Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dinner at Dan Tana's

Visited the well known Hollywood restaurant Dan Tana's on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood last night.  It celebrated its 47th anniversary in October this year - amazing.
It is the smallest restaurant with the largest menus (literally) and soooo busy and buzzing it was almost claustrophic!  We were amazed we were able to book a table of 10 on a busy Friday night, and when we got there, the table was sitting there waiting for us even though people were two deep all around the bar and every other table was occupied!  But we were very squashed!  One of the Tuxedoed Waiters (bottom left in the photo above) was a real character originally from Croatia who has obviously been at the restaurant for a long time.
You really can't expect a great meal when you with a large number of people, and so agreed to their suggestion (was it a choice? - it was so noisy) we share dishes - Chopped Salad to start, Penne Arrabiata, Lasagna, Cannelloni, Chicken Parmigiana - and way too much red wine.  All good but like eating at a buffet.   I would imagine the bill was quite hefty!

And we all bought Flashing 'Grills' while we were waiting for cars/taxis outside! 

6/10 for the experience

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Lunch - Cafe 101

This very hip diner is within walking distance of our daughter's house and comes highly recommended.  It's on the corner of Franklin and Gower (under the Hollywood sign) attached to an old now revamped Best Western motel originally opened in the late 1930's.  The publicity blurb says:

The look of the 101 Coffee Shop was carefully designed by Warner Ebbink after extensive research of coffee shops of the 1960’s and ‘70’s. From the stone wall behind the retro brown leather booths to the counter that extends through most of the space, the hipster residents of Hollywood are transported to a funky diner straight out of the late 1960’s.  The menu at 101 Coffee Shop features retro diner fare with a Southern California twist. Acclaimed Chef Brandon Boudet combines the best of the Hollywood Farmer’s Market with hearty yet simple classics.

So we went for the classics.   Chopped Cobb Salad (Blackened Chicken, Tomato, Avocado, Blue Cheese, Bacon and Lettuce, chopped and Tossed with a Ranch Dressing), Macaroni and Cheese and a side of French Fries - with a few crispy Sweet Potato Fries mixed through.
The Cobb Salad was fabulous, the blackened chicken just that, but still tender and juicy.  The Macaroni and Cheese was literally the best I have ever had - light (yes, light) and really tasty.  The Fries too were the best yet - fresh and real, unlike a lot of others we have been served that taste like reheated potato.

Value for money and for cleanliness, service and courtesy - 9/10


Lunch at RockSugar

Went shopping at Westfield Century City, and saw this amazing looking restaurant called RockSugar.
Created by restauranteur David Overton and Singapore raised New York trained Chef Mohan Ismail, the food is described as Pan Asian - Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and India.  Just my kind of restaurant - there was no way we were walking past - and it was lunchtime.

The decor, from the entrance to inside the restaurant, was fabulously over the top.

On arrival we were offered a hot towel, and a bowl of crackers and a spicy salsa dip.  Clever.
 We ordered Potstickers, of course, (Chicken, Shiitake Mushrooms, Green Onions and Citrus-Soy Sauce) and the Popcorn Shrimp.  Both really delicious.  The shrimp came with the 'Chef's' Plum Sauce which the waiter poured over the top.  We were a bit worried as plum sauce is very sweet - but it was lovely.
Then we ordered Ginger Fried Rice (Chinese Sausage, Leeks, Egg, Sesame and Crispy Garlic) which came with an egg on top which the waiter broke up for us.  I thought it was delicious, but the others thought it was way too gingery.  That made the difference for me. 
We also ordered the Basil, Cashew, Chicken - which was delicious,  and very spicy.
We also ordered the Thai Noodles with Vegetables, which was also spicy, but delicious.

All in all a lovely lunch.  Should give extra points, because the overly polite waiter kept calling me 'Miss'!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lunch at E Baldi

We just have to visit this restaurant every time we visit LA.  This was our third lunch at this Canon Drive, Beverley Hills restaurant (Chef Edoardo Baldi),
although we have also eaten at G Baldi (Giorgio Baldi) in Santa Monica Canyon - but that's another story.

I have always ordered the same dishes.  To start the amazing
                  Sweet Corn Agnolotti, Mascarpone, Truffle Butter $19
So delicate, the creamy corn really hot inside the little pockets of agnolotti, the mouthwatering sauce with the small tastes of Truffle.  This is one dish that really makes it hard not to lick the plate!
Then the unforgetable salad -  
                   Spelt, Langostine, Cannellini, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes & Lemon $19
Beautiful clean flavours, and the contrast of the warm Langostine with the cold vegetables is really different.
My companions both ordered the Lasagna Verde with Besciamella and Meat Ragu $18
and pronounced it the best ever!

Although a rather small restaurant, it is always full of well known Hollywood personalities.  The service is extremely friendly and efficient.  The list of specials reeled off by our waiter was impressive - almost as large as the printed menu!  Recommend a visit.


