Monthly Archives: March 2012

Interview with a Bartender: Arash Pakzad

I have mentioned Neat bar a few times in previous posts, for two distinct reasons. One, the owner Aidan Demarest is one of the most interesting, funny and charismatic people you will ever meet. Two, the drinks are always great and the bartenders really know what they’re doing there.

I have plenty to say about this place and it’s innovative concept, so be sure to check back in the next few weeks when I will be putting up a review of the bar itself. For now, here is a little interview with one of their top barmen Arash Pakzad.  (Please note the photo used below is copyright to Raul Villarreal of rAwkfoto.)

Arash Pakzad

Official Job Title: Head Bartender
Born: San Francisco, California
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations:
Neat Bar, Glendale CA (Basically all the time)
.

*****

 Q & A


What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?
High Proof Rye Whiskey and Islay Scotch, also a good Reposado Tequila
 
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
Sazerac
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Not too fussy, I’ll try anything as long as I kill it or it’s been killed for me.
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
Cow Tongue Stew, Brain tacos, Rocky Mountain Oysters – all great.
 
What is the best thing about what you do?
Everything. Pleasing people around me and pleasing myself.

What is the Worst thing about what you do?
I get people nice and tipsy, then I have to stop serving at 2am!
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA?
Mixology bar? You mean a bar that the bartenders know how to make excellent drinks? Tough choice.  I feel like there are only a select number of people in the World that are true mixologists and the term mixology is overused and under-appreciated.  There are some great places in LA though.
 
Who would you say is your mentor? Who trained you in your area of expertise?
Aidan Demarest, Jon Ojinaga, Laurel Sather, Fred Pakzad, John-Eric Sanchez, Ashley Afferino, Edgar Monsivais, All my fellow bartenders that I have had the opportunity to work beside.
 
Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?
Neat bar in Glendale!
 
If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? & Why?
San Francisco, CA. Do you have a couple pages of space for me to use to explain why? I have my friends, it’s my birthplace, all that food and the awesome homeless people to give my leftovers to.
 
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!  Please note, I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who bartend for extra cash but have no actual interest in the cocktail community need not apply!

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LA Ink (without the tattoos!)


Ink
8360 melrose ave.
los angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866
.

I came here with FutureGreg (FG) last week and sat at the bar on quite possibly the most comfortable bar stools in all of Los Angeles.  Finally a place with cushioned seating at the bar, Hooray!

Brittini Rae (Previously of The Tar Pit and Fig & Olive) was our wonderful bartender and got us started with a couple of interesting drinks.  The menu items for both food and drink don’t technically have names here, so you order by the first ingredient which is highlighted in bold.

Drinks

I had the ‘Gin’ drink and FG had the ‘Campari’ drink.  My drink included an ingredient called ‘Strawberry Shrub’ which Brittini described as a syrup made by steeping strawberries in sherry vinegar and sage. The drink was served in a collins glass with a nice long ‘Ice Spear’, it was a little sweet, a little sour with a bitter finish.  The vinegar made me salivate and came through pretty heavily at the end of each sip, but I personally liked the sensation.

Gin, Strawberry Shrub, Vermouth, Prosecco $13

The Campari drink wasn’t to my tastes but FG enjoyed the bitterness and said the Campari mixed with passionfruit tasted more like grapefruit juice and was delicious.  The aroma on the drink was great but lost slightly in the tall collins glass.

Campari, tequila, passion fruit, absinthe $13

The other bartender Nate was playing with some flavor profiles and cocktail ideas and was nice enough to give us a taste of his latest creation.  It was very good.

Buffalo Trace, Cinnamon Syrup, St Elizabeth All Spice Dram, Lemon Juice and the Strawberry Shrub.  It was a great little drink and the favorite of the three we tried, hopefully they will add it to the menu in due course.

The restaurant itself was attractive and modern, with clean lines and an intriguing curvy shaped ceiling design.  The light fixtures intrigued me and the triangular bar was funky and different.

