Friday, January 28, 2011

Olive Garden in Glendale

It was my daughters birthday and for some reason, my aunts wanted to go to the Olive Garden, a chain restaurant specializing in pasta. I've never been to one but I've seen they're commercials on TV. I've never been drawn to go but I was so grabbed by the fact that my aunts were so excited about it. So my son, of course my daughter, two aunts and mom trek all the way to Glendale (it was the closest one to K Town). The first thing, my son made reservations for 6 but when we got there, the host stated that they only make reservations for 8 or more, so we waited a bit for a table. There were three young women who were the hosts and they are bubbly nice but it's really forced and feels like an old scene I saw on Mad TV or SNL. We sat down and our server was completely the opposite; very sweet, genuine and somewhat attentive. We ordered various pasta dishes including a mushroom ravioli, Capellinni plate and a lasagna. All the foods were good in taste, nothing over the top, nothing brilliantly fresh, nothing unusually authentic but you know, good. However, my main sticking point was the pasta; really soft. Al dente it was not. How hard could it be to make the pasta al dente when this is what they make day in and day out? And then it dawned on me. Looking around, the vast majority of tables around us were big families with a good percentage of elderly. This is where you bring your elders and the Olive Gardens knows that. Know your audience, right? The food is made soft. I got it! That's why they aren't marketing to people in my demographics specifically but now I know that this is a good place for people in my family. This was a very important and educational dinner for me. Note; my daughter, who's birthday we were allegedly celebrating, was miserable throughout the meal. There's nothing more depressing than a miserable teenager on her birthday at the Olive Garden in Glendale.

Rutts in Culver City

I've eaten here before and there's always a nostalgic Hawaiian feel here. The beef stew is amazing but I saw Lau LAu on the specials board so I ordered it.

Oh oh, wasn't great. First, you have to appreciate what it takes to make a lau lau. It's primarily pokr or chicken with a butter fish or something like a butter fish with greens wrapped in a taro leaf. Then it's steamed. Now, you don't make one lau lau. Usually, you have a team of people making a big batch, not unlike a tamale making party. Then, you freeze them and steam them as you want the. However, if you wrap them in plastic or put them in a zip lock bag, there's the danger of freezer burn, i.e. maybe the bag rips or the zip lock is not closed perfectly, etc. I think that's what happened here. The green wrap of the lau lau was brittle when it should be moist. The meat inside was hard and not tender. The main flavor was salt and not the buttery savor between the fish and the pork.

Regardless, I love Rutts. It's a great place and the staff is awesome but beware of these details when ordering laulau.

Rutts at 12114 Washington Blvd LA CA 90066, 310-398-6326

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Taqueria La Mexicana in Long Beach

I finally made it to Taqueria La Mexicana in Long Beach. Artist and Porter Gallery dude, Josh Southwick had recommended it a while ago but it closed right when I showed up last time. This time, I went to the LBC to play with a new collective, Southern California Soundscape Ensemble @ Open Bookstore. I was hungry so I decided to give Taqueria La Mexicana another try. They we're open so I called Josh and he recommended the California Burrito which is made up of french fries, asada, cheese and sour cream. It was so good and full of flavor. I really appreciated how it was big but clean, I mean, it didn't slow me down or make me sleepy, even though it had fries in it. The place is very popular and there's seating to the side. The mural inside is awesome! They are located at 3270 E 4th Street, LB CA 562-433-6389.

La Estrella Taco #3 in Highland Park

This was a nostalgic blast from the past. Back in the day when we would check out bands or play at Mr. T's, we would walk down the block to La Estrella Taco #3 and get some food before or after the show. They're located at 6103 N Figueroa St LA CA 90042, 323-982-0179. I found myself there a couple of night s ago, dropping off Mooey Moobau after a webcast performance we collaborated on. The chicken tacos are amazing, so juicy and fresh. I highly recommend this place, especially if you're in the area late at night. They're open 24 hours and they have this colorful mural in they're outdoor seating area that's hard to miss at night, unless you're a little blurry eyed.

Food + Lab in Silverlake

My new favorite place, Food + Lab, 3206 W. Sunset Blvd LA CA. The food is made of extremely fresh ingredients with an attention to detail. It was so good I went there two days in a row for lunch. The first day I was there was National Cheese Day so I ordered a the grilled cheese which was grilled pressed. The bread had that just baked bounce with a light buttery taste and crunchy outer surface, the cheese soaked into the bread and the accent of caramelized onions was fabuloso! The next day, I ordered the BLT with chicken. The chicken was a little dry but It was good. The carrot and apple salad was crunchy with a sweet and tart dance. The other salad I had was a white bean salad that was also very well made. There's also a tiny market of goods. I took back to the office the Fudge 8 assortment which was amazing. There were a dozen pieces in the bag and it was gone in 20 minutes. The other thing they have is a great assortment of fresh juices. I had the blueberry lemonade which was rich and refreshing but the table water is absolutely fine. They had a cucumber water that was really nice. Thanks to artist Megan DeArmond for turning me onto this place.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wendy's Place Cafe in Downtown El Segundo

