Tag Archives: Restaurants

Drink of the Week: Morning Sex

Not sure what kind of “spam” messages I am likely to get posting this drink name, but it’s too darn delicious NOT to put on the site!

Morning SexMorning Sex

  •  2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Passion Fruit Puree
  • 1/2oz Masala Chai Syrup
  • 3 dash Peychauds Bitters

Shake and serve over a large ice cube.

Garnish: Orange twist or pansy flower

You can find this drink, among other greats, on the drink menu at The Wallace, Los Angeles- A fantastic new spot in the heart of Culver City. The food there is nothing short of exceptional (so much so, that I am coming out of my writing drought to discuss it!) and the drinks, although great already, will be getting a fresh spin in coming weeks from their new beverage director- Greg Bryson.

The drink listed above  is currently my favorite drink in Culver City.  From it’s memorable fun name to it’s accessible flavor profile, this drink has everything I could love in it.

The bourbon is subtle enough that any type of drinker can enjoy its flavor, no matter what their usual base alcohol preference is. It  has a delicious tropical sweetness coming from the fresh passionfruit juice, with no unnatural flavors to it (that tend to come from sweeter/fruity drinks.) It is refreshing, summery and makes me feel like i’m on vacation in Hawaii or the Caribbean when sipped on a hot day!

The presentation at The Wallace over a large ice cube also makes it an accessible ‘not too girly’ looking drink option for both men and women., which I think is very smart. In past few visits they have started to garnish it with a pansy (flower), which looks really pretty and a nice alternative to the orange peel.

I admit this recipe will be hard to reproduce at home, in particular the ‘chai syrup’ but it’s definitely worth heading in to The Wallace to try it on its home turf.  Whilst you’re there, try some of the food too…it’s all fantastic. I would write a review on the whole place right now, but I plan to go back for a 4th visit (in 2 weeks) to try even more food before I write about it. It’s just that good.

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious.

 

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Eat Less and Taste More @ Hostaria Del Piccolo

Hostaria Del PiccoloHostaria Del Piccolo
512 Rose Avenue,
Venice Beach, CA
310.392.8822
 

I have been writing this post for a few weeks now, because I have a lot to say about this restaurant in particular.  I finally decided I need to put it up because all the other media seem to be beating me to it, and i’ve been coming here since opening day!!!  Reviews and press have just started to come out about this place (LA times did a feature and they have been mentioned on KTLA radio) and rightly so, it is a wonderful restaurant to get really well made Italian food. It is also a fun place to go with friends for a drink.

The space

The location I am discussing in this post is the brand new Hostaria Del Piccolo in Venice Beach, California. However please note that the same wonderful menu can be found at their original Santa Monica location on 6th and Broadway, I highly recommend checking out both as they have the same amazing food and drinks but totally different vibes.

Back of house

Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica has always been one of my favorite dinner spots, so I was excited when they opened this new location on Rose Ave (a really popular area for great restaurants right now.)

This location is much larger than the first and you really feel the openness when you first walk in. Their signature bright blue aprons can be seen on the staff dotted around the room and they’ve cleverly accented the bar with this color too which make it look young, fun and cool.

Blue lit bar

I actually really like the lighting in general at this place, there is a tunnel light that wraps across the ceiling giving it a modern vibe that works well against the wood communal tables.

Kitchen

The Kitchen is in open view to the customers so you can watch pasta being rolled and pizzas being made in front of you. This is an authentic Italian restaurant and the food is nothing short of fantastic.

Pamperdella   Verdura

The owner is Italian,  a lot of the staff are Italian and you feel its authenticity not only when you taste the food, but when you talk to the people there (many of whom are Italian). In particular I want to mention one of the managers Christian Bertolli, who is probably one of the most charismatic, friendly and delightful Italian men I have ever encountered.  All the staff are lovely here and the bar team are extremely knowledgeable on ‘real’ drinks and cocktails, due to their new Beverage director Greg Bryson who was hired to update the bar program at both locations a few months ago.

Greg Bryson at work

I have been to this new spot three times already and every time it is busier than the last. I am going to talk about some of my favorite dishes, however I am yet to find one I don’t actually like.  There are many more on the menu that are worth trying, but the ones below are my top choices.