Chef Michael Voltaggio is the man behind Ink and was the Executive Chef for José Andrés The Bazaar at SLS Hotel (one of my all time favorite restaurants).  The Bazaar is one of the most interesting restaurants, both aesthetically and ingredients wise that I have ever been to.

Voltaggio has clearly brought over some of these elements which were particularly apparant to me in the dessert.  The chocolate dish was reminiscent of one we had at SLS on our last visit.  Voltaggio is most recently famous for his appearance on Season 6 of Top Chef with his brother Chef Bryan Voltaggio.  You can read more about them both by clicking here or read their book ‘VOLT/Ink: Recipes, Stories, Brothers’ which is about both the Voltaggio brothers restaurants and includes some wonderful photographs and recipes.

Dinner

To me this restaurant is the epitome of unusual and innovative dishes.  There were many ingredients on the menu that I had either never heard of, or would never have imagined trying.  For example; Cardamom Soil, Fennel pollen, Almond-bonito sand, Oyster Leaf, Lamb Neck Gravy and Octopus Ink Shells!

The main thing I’ve learnt from writing this blog is the ability to take a step back and try items that scare me.  I admit, I didn’t go so far as to order the ‘Pig Ears’, but I am learning to trust the Chefs and bartenders/mixologists in what they choose to include on their menus.  So far I have been truly amazed how many new dishes and drinks i’ve enjoyed.

We ordered two entrees, the Pork belly and the Wagyu beef.  My pork was cooked beautifully and was covered with crackling (which is technically crispy fat and doesn’t sound appealing, but was very flavorful and perfectly crunchy).  The dish came with baby leek and one long pasta tube described as ‘Mac and Cheese’, my only complaint is the portion size of the Mac and Cheese. I could have done with at least three of those cheesy tunnels. They were so delicious.

The richness of the pork belly and the cheesy pasta definitely competed with each other as strong flavors, but ultimately the crackling and drops of ‘charcoal oil’ (which added a smoky element to the dish) won.  Overall it was very very good and I highly recommend it.

Pork Belly, Charcoal Oil, BBQ Flavor, Macaroni and Cheese $22

FG really enjoyed his Wagyu beef dish and described the Tendon as being “similar to a slim jim but less salty”.  He said the beef was succulent but the sauce tasted a little too meaty like ‘Salisbury steak meat’ which wasn’t what he expected and didn’t do the beef justice. The crispy rice cakes and the Horseradish tofu were interesting though and complimented the meat nicely.   Overall he enjoyed the dish and finished it quickly.

Wagyu Beef, Carrots, Tendon, Horseradish tofu $24

Pastry

The Chocolate reminded me of a dish at ‘Bazaar’.  Rich chocolate in shavings, crisps and logs of decadent truffle were on the plate. There were cookie crumbles, sesame cake crisps (amazing) and dense pudding pieces, also a spiced tofu which was really strange but helped balance out all the flavors.  It was a very rich plateful and I couldn’t have eaten it without help.

    

Chocolate, Ice Cream, Spiced tofu, Sesame Cake $10

Apple, Caramel, Burnt Wood ice cream $10

Brittini forced us (nicely) to try the Apple dessert, and i’m so glad she did.  It was exquisite.  The texture was creamy, and had almost like a caramel pot de creme texture.  There were little apple balls and a meringue like ‘Burnt wood ice cream’ on top.  Very interesting and tasty dish.

I am giving Ink:

 4 out of platters

Overall I felt the dishes were executed nicely, presented beautifully and tasted great.  I noticed that every dish we tried utilized different textures as well which I found interesting. There were crunchy, soft, chewy and creamy elements on each plate which made for a real sensory experience.   The menu was certainly diverse, but I feel it may be a little too unusual for some (fussy ones in particular!).

Drinks get 3.5 out of 5 coupes

The drink choices were not as diverse as the food options but I liked the one I had.  The Strawberry shrub was certainly something new, and although I enjoyed my Gin drink I didn’t actually finish it (which is rare for me) because the vinegar flavor became a little too overpowering by the end.  FG enjoyed his, although anything with absinthe isn’t my favorite.  The drink Nate made as a test was excellent, but seeing as it’s not on the menu yet I can’t really include it when factoring the rating, I would give 4 out of 5 if it was.

