Friday, January 19, 2018

Year's Best Discovery at Commerson

Quite honestly, I don't remembered why I decided to come here in the very first place.

I went in blind as a bat and have no idea on what this place was about. From what I remembered the most was that I wanted to check out Republique, the popular French bistro that was owned by the chef I have visited during a promo gathering back when he was in Church & State. My mistake was assuming you can just walked in for dinner.... not realizing the reservation for dinners are booked weeks in advance.

I did the walk-ins on a few other places and was able to get in or at least come back the next day or so (ie Chi Spacca, Bestia, Rossoblu).

To compensate, I think I went into Instagram and checked out a ballet dancer's story that she posted daily. I strictly remembered she always go to this restaurant. Never really described the dishes she had and frankly I couldn't tell you which cuisine it was served. I can fathom seafood? Maybe Mediterranean? How about just plain Comfort food?

Seriously I was grasping for straws at that time. I took a chance and just go right in. Luckily, it paid off big time.

Commerson is what best described as a French bistro with inspiration of California fare, aka local farm to table ingredients with haute French techniques. What intrigued me about restaurants in LA are that it now mimics establishments in other major cities like New York and San Francisco.... restaurants that are in the bottom floor of apartment or residential building.

I was looking at Yelp and my buddy Kevineats blogged about this place, which I researched later on and found out about the background of the chef (Kevin does wonders on this) and about the restaurant. I was amazed on how I was even able to get some good choices without even a faint of idea before walking in.

Sweet Potato Agnolotti - Duck Confit, Poached Cranberries, Toasted Pistachios, Browned Butter

My first big impression was to get the agnolotti. This version has sweet potato with duck confit in it. Hallelujah to this, it was my favorite dish of the night! Probably my best choice I have made in quite awhile if I say so myself. Brilliant on my part, but the chef nails it.

On a weird side note, that's what everyone was clamoring on Yelp. So apparently I was so late on this as it was already super popular on that platform.

Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops with English Peas, Pickled Lemon, Chantelle mushrooms, Mint, and Miso

Here comes the funny part, my followers on Instagram seemed to love the scallops that was presented here. It's either the lighting at the counter seats or the fact that the miso over the scallops are what they are salivating for. I think the presentation play up to it where it was pleasing to the eyes, but to my stomach... pure bliss!


Red Yam Coupe (Mushroom ice cream, Marshmallows, Fried Yams Strips, and Ginger Snap)

Those 2 plates were the delicious highlights of the night, but the most bizzare presentation of the place was their desserts. Get a look of this hairy looking medusa, which was the Red Yam Coupe, a yam strips covering a parfait of marshmallows and ice cream. It was recommended by a very helpful bartender who gave me a tip that the ice cream is mushroom flavored (yeah, you read it correctly - MUSHROOM).

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Ginger Smash

I seriously doubt I would have made that guess as my palate could not have decipher that taste. She gave me that big insight before I ordered it because I think she somewhat trying to talk me out of ordering this dessert. Perhaps it got send back by the uninitiated gourmands? The bartender also makes a killer cocktail drinks at this place.

Frankly I was proud of myself for getting out of comfort zone and took a risk on something that I had no clue on how it would turned out. I think it was way better than any of my blind dates or guestimation on building furniture without instructions or measurements.

As in for the ballet dancer who I gladly give credited for leading me here; I noticed she doesn't go out or ventured out to other places as much. Majority of the places seemed to be on the safe side as we speak. Location scouting and suggestions are very welcome by yours truly. If anyone would like to give out the deeds, please drop in the comments.

If I bring back the grade system, this would get it a very favorable rating.

Commerson
788 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Commerson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reflection of Something New in Cafe Birdie

Here's another neighborhood that has gone over a major face lift in the past few years... Highland Park!

How do I even come up with that notion? Apparently now the neighborhood's real estate asking price just sky rocketed to an unbelievable 4 folds where it's better to sell and take advantage of the enormous profit you can pocket just by flipping or fixer upper. HP as we called it and the neighboring Echo Park, Los Feliz, Atwater Village, and Silverlake are prime for that. 

It's all big thanks to Chip and Joanna in Waco as it's not possible without those two on TV.

