Category Archives: Speciality Cocktails

Places I review with speciality cocktails, mixed drink specialists and pre-prohibition style bar programs in place.

Pimms Jelly (Jello!) Sundaes

The following post is not my own creation, however it has certainly sparked some interesting recipe ideas in my boyfriend.

I felt the need to re-blog it¬†because it looks delicious, is a pretty unique dessert style drink and a great option for Summer! ūüôā

Just so all my readers understand, in England ‘Jelly’ is what Americans call ‘Jello’, and what Americans refer to as ‘Jelly’ (like in a peanut butter & jelly sandwich) is what the British would call ‘Jam’.

The title of this post is ‘Jelly Sundaes’, however the original writer Hayley is in fact referring to the British sense of the word…I do hope that helps avoid any confusion!

                             British                     American

Jelly          =          Jello

Jam           =          Jelly

 

You will notice a number of British words like ‘a bit’ and ‘dollop’ in this post, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. Living in Los Angeles as a Brit can make me miss the little things sometimes. Check out the blog this post is taken from by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Pimms Jelly Sundaes

POSTED ON 23/07/2012 BY 

 

I realise that the past few recipes I’ve uploaded have been alcohol based. This is not because my diet consists of booze, honest! After making my Mailbu and pineapple jellies, my Pimms infused mind conjured up a creation in my head, and the Pimms Jelly Sundae was born!

These are refreshing, delicious, fat-free summer desserts, perfect for barbecues. They’re so different, and taste as gorgeous as they look. They’re also easy, and take minutes to make, so are great for dinner parties too. Have I said enough?! Okay, one more perk is the fact that it involves Pimms for crying out loud!

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of lemon jelly
  • 3/4 pt of lemonade
  • Pimms
  • 5 large strawberries, or 10 small ones
  • 10 grapes
  • a handful of blueberries
  • 1 orange
  • Mint

Make up your lemon jelly by using 1/4 pt of boiling water, and 3/4 pt of lemonade.

Image

While the jelly is cooling, wash and prepare your fruit, and divide it between individual glasses.

Now it’s time for the main event…All hail Pimms!

Add a one cap and a drop more of Pimms to the fruit…

then add your fizzy jelly.

Now your jelly, Pimms, and fruit need to be acquainted with each other, so use the sprigs of mint to give it a stir, then leave the mint in the jelly for about 30 ‚Äď 60 seconds.

Now they’re ready for the fridge. If your fridge is rubbish like my mum’s, you’ll need these to set for a good seven or eight hours, if it’s fierce like my one at uni was, five hours should do it.

Ta-Dah! Summer in a glass.

Garnish with mint, and serve.

If you fancy making this a bit naughty, serve with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Now that’s more like it.

A  perfect dessert to give to your in-laws/boss/anyone you want to like you, because once they’ve tasted this, they’ll be wanting to see you a lot more!

Feel free to use different fruit, but not kiwi, papaya or fresh pineapple (tinned is fine), as the water molecules in these fruits prevent the jelly from setting, and will result in wasting Pimms.

Summer is finally here, Britain (for now)!

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Areal Restaurant

Areal

2820 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA. 90405
310-392-1661

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My boyfriend FutureGreg (FG) and I found ourselves at Areal in Santa Monica recently enjoying another of our Monday date nights.

We sat at the bar, as per usual, and were fortunate enough to have our drinks made by their head barman Rich Andreoli.

A very Happy Hour

We arrived at the tail end of happy hour but managed to order a couple of bar bites and a daiquiri off the smaller happy hour menu before it ended.

We started with the Vegetable risotto, it was creamy but not too rich and had a slight chicken stock flavor to it.  The peas and asparagus were perfectly cooked, not too crunchy and not too soft.

Risotto: Spring peas, asparagus, lemon parmesan $9

Next we had the beef tartar which had a nice light spiciness.  The meat itself was soft, moist and had capers and onions mixed in. It came with hot toasted bread on the side which made a nice contrast with the cold beef.  Both dishes were great options for the price.

Beef Tartar: Fresh herbs, capers, shallots, arugula $8

The Daiquiri was a nice simple classic, it was slightly sour for my tastes but FG enjoyed it and it was a bargain at $6.