The restaurant was attractive, the vibe was modern and there were plenty of other great looking drinks and food options on the menu that I didn’t get to try. I will be sure to return in the near future.

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Drink of the Week

Kentucky Ninja

  • 1/2oz Japanese Single Malt Whisky
  • 1 1/2oz Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3/4oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Lavender-infused wild honey

Garnish: Lavender Sprig

Shaken & served in a glass rinsed with Peychaud’s Bitters.

I discovered this drink at Sadie and wrote about it in my review (here).  Having been back to this great bar in the past few weeks, I got to enjoy it a couple more times and decided it was good enough to be ‘Drink of the Week’.

I personally find it really easy to drink because it is refreshing, floral, definitely strong but balanced and slightly sweet.  If you have the elements available to you at home I suggest you have a go making it. If you find yourself in the Hollywood area be sure to stop by Sadie and taste the original. The recipe above was created by Giovanni Martinez in collaboration with FutureGreg and the Sadie Bar Team.

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Interview with a Bartender: Gregory Westcott

Today my bartender of choice can be found, more often than not, in the South Bay area at the highly acclaimed ‘Manhattan Beach Post.’  

I went to MB Post when it first opened and liked everything about it.  I loved the decor, the innovative exciting dishes and the creative drinks list. The talented and knowledgeable Chef David LeFevre visited us during our meal there and impressed me not only with the glorious food but with his extremely hospitable attitude and friendly interaction with customers.

I will be back to review this restaurant in coming weeks, but for now here is an informal interview with Gregory Westcott, who is one of the great men behind the bar at MB Post and was featured on NBC’s Television Show (Season 1) of ‘Americas Next Great Restaurant.’ (Please note the photo used below was sent directly from Gregory but is copyright to NBC)

Gregory Westcott

Official Job Title: Mixologist/Bartender
Born: San Dimas, California
Currently resides: Manhattan Beach, California
Current Work locations:
Tuesday-Saturday 5-10.30pm
 

*****

Q & A


What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
 
Old Fashioned closely followed by a Sazerac, and when I say Old Fashioned, I mean the pre-prohibition cocktail…not the 1970’s ‘Whiskey Sangria” recipe.
 
What is your ‘Go-to’ liquor of choice?
Bourbon or Rye. I just love the complexity of the heat with the caramel and toffee notes meeting a nice barrel char. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And I just feel like a man when I drink it. I don’t think you can feel that way with vodka.
 
Who is your mentor? or Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
I learned this craft from every bartender who has ever made me a cocktail. I’m obsessive  so I do all the research I can on the cocktails that I enjoy and even the ones I don’t.  The team at the Post also heavily influences my cocktail progression; Sal Roses, Beau du Bois, GM Jerry Garbus and Chef David LeFevre. Every drink idea that we toss around has a little bit of each person in it by the time it reaches the menu…not literally though.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
I’m fussy when it comes to eating on a daily basis; I try to eat pretty healthy, but when I go out all restrictions are off and there isn’t something I won’t try at least once…except Rocky Mnt. Oysters…I won’t try those!
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
There have been a few at the Post but the Lamb’s Tongue Salad stands out (it was amazing). I also tried a raw pig’s ear once (not so amazing). I love the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage at Wurstküche, which doesn’t sound unusual at all anymore.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Oldfields in Culver City. They do everything right there. The bartenders are humble and the product they give you is always inventive yet approachable. It feels good to be able to put the responsibility of your good time in a bartender’s hand and have them achieve that with consistency.
 
What is the best thing about what you do? 
There’s a moment when you are engaging someone at your bar and it transcends from the act of putting liquid in a glass to an understanding of my passion for making cocktails. People deserve to have the best drinks I can make and I strive for the connection we share when they appreciate that.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
When someone asks if I’m a bartender or a mixologist and I have to justify a title. If I say Mixologist then I’m pretentious but if I say Bartender then I might not be qualified to design a cocktail menu and might lose some credibility in their eyes.  I’m trying to coin the term “Mixie” but you have to say it with a 1920’s accent.
 