The Food

GNOCCHI  ricotta-potato gnocchi, fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan $15 ($6 on Happy Hour menu)

Gnocchi to me is best described as a potato dumpling. I imagine if pasta and potato had a baby, they would have a gnocchi! Most places I have tried gnocchi before I didn’t really like it too much.  I found it to be a stodgy and heavy dish, however this is not the case at Hostaria. Their Gnocchi (made fresh daily) is soft and fluffy, it is deliciously cheesy with a rich tomato sauce on top.

to go

It is also not a ridiculously huge ‘American’ portion. All the portions at Hostaria are just right, they take quality over quantity to a new level. In fact, their slogan is EAT LESS, TASTE MORE! In a country that is often over indulgent I really love this idea, I am always full when I leave and never have a doggy bag. The portion sizes are just right for a comfortable evening.

COSTICINE  roasted pork ribs, cannellini beans    $12

Ribs

When I am trying not to eat breads or cheese (so hard at an Italian place) this is my go-to dish of choice.  You get three delicious pork ribs that are perfectly seasoned and full of flavor but not covered in sauce, on top of cannellini beans which are filling without being over indulgent. A really yummy, simple appetizer.

GRIGLIATI  grilled fresh calamari, mild spicy Swiss-chard $12

Grilled Calamari

I am a big fan of fried calamari (which they also have on offer) however when you want something less greasy this is a nice appetizer option. The spicy chard gives an almost peppery spiciness to the dish. The texture is a little more rubbery than the fried version but really good nonetheless.

The Pizza

There are way too many pizzas on their menu for me to possibly discuss here, but I will name a few that particularly stand out. The main thing about their pizzas are the delicious thin crusts that taste freshly baked (because they are!)

There are white pizzas (without tomato sauce) as well as gluten free dough as an option, vegan and vegetarian choices. Some of the best i’ve tried so far are as follows…

FIGOS prosciutto, seasonal figs, mozzarella, mascarpone, vincotto $16

FORMAGGI mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, gorgonzola $13

ASPARAGI asparagus, egg, mozzarella, parmesan shavings, truffle salt $15

I want to keep going on the menu (haven’t even begun to touch on their other delicious pasta options, not to mention they also have a phenomenal brunch menu that has items such as Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes, Espresso rubbed Pork and Eggs and a Salmon Eggs Benedict to name but a few) but I have to talk about their drinks too.

The Bar

Greg Bryson created some delicious drinks for the menu and will be rolling out his Spring creations soon i’m sure. They only makes drinks using fresh juices and local produce (as is the only way these days) and Greg has stocked the bar with a wide range of Amari (beverage bitters from Italy) which is great for those who love bitter sweet digestivo.

I have mentioned several of Greg’s drinks in past posts, because they are excellent.  Acero was one of my favorites during Fall and is still available at both locations.

CuccioloThe cocktails on the menu are all great, but if you ask Greg (when he’s tending bar) to make you something ‘bartenders choice’ he always comes up with something fantastic whether it’s a classic made correctly, or something he makes up on the spot, he always makes sure his customers are happy.

IMG_8420All the bar staff seem focused and friendly and I am yet to have a bad drink at this bar.  Here are two other popular drinks on the current menu…

CUCCIOLO Plymouth Gin, St.Germain, cucumber, lemon $12

BLACKWORK ORANGE 100% Agave tequila, fresh lime, tangerine juice, agave nectar, black sea salt rim $12

This place gets 5 out of 5 for food. It is hands down one of my favorite places to eat because I love Italian and this is done to the highest degree.

5full (1)

Drinks easily get 5 out of 5. I have only ever had drinks made by Greg himself so I may be biased, but from what I can tell all the bartenders have been trained to make the drinks correctly too and the options are a great range for all tastes.

5full

This is a great ‘first date’ restaurant because it is fun and friendly, with a romantic edge without being overly loved up. Definitely stop by and see for yourself when you are on the West side 🙂

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Repeal Day Drink

Cameron’s KickCameronsKick

  • 1 oz Blended Scotch
  • 1 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Orgeat

Garnish: Lemon peel

Shake and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(The image chosen shows this drink in a coupe, however the cocktail glass became particularly popular in the 30’s and is probably a more appropriate glass for this drink.)