Original Daiquiri: White rum, fresh lime juice, sugar $6

More Food…

After the happy hour tasters we ordered off the main menu. ¬†We couldn’t decide between the steak or the shrimp pizza…so naturally, we got both!

The 14oz Rib Eye with vegetables was a great choice, the dish reminded me of Sunday Roast dinners my mum would make back in England.  All the vegetables were delicious, crunchy and full of flavor.

Yes, you heard correctly, the Fussy One (who used to shy away from anything green on her plate) ate a whole plate of veggies… and enjoyed every one of them! ¬†There was Artichoke, Purple Cauliflower, Asparagus, Roast potatoes, Parsnips and Carrots…plus some caramelized garlic and shallot pieces that gave a delicious sweetness to the plate. ¬†It was very very good indeed.

Ribeye: Roasted seasonal vegetables, sautéed garlic spinach, herb butter $38

I had high hopes for the pizza we ordered, however sadly the menu didn’t mention it had chilies on so it was a little too spicy for me. ¬†The pizza base was delicious though, soft and crispy dough with powdered flour on the edges. ¬†I do enjoy a good pizza crust.

Wood Fired Shrimp Pizza: Goat cheese, Roasted garlic puree, Cilantro marinated shrimp $14

Drinks please!

Rich is a great bartender and gave wonderful suggestions for pairings with the food. ¬†He convinced me to try a large variety of drink options, ¬†so we sat at the bar and enjoyed many an alcoholic beverage. ¬†He chose me a great glass of wine to enjoy with the steak which was a nice change from the cocktails too. ¬†I’m not usually a red wine drinker but he gave me a glass of the medium bodied Mondave Cabernet which worked¬†beautifully¬†with the meat, it was fruity with just a hint of oak.

The first mixed drink I ordered was the ‘Secretariat’. It was a nutty, very rich and sweet drink. ¬†It was a little too intense for me at the start of the meal but had a great combination of flavors. The¬†pistachio honey really came through nicely, and worked well with the walnut¬†liquor¬†and bourbon. I didn’t really pick up on the¬†lavender¬†bitters because there were so many other overpowering flavors present. Certainly an interesting option, although i’d¬†personally¬†suggest it as an after dinner drink as opposed to with a meal.

Secretariat- Bourbon, Pistachio honey, Walnut liquor, Sweet vermouth, Lavender bitters $12

FG tried the ‘Single Village Fix’. ¬† He certainly enjoyed it, mainly due to the Mezcal, which has become one of his fast favorites recently. The drink itself had a fair amount of sweetness to it from the pineapple gomme (which is basically a syrup) but the smoky mezcal flavors were the most overpowering part of the drink and not really my style.

Single Village Fix- Mezcal, Fresh lime, Pineapple gomme $12

I so wanted to like the¬†Cameron’s¬†Kick, because all the ingredients are things I enjoy. ¬†The orgeat was very light, so the drink itself was pretty strong and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. ¬†FG enjoyed it a lot and described it as balanced but strong. I’m just fussy it would seem…haha who knew?! ūüôā

Cameron’s¬†Kick-¬†Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Fresh lemon, Orgeat $12

The ‘Infante’ was the only drink that I honestly had no interest in trying because I’m not exactly a tequila fan but FG and Rich convinced me to give it a go at least. ¬†Of course, it turned out to be my favorite drink of the night. ¬†The tequila wasn’t overpowering at all and the rose water mist and nutmeg on top gave a great nose. ¬†It was balanced, refreshing and delicious! I highly recommend this drink.

Infante- Blanco Tequila, Fresh lime, Orgeat, Rose water, Nutmeg $12

Sweet tooth

Dessert was just utter decadence. We were so full from food and cocktails that we boxed up half the pizza, but somehow Rich convinced us to try the ¬†ice cream sundae! This is definitely not correctly advertised, ice cream sundae sounds kind of boring when you see it on the menu…but if you knew how good it was you¬†would¬†get this in a heartbeat. ¬†It’s a home made toasted marshmallow ring for the base, butter pecan, chocolate and vanilla ice cream in the center then topped with cream, nuts and bourbon caramel sauce. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

This was beyond¬†delicious, the marshmallow wasn’t overtly sweet and had a soft almost whipped texture to it. ¬†The ice cream was creamy, (butter pecan happens to be my favorite flavor) the bourbon caramel sauce wasn’t overpowering it just blended nicely with all the other ingredients and the toasted hazelnuts gave a nice texture. ¬†What a dish!