If you were stuck on a desert island and could have a barrel of just one spirit, what would you want it to be?
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 yr old bourbon and hopefully Lindsay Nader would be stuck there too…only to make us cocktails of course.
 
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
I moved to LA to be a writer and the only writing I’ve been paid for are cocktail recipes but I really can’t complain about that.
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!

Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community, need not apply!

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Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie
700 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213 802 1470
 

*****

I love this place and rank it as one of my favorite Restaurants in all of Los Angeles.  I am finally putting up a review after my fourth visit and yet again I left utterly satisfied.

There is an elegance and attention to detail in this restaurant that I adore, from the marble flooring and delicate ceiling designs to the beautiful pink salt crystals in the shakers on the tables. If you’re going to come here for dinner you should know that they do not take reservations and it is strictly first come, first served.  It is generally always busy at night so I recommend getting there at least half an hour before you plan to eat. We always start off by giving our name at the front desk (which they write down in a gigantic reservations book) then head over to the bar for a cocktail.

The bar is small but cute, has an attractive marble top and fairly decent drinks list.  This last visit I started with a ‘Japanese Sour’ and my boyfriend (FG) had ‘A Night in Oaxaca’.

My drink was delicious, basically a Whiskey Sour with the addition of Port, I found the port added a layer of complexity to the sweetness and overall taste of the drink.  

A Japanese Sour- Rye Whiskey, port, lemon, simple syrup & egg white $12

The ‘Night in Oaxaca’ was smoky from the mezcal but still balanced and flavorful with a lightly bitter after taste.  My boyfriend seemed to enjoy it, although it was little too bitter for me.

A Night in Oaxaca-Mezcal, Lemon, Punt e Mes, agave nectar & bitters   $12

The room has an open floor plan so you can see in to the kitchen and pizza ovens, something I personally love and think gives great character. The whole building has extremely high grand ceilings and is technically one giant room, but it’s sort of divided in to sections.  As you enter there is a small cafe style area with a bakery (where you can buy macaroons and pastries), there is the Bar section with the main kitchen adjacent, a large main dining room area and a pizza kitchen at the back of the room.I noticed that they don’t have background music at all at this restaurant.  It is somewhat noisy though, the high ceiling echoes the sounds from the Kitchen and the lack of material in the room allows the sounds of people talking to bounce directly off the marble flooring. I personally really like the hustle and bustle atmosphere this creates. The tables set out in such a large open space makes me think of a French court yard, especially on the ‘Cafe’ side. I almost feel like you should see little birds hopping from table to table as if you’re outdoors in Paris.Despite being busy (on a Monday night) we were seated fairly quickly and this time were placed in view of the pizza station.  I found myself staring at the cooks for ages as they made the pizzas for the restaurant.  It’s like a performance seeing them work and hard to look away. One Chef moulds and tosses the dough to make the base (and throws it pretty high) whilst the other adds toppings to order and places it in the large open fire oven behind him. After watching a few pizza bases go flying through the air, we decided on this visit we had to try a pizza.  I think it is well worth the $18 price tag when you can watch your dinner being prepared with the utmost care and baked to order in front of you.I would definitely recommend getting a pizza here, although I suggest you do it as a shared plate like we did.  The pizza was larger than I expected and we ended up taking a few slices boxed up with us.  Out of the many pizza choices we decided on the Blanco and I was impressed with how much flavor came through with no tomato base.   The crispness of the pizza crust was perfect and the addition of arugula was interesting.  The garlic came through just enough for it not to need anything else, it could be considered a little bland for some, but we enjoyed it as it came.

Blanco- Ricotta, Mozzarella, Grana Parmesan, Roasted Garlic, Wild Rocket Arugula $18

When going anywhere I always look on foursquare and yelp for reviews and recommendations. The dish that gets the most reviews at Bottega are the ‘The Portobello (mushroom) fries’.