One beneficial about the uptick on bringing younger, more energetic, and more hippish to this part of the town are that stores and eateries needed to match the residents as well. One example that reflect this trend is this popular bistro that had opened not too long ago to cater this diverse, but emerging young hip crowd.

Cafe Birdie was a mixture of Mediterranean cuisine that mesh with local ingredients of California fare. It stands in the part of the exciting Figueroa Blvd that also features popular destination hot spots such as Highland Park Bowl, ETA, and Good Girl Dinette. There are also other popular eateries, boutique shops, and entertainment options that would make this part of the street a colossal meet up for all ages. To say that it would be traffic jam on Friday or Saturday night would be a gross understatement.

When you entered upon this beautiful establishment, you will encountered an elegant dining opened dining room with high ceiling and beautiful lighting fixtures on top. What impressed me was the marbled bar counter top on the side of the room. Heard there was a speakeasy opened up on the side (which I did not entered as of this writing).

Moroccan Spiced Fried Chicken

Probably the most fascinating assessment of the menu was the variety of Mediterranean inspired dishes that was offered. The theme of the choice was the Moroccan Spiced Fried Chicken. A boneless chicken tender sized that was served with an indelible harissa aioli was a probably end all to be all fried chicken you'll ever had. This chicken was probably more addicting here than the recent place I have visited called crack shack.


Pork Cheek Ragu - Pappardelle, Stewed Tomatoes, Pecorino

I also get to experience another popular item on their menu that was highly recommended, Pork Cheek Ragu. Without a hesitation, I can honestly say this was as satisfying as any ragu dishes that I have recently encountered. Trust me, you can see the parade of ragu dishes I have recently posted in the past few months.

The one big mention I have to do is for their ever evolving bar menu this place expertly served. I cannot get enough of the drinks they have. Luckily for me, it changes often enough so that I can revisit this location for libations I plan to do.


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Do you agreed with the caption on the photo?

This place is part of the newer generation of eateries that are looking to reflect the new crowds that are moving in. Sleek, elegant, but yet casual. Upscale dining is no longer just about the stuffy fine dining. Slowly changed into something of an intimate environment as I have taken noticed. When you entered this fine bistro, you will be greeted warmly by the staff as though everyone here is local, but make no mistake, the food is here is something of a top notch fine dining setting.

This is exactly an option for the dining needs of this new neighborhood change. It will continue to change in Highland Park.... all thanks to the fixer upper crowds.

Cafe Birdie
5631 N. Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Cafe Birdie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 15, 2018

My New Year's Resolution for 2018



This is something I haven't done for awhile. New Year's Resolutions!

I have done a few lists in the past in regards to places I wanted to visit at those particular years. It doesn't need to be fancy smancy nor does it preclude to local areas. Some can be far off places. It's just more of my version of New Year's Resolutions in getting a few places that I am looking forward to.

My past few editions can be found here in 2010 and 2009

Without further ado, here's a list and I'll explain further in the passage below
  1. Dialogue (Santa Monica)
  2. Felix (Venice)
  3. Ink.Well (West Hollywood)
  4. Native (Venice)
  5. Mh Zh (Silverlake)
  6. Freedman's (Silverlake)
  7. Vespertine (Culver City)
  8. Marche Moderne (Newport Beach)
  9. The Marine Room (La Jolla)
  10. Playground 2.0 (Santa Ana)
  11. Juliette's Kitchen + Bar (Newport Beach)
  12. Journeymen (Atwater Village)
  13. Rosaliné (West Hollywood)
  14. Sparrow + Wolf (Las Vegas)
  15. Roccio's Mexican Kitchen (Bell Gardens)
  16. The Nixon Chops & Whiskey (Whittier)
  17. 重庆特色小面 Chongqing Special Noodles (San Gabriel)
  18. Nothingness (San Gabriel)
  19. Colonia Tacos Guisados (Whittier)
  20. Loquita (Santa Barbara)
As you can see, some required longer trips. While others seemed to be places that was long established, but I just never got around to visit. As I conquered each place, I will marked them down. Majority of these places will be more than doable on a weekend, so wish me luck.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Veggie Centric Inspired at Erven

I got the name for it, but do I actually live by it?

That's the question I get asked is why do I chose the name "Right Way to Eat"? More importantly, what is the right way to eat. Now granted, I never proclaimed to be a health guru or some fitness buff, but I always thought I know what taste good and can point out where you can get the delicious bites.