Repeal Day

December 5th is known in the US as ‘Repeal Day’ and is a huge day for celebration (for those who enjoy a good drink anyway!)

Most people around the World know or have heard of Prohibition in the United States.  It was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the Volstead Act were what set down the rules for enforcing the ban during this time, and defined the types of alcoholic beverages that were prohibited. Prohibition ended with the approval of the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment, on December 5, 1933…hence the name Repeal day!!!

nolips

The original thought process of banning alcohol was so that crime would go down and people would live a more ‘Christian life’, it was pushed mainly by the women at the time who felt that their men became ‘devils’ when they drank.  Banning alcohol altogether of course, did the exact opposite of what they had hoped for.  The thirteen years of Prohibition were a dark time for the United States, and led to the rise of highly organized crime, viscious mafia gangs and turf wars.

The cocktail community in particular likes to celebrate Repeal Day because December 5th marks a return of skills that might have been lost had Prohibition continued, like craft fermentation and distillation.  It also helped to legitimize the American bartender once again as a contributor to society and social customs.  Before Prohibition the term ‘Bartender’ was not frowned upon or seen as a ‘job on the side until you pick a career’, it was a career in itself and one that was respected as part of the culinary arts.

I chose this drink because I felt that  a Scotch drink  from the 1930’s seemed the most appropriate.  Scotch (in particular Dewar’s Scotch) was the first legal whisky to arrive in the States and hit New York’s South Street Seaport docks the moment the law was put into action. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. (JFK’s father) happened to be the US agent for the brand and for a company named Somerset Importers. Somerset owned the exclusive rights to import Dewar’s Scotch and Gordon’s Gin, and right before Repeal Day they stocked up. Once Prohibition was over, they sold the premium liquors for a huge profit!

The Cameron’s Kick is delicious!  The two types of whiskey compliment each other rather than compete and with the lemon juice and orgeat it kind of tastes like a whisky sour mixed with a marzipan flavor.  Orgeat is an almond syrup scented with orange blossoms and I think tastes like liquid marzipan!  The drink itself is refreshing though and very tasty.  I should mention that the orgeat you buy in stores tends to be way sweeter than ones made at home or in bars, if you don’t want to make your own (which I admit is a time consuming process) then use just 1/2oz of the store brand orgeat to keep the sweetness down.

1321983938-repeal-day2

There are a couple of exciting events going on in Los Angeles on Wednesday, many bars offering drinks at repeal day prices too.  Sassafras,  Thirsty CrowBigfoot Lodge,  and Oldfield’s Liquor Room are selling some cocktails for 50 cents, yep you heard me, 50 cents!!! So be sure to check them out.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson…get drinking this week and be glad we don’t live in 1920s America!!!

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SugarFish

SUGARFISH
1345 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
 
Phone: 310 393-3338

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This week I wanted to write about a restaurant that is always consistent, seeing as recently I keep finding places I love (and write about) have changed their menus a week later (to keep up with trends) and the items I craved have been taken off! 😦 I do understand that some foods are seasonal but it’s so hard for someone like myself (fussy) to find a dish i’ll eat at all, so once I have done it’s even more distressing to not be able to get the same meal again on the next visit.

Anyway, I have been coming to SugarFish for over a year now, and their quality of food has always been above and beyond. They also never change their set menu (hooray!), which is what I’m going to cover in this review.

A lot of people tend to be very shocked that I am a huge sushi lover, and I have to admit I don’t understand it myself.  The fact that I never used to eat anything other than pasta, and now regularly enjoy raw fish is a somewhat dramatic leap. Yet, for some reason, it is a genre of food I really enjoy.  I have always liked smoked salmon, so when I first went to a sushi restaurant I tried the salmon sushi and found that the  raw salmon is a similar consistency to smoked, which didn’t bother me at all. From eating salmon sushi, I eventually branched out to trying other light fish like ‘yellowtail’ and ‘halibut’ although I never found myself wanting to try tuna. For some reason the smell of tuna really bothers me (well canned tuna anyway) and for the longest time I couldn’t get my mind set out of that.