I mentioned many blogs ago that I went to Downtown El Segundo for the first time. Today, I had an opportunity to go again so I tried that old style cafe i eyed last time. Wendy's Place Cafe first opened in the 30's under a different name but same location. In the 70's, Wendy bought it and the rest is history. I really was amazed at how comfortable they make you feel the moment you step in. Its not a huge place but they can pack em in. I shared the chicken fried steak and Reubens. The chicken fried steak was delicious with OG gravy but the Reubens was outstanding. A conservative amount of beef with a thousand island dressing. This was really amazing. We topped it off with an apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Wendy's is located at 107 W Grand Ave El Segundo CA 310-322-3943. This is a great find. I can't wait till my next visit.

Blossom Vietnamese Restaurant in Downtown LA

Blossom is located at 426 Main St LA CA 90013, 213-623-1973. This is a very popular and affordable place to eat in the Gallery Row area of Downtown LA. We went there for a birthday party so I think we ordered almost every type of food on the menu. The appetizers were amazing. They had both traditional and East Vietnam side dishes as well as the ever popular Spring Rolls. I had the Green Curry, which was really delicious. I think the food is quite Westernized. The spicy things seemed really mild but the flavor of everything was solid. I really enjoyed the yams and shrimp fritters; tasty, deep and outstanding.

Eat India Grill on La Brea

This is definitely one of my favorite Indian food places. It was first introduced to me by artist Mona Kasra and fellow Laker fan, David Meharania. This week, I was out around Hollywood for a job with artist Megan DeArmond. We finished our work and she said she wanted to eat Indian food, so we made the stop at East India Grill at 345 La Brea Ave LA CA 90036, 323-936-8844. We shared the Tandorri Beef plate and Vegetable Curry plate. You get a choice of Naan so I picked garlic. It had a lot of little chunks of garlic and was so fresh and delicious. The beef was tender and had mysterious spices that were just amazing. The vegetable curry was so spicy it made Megan and I giggle. Having lunch there during work is a little problematic. The meal was missing a beer, like Taj Mahal. But it was still an amazing meal. We talked about it all week.

Six Restaurant in West LA

Early again for my Tuesday night B Ball game, I was a little hungry on the Westside. I thought about going to Food but this place caught my eye and i decided to try it. Six Restaurant is located at 10668 West Pico Blvd LA CA 90064. They have a fine menu and what appears to be a wonderful wine and beer selection. It's a upscale bar with very cool staff. The inside interior is warm, dark woods, with a splash of sophistication. I ordered the five mushroom pizza and the potato and leek soup. The soup was over the top with a creamy cheddar base and rich chunks of smoked salmon. It came hot and really melted the unusually cool air that night. The pizza was small but filling. The mushrooms were rich and diverse and really had a great aroma to it as well as that great earthy taste. I would love to go back sometime and have a real meal with wine or beer. This is a very fun place. Oh, and the four HD screens playing NCAA basketball was much appreciated.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Holidays

Happy New Year to all!!! Last year was a rough one for many so I hope things start to look up for everyone. I felt very fortunate this holiday. Greta friends, family and amazing home cooking. Here are some shots of the dishes we had this holiday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Le Petit Greek on Larchmont

My dear friend, artist Steven M. Irvin's birthday is the day after Christmas. He wasn't in town this year so I took him out for lunch last week. We went to Le Petit Greek is located at 127 North Larchmont Blvd. LA CA 90004, 323-464-5160. I ordered the lamb shank, which came in a tomato based sauce and a side of potatoes. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. I also took the bone home and our dog whittled it down to a nub in 30 minutes, so we both enjoyed it. Steve got the Pastitsio, I think. I can't remember what its called but it too was delicious, a ground beef and cheese type of hot dish with spices. We ended the meal with a delicious Greek coffee. They have three styles, a bitter and thick; a semi sweet and less thick; and a very sweet and thin. we took the middle road. By the way, our server was awesome. All of our choices was based on her recommendations. They have outdoor and indoor seating. It was a little chilly so they had the heaters going which made for a very wonderful Sunday morning experience on Larchmont.

Patsy's Pizza at Farmers Market

Patsy's Pizza at Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd Street #448. LA CA, 323-938-4938. I love going to this place. It's not just the pizza which is fun, delicious, nostalgic and old school, but there's such a classic LA vibe, with black and white photos of Patsy and stars like Frank Sinatra. I've been buying a slice or a whole pie here since the mid 80's. I appreciate it so much that it's still there, and really all of the original places in Farmers Market. When they revamped it and opened the Grove, they could have lost all of this but they didn't and that's really cool.