Funny enough, it doesn't always translate to that healthy consciousness to the minds of my greenie friends.

The opportunity to visit a popular, well known vegan restaurant on the westside was killing two birds with one stone for my taste. One, it etch a vegan category for the books. Two, it may (or may not) quell the uproar about my blog's name. Yup.... good luck to me on this one.

The restaurant was named after a renown award winning chef Nick Erven. Held in high regards among dining groupie as the it guy with a flair of the dramatics in the food scene. A former punk band guy who worked up the restaurant chain in his early years, enroll in the then Pasadena Le Cordon Bleu, and racked up acclaims for his former restaurant St Martha. In short, you will be astound and in awe of the stops he made along the way before opening up his restaurants.

Green Garlic PHOsole, Hearts of Palms with Sweet Potato and ephizole

Erven, the restaurant was spearheading the forefront on the plant based food that can be accessible for the dining scene. You will have to visualize in that going meatless is a tough torture for this town as the most green you'll see are on the appetizers to cleanse your palate before the inevitable or some side salad that partnered with a soup.

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Shishito Peppers

It's a tough sell for a market that is not big on pure greens or plant based food. For the obvious, a lot of the vegan or vegetable eccentric places eventually cave into meat dishes to recaptured some of the crowd they would excluded. You can surely guess, this place was no exception in eventually offering one meat dish as well.

The most challenging dish on his repertoire is presenting his beets with array of pistachio, strawberry, rose vinegar, and pea. Except.... the pea is in the ice cream form. Splendid. Here's the deal though, it does taste like pea.

This will sit with you for awhile. Luckily the shishito peppers that came out before hand was exactly what you are getting. It didn't take the ice cream off, but that and beet can worked together.

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Erven, the chef known for his playful plating on dishes with great uses of ingredients tends to capture the eyes of the diners to lure them in for that insatiable bite. One of his more creative dish was his interpretation of the Vietnamese classic pho. Sweet potato on a non-linear noodle bowl? Well folks, take my word on this, a lot of imagination and quite frankly one of the more inspired dish I have seen in trying to get you over to the darkside...cough... the healthy green side.

Yuzu and Strawberry Pavlova with Basil Sorbet and Corn Nuts Crunch & Vanilla Syrup

The easiest way to do vegan would be desserts. My favorite of the bunch was his Yuzu and Strawberry Pavola. Nicely done with the basil sorbet. It is probably less complex than the pea ice cream I had earlier, but much more appealing to me without keep thinking of the veggie.

To the uninitiated (myself included), going vegan is hard. Lifestyle wise, this can be life changing. This restaurant can help eased people into it. I personally have done it for a few months (more like weeks), where I met challenges on what to eat and how to cook it. This restaurant faced the same task where people are less likely to be immerse into a culture of total plant based food.

However, I can honestly see them catered to that avid crowd and come out with sterling approval as I have seen them successfully praised by the restaurant/dining groupies here in LA. I hope they do well.

Postscript 1/12/2018: As I wrote this earlier and just published it not long ago, heard the word the restaurant had already closed for good since the end of holiday. Bummer in that more people cannot get to try this veggie centered restaurant. Another sad chapter of how fast restaurants do close when words are not traveling fast enough.

Erven
514 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Erven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Chix's Addiction at The Crack Shack

The chicken explosions are everywhere. Within the past year, I'm hearing the rage about chicken this, chicken that. There are just no limits to it.

You got the KFC (Korean Fried Chickens), the Colonel (the Kentucky version of KFC), the chicken tenders (Raising Canes), Hot Chix (Nashville varieties are the big story of 2016 & 2017), and of course... the countless wings expansions on every possible corner of every major intersections in town. When will this ever stop? 

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Location of the interior with Bar on the left of entrance


The chicken sandwiches (chix sando, slang for my inner circle) are the bee's knees. Forget waffles, even donut places must have them too. Don't ask, it does happened. Instagram can provides proof to those unthinkable possibilities.

Complete tray of Chicken, Sandwich and Deviled Eggs 


Which brings up an interesting scenario, does gastropub needs one too? You know... beer, wine, cocktails, hence they need chicken too! Yup, unfathomable becomes the reality. Chicken goes well with cocktails too.