Anyway, walking in to SugarFish about a year ago, my boyfriend (FG) and I didn’t know what to expect.  The place itself is small with bamboo style wood everywhere and plants on one of the side walls. They don’t take reservations so make sure you arrive well in advance of when you want to eat, because they do fill up quickly. We had been told repeatedly by people that they make ‘great sushi’ but our understanding at the time was limited and we really just thought, ‘it’s just rice and raw fish, how good can it be’. How little did we know!

Chef Kazunori Nozawa is a Japanese Chef who has been working with sushi since he was 15 years old.  When he came to America he started Sushi Nozawa in Studio City, California with the aim to get Americans out of the thinking of extravagant rolls and back to the no-frills basics of what Japanese sushi really is, very simple yet exceptional quality seafood.  Sushi Nozawa closed this year (2012) but the SugarFish chain continues his philosophy and the ‘Trust Me’ set menu is similar to one at the original Sushi Nozawa location.

The ‘Trust Me’ set menu is the one we always get, not just because of it’s value for money ($29.50 pp) but because it has a nice range of dishes within it.  The first item is the Edamame.  Plain, simple and nicely chilled with a little salt but not too much.

Next is the tuna sashimi. Now, as I said before, I never wanted to try tuna but on my first visit to SugarFIsh I felt obliged to try it as it was part of the set menu and they don’t bring the next dish until the one you have is finished!

So worth it, WOW this dish is good. The sauce is divine.  It is slightly sweet like a ponzu sauce but a little more citric and sharp on the tongue. The scallions on top gives a nice change in texture to the moist soft flesh of the fish. Yummy.

What immediately stood out to me was how ‘non-fishy’ it tasted, in fact all the dishes at SugarFish have that same quality and it’s because they use the freshest fish daily, never from frozen.

Next come 4 little sushi pieces, two of albacore and two of salmon.  The Albacore on my most recent trip (last night) was exceptional. It had the softest texture and melted in the mouth, there was a subtle sweetness to it and the cold fish over warm rice made for a really delicious combination.

The salmon was also flavorful but I have had salmon sushi so much now, I find it dull in comparison to the other options.

Next dish was the Yellowtail sushi (2pieces) and Halibut sushi (2pieces).The Yellowtail was the lightest in flavor but it had a nice texture and was clearly very fresh and slightly firm.  The Halibut had a citric almost spicy tasting sauce added to it, which paired beautifully with the flavors of the fish itself. Another two great sushi pieces.

I should mention, they do give soy sauce and wasabi on the side but we often find ourselves not using it at all because the fish flavors really speak for themselves.

The Toro roll came out and our waitress told us it is best enjoyed whilst the seaweed is nice and crispy. I have to admit, i’m not a big fan of seaweed wrapped rolls usually but this one was good… Soft moist chilled toro inside warm rice with a crispy seaweed shell.

The Blue hand crab roll was the last item to come out, and the crab was almost creamy in texture. It was very cold crab meat which is an odd sensation against the warm rice but seems to work and this is apparently the true Japanese way of preparing sushi.
After the crab roll you’re all done off the set items, occasionally they have a special of the day they feature instead or as well as.  There are also other set menus (a larger and lite version) or you can order off the general menu, but value wise and selection choices makes this particular set option our favorite.  All the dishes appear tiny (by Western standards) but the leisurely timing in which the items are brought to the table somehow fills you up and we feel very satisfied every time we eat there.

On our last visit we also enjoyed a nice bottle of Nigori Sake called ‘Sho Chiku Bai’ which was creamy, silky and mildly sweet. It paired beautifully with our dinner and I highly recommend.

Food rating gets 5 out of 5 platters

I’m yet to have a bad experience here, so they get full marks!  It sounds obvious, but it makes SUCH a difference when seafood is so fresh. I always thought I knew good sushi until I came here, now I won’t go anywhere else. Their consistency of both quality and taste makes them one of the best sushi places I have ever been to and although the service can be slow at times, the staff are all very friendly and helpful so they don’t lose marks their either.  If you like good sushi then this is certainly a restaurant you should check out.