Ice Cream Sundae for two: Bourbon caramel, chocolate sauce, toasted hazelnuts $12

Just when we were about to explode, the pastry chef brought us a Pavlova to try! She told us that she makes sure the house made meringues remain chewy, so we had to have a taste. ¬†Sadly the meringues on this occasion came out a little on the crunchy/dusty side…however the intension was there and i’m sure if we ordered it another time it would be as its intended. The whipped goat cheese was a great¬†accompaniment to the berries on top.

Pavlova: Chewy meringue, Whipped goats cheese, Seasonal berries $9

Time for some Ratings

The food was a solid 3.5 before the dessert came out, but the ice cream sundae bumped it right up to 4 out of 5.

If you can only order one item, get the sundae!!! ¬†The rest of the food was all very good as well, the risotto and Steak were my favorites and if it wasn’t for the chilies the pizza would have been excellent also.

I’m giving the drinks at Areal¬†4 out of 5 also.

All the cocktails were executed well, Rich was chatty and friendly and is a man who clearly knows his craft.  I liked that he suggested things to try and asked me what spirits I prefer so he could make a drink accordingly, it made the whole experience more personal.  I found some of the drinks sometimes aired a little on the sour side for my tastes, but seeing as I usually go for diabetic sweet they are probably fine for most people!

I highly recommend this restaurant and i’m sure we’ll be back soon. The courtyard has fairy lights everywhere and looks beautiful.¬†¬†The whole restaurant has a romantic and attractive atmosphere, the bar is well stocked with lots of interesting bottles and¬†liqueurs¬†(some we’d never seen before) and the background music they play is great. Soft rock and chill songs by bands such as Oasis, Red Hot Chili peppers, Snow Patrol and Cold Play (all my favorites!).

All in all a great night out. Shame about the $68 parking ticket that awaited us, we were having such a good time we forgot to feed the meter!

Oops… still well worth the night out though ūüôā

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Drinks fit for a Queen!

umm…No. Not that¬†Queen.

That’s Better… I give you, Queen Elizabeth¬†II

This week-end the Brits, Aussies and Canadians, (and many others) will be celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee. ¬†Several people (mainly my American friends) have asked me in the last few days what this actually means…so for those who don’t know, let me enlighten you.

On June 2nd 2012 it will be 6o years (yes, you heard correctly…60 years!!!) since Queen Elizabeth II took over the throne. ¬†This is a huge accomplishment and quite a rare feat, her reign is actually the¬†second-longest for a British monarch; only¬†Queen Victoria¬†has reigned longer (so far). ¬†Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI and was crowned as Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Other Realms and Territories on June 2, 1953 in the first televised Coronation service.

Sticking to my websites theme of Mixology and recipe history, I¬†thought it would be a nice idea to put up some drink ideas to mark this momentous occasion. ¬†There are many parties that will be going on throughout¬†the¬†World this week-end, and I know my family and¬†friends¬†in the UK will be relying on me to give some drink suggestions…so here we go.

Photo Credit: spiritedentertaining.com

Diamond Fizz

  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Powdered sugar
  • Fill with Chilled Champagne

Shake and strain ingredients in to a highball glass with ice, then fill with Champagne.

This drink works for two reasons, it has the perfect name to match the Diamond Jubilee year and it has champagne in it, which is the classic celebration tipple of choice!

Also known as a Champagne Fizz, this drink is similar to the classic Gin Fizz although it uses Champagne rather than soda water.  It follows the fizz characteristic of being served over ice, which is unusual for a champagne beverage.

