Jay-Walkin’…

 

Susan Feniger’s STREET

742 N. Highland

Los Angeles, 90038

323-203-0500

$$

I’m what my friends call the ‘perpetual monogamous’.  Not necessarily just when it comes to men, although I am notoriously known to cling on a few months too long to the usual actor (er, bartender) with the really great set of abs.  BUT, it would be very fair to say that I’m adverse to change.  If something works, I’ll wear it out till it’s barely ticking/driving/fitting…well, you get the point.

So I took a chance.

Yes, yours truly, said YES to a date with an EMPLOYED, clean-cut, COLLEGE EDUCATED, East-Coaster with an adventurous taste for food & amazing dimples. I felt like a kid bringing home a paper with a bright red ‘A+’ at the top.  I called my friends, my mom, a few clients…and all nodded with acknowledgment that this gal was growin’ up.

He called. He made plans. He made witty banter about a few jokes we shared the night we met. AND, he suggested an incredible gem of a restaurant cultivated by the quirky Food Network chef Susan Feniger; STREET.

CONTACT THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES– I have found a gentleman…in Los Angeles.  I immediately pictured our monogrammed dinner plates.  Ok, that was a little much…everyone knows that I’m more of a monogrammed towel person. Obviously.

We pull up to the trendy wooden facade with the bright neon words ‘Street’ on the front. The trendiness continues as we walk inside and we are met by a friendly bartender with an array of fresh fruit & herbs for the ever so trendy concoctions. We are escorted immediately to our table on the patio amidst several other “first-daters” and are pleasantly surprised that they are very…non…trendy?  No tiny bandaged cocktail dresses, no extreme V-necked button downs…(yes, I just judged you, deal with it).

Tiny tables, very little decor besides the art-deco like stick figure drawings on the walls…it’s clear the focus here is the food.  Oh, and my increasingly cute date who I’ve just discovered shares the same love of skiing.

 

FINE–on to the food:

Classic tapas-style plates, all in the intricately complex flavor that Feniger  is so known for on TV.  But, we quickly learn that three dishes…ah hem…four…was quite enough even for two hefty (for lack of a better word) foodies. Two fully stuffed pork shoulder enchiladas smothered in corn masa.  Four thickly cut pieces of shrimp lumpia in a crunchy Filipino-style roll with a spicy (yet oh hello, so sweet) chili sauce.  A full-size helping of mushroom ravioli with fried chickpeas and a small drizzle of mint yogurt sauce.

I’m going to admit, before I continue and describe the last dish we over-indulged on, that I’ve never been a fan of mint yogurt sauce. Something about the bland, luke-warm, texture that your eyes really want to be ice-cream but it’s really more like putrid yogurt…I’m painting a great picture here, eh?  But Feniger mastered this sauce with a *hint* of mint and the creamy texture worked in perfectly with the coarsely cut mushroom.  It was perfection.  So, definitely don’t let this scare you away.

We then let out deep sigh, pick up our forks, and in between the easy-flowing conversation about family and our interests, we start in on the Singapore street noodles.  Now I’ve never been to Singapore, but if these noodles are considered their version of our LA taco trucks, then call my travel agent because I’m already on the way to the airport.  The dish was spicy with the madras curry sauce with stringy and yet full of flavor noodles.  Thick chunks of rock shrimp and marinated pork loin made this more of a delicacy then a pasta dish. Oh, and then it was stir-fried to perfection.

And, hello dimples.

As he politely drove me home, small hug goodnight, and the follow-up text that he would like to see me again, it was clear that both of us were pleased by our choices.  Not only of the dinner, but of the chance we both took to step out of our comfort zones and exchange numbers over a few beers too many the weekend before.

Change is good.  I immediately went out and purchased a new ottoman for my apartment.  Thinking about tackling replacing my worn-in futon with the hole in the right seat.

Nah, I think I’ll keep it just a little longer…it’s what they call ‘character’ right?