The Santa Monica location is the one we personally know and love, but SugarFish have a number of venues now, so look on their website for the closest one to you.

Enjoy!

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It’s SCARY!!!…how good these taste!

The pumpkin is carved, costume created and candy is placed in bowls ready for eager children’s hands…Yep, Halloween is upon us!

The time has come for me to put up some of my favorite ‘Halloween’ inspired mixed drinks, to get you in the mood…

Scary Classics

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1oz Gin
  • 1oz Cocchi Americano
  • 3/4oz Cointreau
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Bar-spoon (1/2tsp) of Absinthe

Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

My first thought when I heard of this drink was ‘What about the Corpse reviver number one?!’ Apparently there are several drinks with the ‘Corpse Reviver’ name, but almost anyone who has tasted more than one would argue that this is the most palatable and balanced version.

The first publication of this drink can be seen in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book’, 1930.  It is a drink that could supposedly raise any dead drinker on the morning after and was designed as a hangover cure (hence the name).

The original recipe calls for Quina Lillet, which is no longer in production. Many bartenders make the error of using Lillet Blanc in it’s place, but this is not the same at all. Cocchi Americano is the most authentic to flavor as the original would have been, which is why I have added it to the above recipe.

Blood and Sand

  • 1oz scotch
  • 3/4oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3.4oz Blood Orange Juice
  • 3/4oz Cherry Heering

Garnish: Orange peel

I just learnt today that whenever ‘Sand or Sandy’ is used in a drink name before prohibition, it almost always refers to the use of scotch in the drink.

This drink is a little sweeter than the others (probably why I like it!) but very tasty and beautifully balanced with a rich orange flavor. It’s rare to find a cocktail with Scotch that works with lots of other flavors, but this one does.

The origins of this drink date back to 1922 when it was named after a bullfighter movie ‘Blood and Sand’ by Rudolph Valentino.   The red juice of the blood orange in the drink helped to link it with the film. This recipe also first appears in print in The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930.

Satan’s Whiskers

  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2oz Grand Marnier
  • Dash orange bitters

Shake and strain in to a Cocktail glass.

There are two versions of this classic cocktail, one calling for Grand Marnier, the other using Orange Curaçao. The above recipe is considered the “straight” version, while the other is known as “curled”.  No idea as to the origins of this drinks name but it has an interesting mix of flavors. The orange is prominent but there is a bitterness to it and almost a peppery flavor from the gin, especially if you use something like Bombay Sapphire as the base.

I prefer the ‘straight’ version of this drink because it is slightly sweeter using Grand Marnier, but both versions are nicely balanced.  This is yet another cocktail taken from The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930 by the way. I can’t get enough of Harry Craddock this Halloween!

Pumpkin Drinks

Zucca

  • 2oz Pisco
  • 1tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4oz  Juiced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (Trader Joes)

Shake and strain in to a tall glass with ice.

  • Top with 1 oz Weinstephaner (Wheat Beer)

Garnish: Orange peel dusted with cinnamon

‘ Zucca’ is the Italian word for Pumpkin and is another of Greg Bryson’s drinks from his 2o12 Fall menu at Hostaria Del Piccolo, Santa Monica. I honestly thought the use of so many strong flavors like coconut, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin and beer would taste really off balance and kind of messy. The end result is the complete opposite though! The flavors work well together and compliment each other beautifully.  Unlike most pumpkin drinks i’ve had; this one isn’t overly creamy and rich, instead it is refreshing, slightly sweet and surprisingly balanced.

The recipe is understandably a little difficult to recreate at home,so if you find yourself in Santa Monica this Autumn definitely pop in to Hostaria to try this tasty option.

 Great Pumpkin

  • 2 oz Pumpkin ale
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded rye
  • 1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 whole egg

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

This creamy, pumpkin cocktail was created by Jim Meehan of PDT for his Fall menu in 2008.  It captures rich Autumnal flavors perfectly by using apple brandy, maple syrup and pumpkin ale. According to the ‘PDT Cocktail Book’, 2011 they named it ‘Great Pumpkin’ as a reference to Charles Schultz‘s masterpiece ‘It’s the Great pumpkin, Charlie Brown’, 1966.