Portobello Fries- $10

Now, if you have read the ‘about me’ section of my blog you will know that mushrooms are definitely up there with my least favorite items. I actually have no problem with their flavor, I will happily eat a cream of mushroom soup, but I find their texture to be reminiscent of what i imagine a slug would feel like to chew on. I am therefore not a fan of mushrooms raw or only partially cooked. We went ahead and ordered them on a previous visit anyway. FG really likes them, and although they’re not my favorite item, I certainly  don’t dislike them.  They are deep fried Portobello mushroom slices and come with a very rich creamy aioli.  Deep fried anything is always going to taste pretty delicious but a little too greasy for my liking.  They are an interesting appetizer though and worth trying as an alternative to fries.

Hangar Steak Verdura- Prime beef, farmers market vegetables & black truffle sauce $20

We ordered the Hangar steak (medium/rare) to share and this is what I usually get on my visits here.  The vegetables change based on what is in season or currently available,  this version had carrots, rainbow beans, mushrooms and asparagus on top.  All cooked perfectly in an ‘al dente’ style, (still slightly firm but not hard center). We ordered a side of broccolini too, which had soft ends and crunchy stalks. Delicious.  The steak was juicy and flavorful, the vegetables were tasty and fresh. The overall dish was very good.

Sautéed Broccolini $8

LasagnaTraditional Bolognese meat ragù, Béchamel, Buffalo mozzarella, Ricotta & Grana parmesan $16

On a previous visit we also tried the Lasagna.  This was ‘divine’ according to FG, and every time we return he questions whether he should get it again because he remembers it as being utterly delicious and bursting with flavor.  It has a creamy béchamel sauce and three kinds of cheese mixed in there.  For its price point you certainly can’t go wrong, so if you want a good pasta dish here then I highly recommend it.

Butterscotch Budino- Butterscotch custard with fluer de sel & Chantilly whipped cream $9

We decided to get a dessert to finish, and went for the Butterscotch Budino which was basically like a ‘Pot de Creme.’  It was outstanding.  It has a soft custard center with butterscotch flavors, and a salty creamy finish.  It was so good.  I occasionally got a little salt crystal on my tongue, but the sweetness followed quickly and made for an interesting play of flavors in my mouth.  I highly recommend this dessert,  but if you are more in to pastries stop at the cafe on the way out.  They have macaroons in a rainbow assortment of colors and extremely interesting flavors which include Rose, Chocolate Orange, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Espresso, Earl Grey, and Tahitian Vanilla to name just a few.

Food gets 4 out of 5 Platters

For the quality of food being presented I feel the prices are more than reasonable here. There are plenty of options to choose from and all the dishes we have tried in the past have been excellent.  The atmosphere and the ambience of this place really makes for a wonderful night out.  It could be a little loud for those wanting a more intimate setting, but I think it’s still a great and fun location for a date night.

Drinks get 3.5 out of 5 Coupes

The drinks were good but not excellent, they were executed correctly and the bar staff were all friendly they just don’t ‘Wow’ me.  I feel like the drinks list could be more interesting, especially with so many great options in the kitchen. The ones we had were by no means bad, just not as exciting as they could be.

All in all, this is still one of the best restaurants to venture out to.  It is fun, young and trendy.  The food is great, the drinks are good and the ambience is exciting.  When we can’t think where to go on date night, we always know we have this as a great option.  Having a ‘FussyOne’ as a repeat customer means they must be doing something right! I recommend you go see for yourself.

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Drink of the Week

French Martini

  • 2oz Premium Vodka
  • 1/2oz Chambord
  • 1 1/2oz Pineapple juice

Garnish: Lemon twist

I really enjoy this drink, even though I don’t often like to promote Vodka as a base.  It’s girly, sweet and fruity.  It’s also really easy to order because almost every place can make it, be it a “Dive” Bar or Mixology Lounge.  The above recipe was created by Dale Degroff (AKA King Cocktail).  Degroff is the founder of ‘The Museum of the American Cocktail’, the first museum in the World dedicated to preserving the history of American Mixology, he is an author and was a notable bartender for ‘The Rainbow Room’ in NYC.

