Posted by: guythinks | April 30, 2010

The Gorbals

It’s been a while since my last post. Over a month as a matter of fact. However, there is a good reason for this…I promise! On April 12, I moved to Seattle, Washington. Currently, I am living on my friends’ couch. They have been so nice to all me to stay with them till I find my own place. What’s most exciting is all the new food places I’ll be able to eat at and write about!

Before I left I had the opportunity to dine at The Gorbals with a group of friends. Ilan Hall is the Executive Chef/Owner of The Gorbals which is located in Downtown Los Angeles at the Lobby of the Alexandria Hotel. If any of you remember, Ilan is the winner of Top Chef Season 2. The Gorbals opened in 2009 and serves what Ilan calls a mixture of Scottish and Jewish foods, which are his two backgrounds.

A few of us ordered a bottle of the Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc and the rest of us got drinks.

We ordered many of the things on the menu that night. The first was latkes with charroset. Latkes are potato pancakes which are typically eaten on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The charroset is a jam like mixture of dates, apples, cinnamon, and a few other spices. Charroset is eaten on the Jewish holiday Passover. The two actually paired together nicely.

These braised brussel sprouts were topped with a  hollandaise sauce. So perfectly seasoned and even tastier with the sauce.

The bacon wrapped matzoh balls are one of The Gorbals most famous items. Matzoh balls are a traditional Jewish food whereas bacon is definitely not. Combining these two is not kosher, but what matters here is the taste. Unfortunately these were not the best matzoh balls I’ve ever eaten but the bacon was a welcomed accompaniment. They came served on top of a horseradish mayo which gave it a tiny bit of spice.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the GLT (Gribbens, Lettuce, Tomato). A take on the BLT sandwich. The great thing is that gribbens has a very similar texture to bacon. The Gorbals can definitely make a really simple sandwich, and it’s delicious.

I only got a bite from this dish but that bite was quite good. The Highland steak was cooked medium and was a tasty tender piece of meat. It was served with arugula and peas. The peas gave it a bit of a snap in texture.

Another one of our side dishes was a cucumber salad. Persian cucumbers with za’atar, sesame and chickpeas. It was a bit too much za’atar, but the cucumbers were a nice refreshing contrast.

The braised lamb shank buns were another one of my favorites that night. Think sliders. The lamb was so soft and full of flavor.

The beef marrow with king oyster mushrooms and walnuts was served with a few pieces of toast. The combination of the smooth fatty marrow with the crunchy walnuts on a piece of toast was really wonderful. So much flavor in such few ingredients. Marrow is quite tasty but not the healthiest thing to eat.

One of the other dishes we had that night that I was unable to get a photo of was the Welsh Rarebit. A piece of bread covered in egg and cheese. A very simple Scottish dish.

The dessert was probably my favorite plate of the night. Sticky toffee pudding, chocolate ice cream with maldon salt. I’m a huge fan of sweets and chocolate so this was just the thing for me. The combination of the three main items on this plate worked so well together. The saltiness really gave the sweetness of the ice cream and the pudding a lot of depth. Great way to end the meal.

After the dinner Ilan came over to our table to talk to us for a little bit. He signed our menus and took a couple pictures as well. This was a special night as one of my friends, Adam, who moved away a year and a half ago, was back in town and joined us for this meal. Glad I was able to experience The Gorbals before moving to Seattle.

The Gorbals

501 South Spring St.

Los Angeles, CA.  90013

(213)488-3408

http://www.thegorbalsla.com

Posted by: guythinks | March 18, 2010

Barbrix

After being on my list of places to try for quite some time, I finally made the drive out to Silverlake. A couple of my friends (Ben and Alex) and I, were looking for a place to grab a late bite with a relaxed atmosphere. Then I remembered Barbrix. It was perfect because they are open late on Saturday nights.

It’s not that easy to spot the place from the street as it is tucked away from the street with a parking lot in the front. We arrived at approximately 10:45 pm on a Saturday night with no reservations and they were pretty busy. But not too busy because they were able to get us seated within 5 minutes.

The place is known for their wide selection of wines and their small plates. Since we all had dinner earlier we weren’t hungry. What we really wanted was some wine and dessert, but considering they were small plates we decided to share some.

We started off with a bottle of wine. The Valcanzjrino was a blend of whites (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and one or two others that I can’t recall) from Sicily, Italy. A little dry, a little sweet, and very tasty.

Our first of three small plates was a salad composed of pears, arugula, gorgonzola, and almonds. A typical salad of its kind, but a nice mix of flavors and textures from the various ingredients.

These saffron arancini were stuffed with smoked mozzarella. The smokiness of the cheese almost resembled a bacon flavor. Combined with the rice made for like a deep fried ball of risotto. Delicious little bites.

Third, we had the garlic fried sweetbreads with harissa aioli. My first time having sweetbreads and they were absolutely delcious. Cripsy and garlicky on the outside, soft on the inside. It almost didn’t taste like meat. When dipped into the aioli it gave it a little more of a kick. The flavor of the aioli reminded me a little of like a spicy hummus almost, although there was no garbanzo bean in the mixture.