Meehan suggests Southampton pumpkin ale, but honestly any good brand will work.  Using a whole egg makes this drink a ‘Flip’, and although a lot of people are put off by the thought of an egg in their drink, I have to say it’s honestly not so much a taste factor as it is mouth feel. When shaken well the egg creates a deliciously creamy foam, and that fluffy topping is the best part of the drink in my opinion! It basically tastes like a pumpkin egg nog.  The nutmeg gives a great nose too, this is just a perfect drink for fall.

If you want to try it somewhere special this recipe is currently available on the drinks list at The Penthouse @ Mastros in Beverly Hills.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you… Go carve your pumpkins and get in the mood for October 31st!

  

!!!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!!

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The Corner Door

The Corner Door
12477 W. Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90066
310-313-5810
 
 
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I had a really great time at this restaurant, the first time we went.  I had heard some good things about the drink menu from my boyfriend FutureGreg (FG) but had no expectations of the food.

Miner Incident- Bourbon, Apricot, Lemon, Honey, Thai Chilies $12

The first drink I tried was great and called the ‘Miner Incident’. It was beautifully balanced with a definite kick from the chilies. Slightly sweet although the bourbon came through nicely and the use of apricot was a welcomed change from other fruit options usually on offer.

FG had a Mezcallin to start, which he described as a ‘Mexican Penicillin’, which is pretty much what it is!

Mezcallin- Mezcal, Lemon, Ginger, Pineapple Gomme $12

The food menu looked very appealing and so we began with some tasty bites.  We ordered the Bread and Whistles, which FG enjoyed a lot but sadly I didn’t find it to be anything special.  I have had honey and ricotta style appetizers before and loved them, this ricotta brand wasn’t my favorite. The bread was great though.

Bread and Whistles- with Butter, herbed olive oil, ricotta, honey $5

Next we had the brussel sprouts (something I usually hate, but when done right are truly delicious!) they were perfectly sweet with caramelized onion, and a burnt honey’d taste.  The texture was great too, soft center with crunchy outer leaves.  The feta on top was a nice finishing touch. This is an excellent appetizer and I highly recommend it.

Brussels Sprouts- Roasted and fried, Feta $9

By the time our appetizers were done we needed another round of drinks. I went for the Swizzle and FG had ‘The Left Hand.’  The Left Hand was one of the specials on the board for the night, it was basically a Boulevardier with Rye, which he enjoyed although I found a little on the bitter side.  The Queens Park Swizzle was good though, sweet and refreshing. I couldn’t quite taste the strawberry in the bitters, but the overall drink was nice.

Queen’s Park Swizzle- Rum, Lime, Mint, House Strawberry Bitters $12

     

Left Hand- Rye Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Campari $12

For our Entree we ordered the Salmon and the Asparagus with Burrata.  The Salmon dish was nothing short of excellent.  I mean, really, this was a fantastic piece of fish.  The dill sauce was creamy but not heavy or too rich.  The fish itself was full of flavor with a nice moist center and almost crispy edges. The frisee was fresh and paired nicely with everything else on the plate.

Pan Roasted Wild Salmon (original)- Green olives, orange, Frisee $24

The asparagus was just ok, it was cold asparagus with a warm cooked egg on top and I didn’t like the cold and warm contrast that much. The flavors paired nicely but the temperature differences just didn’t work for me.

Grilled Asparagus & Burrata- Fried egg, Cilantro pistachio pesto $14

For dessert we had a very tasty piece of horchata soaked almond cake. Oh my goodness was this delicious. It was moist, with the taste of almond essence or marzipan.  The salted caramel ice cream occasionally had large salt crystals in it, but the two worked perfectly together. It was a decent sized slice also, great end to the evening.

Horchata soaked almond cake- “dulce de leche”, salted caramel ice cream $9

The bar itself is really attractive, I love Edison style lighting and it worked nicely in this setting. There was a big bar in the center and the place had a casual, warm feel to it.  The staff were friendly, the food was great and drinks list was varied.

