salty, fruity, refreshing, boozy. This is what I started my night with, and it set the bar high. I could most likely drink more rounds of Horse’s Neck on any given night, but the Tequila Por Mi Amante was my favorite.

Tequila Por Mi Amante cocktail at The Salon

Tequila Por Mi Amante


Welcome to The Valley

The Salon has limited operating hours, generally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. until late, but it would be wise to call and check ahead as there are sometimes performances (comedy, music) in adjacent showrooms. The walls upstairs are not very soundproof, so activity in the other room would be definitely noticed. Nevertheless, The Salon is a welcome addition of handcrafted cocktails in an intimate atmosphere that you frankly don’t always find in The Valley.


03 2017

Hanjip restaurant brings elevated Korean BBQ to Westside

Hanjip restaurant banchan

Hanjip banchan

Stephane Bombet is on a roll. First, he opened Terrine. Then, he opened Viviane. Just a week later, he opened Hanjip restaurant, an elevated Korean barbecue experience in Culver City.

Bombet and Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage fame are offering top-notch meat, seafood, sides and banchan right in the heart of downtown Culver City, giving the Westside a new KBBQ option. But Hanjip restaurant is definitely not your run-of-the-mill Korean barbecue joint.

In addition to the marinated and non-marinated beef and pork, there’s also beef tongue (which I didn’t think I’d like but ended up loving), lamb, baby octopus, hamachi collar and gigantic Carabineros prawns. Oh, the prawns. Huge, sweet, tender. And expensive at $88 for a plate of three, but hey, it’s the holidays!

Hanjip restaurant Carabineros prawns

Carabineros prawns

Also in the pricey column is the Tomahawk chop topped with foie gras butter. At $120, you’re definitely splurging. But what a splurge it is. So much meat, so much umami.

Hanjip restaurant Tomahawk chop

Tomahawk chop

Hanjip also offers some great side dishes, from the traditional seafood pancake and kimchi fried rice served in a tin box (shake it up to get that eggy goodness all over) to the fancy uni steamed egg and bone marrow cheesy corn. The banchan offerings aren’t as extensive as other KBBQ joints, but the selection here is well-edited and includes the addictive pepper-and-garlic-sauce-lathered dried squid dish ojingeochae-muchim. I could eat that all day.

Hanjip restaurant Kimchi fried rice

Kimchi fried rice

Hanjip restaurant Uni steamed egg

Uni steamed egg

Hanjip restaurant Bone marrow corn

Bone marrow corn cheese

As a Westside restaurant that caters to a more mixed clientele, Hanjip’s interior is a bit flashy and a bit funky, perfectly reflecting Bombet’s and Oh’s personalities. The only thing about this place that weirded me out was how the server cooked all the meat for us, which meant there was someone leaning over our table for the better part of our meal. Maybe Hanjip restaurant feels this is necessary for the guests who aren’t used to this kind of dining experience, or maybe this is meant to be part of the elevated offerings, but I could do with less of this babysitting. Let me at the meat!

Note: This meal was hosted.


12 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.


04 2015

5 tips for waxing hair

Alexis Benveniste

Alexis Benveniste

I’ve started a new gig writing for, covering health and beauty topics. My latest is a post on waxing, and if you’ve ever had a wax or thought about having one, then following these tips from esthetician Alexis Benveniste will ensure smooth sailing.

Benveniste, who has more than a decade of experience in skin care, started out as a makeup artist (she has worked with numerous fashion magazines, including Elle and Flaunt) before moving on to brow and body waxing. I’ve been going to her for a few years now at Wax on Melrose Avenue, and she really knows her stuff.

Here are some of her tips:

1. Wait Around 5 Weeks
About a quarter of an inch is the ideal length. “Any shorter, and the wax won’t pick it all up; any longer, and the roots get stronger,” she says. Stronger roots = more pain.

2. Know Your Cycle
“Your skin is more sensitive to waxing a week before, during and two days after your monthly cycle,” Benveniste says. Those hormones are messing with you. Plan accordingly.

3. Work Out Before Waxing
Benveniste says working out before, and not after, waxing lessens the likelihood of getting those nasty in-growns. “Working out after waxing causes swelling, and moisture from sweating can invite bacteria into your freshly waxed follicles,” she says.

Head over to to read Benveniste’s last two tips. Hint: they have to do with those pesky in-grown hairs!


09 2014

Neapolitan heaven at DeSano Pizza Bakery + pizza making class

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Do you love pizza? Like, really, really good pizza that has the perfect balance of toppings and cheese on a crispy-but-chewy crust? Then we share this love, you and me. So let me tell you about DeSano Pizza Bakery, a Neapolitan pizza joint in East Hollywood where you can not only eat these delicious pies but also learn how to make them.