Crack Shack, aptly named because of their delicious fried chicken, have recently expanded to Costa Mesa near the southwest end of the 55 freeway. The third incarnation of Crack Shack is the brain child of a popular Top Chef Contestant and Winner Richard Blais, with plans of expanding into Century City, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and one other LA location in the foreseeable future.

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The cute aspect of this place was that you would literally need to line up in front of a shack like hut. Order in the shack first, then proceed to hit the two floors dining hall with a bar, which funny enough was nicknamed "the coop". Maybe I was just thinking it would be too cliche, but a giant rooster would greet you behind the grand entrance. This statue reminds me of the giant rooster that was guarding the yard at the Anaheim Packing District.

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Original Chicken

The atmosphere bordered between a casual hangout for the family as it have a "play pen" on one side, an intimate dining with a fireplace, and a cross of hip hangout with jukebox like atmosphere that honky tonk its way at a bar serving cocktails. If you see the video above, it's quite a lively atmosphere with a degree of differences on each corner of the coop.

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Coop Deville - fried chicken, pickled fresno chilies, lime mayo, napa cabbage, brioche with add-on of bacon

The chicken served here are very addicting with its own herbs and spices. What's unique about this place's menu was that everything evolves around chicken and eggs. The deviled egg served here was quite addicting, might I say like "crack?

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Deviled Egg

With more chicken flying to the conscious mind of our today's youth, it undoubtedly will happen when it pairs with adult beverages. I do admit in that beer pairings are essential, but with the lively chic atmosphere provided here for cocktails, I was quite surprised on how well this mix match would do. I think the possibilities are endless and by the end of the night, I became a fan of this establishment.

Catchy part about coming here is the parking situation. Maybe it's because it was super popular right off the bat, but I can tell by the traffic congestion and spotted where the establishment is at. It looks like the neighbors does not like it one bit and probably requested someone in the parking enforcement be on the lookout for parking space violators. It can be petty at the OC sometimes.

Overall, I want to come back and maybe try it with their highly decorative crafted cocktails. Maybe daring enough to try their hot Firebird. At least it got me excited enough to give it another go, which most places are giving me the huh with the ho hum added on. Chicken is chicken, right? If this place can exceed beyond the gimmick, then I think they are within the realm of repeat visits.

Bad news for the neighbors...

Crack Shack
196 E 17th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Crack Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Only Ingredients Needed Are Love and Salt

Italian cuisine has arrived in a big way. Did you know many Italian restaurants I posted before I decided to make a comeback to the blogging world? Guess how many Italian restaurants pre-2017 circa?

Zero. None. Big Goose Egg.

Yup, there wasn't much to write home about back then. However, since I made my epic return last month, this would be my third Italian restaurant that I wrote about within a 4 weeks span. It befuddled me on why I would not have any Italian joints at all for any of the 4 years in the early days of my blogsphere.

Hence, the big question: Did L.A. just recently have Italians stormed our sunny beaches and wanted to settle here to be part of this socially inclined culture? Or did we just took it for granted for so many years?

Either way, there are so many new places opened up with introductions to the many fine works of hand made pastas that are done within confine of the kitchen or oven baking pizzas that are both delicious, but considered to be the work of art by an angel.

Duck Egg Pie - pancetta, panna, potato, rosemary, mozzarella, parmesan

One of the finer place in town is in the southwest coastal confine of Manhattan Beach. I love going for a stroll to the beach and visit many of the boutique shops situated in the a plus sign shaped area stretch near the city hall to the pier. Fantastic places to go if you want to immerse yourself to a beach atmosphere minus the fast pace touristy feels of Santa Monica.

Love & Salt dropped in to this upscale uber high class neighborhood a few years back, right when the Italian invasion was about to swept through LA. It first stormed the beaches with their high bone marrow dishes (remembered what I showed at my Bestia posts? Everyone loves bone marrows now) to the much publicized "pig head".

Rabbit Porchetta wrapped with Prosciutto & Swiss Chard and accompanied with Black Rice and Farro

Majority of their menu consists of their popular pastas and a section dedicated to their oven baked dishes including their artisan pizzas. I think one of the big positive attraction was the Rabbit Porchetta. This was a fantastic dish of a rabbit wrapped in prosciutto and a Swiss chard that to me should be the highlight of their menu.