This place was going to get full marks for food, sadly I have to be honest (which is why I have taken a while to put this review up, because I don’t like to give negative remarks if I can help it.)  The thing is, FG and I returned a few weeks ago because I was utterly craving the salmon (it was that good).  When we arrived I told the bartender (same one from previous visit) that i’d been daydreaming of it all day, he remarked on how it was one of his favorites also.  We didn’t even look at a menu, just ordered the Salmon dish and the brussels again.  The Brussel Sprouts were just as great as the first visit, however when the Salmon came out it looked completely different.

At first I thought my memory was totally off, but it was in a corn like broth and wasn’t the same grilled piece of fish I had expected. I commented on it and the bartender informed me that they had changed the recipe and now it had a red pepper risotto (I hate red pepper I should add) and they’d changed the cooking method.  It was more than a little upsetting for me, mainly because it really was a totally different dish and I had truly been craving the other version all day.  Now I must say, it wasn’t a bad dish. It was still good actually, but nowhere near what it had been previous.  I totally understand and welcome seasonal menus, I have no issue in changes daily, but the only part that upset me was the fact that the bartender didn’t mention the menu had changed when we ordered it. When I pointed this out to him, he said “Yeah I guess it did change, I kind of preferred it before too” WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO EARLIER!? haha…Oh well. It is, what it is and the place still gets a good mark overall because of everything else.

I am giving this place 4 out of 5 Platters because the first visit was so successful.  Word to the wise, be sure to check ingredients when you go to places that change their menu constantly. You may end up falling in love with a dish that is no longer available a week later! 😦

I’m giving 3.5 out of 5 Coupes for the drinks. The options were decent and varied, the staff sweet and I really did like my apricot drink a lot.  Nothing totally blew me away, but the drinks were certainly balanced and enjoyable for a night out.

If you are in the Culver City area any time soon, I will say The Corner Door is certainly worth a visit.  I am sure FG and I will be back…we’ll try something different to become the new favorite! Oh, how I will always have fond memories of that first salmon though. 🙂

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Crafted to perfection

Craft
10100 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
90067
310.279.4180 
 

Monday date night last week led us to a restaurant just minutes from our house, yet neither my boyfriend (FG) or I had been there before.  The list of drinks and food on offer all looked appealing and appetizing, and the decor of the bar area was inviting and warm when we entered. We decided to sit at the CraftBar which is separate from the restaurant itself and has a different food menu, but we decided to mix and match and got a few bar menu items and then our entree from the regular restaurant menu.

FG informed me that the “Craft” team pay a purveyor a lot of money just to travel the country in search of the best produce for all three of their locations. Only the best, organic, fresh and seasonal products are used so the menu changes constantly with what is and isn’t available.

Front Porch: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Peach, Lemon and Iced Tea $11

I started the night off with the ‘Front porch’ drink after our bartender (Scott) pointed out that peaches were at their best right now. It was wonderful, like a deliciously peachy ice tea with bourbon! It was sweet, strong and fruity.

FG had the ‘Here today… gone amaro’ which was just as tasty as the name was imaginative!  FG best described it as a Manhattan with a subtle sweet bitterness at the end. Rabarbaro Zuca is an amaro made with Rhubarb, which I have only seen on a menu once before, ironically in my boyfriends drink ‘Maguey after Amaro’. I like it when places use unusual ingredients though.

Here Today…Gone Amaro: Old Overholt Rye, Chai Tea infused Carpano Antica Vermouth, Cio Ciaro and Rabarbaro $14

FG was intrigued by the number of Amari they had on the back bar, including the Cio Ciaro (he’d never heard of) which he sampled and described as having a burnt caramel flavor with a slow bitter finish.  Craft also makes a home made velvet falernum which was delicious, sweet and zesty.

Negroni Mio: Aviation Gin, Campari, Americano, Cocchi Vermouth di Tornio, Prosecco & Strawberry. $13

FG’s second drink was the Negroni Mio, this was a good drink, but not great. It sounded amazing on paper (they barrel aged the Negroni then bottle age it with strawberries), but the flavors really came through as simply a Negroni with aperol.