The first printed reference to a fizz (spelled “fiz”) is in the 1887 edition of¬†Jerry Thomas’¬†Bartender’s Guide, which contains six fizz recipes including the Ramos Gin Fizz (A great Ramos Gin Punch Recipe can be found by clicking here.) The above recipe makes for a nice and refreshing celebratory drink.

The Coronation Cocktail

  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz applejack or apple brandy
  • dash of apricot brandy

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

There couldn’t be a more fitting drink name for this occasion than The Coronation Cocktail. ¬†There are a few variations out there with the same name, however this is the one I found to be the most ‘Classic’ in it’s history as it comes from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book by A.S. Crockett published in 1935.¬†¬†

It is a¬†vermouth¬†drink from the old days of bartending and really simple to make. It¬†won’t appeal to everyone, but for those who like a strong ‘stiff upper lip’ kind of drink, this is the one to choose. ¬†It does have some sweetness from the apple brandy and a friend¬†mentioned¬†that a dash of peach bitters works well in it also.

Photo Credit: Telegraph

Jubilee Punch

  • 35ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 25ml home-made grapefruit-orange sherbet (see below)
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 10ml Orgeat syrup
  • 30ml Earl Grey tea
  • Champagne to top up

Combine the ingredients and shake over ice, top up with champagne.

The grapefruit-orange sherbet is made by mixing 200g sugar, 100ml pink grapefruit juice, the zest of an orange and a grapefruit, then simmering until the sugar is dissolved. Double strain and allow to cool completely.

Please note: This recipe provides the British measurement of ml, if you wish to have the recipe in US oz feel free to message me and I will give you the alternative.

This is clearly a complicated recipe to create at home but I wanted to include it because it’s creator is Erik Lorincz, head barman at America Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London.

When I was last back home in the UK, my boyfriend and I went to America Bar and had a wonderful experience. The drinks were balanced, the staff were knowledgable and the place itself was simply, beautiful. ¬†The bartenders all wear suits there, the glassware is made of crystal and the overall feel of the place is classic, formal and elegant. I read that it was at The Savoy Hotel that Princess Elizabeth (before she was Queen), was first seen in public with Prince Philip in 1946. That summer, Prince Philip asked King George VI‚Äôs permission to marry his daughter. They married later that year… ¬†isn’t history interesting!?

Photo Credit: Beefeater Gin

Beefeater Garden Party Punch

  • 3 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin
  • 3 parts sparkling English wine
  • 2 parts good quality pressed pear or apple juice
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part elderflower cordial
  • 1/2 part sugar syrup
Garnish: Pear and apple slices.
 
Serve in a punch bowl over a large ice block

This last recipe is one I came across when googling the term ‘Jubilee drink ideas’. ¬†I found out that Beefeater Gin has teamed up with mixologists Nick Strangeway and Dre Masso to create cocktails and punches to celebrate the Queen and her jubilee milestone.

This recipe looks the best to me and although I have not yet tried it, I think it sounds tasty and is the one I plan to make this coming week-end.  I love Elderflower in any drink with apple, so I think this recipe will have a very fresh and floral quality that is reminiscent of England.  Yet another drink ideal for the occasion and a punch is always a great option for large parties.

To all my fellow Brits who plan to celebrate this week-end, to my Fussy One followers and to everyone who plans to try one of the above cocktails… Enjoy, Be safe, ¬†and as we say in England… Bottoms Up! ūüôā

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When in Vegas…

I found myself  in Las Vegas recently, and in between bachelorette parties, black jack games and tanning time I did manage to visit some great restaurants and bars on the Strip. As you all know my blog revolves primarily around Los Angeles, however I thought it would be a good idea to put up other States and Cities when I visit them, in case you ever find yourself in those neighborhoods also.

The first spot I want to talk about, I didn’t actually make it to on this trip but is certainly worthy of mentioning for the Mixologists and real drink enthusiasts.

Herbs and Rye

I thought it would be hard to get a decent cocktail in Las Vegas seeing as the slushy type margaritas and lava flows are usually in full force, but the bartenders at Herbs and Rye proved me wrong.