There is some debate as to the name of this drink, as many traditionalists say the drink is not a Martini at all. By definition (dating back to pre-prohibition) a Martini consists of ‘Gin and Vermouth’ with an olive or lemon twist for garnish.  Nowadays, many drinks contain the name ‘Martini’ or have a ‘Tini’ suffix e.g.”Vodka-Tini’ and refer mainly to the conical stemmed glass (Martini glass) they’re served in.

Why Dale Degroff decided to call this a Martini i’m not sure and it’s a difficult debate to get involved in, so all i’m going to say is the drink itself is extremely tasty, goes down easy (sometimes a little too easy so be careful, you barely taste the alcohol) and is hard for anyone to mess up.

My boyfriend (FutureGreg) changes the recipe when making this drink for me and often uses Gin, and Creme de Cassis instead. The flavors are slightly more complex in his variation and I find the Creme de Cassis is not as sugary as Chambord, although to be honest either will work fine.  Chambord is a French liqueur that dates back to the late 17th Century, it is made from red and black Raspberries, Vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, Honey and Cognac. Creme de Cassis is made from black currants and is just as sweet as Chambord but has a slight tartness too.

Give this drink a try, if you have a sweet tooth like myself you’ll undoubtedly add it to your list of favorites.

Please Note: When I say ‘Purist’ or ‘Traditionalist’ on my blog I am referring to those who insist that a Cocktail or Martini should be made according to the first definition and deviant varieties should be referred to by different names.

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Plan to Check out ‘Plan Check’

Plan Check
1800 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
310 288 6500

Another date night with the boyfriend (FG) has been and gone.  This week we decided to check out a place brand new to the foodie scene here in Los Angeles, called Plan Check which opened to the public on February 22nd 2012.

I didn’t get to the opening, but here late on Monday night I was impressed with how busy it was for somewhere so new.  Good news clearly travels fast. Ernesto Uchimura (originally Executive Chef of Umami Burger) is behind the menu, and Pablo Moix (whose recent successes include La Descarga and Harvard & Stone) put together an interesting drinks list.  Two greats coming together was bound to be good.

Plan Check is named because of its location beside the ‘Building and Safety Department’, (where Architects and Designers get their plans reviewed for permitting).  This is subtly incorporated in their design on the menu too, with a simple pair of compasses.  The place has a really relaxed feel to it and an open kitchen in full view as you walk in. Community style tables in the centre and booth seating around the sides make for a great place to go with a group of friends.

The room itself had fairly bright lighting, which I don’t normally like, but worked well in this setting.  Our bartender Rachel greeted us quickly, and got us started with some drinks. I had a ‘Little Osaka Sour’ and FG had the ‘Ronin.’  I was really impressed seeing Rachel stir the Ronin at the same time as shaking my Sour, she made it look effortless but I know it’s not as easy as she made it appear.

The Little Osaka Sour was good, but really tasted to me like a Whiskey Sour (which is essentially what it is, with the addition of plum wine).  The plum wine flavors were barely noticeable to me but the drink itself was tasty.

Little Osaka Sour- Woodford Bourbon, Plum Wine, Lemon, Egg White, Sugar

FG really liked his drink, it was a straight forward Rye Cocktail sweetened with Benedictine. It could be a little too sweet for some, but the Benedictine added a layer of complexity which I liked.  FG said it reminded him of a ‘Monte Carlo Cocktail’ but softer and easier to drink.

Ronin- Sazerac Rye, Remy VS, Benedictine, Bitters

We decided to order a selection of dishes and have them all come at one time so we could share everything.  All the food was served in little black skillet style dishes which I thought were really fun and different.  I knew I had to get one of the burgers (if only to see how it compared to Umami), we also ordered Short ribs, A butter lettuce salad and a stuffed portobello mushroom dish.