Tomorrow, July 12, DeSano’s proprietors, Italy natives Marino Monferrato, formerly general manager at Cecconi’s, and pizzaiolo Massimiliano Di Lascio, will host a pizza-making class that includes tastings and your own dough to take home. Maybe you’ll get to make the classic Margherita (pictured above), with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic. Or maybe you’ll make the San Gennaro, a sweet-spicy-tangy combination of sausage, peppadews, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and caramelized onions.

San Gennaro pizza

San Gennaro pizza

You’ll use ingredients sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and you’ll be firing up these pies in one of the restaurant’s four 6,000-pound, 900-degree wood-fired ovens imported from Italy and traditionally named after Italian saints.

DeSano's pizza ovens

DeSano’s pizza ovens

While you’re there, try a calzone. The Vesuvio, with spicy salame, prosciutto, pepperoni and garlic, is a meat lover’s dream.

Vesuvio calzone

Vesuvio calzone

For dessert, get a housemade cannoli or biscotti, or a small-batch gelato made by local Alessandro Fontana (his is the recipe over at Cecconi’s, too). Or get more than one; no one will judge. The blood orange sorbet is amazingly creamy, given its lack of dairy.

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

This is the third location for DeSano Pizza Bakery (the other two are in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina). DeSano’s space is cavernous, so you can bring a bunch of friends, order a bunch of pies, and eat them with abandon — hopefully with a bottle of something Italian soon (wine and beer will be served here as soon as the license gets worked out — a notoriously difficult process).

More information on the Neapolitan pizza-making class:

Saturday, July 12
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$40 per person, which includes personal instruction from Massimiliano DiLascio, a tasting of the pizzas prepared and dough to take home.
Call (323) 913-7000 for reservations (ask for Marino Monferrato)

DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029


07 2014

Daily Dose cafe has what you need

The Ballerina at The Daily Dose

The Ballerina at The Daily Dose

The Daily Dose cafe in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District is tucked away in an alley with pleasant outdoor seating. What’s even more pleasant is its food.

A hearty breakfast of The Margot, a sandwich made with two scrambled eggs, feta cheese, chives, serrano chili and avocado — watch out, it’s spicy! — or The Ballerina (pictured above), with a duck egg fried in olive oil and thyme on ciabatta with butter, apricot jam and a slice of toma cheese served open-faced with arugula salad and purple potato, will set you straight.

The Margot

The Margot

Get a sandwich with a Nutella Mocha or Dirty Chai (chai tea latte with espresso), and you’ll have yourself a proper morning meal.

Dirty Chai

Dirty Chai

Daily Dose also serves lunch menu for most of the day.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Daily Dose by hoopLA


05 2014

Finding America’s Best Restroom

Julian Serrano restroom

Julian Serrano restroom. Photo by Caroline on Crack.

When you’re out and about shopping and eating, finding a decent restroom is crucial. And when you find one that’s actually really nice, it can be a pleasant surprise, right?

Then why not nominate that business for having Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom?

Cintas’ survey editor recently reached out to me to help spread the word about the contest and get nominations for America’s Best Restroom (Canada’s Best Restroom will also be named). A couple of my personal favorites are the public restroom at The Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles with its marble floors and countertops, real towels and plush seating areas, and the restroom at Julian Serrano restaurant in the Aria hotel in Las Vegas, where Spanish language lessons are piped in. Nothing like tapas with a side of education, right?

Here’s the contest info:

Any restroom in the United States that is open to the public is eligible (previous winners will be eligible for reconsideration after one year). All nominations are accepted online through the nomination page. Nominated restrooms are considered by a selection committee based on eligibility, style, comments from the nomination and cooperation with the process. Up to 10 finalists will be announced in September, at which time the public will be asked to cast its votes. The winner will be announced in late fall.

Last year’s winner was the restroom at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. I’m not a big fan of unisex restrooms, but this one looks pretty cool. I especially like the foot-pedal-as-faucet-control idea. Take a look:


04 2014

Get healthy at The Hotel Wilshire

The Roof on Wilshire restaurant at the Hotel Wilshire

The Roof on Wilshire restaurant at the Hotel Wilshire. From Eater LA.

So, January is nearly over. It’s time to take stock of your new year’s resolutions. Personally, I don’t really buy into this once-a-year resolution idea, but I think it’s always a good idea to improve your health. And so does The Hotel Wilshire (this is Los Angeles, after all).