This bar is a great place to get a pre-prohibition style cocktail, the service was friendly and the drinks were all made perfectly when we went. The drinks we tried (Aviation and a Whiskey Sour) were balanced and flavorful. ¬†The menu gives an array of options listed by the periods in time in which they were created (pre-prohibition, 1800s, Golden Age etc) each drink with a little description of it’s history underneath. ¬†If you want a speakeasy style bar on your next trip to Vegas, definitely head here.

Sensi at The Bellagio

We had a really great meal at Sensi within the Bellagio. My boyfriend (FutureGreg) and I split a 140z Rib eye steak, a side of truffle mashed potatoes and a portion of bloomsdale spinach with caramelized ¬†onions. ¬†It was an expensive restaurant but splitting the meal was more than enough food and about the same cost as if we’d got our own meal somewhere else. Service was great, and they gave us delicious naan bread and crackers to start with which was a fun and interesting alternative to a traditional bread basket. The bloomsdale spinach is a thicker and heartier leaf compared to other variations so it had a lot of flavor in itself and I¬†didn’t¬†think needed the caramelized onions at all.

The mashed potato was just divine; creamy, rich but not an overpowering truffle flavor. It went beautifully with the tender cooked steak. ¬†I didn’t try any drinks here but the food we had was fantastic and the ambience was nice, very clean and inviting.

14oz Rib Eye Steak $50, Bloomsdale Spinach, $9 Truffle Mashed Potato $9

Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan

I could probably write a two page spread on this bar’s decor alone. ¬†Stunning crystal curtains hang from the ceiling and drape down 3 floors in the center of the Cosmopolitan Hotel creating the illusion of a massive chandelier. ¬†The bar in the center of it, named appropriately ‘Chandelier Bar’ is equally attractive and the entire space is drowned in beautiful pink/purple light.¬† It was just so romantic and gorgeous to walk past that I knew we had to stop in and get a drink.

I tried the Blue Grass Shuffle and FutureGreg had the Spiced Apple Jack.

Blue Grass Shuffle- Makers 46, Egg White, Orange Bitters, Blueberry Preserves $13

Mine was fruity, strong and flavorful with a gorgeous magenta color that fit in with the pink hue of the room.  It had blueberry jam (jelly) flavor from the preserves and was a drink that would definitely be great in Autumn.  The egg white was barely noticeable but gave a light foam on top, all in all a good drink and pretty strong.

Spiced Apple Jack- Lairds Spiced Applejack, Yuzu Sour, Apple juice, Rosemary infused simple syrup, Balsamic Reduction $12

The Apple Jack drink was sweeter than mine but interesting and again with more ‘Autumn’ flavors to it, which is odd seeing as we’re already in May and clearly in to Spring. ¬†The Rosemary had a strong presence in the drink but the balsamic reduction was hardly noticeable.

The service was ok, although the bartender didn’t seem overly attentive or personable. The drinks were good and the ambience being surrounded by crystals made it worthy of a visit.

Comme Ca at The Cosmopolitan

Having been to the Los Angeles location just a week previous I was curious to see how this Vegas version measured up. ¬†It was almost completely empty when we arrived, which concerned me at first, but with 4 other restaurants (including STK) beside it, its understandable that competition is high. ¬†We started with some drinks and I ordered a ‘Vegas High Rise’ which was created originally by Tony Eppolito, which was refreshing, sweet and very good.

Vegas High Rise– Vodka (although I substituted Gin), Creme de Cassis, Fresh Lemon, Sugar, Guava

We started off with a salad that was good but nothing special. I’d never had a salad with hazelnuts on it before and think I found them to be too strong of a flavor for the dish, I prefer other nuts like almonds or walnuts on my greens. The goats cheese was yummy though.

Mixed Green Salad- Toasted Hazelnut, Goats Cheese, Fine Herbs, Lemon-Shallot dressing $9

We ordered yet another steak (we do love our beef) and the sides of Macaroni Gratin with blood sausage and the Beer Cheddar Grits. The Steak was excellent and had chunky fries with a delicious aioli on the side. The Mac and Cheese was¬†absolutely¬†fantastic, FG and I love a good Mac and Cheese in general but this was one of the best versions i’ve had in a long time.

It was cheesey, creamy and rich with a strong flavor from the meat pieces. The baked panko breadcrumbs on top finished it off perfectly.

Macaroni and Boudin Noir Gratin $10, Beer Cheddar Grits  $9

The only part of the night I found disappointing were the grits. ¬†They came in a cute little saucepan and I was excited to try them, but ¬†there was way too much beer in the mix and I felt it overpowered the entire dish. I don’t recommend them.

Steak Frites- 10oz Prime Flat Iron, Hand cut french fries $32

Overall I liked the dinner at Comme Ca and would happily return for another meal there, especially for that Macaroni Gratin.  The drinks were fine and there were a decent selection of classic cocktails as well as new creations on the menu.

*****

We were only away for a short break this time so the above is by no means a comprehensive list of places to go in Las Vegas, merely a selection of the restaurants we enjoyed on this particular trip.  I will add more when we next return to Nevada, but if you ever find yourself in Sin City I definitely suggest trying one or more of these places.

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Bagatelle

Bagatelle
755 north la cienega
Los angeles, CA
90069

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I went to an industry event at Bagatelle recently, which is the new bar/restaurant replacing Coco Deville inside STK in Hollywood. ¬†I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited to be going there initially purely because I had bad memories of it’s original establishment, however I was pleasantly surprised by how different it is to the former night club

The restaurant area has a similar vibe to Fig and Olive across the street. The bar has a pristine white marble top, the dining area has a romantic candle lit setting, there are beautiful chandeliers everywhere and delicate detailing that extends to the vent covers.

I arrived when it was still sunny out and liked how light and clean the place looked, it was elegant and modern with bright white lines everywhere.

The Bagatelle symbol (a¬†silhouette¬†of a¬†woman’s¬†head that sort of reminds me of medusa) and the ornate plaster¬†moldings¬†around the restaurant brought ‘Jasperware’ to mind. ¬†Jasperware¬†are pottery pieces originally designed by Josiah Wedgewood, a British potter from 18th Century whose signature pieces are matte ceramics of carved or moulded classical figures and silhouettes, usually heads. ¬†The Jasperware basalt black with white figurine (shown in the picture below) sprung to my mind as soon as I entered the restaurant, mainly because of the Bagatelle symbol but also because of all the stencil shapes and raised white¬†moldings¬†that surround the room on the banisters and the staircase.

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Zach Patterson is the head barman here and designed a drink menu that works well for the different genres of customer that come through the door. ¬†There are great options for the Mixology geeks of this town, as well as a couple of strategically placed vodka drinks that will appeal to the general Hollywood drinker. ¬†Zach himself is a wonderful character to witness in action, he’s always vibrant and full of energy behind the bar.

I started with ‘The girl from Lima’ which was spicy but had a¬†citric¬†juiciness and slight sweetness. ¬†It got hotter the more I drank it but the passionfruit kept it balanced and drinkable.

Girl from Lima-¬†Jalape√Īo¬†infused Machu¬†Pisco, passion fruit puree, fresh lemon juice, a dash of mint

The second drink I tried I liked the most. ¬†The drink itself is hot pink due to the prickly pear puree. ¬†It had a great Basil nose, the Aperol helped prevent it from being overly sweet and the color was gorgeous. ¬†I think it would’ve worked well with Gin instead of Vodka, but I understand the need for a few Vodka drinks on a Hollywood drinks list so I didn’t complain.

Tommy (my friendly bartender) told me that when they were trying to come up with a name for the drink the staff had at least 5 possible options and couldn’t pick one, then one day someone said “Hey Remember when hot pink was really cool?” and the name ‘Remember when’ stuck.

Remember When- Belvedere, Prickly Pear, Aperol, Fresh Lemon juice,  Fresh Basil

The food is french and although it was very good, I found it to be a little overpriced. ¬†The chicken dish was very tasty, the meat was succulent and juicy and I’m told the chef stuffs truffles under the skin which would explain the interesting and slightly salty flavor it had.¬†I’m not sure it was worth the $50 price tag (thankfully I wasn’t paying this time) but it was certainly enjoyable.

Poulet Roti Entier a la Truffe- Whole truffle-roasted chicken, yukon gold potato confit, shallots, button mushrooms $50

The beef tartare with little toasts was flavorful and easy to eat, it was lightly chilled, had a delicious quail egg on top and was nicely seasoned.

Tartare de Boeuf au Couteau- hand-cut filet mignon, quail egg, capers, crispy shallots, petite herbs salad $19

I am not going to give a food rating this visit as I didn’t eat much just nibbled on a few items on the table (the chicken and tartare), but I feel like there are a lot of other dishes I should try before I give a rating. ¬†I stopped in mainly to see the new bar program and then stayed on for Aidan Demarest’s birthday party which was great fun! ¬†The ice cream sundae they brought out with sparklers was delicious and a great end to the evening.

I will be sure to review the food in coming months, however what I did taste was well cooked, flavorful and nicely seasoned which is a good sign.

Drinks get a good 3 out of 5 coupes.

There was a good selection on the menu, the bartenders seemed knowledgable and the drinks I tried were tasty.  I understand that vodka drinks have to be a prominent feature on cocktail lists in Hollywood, in order to satisfy the lambourgini driving, head to toe Ed Hardy wearing imbeciles that frequent most places at the top of La Cienega. I only wish there had been less of them on this menu and more Gin options.

All in all its a pretty cool place to check out, the staff were really friendly and I found it to be a huge improvement on the pretentious club that was there before.

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Spring into Sadie

Event: Spring Menu Release

Sadie
1638 N Las Palmas Ave,
Los Angeles, CA, 90028

*****

Last week I found myself with a handful of local writers and bloggers for a sit down dinner at Sadie in Hollywood.  Chef Mark Gold of Eva Restaurant has been shaking things up in the Kitchen at Sadie, and this event was to showcase their new Spring Menu.

Our table was in the courtyard area which I was excited about as I hadn’t yet experienced this area of the restaurant. ¬†Despite the chilly evening we were kept toasty warm by the outside heaters and new overhead awning. ¬†The place has a romantic setting, especially the spot lit water moat that surrounds the patio and creates movements of light on the stone walls.

Each food item on the menu was carefully paired with a drink, designed and created by the talented bar staff. ¬†Giovanni Martinez in collaboration with a number of team members at the bar have made a truly wonderful and varied drinks list.¬†I have mentioned the bar scene in previous posts so I won’t go in to too much detail again, however I will say that I am never¬†disappointed¬†with the drinks at Sadie.

Our feast began with a delightfully refreshing drink called Temperado, which had a fresh¬†taste and a subtle cilantro flavor that cleansed the palette before eating. ¬†It had some heat to it from the Jalepeno, but it wasn’t overly spicy.

Temperado- Cachaca, Avion Silver Tequila, Lime juice, Fresh Cilantro and Jalepeno

The first dish to come out was a mini salad called a ‘Little Gem’. ¬†It had a lot of flavor for its small size. The crispy ham, crunchy lettuce leaf and creamy garlic sauce complimented each other beautifully. ¬†Next came an organic egg, described in the menu as ‘representing Spring’, which had a beautifully runny yolk, a¬†hollandaise¬†style sauce with peas and pansies (the flower!) and a grilled spring onion. ¬†It was another very tasty little bite size¬†appetizer.

            

After these first dishes we tried a local Heffeweizen (by Golden Road) and the Piscoteca drink. ¬†The cocktail was interesting with ginger and honey notes, it had a bright flavor from the Yuzu and Lime juice but the citric acidity didn’t mask the Pisco and the drink itself was nicely balanced.

Piscoteca- Italia Pisco, Homegrown mint, Ginger honey syrup, Fresh lime juice, Yuzu bitters

A selection of share plates appeared for the table and we were able to sample the Pork belly, Pei mussels, Lamb meatballs and Oysters.  All the starters were tasty, although my only complaints were that the meatballs seemed slightly over seasoned and the Yuzu Kosho salty spiciness on the pork belly was a little too overpowering for my tastes.

Lamb Meatballs- Whipped sheep milk yoghurt

These two dishes were by no means bad, they just didn’t appeal to me personally.

Pork Belly- Yuzu Kosho, Spring Onions

The mussels however were wonderful and there was a definite sweetness to the dish.  It was creamy, rich and the Chorizo pieces gave a nice texture.

Glazed Pei Mussels- Potato Mouselline, Chorizo, Smoked Almond

Our Entree choices included Chicken, Fish, Pasta and Steak.  Seeing as everyone at the table was a writer/food critic/blogger etc we were all more than willing to give each other tasters of our dishes, so I had a chance to try them all.

The Chicken was wonderful. ¬†It was flavorful, juicy and had crispy shallots on top that gave a nice textural element. I didn’t really notice the mushrooms, but I only had a small section of this meal and it may have been more prominent if i’d eaten the entire dish.

Organic Rocky Chicken- Crispy mushroom, Chicken Jus, Shallot and Chive

The Halibut was fantastic, my favorite of all the dishes.  It was light and flaky, not at all fishy or dry and the grilled asparagus was an excellent accompaniment. Bacon pieces and an Onion relish gave a light sweetness that was a nice addition for the fish also.

Wild Alaskan Halibut- Grilled Asparagus, Bacon and Onion Relish

The pasta dish was a ‘Linguine with Clams’ which I found a little too citric for my tastes and had almost a white wine vinegar flavor going on, everyone else seemed to enjoy it but it wasn’t what I expected. The steak was good, the meat was tender and well cooked and the vegetables were tasty but the dish itself didn’t Wow me, it was just OK.

Prime Rib Eye “Cap”-¬†Charred Onion, Borderlasise, Salsa Verde

Drinks paired with the meal were all great and bursting with interesting flavors. ¬†My favorite was the drink that paired with the Halibut called ‘Friar Fresh’. ¬†It was such a simple but easy to drink beverage and had just the right combination of sweet from the honey and citric from the grapefruit. ¬†I highly recommend ordering that drink.

Friar Fresh- Plymouth Gin, Velvet Falernum, Lemon Juice, Honey, Grapefruit juice

At the end an array of desserts appeared, including Doughnuts (made in house).  The doughnuts were delicious, and reminded me of beignets but with crystalized sugar as apposed to powdered sugar.  They came with a creamy irish coffee cream dipping sauce that tasted like a thick version of Baileys. Yum!

The best dessert in my opinion however came in the form of ‘floats.’ ¬†I could (and probably will) write an entire post on these floats alone. The ice-cream mixed with bitters was just divine. ¬†It was creamy, sweet with just the right amount of a bitter twist at the end of each sip. ¬†The chip was also tasty, and the Mexican coke gave it a nice bubbly sweetness. ¬†Both reminded me of ‘Ice Cream Sodas’ I used to drink in the summer in England, they were refreshing and will be a great drink to sip on in the sunshine.

Fernet and Chip Float- Fernet and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream on Mexican Coke

Bitter Float- Peychauds bitter ice cream on Sanbitter Italian Soda

Overall the entire meal was a huge success in my opinion.  I have returned to Sadie on several occasions since it opened, with the intention of writing a review, however I never really had any dish that excited me enough to write about it.  This tasting evening, with the addition of Chef Mark gave me the kick to want to write about them.

The food is no longer good, it’s great and the drinks having always been nothing short of excellent, are now truly outstanding. ¬†This place should be packed with customers and as soon as word really gets out, I believe it will be. From the gorgeous decor to the friendly staff, the romantic ambience and now the food that matches the fantastic drinks…this is nothing short of an excellent night out.

5 out of 5 Coupes

Drinks get my highest rating now, due to the addition of the truly imaginative and incredibly tasty floats. ¬†All the bartenders know their drinks from Classic to Contemporary, everything i’ve tried has been balanced and interesting.

4.5 out of 5 Platters

All of the dishes and cocktails I described in this post are currently available for Spring time at Sadie. ¬†If you haven’t been already, I suggest you make your way over there soon, if only to enjoy one of the¬†delicious¬†floats on the patio.

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LA Ink (without the tattoos!)


Ink
8360 melrose ave.
los angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866
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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 5 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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