We moved on to dessert with this Adria’s favorite ginger shortcake. I don’t know why this is Adria’s favorite but it might as well be  Guy’s favorite ginger shortcake too. It’s served with berry compote and a little bit of crème fraiche. A great combination of sweet and tart. As for the ginger shortcake, it was soft and airy and soaked up all the juices from the compote.

This Dulce de Leche bread pudding was definitely my favorite dish of the night. Served with a chocolate sauce, this was like heaven for someone with a sweet tooth.  The bread pudding was just as a bread pudding should be, not a cake. I’ve been disappointed so many times with bread pudding but this was definitely not one of them.

This was quite an enjoyable time with friends over wine and small bites. The atmosphere here is really great. It almost feels like you’re at a lounge but its still a restaurant. The dim lighting and the soft music in the background also make it a great place to take a date. A must in the Silverlake area.

Barbrix

2442 Hyperion Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 662-2442

http://www.barbrix.com

Posted by: guythinks | March 2, 2010

The Slaw Dogs

It seems a somewhat new trend has begun. Hot dogs. But not just any ordinary hot dog. I’m talking “gourmet” hot dogs. Some with exotic meats, some with a new twist of toppings and flavors. The newest of these hot dog restaurants is The Slaw Dogs in Pasadena, California.

The Slaw Dogs opened up early February by executive chef/owner Ray Byrne. Ray was previously Managing Partner of The Sunset Restaurant in Malibu and then moved on to becoming General Manager at Il Fornaio before opening up The Slaw Dogs. This isn’t your ordinary hot dog stand with relish, sauerkraut, onions, mustard, and ketchup. Well, you could order that, but why when you can order much more original flavors you’ve never tried before? Accompanying me on this night was my co-worker and fellow foodie Nancy. She brought along her camera and took some great pictures so some of these are hers.

Photo Taken by Nancy Feng

The location is not in the best area of Pasadena, its north of the 210 Fwy on Lake. The place is surrounded my a Middle Eastern restaurant on one side and a Mexican restaurant on the other. In the same little building is Polkatots Cupcakes which won Best Cupcake of LA in last years Cupcake Challenge.

The inside of the place is very simple. A giant chalkboard menu overhead by the counter with a register. The dining area has about 10-15 tables for 2-4 people each. There’s also a counter by the window facing the street.

Photo taken by Nancy Feng

We ordered two dogs. The first was the Market Dog. A seasonally inspired dog made with grilled mint, pickled habanero onions, kumquat chutney, and curry ketchup. The actual dog was a Spicy Polish Sausage. The flavors in this dog all went really well together, the spiciness from the sausage and fro the habanero onions, not to mnetion the curry ketchup was well balanced by the sweetness from the citrusy sweet chutney. The mint also added a really nice fresh herb taste.

To go with the Market Dog we had a basket of their Sweet Potato Fries. Perfectly cooked/fried to a nice crispy texture on the outside but still soft and sweet on the inside.

Our second dog was The Green Monster. From looking at the picture you can probably guess why it’s called that. Not a very attractive looking thing to eat but it sure did taste good. An all beef Vienna sausage with roasted green chili, chipotle mayo, grilled onion, pepperjack cheese, and spicy garlic salsa. You would think there is way too much spice in this dog, but the heat was actually perfect. Not to mention the cheese, although pepperjack, still helped to cool things down a bit.

Photo taken by Nancy Feng

To go with The Green Monster we had a basket of their Belgian fries. Again, perfectly cooked/fried and seasoned with a bit of salt.

This place was very enjoyable and the service was excellent. We got to meet Ray and talk to him a little bit about the place. He was very helpful in explaining everything and helping us choose what to eat.

The Slaw Dogs

720 N. Lake Ave., #8

Pasadena, CA  91104

(626) 808-9777

http://www.theslawdogs.com

Posted by: guythinks | February 23, 2010

Vinoteque on Melrose

By now Valentines day has come and gone. Love was in the air…for that one day of the year. Isn’t that ridiculous? Whoever came up with that idea must have really not loved their special person. Anyway, for Valentines day I had the pleasure of dining at a small wine bar/restaurant by the name of Vinoteque on Melrose. The reason for the “on Melrose” is because their original location was in Culver City, but they moved to the location on Melrose in 2009. For Valentines day, the menu was prix fixe at $55/person with an optional $15 wine pairing.

The concept of the restaurant is to offer and serve many wine bottles along with small plates. They have a vast array of wines that are all on display inside on their wall of wine. They have a very interesting way of offering wine by the glass. If there is a bottle of wine you like but they don’t serve it by the glass, as long as you purchase two glasses from that bottle they will serve you and then offer the rest of the bottle up for anyone else who wants a glass. They let you know which bottles of wine are on the “communal table” by displaying it on a board inside.

Sadly I had forgotten my camera at home on this night so I had to take pictures with my iPhone. So please accept my apology for the poor photography.

First amuse bouche: Kumamoto Oyster, mojito granite & micro mint. This was the very first time I had ever eaten an oyster. Surprised? Well it was definitely a whole new ball park of flavor. At first I got the strong salty flavor of the ocean and then after I was able to taste the mint and the oyster itself. I enjoyed it very much.