The Hotel Wilshire’s Live Like a Local program offers complimentary bike rentals, in-room yoga service and access to gym LA Fitness. On top of that, the hotel’s New Year New You package ($325/night) includes welcome amenities of bottled water, fresh fruit, healthy snacks and a jogging map; two vouchers for a complimentary yoga class at nearby Hot 8 Yoga; and a $50 dining credit for breakfast at the Roof restaurant or Roof on the Move picnic offerings.

Since Chef Eric Greenspan is at the helm at the Roof, the food should be top notch. Some of the healthier offerings on the breakfast menu include a yogurt granola parfait, steel cut oatmeal, and an egg white scramble with kale, squash, avocado and sriracha. There are also some tonics, including the Greendog with kale, green apple, almond, cucumber and cinnamon. Most items on the Roof on the Move menu are pretty healthy: think seared tuna with lentils, olives, cauliflower and dates.

So next time you’re visiting Los Angeles or looking for a staycation, The Hotel Wilshire will be there to make sure you have a good, healthful time.

Kimpton’s The Hotel Wilshire
6317 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

New Year New You Package
Through March 15, 2014
Rate code NYOU


01 2014

Into the wild – game, that is – with Burger Lounge

Burger Lounge wild elk burger

Burger Lounge wild elk burger. Courtesy of Burger Lounge.

Burger Lounge, the San Diego-based chain that’s making its way into the Los Angeles area, has started offering a seasonal wild game menu with a different featured burger every two months (priced at $9.95 each and available at all locations). The first special, available this month and through December, is the grass-fed Minnesota bison burger with bleu cheese and pickled red onions.

Here’s the rest of the lineup:

January/February 2013: Grass-fed Texas wild boar burger with applewood-smoked cheddar, oven-roasted tomato relish and sriracha aioli

March/April 2013: Grass-fed elk burger with fontina, duck cracklings and jicama slaw

May/June 2013: Grass-fed BBQ venison burger with house-made BBQ sauce, crispy onion rings and smoked mozzarella

You may have noticed that all the meat on these burgers is grass-fed. That’s Burger Lounge’s thing: free-range, grass-fed meat, which applies to both the beef and turkey on the regular menu, too (the salmon burger uses wild Alaskan salmon). The company makes efforts toward environmentally sustainable choices, too.

As for Burger Lounge’s everyday menu offerings, don’t overlook the turkey burger, which is made with basil ground into both white and dark meat for a juicy, flavor-packed patty. It’s my favorite item on the menu. The salmon burger, with fried green tomatoes, sounds good, but the patty is too fishy-tasting for me. Whichever burger you get — even the very respectable house-made quinoa veggie burger — make sure to get a milkshake (they even come in small sizes!), which don’t contain any gross syrups, or a fair-trade Maine Root soda made with organic sugar cane.

Turkey burger

Turkey burger

Chocolate shake

Chocolate shake

Note: This meal was hosted.


11 2012

Flipping the script at Vitello’s Restaurant

Rack of lamb at Vitello's

Rack of lamb at Vitello’s

You know the place — the neighborhood Italian red-sauce-and-mozzarella restaurant. That was Vitello’s in Studio City. Dating back to the 1960s, Vitello’s was a Rat Pack hangout. But it became infamous in 2001 when Bonnie Lee Bakely, wife of actor Robert Blake, was shot dead while sitting in her car after eating at Vitello’s. The couple were regulars at the restaurant, and Blake said he found his wife dead in the car after walking back to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he left in his usual booth.

Now far removed from the Bakely murder, Vitello’s is under new ownership and management, with a brand-new look and sophisticated menu to boot. New Executive Chef Tonino Cardia, who is originally from Sicily, has created some great dishes, including the Trofie alla Sausage made with small twists of pasta, Italian sausage, broccoli, diced grape tomato and white wine, and the Filetto di Branzino with an almond crusted Mediterranean sea bass, zucchini and Sicilian pesto.

Trofie alla Sausage

Trofie alla Sausage

Filetto di Branzino

Filetto di Branzino

Cardia gets creative with his dishes, too. He serves salmon tartare with raspberries and tops grilled rack of lamb with lavender. Sounds bizarre, but it all totally works.

Mixologist Josh Curtis has come up some really interesting drinks, too, including The Figueroa with vodka, club soda, muddled fig and olive oil, and the Unusual Sazerac with rye, Aperol and a sambuca rinse. Creativity abounds at Vitello’s.

The Figueroa

The Figueroa

Since the menu now changes seasonally, you’re sure to find some interesting fall dishes. The Beer Braised Osso Bucco with pumpkin risotto and chestnuts sounds especially satisfying — once the weather cools down, of course.

See more photos from Vitello’s:

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Vitello’s Studio City…My New Neighborhood Spot by Marian the Foodie


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10 2012