Dinner at The Bazaar by Jose Andres at SLS Hotel, Beverley Hills

This was our second visit to this Spanish/Latin Tapas Restaurant at the SLS Hotel in Beverley Hills - the last being two years ago. 

Most amazing decor.  You enter directly into the bar which is cleverly curtained off from the restaurant areas - designed by Phillipe Starck of course!  I could just live in the bar area.

Chef Jose Andres is a true genius.

Named “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, passionate advocate for food and hunger issues, and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. TFG is the team responsible for Washington, DC’s renowned dining concepts Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlántico and minibar by josé andrés, as well as Los Angeles’ celebrated destinations, The Bazaar by José Andrés and Saam at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. His latest project at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas features three new restaurants—Jaleo, China Poblano and é by José Andrés. Jose’s ThinkFoodGroup also oversees his creative and cultural endeavors such as cookbooks, television programming, project development, education and philanthropy.
Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot Restaurateur” in 2011, José is credited with introducing Americans to both avant-garde and traditional Spanish cooking. Born in the northern region of Asturias and raised outside of Barcelona, José chose cooking as his life’s work at the age of 15. He attended the School of Restaurants and Hotels of Barcelona and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants including elBulli with world-renowned Master Chef and friend Ferran Adrià. He made his way to the U.S. and then to DC to work with Rob Wilder and Roberto Alvarez’s Proximo restaurants. Heading up the kitchen at Jaleo, he helped create one of the first critically and commercially successful tapas restaurants in the country, setting the standard for other Spanish and small plate restaurants to follow. Food & Wine hailed José as the “hero of the Spanish revolution,” who “helped create the Spanish food boom in America.” And the New York Times called him “the boy wonder of culinary Washington.” 
With a four-star review from the Los Angeles Times, José made his mark on Los Angeles with the creation of SLS Hotels. ThinkFoodGroup partnered with SBE Hotel Group and designer Philippe Starck to create a new luxury hotel experience. The first property, SLS at Beverly Hills, opened its doors in fall 2008. José and the TFG team oversee the food & beverage program for the hotel, including the signature destination restaurant The Bazaar by José Andrés, named Best New Restaurant of 2009 by Esquire magazine. Zagat gave The Bazaar Top Newcomer in 2009 and honored it as one of the Top Ten Best New Restaurants of the Decade.

Had to have a Fabulous Dirty Martini, and of course an obligatory Magic Mojito with Cotton Candy which tasted great - the Mojito is poured on to the Cotton Candy which melts into the drink.
We then moved to our table with a lovely rounded banquette and proceeded to order way too much.

It is all Tapas, so designed for lots of tastes.  The standouts were:

Philly Cheesesteak (Airbread, cheddar, Wagyu Beef)
and the Hilly Cheesesteak (Air bread, Cheddar, Mushrooms)
It really is Air Bread - completely hollow in the middle.  Delicious.
The Your Life Will Change Dashi Linguini (Parmesan, Quail Egg, Basil) was fabulous. 
 As was the Tortilla de patatas “new way” (Potato foam, Egg 63, Caramelized Onions)
and the Jamones Y Embutidos with Catalan style Toasted Bread and Tomato.
Another standout was the Brussels Sprouts (Lemon purée, Apricots, Grapes, Lemon Air) - truly amazing.
We adjourned to the bar for desert, and shared the Nitro Coconut Floating Island with Passionfruit and Vanilla.
The Patisserie is half the size it was two years ago, but we heard that the pastry chef has since left.

Then had a look around the Regalo - Shop Without Walls which is stocked by Moss
 Nothing there I really wanted to buy this time, except maybe the black round tray with a skull embossed in the middle - surprise surprise!

A fabulous experience and fabulous food - very unusual combination.


Lunch at the Alcove Cafe & Bakery, Los Feliz

Had a quick lunch at Alcove Cafe on Hillhurst Road, Los Feliz.  Very pretty location.
Worth a visit for the location, but can't say we were impressed with the food - or more likely, our choices.  I chose the Fish and Chips (Described as: Fish + chips - Beer Battered Skewered Fresh Cod, Sweet Potato Fries, Pineapple Tartar Dipping Sauce. Think "carnival corndog" but it's fish!)
- big mistake, as the fish was Cod (and the texture like the Smoked Cod your mother force fed you in Australia) squeezed around a bamboo skewer and deep fried.  And the chips were sweet potato chips - very sweet.  But the Pineapple Tartar Sauce was nice.
The other dishes were also very 'fried' and 'cheesy'.  Philly Cheesesteak Panini (Shaved Roast Beef, Caramelized Onions, Sauteed Bell Peppers and Mushrooms, and Pepperjack Cheese with au Jus on the side)
and the Alcove Chili Dog (Chicken-Apple Sausage topped with hearty Texan Chili and Jalapeno Jack Cheese served in a Pretzel roll with Sweet Potato Fries).  But I did see someone with a nice looking salad, and they have an amazing collection of cakes.