Saturday, July 31, 2010

Casa in Downtown LA

The world of corporate LA on Bunker Hill is alive and well at Casa, 350 South Grand Ave LA CA 90017. It's design is a kind of funky Brazil utopian aesthetics with pod like dining areas, some hidden and some not so hidden. Some of the table seating is high off the ground, in case of a 100 year flood. We went for lunch. There's a line in the front door because they take your order at the door and what seems like a restaurant is actually a buffet zone not unlike Chipotle. It was touted that the tortillas are handmade but my tortillas had a plastic-like texture to them. How do you do that? It can't be easy. The guacamole was very good and the steak in my taco was pretty cool. It's a specific scene that might lend itself more to happy hour, which of course, they have.

Friday, July 30, 2010

On Spring adjacent to Not A Cornfield Park

On Spring is at 1279 North Spring Street LA CA 310-306-5554, just next to the entrance to the Not A Cornfield Park outside of Chinatown. This is a new and tiny venue that is associated with Urban Green Cuisine from Pasadena. They are a consummate vegan cuisine catering company. You can see their sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts at some of the better health markets around town but On Spring is their first venture into the restaurant scene. Well, this is actually a "hut" that used to be Molly's hamburger hut named after her father Sam. Those were some of the best burgers in town so it's ironic that now it's a vegan place. On Spring will eventually have an out door library, sustainable gardens and a stage for performances. It's all in the making. The food is very good. My Capri sandwich was excellent. The mozzarella was perfect and fresh. The carrot ginger soup was off the chart. I have no idea how they can get it so rich but not over the top. In the past, I had their lentil salad which was amazingly dense and imaginative. I wish them the best of luck and what a cool addition to the culture of Chinatown, however off the beaten path.

Figaro Bistrot in Silver Lake

Lunch with my friend Photographer Bill Short is always a pleasure. We decided to go to the Figaro Bistrot at 1802 North Vermont Ave LA CA 90027, 323-662-1587, for lunch. We'd both been there in the past but it'd been a while for either of us. This eatery location is near and dear to my heart because it use to be the Onyx or Sequel coffee shop where a lot of artists performed and showed their work in the late 80's and early 90's. Now it's a French inspired place and I have to say the food is quite wonderful. Bill had the seared tuna salad and I the Salad de Fromage et Chevre. Both equally delicious, rich and filling. However, my favorite was the Escargot au beurre persille. The tender pieces drenched in that butter garlic is so naughty. Just thinking about it makes me imagine my arteries clogging but I cannot resist. Resistance is futile!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Toshi in Little Tokyo

Toshi Sushi, 359 E. 1st Street, LA CA 90012, 213-680-4166, is a place I have walked and driven past hundreds of times. My buddy, Jeffe and I wanted to go check out the Dennis Hopper exhibit at MOCA so we had hoped for a quick sushi lunch but that didn't happen. This is a slow meal place. The interior is great and the vibe is really comfortable with a little bit of a high-end edge. The sushi wasn't super fresh and the rice wasn't excellent. Lunch in Little Tokyo is very competitive so I would like to go there for dinner and give them another try. The problem is, there are so many other places in Little Tokyo that give you a great sushi lunch but I'd give Toshi Sushi another try at night, when some sake or a cold beer might smooth out the edges a bit.

Rockin Baja in Old Town San Diego

Old Town was packed last weekend and I was traveling with 12 parents, so it wasn't easy to find a place that didn't have more than an hour waiting list. We decided to go to Rockin Baja, which is a chain restaurant primarily known for it's seafood. Normally, I don't go to these type of chains nor do I write about them on this blog if I do but I wanted to bring up a point. This was a great evening because of the company. I had such a great time getting to know my daughter's coaches and some of the parents I had not hung out with very much. Sometimes, a meal is 70% company and 30% meal. I really appreciated that and wanted to bring that up here on my blog.

Larchmont Bungalow

Larchmont Bungalow is a new-ish cafe with comfortably hip decor and super cool menu items. I was actually there for lunch once and wasn't really blown away by the salad and Greco burger I ordered but later I found out that their cupcakes and breakfast were off the chart so off I went again to check it out. I ordered the Red Velvet Pancake. This thing is, it's more cake than pan. This dish is crazy. I could barely finish half the order. The red velvet cake itself is so delicious, with crushed nuts and a cream cheese frosting but you just have to pour the maple syrup so you get double the high intense sugar coma later. My arnold palmer was delicious and refreshing.