The burger looked and tasted fantastic.  Double bacon, double cheese and a fried egg was bound to be a winning combination, and I could immediately see why it was named ‘Chefs Favorite’.  My burger included ‘Ketchup leather’ which is a dehydrated tomato based sauce they make in house.  Doesn’t sound too appealing I know, but it was actually very delicious as well as a smart invention because it doesn’t ooze out the sides of the burger or make the bread soggy like regular ketchup.  I made one modification to the dish by choosing not to add hot sauce, purely because i’m not a fan of spicy.  The egg had a perfectly runny yolk, the bacon was crispy, the meat was juicy and there was a salty sweetness from the Ketchup leather.   It hit all the right notes and I highly recommend it.  I enjoyed the burger so much that I had a hard time giving my boyfriend his share!

Chefs Favorite Burger- Cheese two ways, bacon two ways, ketchup leather, fried egg, hot sauce

I tried a few bites of the Short rib pot roast, which was well cooked and flavorful but as you know (read About me for a reminder) I really dislike the texture of braised meat and therefore wasn’t a huge fan of the dish.  The bone marrow pot pie that accompanied the rib was delicious though.  The pastry was buttery and the inside was bursting with meaty flavor.  FG was proud of me for even trying something with ‘marrow’ in the title, but I actually found it very tasty and it reminded me of a ‘Cornish Pasty’ you’d find in England (minus the potato.)

Short Rib Pot Roast- Red wine, bone marrow turnover pie, sweet n sour mirepoix

The salad was the only item we ordered that we didn’t finish, I didn’t like it at all and found the dressing too spicy for my tastes.  FG just found it physically difficult to eat in the skillet pan with pieces of egg and almonds flakes falling to the bottom of the dish. I really wanted to like it, but sadly it didn’t impress.

Butter Lettuce Salad- Egg, crispy cheddar, smoked almonds, apple, creamy mustard dressing

The Stuffed mushroom surprised me the most because I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much.  I don’t generally eat mushrooms, I like the flavor but not the texture (i’m fussy remember!) but the Portobello was almost meaty in consistency and the cheese melted over the top made for a deliciously rich fondue sauce. The crunchy dried kale was a fine addition to the dish, and tasted very similar to seaweed.

Stuffed Mushroom- Roasted portobello, swiss cheese fondue, crispy kate, steak sauce

We wanted one more drink but couldn’t decide which one to get. The drinks list had some really interesting options, like the ‘Spaghetti Western’ (Vida Mescal, Tapito, Red bell pepper, Lime, Agave and beer) but as we were having dessert we decided to go for the ‘Chiapas.’

Chiapas- Chai infused herradura tequila, almond milk, all-spice dram, bitters

I was impressed so see a drink using Almond milk, which is a great option for people who are lactose intolerant.  It tasted like Horchata, (a drink from Latin America that has Vanilla, Cinnamon, Almond flavors) and the all spice dram gave it a cloves ‘Christmas-like’ finish.

It went perfectly with the donuts we ordered.  The donuts were made to order and looked like circular Churros,  they had a crispy coating, soft insides and a salty sweetness to them with just a touch of cinnamon sugar that complimented all the flavors.  They were served on a layer of Crème fraîche with banana slices.  Delicious.

Other dessert options included an intriguing choice of ‘home made ice cream bars’, that i’m told will change periodically.  The flavors available on our visit included;

  • Milk & Cereal,
  • Pumpkin,
  • Double chocolate,
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Dulce de leche

I wanted to try one so bad, but our stomachs just wouldn’t allow for even one more bite!  I will definitely make sure to try them on the next visit though.

I am giving the drinks 3.5 out of 5 Coupes.

The drinks list was interesting and the ones Rachel made were all executed correctly, balanced and flavorful.  I found them to be very good but not excellent.  Nothing blew me away, so to speak, which is surprising as I usually go crazy over Pablo Moix creations. I will happily return to try others on the list though.

I am giving the food 4 out of 5 Platters.

The prices were more than reasonable and all the dishes we tried (besides the salad) were great, however the burger was nothing short of excellent.  I liked that they make their own sauces in house and the ketchup leather is an unusual but tasty invention.  Service was fast, friendly and the options to choose from were all interesting.

Overall we had a nice evening and I will happily return in the coming months.  I encourage anyone who lives near to “check out” Plan Check for yourself, and if you’re a meat eater, definitely give one of their burgers a try.

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Filed under Great Food, Speciality Cocktails