 

-Dine & Dish LA

 

 

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 6:57 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

No Mozza…

Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Avenue

Los Angeles, 90038

(323) 297-0100

$$$$

A wise woman once said, “Do not break your pocketbook for a dinner that is then followed by a trip to In & Out burger”.  Okay, I just made that up.  But there’s nothing like walking out of an uber-hyped, friend sworn-about, critic-favorited restaurant feeling so incredibly let down that only ‘Animal Style’ fries can cheer you up.

Situation: Parents are coming in to town and my best girlfriend has been raving about and guilt-tripping me into trying Osteria Mozza.  Kill two birds with one stone?  Yes please. Introduce my parents to my incredibly squared away, well-dressed friend (so that I can prove to them that I’m finally surrounding myself with good people)?  Sold. Sealed with a kiss.

After finally scoring a reservation (at 6:45pm, the only time available), we show up starving and full of anticipation.  The place was packed, but not one table had a plate of food.  (Insert warning bell here).  We are seated in a quaint four-top in the far corner–dark & heavy wooden fixtures, wine adorned walls, very “Italian couture”.

Sipping our $15 glasses of Chardonnay and Malbec (the least expensive item on the menu), we pour over the options and are well…lost in translation?  Everything is in Italian…Or, if not in a foreign language, the items are ones I had never heard of before.  I felt very Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” describing her new Versace dress, and well, I looked about that same shade of rouge as I had to be handheld through the menu. 

After finally settling on the Goat Cheese Ravioli, the Squid Ink Chitarri Freddi and the Grilled Leg of Lamb, we were immediately met by a scowl from our server.  We had only ordered from the Primi portion of the menu, apparently a no-no at Mozza. We look around at other tables for a little help to see what else we should order and the other guests are still sipping solemnly on wine and cocktails.  We stand our ground and look around sheepishly as our server stomps off shaking her head.  We weren’t exactly being cheap here–our choices still ranged in the $25-$30 range for a PRIMI course (insert second warning bell here).

Conclusion: The Lamb was salty, the Ravioli was uneventful (and TINY), the Squid Ink Chitarri Freddi was tasteless (yes, a dish with squid ink was TASTELESS!  Is that even possible?).  All wit escapes me to pursue snarky anecdotes for the above…I was, well, disappointed?  Speechless? We looked over the Secondi part of the menu for something to save this dinner, a bit of hope in a Tagliata…but we hung our heads with defeat.

Walking out I took another glance at the other tables.  I needed SOME answer as to why this place was packed, why it was nearly impossible to score a reservation, WHY did Food & Wine magazine give this restaurant such praise…and ah, the answer lied in a small round white ball smothered in honey and nuts.  

The Mozzarella…to which a whole section of the menu was dedicated.

 

 

 

 

 

Another was smothered in caviar and pine nuts…and another was marinated in pesto and carmelized shallots.  It was a typical case of “poor ordering”.

 

 

 

Hmm…I think I’ll take my ‘Animal Style’ fries with grilled onions, please.

-Dine & Dish LA

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

You little Tart

TART

115 S. Fairfax Ave.

Los Angeles, 90036
(323) 556-260

Oh the headache…

Sunday morning after a long and adventurous LA weekend…You slowly prop yourself half up in bed and check your phone, one eye open, and see the mass text  between a few of your girlfriends;

 “BRUNCH NOW”.  

The last thing you want is the greasy side of hash browns, the slimy excuse of an over-easy egg, and the cheap knock-off of what is commonly known as a mimosa served in scratched plastic champagne glasses…(LA natives, you may or may not know of the place I’m referring to…starts with Saddle, ends with Ranch).

So with one hand you respond back the four letter fail-proof location;

“TART. 30 Minutes”

You grab your biggest pair of sunglasses and don your most comfy maxi skirt and head out the door (how cliché), soon to be welcomed by the cheery blue stucco exterior and the world’s most friendly wait staff (and least judgmental, they smile and nod quietly in understanding as you roll in slowly with the rest of your crew).