I owed that thanks to a certain ex-LA dining critic who complained about the accessibility of the dish and its price (it's half of the price and can be served as a single main course ...instead of a big platter that was served back then).

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Chicken Liver Pate

I love the set up of this place, which has big open window looking out of the street. Apparently the location was a former longtime French restaurant whose front door encompass the window view, which made it looked like a den back then.

The reboot from a French bistro to a more modern Italian cuisine with a new direction pays off immensely with a fresher look by getting rid of the column tables for a open settings and an open kitchen that does not deter them from offering an elegant dining experience.

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The awesome dining experience I just had can be traced back to the time I had in Simon LA, which is now run by the same chef that I used to have the pleasure dining at. Apparently the name of the restaurant is the same as their motto. The only ingredient you really need is "Love & Salt.

With the dishes I was able to go through, my thought process was that I need to come back and tried their other well crafted dishes. Very impressed on what I was able to taste so far. Probably the best dining experience I have had in this part of the peninsula.

After what I experienced in the past few years, I can safely attest that the Italian cuisine has never been better here in LA. Full steam ahead I say!

Love & Salt
317 Manhattan Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Love and Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Unlock the Fun at Lock & Key Social Drinkery + Kitchen

In the new year edition, I decided to venture out to a nether region we otherwise called "suburbia".  This brings me out of my comfort zone to a city we often passed by without a thought, on the 605 freeway going to SGV or downtown. Or maybe we stopped by because it's on the way to go to Long Beach and needed a restroom break. Hence, there is such a city we called Downey for that pit stop.

In my most abstract moment of thinking, back in the hey day, city of Downey was an abyss that pretty much have a liquor store on every corner of their major intersection. I still vividly remembered every stores or businesses that is within the operation on the city property would need to close by 8pm. It was such a destitute and eerie quiet locale, I always wondered if it had something like Gremlins was about to happen at night time.

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The mood inside (click "play")

Good news, times are changing in the world of Downey. Revitalization took place where certain major chains (mainly Porto's Bakery & Raising Canes) decided to bring infusion into a city that badly needs a new vibe. Besides the Stonewood Mall, there was a recent gentrification south of it called Downey Landing where a brand new state of the art of theaters and eateries opened up and a hipper scene in the downtown Downey area.

Which brings up the location we are discussing today. Lock & Key Social Drinkery + Kitchen is a mixture of cocktail bar combining with steakhouse scene that wants to cash in on the night club party crowd that is descending upon in downtown Downey (I counted no less than 4 places that opened late for midnight schmoozing).

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Rose Gold

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Show Me Flowers

LKSD was popular when as a viral sensation when a video of their prized 40oz Tomahawk chop steak was introduced on several online sites. Their dry aged USDA prime steak was popularized to the masses back in 2012 where people to get to see the first hand on an affordable pricing (currently $99). That was able to get some to the door to try out the place as I have heard it would have a 2 hour wait for a table back then. More importantly, I think the smart play was that they were able to step up their cocktail menu programs where I think this might be their savior.

USDA Prime Dry Age Tomahawk Chop Steak

The gastropub fare includes burgers, fries, and sliders that you may find latest trend bar in town. The Duck Face Fries is probably the best out of the sides with the main attraction of their 40oz Tomahawk. Overall the menu can play out to nibbler crowds that are looking for bite size eats, but the big draw is their drinks of cocktails and many selections of beer on tap. It works in their favor when they are trying to catch the wave of the night time crowd that still lingers down in the south, rather than making that trek to the hipster land of the north part of downtown.

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Duck Face Fries

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Petal Pistol

For the big part, supposedly the owner of this establishment wanted to open up a place in his hometown. It's a good thing because no one needs to go to the chipster (Cholo Hipster to Latinos or Chinese Hipsters to the Chinese) hangouts in Boyle Heights, Echo Park or East LA if you can hang in Downey. Less of an abyss these days with Porto's down the street and hip vibrant night time atmosphere about to brew. Things are looking up for birthplace to NASA space program and otherwise known as the hometown to the Carpenters.

It's about to be more than that.

Lock & Key Social Drinkery + Kitchen
11033 Downey Ave
Downey, CA 90241

Lock & Key Social Drinkery and Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato