Tag Archives: Mac and cheese

We fit in just great at The Misfit!

The Misfit
225 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310 656 9800

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I have to say, this bar/restaurant is a really great destination in the heart of Santa Monica. The boyfriend (FG) and I headed there this week for a friends birthday and as soon as we entered I couldn’t believe we’d never seen this place before.

The restaurant itself is visually beautiful when you enter, dramatic high ceilings, a muriel painting behind the bar and tiled floors that made me think of restaurants in Europe.  My boyfriend and I are big fans of Santa Monica, FG runs two bar programs off of Broadway, and we have several dinner spots we love to visit in the area, so I was more than happy to find another craft cocktail bar in the same vicinity.

Not only did they have a good looking bar, I must point out their ludicrous happy hour. 12pm to 7pm daily. Yep, thats 7 hours of $5 drinks. This includes their great specialty cocktail selection as well as their well drinks. I would think this was good either way, but when you factor in what their well includes (see list below) it’s astounding to me this place can stay open. The quality of the products they have in their well puts them leaps and bounds above the competition, although their cost percentage must be insane!

The Misfits Well

Martin millers Gin

Herranura silver tequila

Appleton white rum

Eagle rare

Glenfiddich

 

In terms of Happy hours in the area, I thought Copa D’Oro was the ruler ($5 drinks nightly), but this well selection for 7 hours daily easily just stole the title of Best Happy Hour in Los Angeles.

The first drink I tried was the Bees Knees.  It was well balanced, but reminded me of a honey lemon concoction i’d make myself if I had a cold.  The martin millers gin was a subtle option and didn’t over power the flavors. It was certainly refreshing but the lavender was very subtle, I doubt I would have known it was even in there if it wasn’t on the description.  I can’t really say it was watered down, but it tasted very light and although the drink was balanced, it did air on the weaker side…but for $5, really there were no complaints!

Kd Bees knees- Martin millers gin, House infused lavender honey and Lemon juice $10 or $5 hh

FG had the ‘Misfit cocktail’. It tasted like a Martinez but with the Haymans it was soft and the juniper wasn’t as intense as other places i’ve had similar drinks.  It had a sweetness and weakness to it that I actually rather enjoyed.

Misfit cocktail- Haymans gin, Carpano antica vermouth, Orange bitters $10 or $5 hh

The food was delicious. I had the salmon on my friends birthday, and then returned for lunch 2 days later so I could have it again- it was that tasty. Beautifully cooked fish that was moist and flavorful with a bbq coating. It came with a refreshing arugula and cucumber salad on the side. Perfect for lunch or dinner, I love dishes I don’t have to modify and I enjoyed every bite on this plate. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

BBQ salmon- Scottish with arugula salad $17

We tasted the Mac and Cheese (which is gluten free and made with brown rice pasta), it tasted great with added Chorizo.  It had a little spice from the chile and chorizo that went nicely with the creamy and cheesy pasta. I must say I didn’t get a photo of this dish because my friends devoured it before I had a chance, but I would probably recommend this as a side dish.

Mac and Cheese- Green chile, brown rice pasta, chorizo (+$2) $9

Roasted parsnips- Basil pistachio pesto $7

Organic french omelet- Gruyere, sautéed spinach, pancetta(+$3) $11

We tried the roasted parsnips which were crunchy (a little too ‘al dente’ for my liking) but still very tasty. The pistachio pesto was a nice touch and complimented the light flavors of the parsnips.

FG had an Omelet with egg white and added pancetta.  It was very light and tasty, not a heavy dish at all. A lot of places he has omelets that are way too filling and big, this was just the right balance of ingredients and the pancetta was a nice addition to the dish.

I tried a sip of my friends Basil Gimlet which was very refreshing, and again I was just awe struck by how incredible the prices were for drinks with such good products in.  This place is certainly somewhere we will continue to return to.  The service was friendly and the atmosphere was fun and inviting on both visits (day and night.)

Food here gets 4 out of 5 platters.

The salmon is divine and i’ll probably return to order it again some time this week, there were other interesting options on the menu that I want to return to try also. The parsnips were just ok, and the mac and cheese was decent. All in all it was pretty good for food, and the rating may in fact increase once I return to try more dishes.

Drinks get 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

None of our drinks were truly spectacular and realistically both our cocktails tasted a little weaker than usual but other than that they seemed balanced and were certainly still enjoyable.  The main points this bar gets is for it’s truly fabulous well alcohol selection and it’s insanely long happy hour.  Anywhere with a Manhattan for $5 deserves at least 4 out of 5 in my opinion!

I definitely recommend popping in to this place when you’re next in Santa Monica. It is attractive, inviting and a great deal.  Check it out!

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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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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 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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