The Dine & Dish must-have here is their homemade country-style hash; two non-greasy overeasy eggs, shredded pastrami & chicken sausage, mixed over thinly cut hash browns, assorted bell peppers and onions.  It’s in a friendly and non-threatening bowl, guaranteed to soothe even the most queasy of Sunday Morning stomachs.

If this isn’t your jam, TART also has a great selection of very “LA-approved” brunch items such as  egg white scrambles with spinach, sides of fruit and ala carte items.

Sorry frat boys, no all-you-can-drink mimosa here–ladies sip their Strawmosas or John Daly’s (clever, eh?) for the right amount of the “hair of the dog”.   Slowly, you return to normal and stretch out on one of their wooden booths, taking in the sun on their outdoor enclosed patio, surveying your fellow “morning afters”.

One thing to note, TART is connected to The Farmers Daughter hotel so don’t be alarmed when you see the constant flow of people through the courtyard.  (Uh hello, prime people watching).  And this eatery also took on their neighbors country decor & key dishes–warm & friendly–however, my fellow southerners, do NOT try the grits for you will be sorely disappointed.

I have to add that the menu has taken a slight plunge with the absence of one of my favorite appetizers; pepper encrusted gator tail poppers.  As a two-time foursquare Mayor, one would think they could honor my simple request to bring it back.

Till we dine again,

Dine & Dish LA

 

 

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Sunset goes Down Under

Eveleigh

8752 W Sunset Blvd.

West Hollywood, 90069

Price: $$$

So despite my recent boycott of everything “Aussie”, I will put my feelings aside to tell you about something good that came from the land down under…and that, my friends, is Eveleigh; the new wooden-clad rustic bar & restaurant to grace the Sunset Strip.

Three young Australians opened this gem early this year, by way of their hip bar, Kingswood, in the West Village of NYC.  But not to fear, there is no pint-slamming, fist pounding, or oy oy oy’ing going on in this restaurant.  Straight out of Architectural Digest, you walk in and are immediately surrounded by a hip and classy crowd, all sipping cloudy martinis and long-stemmed glasses of wine.

It is much smaller and more intimate inside than it seems-the indoor/outdoor setting (actually, the ceiling outside is a tent) has a long communal table in the middle and is surrounded by cozy cushioned booths.  Makes the perfect setting for a dinner with the girls or a first date; the rustic setting with the thick wooden furniture adds a manly & chic feel that all are bound to appreciate.

As you relax into the setting, dimly lit in the evening with candles, make sure to start with a “Dark & Stormy” classic cocktail (rum, ginger beer & lime), and an order of the truffled Aioli fries to share.  A good friend and client of mine has a great nickname for these based on their appearance (assume away, dear readers).  You’re thinking “really, french fries?” but it’s the thick aioli which makes these my “must-have”.

The menu is comprised of shared and large plates.  I recommend getting two of each to share to make sure you aren’t missing any of the great (and unique) items.

Crispy Pork belly is my number one choice here.  Crunchy and salty on the outside, thickly sliced in 3 pieces revealing the fatty delicious middle.  Laying on top of a soft polenta and a side of a currant salad, this dish is the best starting point to prep your taste buds for the following smaller plate. 

The prime rib all’inglese is not what you’re thinking when you read the description.  In fact, when this dish came out we stared for a few minutes thinking that they had made a mistake.  But one bite and we were definitely not sending it back.  Thinly sliced in a perfect square, medium rare prime rib smothered with mustard seed and celery leaf salsa, this dish is more of a tar-tar in my opinion.  Full of flavor, not filling and very aesthetically pleasing.

The dessert list is just as complex and deliciously described as the main courses, so I dare you to save room…if you can.  I was easily defeated after my second plate of the prime rib and the extra side of the creamy Aioli for the fries.

Aussie Aussie Aussie…Oy Oy Oy.

Dine & Dish LA

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,