Spicy City in San Diego

It had been a while since I saw my friend and artist Alessandra Moctezuma. I was in San Diego for my daughter's basketball tournament so we had a window of opportunity to catch up. She wanted to go to her favorite Chinese place. Off we went. Spicy City, 4690 Convoy St #107 San Diego CA 9211 858-278-1818, is not your ordinary Szcewan cuisine. Our meal was awesome. Who would have thought you could get this amazing heartfelt meal in a mini-mall? The spicy fish soup was off the chart. It was so spicy, I couldn't feel my face anymore. The green beans were fantastic, fresh and the sauce with sesame seed was memorable. The noodle dish was the best. It was like a cross between Pad Thai and Soon Tofu. Their red sauce is an in house secret and is really astonishing, rich and deep.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mozza Osteria South of Hollywood

Mozza Osteria is located at 6609 Melrose Ave, LA CA 90038, 323-297-0100. It's next door to Mozza Pizza which I've already entered on those blog a while ago. Mozza Osteria is quite an amazing place. Josh Southwick of Porter Gallery, chose it to toast photographer and bass player Peter Watkinsons birthday. It was a very intimate gathering of friends and we "celebrated". Just the wines alone were absolutely memorable and rich with depth. We didn't know a lot about Italian wines so the wine specialist, of which there were several but Jeff was our wine man of the evening. This dude was spot on with his recommendations. We had a La Sibilla, Falanghina Campi Flegrei 2008 and a Rovera Salicz Salentino Puglia 2006. They knocked our socks off. The white with our appetizers from the mozzarella bar and a red with our pastas. We had braised artichokes with pine nuts, mint pesto and currants; coach farm goat cheese ravioli with fire lillies; orecchiette with sausages and swiss chard; and I had the calf brain ravioli with sage and lemon. For dessert, we shared cioccolatu bittersweet chocolate cake with pergian chocolate and a torta della nonna, honeycomb/ pine nuts.

Essential Chocolates in Culver City

Essential Chocolates is located at 10868 Washington Blvd Culver City CA 90232, 310-287-0699. I don't have much to say about this place. You just gotta go and grab yourself something, anything, one of their special creations they whipped up in their kitchen. These photos are what I bought but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Pictured is the miniature apple pie, Red Velvet Ding Dong and this fantastic two oatmeal cookie drenched in homemade marshmallow and then encased in this pop art colored explosion. It's sic.

Tubs Fine Chili and Fancy Fixins in Culver City

As my kids get older, I'm starting to see glimpses of perhaps my influences. Maybe this my parental ego? Anyway, I was so happy to be introduced to a place by my daughter. I picked her up at school and asked her if she wanted to get something for lunch. She thought about it, as she often does, and asked, "Have you ever been to Tub's Chili?" I had not. Well, it turns out it's a place her entourage goes to sometimes after school. It's owned by a father of one of her classmates. She said she always orders the steak chili. I tried the "Smokin Pig", which is seasoned pork, smoked for 8 hours in a tangy perhaps tomato-based chili. Sweet and delicious. They come in these bready tortilla like bowls and you have a choice of toppings; onions, various cheeses, etc. What I really loved was their buffalo chips, huge meaty potato chips you can dip into sauces and I couldn't have enough of these chips. They were awesome.

Crossroads Cafe and Tavern in Joshua Tree

My friend P Knitty and I went to the Integratron for a sound bath. ( On our way back, P Kitty and Joanne of Integratron recommended Crossroads for lunch. Located at 61715 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree CA 92252, 760-366-5414, Crossroads is a rustic cafe with good beer, friendly servers and fresh burgers, sandwiches and entrees. I ordered a burger and P Knitty got the Portobello burger. Delicious and filling this is a great place to hang before that drive back to the City. Honestly, I was completely in a zone after the sound bath. The buzz stayed in my bones for almost 48 hours.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Prince in K Town

I went to this amazing abyss twice in six days. The first thing they bring (it's a Korean restaurant/bar) is salsa and chips. I brought a different friend each time. The first friend was an arts administrator from Tokyo. She loved it and found the place to be quirky and odd. The second time was with an artist friend from Korea. I think she found the place to be hilarious but it seemed she was less enthused with the place. The Korean food is not quite authentic or fine. The service is not exactly great. They kind of forgot one of the two dishes we ordered and at the end, it took a really long time to get the check. I think it would be a great place to go for beers and watch ESPN. Personally, I really like the place. It's funky, the price is really reasonable, it's unique, there's lots of red vinyl and when I'm sitting at the booth, I feel like I'm in a Tarantino movie. My favorite dish was the yummy red Korean pancake. I think it's an appetizer.

Eibis Restaurant in Highland Park

Eibis Restaurant is located at 231 North Avenue 50, LA CA 90042, 323-999-0109. It was an exciting lunch with the World Cup blasting on two huge screens. I had an Envueltos de Mole. It was a heartfelt made lunch by two wonderful women who really have this place open for the locals. My friends had other Mexican food dishes including Chiliquilas. Note; I would allocate extra time. Everything is freshly made and they take a little longer than you may usually have for lunch.