Many of the food options looked interesting but we started with the cheddar hush puppies that came with a smoked maple syrup to dip in. Delicious maple flavor from the sauce altho the puppies had little spicy kick to them.  The cheese didn’t come through for me but still the dish was very tasty.

Cheddar Hushpuppies & Smoked Maple Syrup $6

The risotto balls were also on the spicy side with a marinara type sauce named romesco, the crispy thin layer on the outside of each ball made them not too rich and another good starter dish.

Risotto Fritters & Romesco $6

They also brought a bread basket out with delicious breads in.  The dark loaf was incredibly different and hearty. In fact Scott gave us an extra loaf to take home, as he informed me it is the perfect bread to make french toast with the next day.  I loved the wooden box the bread came in too, the presentation of all the dishes was exquisite and although this was a slightly more expensive place than we’d usually go just for monday date night, it became clear very quickly why they deserved to charge so much.

For our main course we agreed on a steak (like always!) and decided to share the dry aged sirloin. When it arrived I realized just how incredibly large 22 ounces of meat is and worried we’d way over ordered!

We also chose some sides, the sugar snap peas (which i’m really in to recently, so sweet and crunchy) and the yukon puree.  I had wanted a potato but couldn’t decide what kind, Scott had said these were “deliciously decadent.”  Of course, alarm bells should go off when you hear a server/bartender describe something as decadent…it usually means, extremely fatty and high in calories.  We didn’t care though, it was an indulgent night.  

The potato was certainly nothing less than decadent! Creamy, rich and full of flavor.  It was like a very soft buttery mash but still had a lightness to it, I couldn’t eat too much but it paired beautifully with the earthy flavor of the steak.  I’m not sure i’d had dry aged beef before but it gave the meat a much stronger fuller flavor.  The meat came with a bone marrow on the side, which greg emptied out on to a piece of remaining bread.

I think bone marrow is definitely an acquired taste, it reminded me of chicken dripping my mum would keep to put on sandwiches after a roast dinner. Not that it tasted like chicken, it just had a very greasy and fatty texture that reminded me of that.  I didn’t like it at all, Greg devoured the whole bone full.

Roasted dry aged sirloin 22oz $56

Sugar snap peas $11

Yukon Gold Puree $10

To finish we saw the wonderful dessert list but felt too full to get anything (believe it or not, we had at this point eaten the entire steak and sides!!!). Scott brought us some little bites from the pastry chef which included some caramel popcorn and little nectarine upside down cakes.  They were the perfect touch of sweetness to end the evening.

Before we left Scott gave us a little pack of complimentary Craft Granola for the next day. FGs parents went the following week and were given some complimentary Craft muffins, it changes daily what you’ll get but I think it’s such a cute and unique idea to give something like that for breakfast. When we ate the granola the next morning (which was great) it had us remembering our wonderful evening the night previous. Very smart marketing move!

Drinks here get my rating of 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

My peach cocktail was fantastic, and FG certainly enjoyed his two drinks also.  Scott was professional and informative behind the bar, and the look of the place was welcoming and attractive.  The only negative of the drinks was the Negroni Mio that wasn’t as flavorful as the ingredients suggested, overall it was a close to excellent bar program. They also had an extensive wine list, for those not as excited by cocktails!

My Food Rating here is 5 out of 5 Platters

Overall this place had it all, relaxing music, a nice chill vibe and excellent professional service.  The food was fantastic, it was different and adventurous without being too overwhelming for a fussy person like myself.  The only negative, which i’m not even sure is fair to give, was the high prices of this place.  I hadn’t expected it to be on the higher end, having said that it really was worth the extra expense. The service really was amazing, and my boyfriends parents decided to go a few days later and had the exact same reaction. For that reason, this is the first place i’m giving 5 out of 5. Watch out Bottega Louie (our most popular location), Craft may soon take over as our favorite place to go for dinner in LA!

All in all, Craft (and Craft Bar) are an excellent night out.  I highly recommend anyone looking for a romantic, quality restaurant in Los Angeles to head there.

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