Second amuse bouche: Big Eye Tuna Crudo, green peppercorn vinaigrette, micro cilantro, watermelon radish. The tuna was so soft and fresh it melted in my mouth and the avocado had such great flavor and was seasoned so well, but unfortunately overpowered all the other flavors on the plate. I wish it was a smaller amount of avocado so that I could get a taste of everything else.

First appetizer: Kabocha Squash Soup, creme fraiche foam. The soup was thick and smooth and was full of squash flavor. The creme fraiche added a nice lightness to the soup. I didn’t think there was anything that stood out about the soup but it was good.

Second appetizer: Mizuna Salad, pomegranate dressing, satsuma oranges, prosciutto, crispy shallot rings. This salad was packed with flavor and texture. The sweet and tart oranges were similar to mandarines and the pomegranate dressing also had about of tanginess. The prosciutto gave the salad a bit of a saltiness and the crispy shallot rings added to the texture for the finishing crunch. A well balanced salad.

First entree: 28 Day Aged NY Steak, truffle pomme puree, rippini, bone marrow bordelaise. The truffled potato puree was really creamy and had a nice smooth taste. The truffle didn’t really stand out to me, probably because they used truffle oil. The rippini was seasoned really well and cooked al dente. Not too soft but not raw. As for the steak, it was cooked really well and seasoned really well. I only wish it was served a little warmer because by the time I was on my last piece it was almost cold.

Second entree: Pan roasted squab, glazed baby carrots, chipolini onions, cherry. When taking a quick glance at the plate as they placed it on the table, the first thing I noticed was the three bite sized pieces of squab and the single glazed baby carrot. I was a little disappointed with the quantity on the plate but the flavors were great. The squab was pretty gamey, but the flavors from the sweet chipolini onions and the sweet/tart cherry glaze helped mask the gaminess.

Dessert: White Chocolate Mousse, passion fruit puree, almond brittle ice cream. This was probably my favorite part of the dinner. Even though  white chocolate is not my preference, the mousse in the cake was quite good and together with the passion fruit puree which was a bit sour was such a great combination. My favorite thing on the plate however, was the almond brittle ice cream. So delcious, I wish I could buy a pint. The sweet ice cream and the crunchy almond brittle really hit the spot.

Petit four, Lemon Creme Coconut Macarons. This was a last minute change to the menu because originally it was supposed to be petit four chocolate truffles. Nonetheless, a nice way to finish our meal.

Lastly, we were given a breakfast chocolate muffin to go. I ate it the next morning and it made for a great breakfast! Not too sweet but you could definitely taste the chocolate and very soft.

Vinoteque on Melrose

7469 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA.  90046

(310) 860-6060

http://www.vinotequela.com

Posted by: guythinks | February 10, 2010

The Foundry

Once again, DineLA menus returned to restaurants in Los Angeles and this time I dined at The Foundry on Melrose. Chef Eric Greenspan is the Executive Chef and Owner of this restaurant that has been open for a little over two years now on Melrose Ave. where all the shops and restaurants are.

It was a Friday night and the last night of DineLA and people were definitely taking advantage of it. The Foundry was crazy busy.

We started our evening with a bottle of Bridesmaid Sauvignon Blanc. They also have a nice cocktail menu. A couple people in the group ordered off that menu. The Pooty Tang was one of the choices of the night, a very interesting name. The drink is made with Grey Goose Vodka and Tang. They also have a selection of Absinth drinks which someone ordered.

First up, an amuse bouche compliments of the chef was brought out to our table. A brioche filled with tomato marmalade and Pecorino shavings on top. Literally bite sized but packed with flavor.

After the amuse bouche the sommelier brought out tasters on the house of his favorite cocktail, the Pooty Tang. Little did he know someone at our table had already downed a glass of it. The tasters were strong, almost all GreyGoose and very little Tang.

Our first course consisted of this was the White Gazpacho. When it was brought to the table it only had the grapes, eggplant, almonds, and garlic chips in the bowl. The Gazpacho was then poured on top table side. Considering Gazpacho is usually a cold soup, this one was not. It was warm and it had lots of flavor. The actual Gazpacho included all the ingredients that were in the bowl but the ingredients gave the soup some depth and texture which was nice. The spiciness from the garlic and the sweet from the grapes was great.

Also part of the first course was the Tuna Tartare with edamame, japanese sweet potato, and citrus. Tuna was extremely fresh and delicious. It just melted on my tongue. One of my favorite tuna tartares. The other ingredients really added a lot to the dish on many levels.

For the second course we had the Tamarind Glazed Pork Belly with salsify noodles, cashews, kumquats, and red jalapeno. I finally got to try pork belly. Yes, I’ve had bacon before, but it’s not the same. I am so happy I’ve finally got to experience the fatty pork’s belly.

Also part of the second course was the Duck Confit and Squash Risotto, blue cheese, cherries, and arugula. There wasn’t very much duck in this dish but it was still tasty nonetheless. There was only a hint of blue cheese which gave the dish a little bit of a mild taste. I’m not usually a fan of blue cheese because I believe it tends to overpower any other flavors but that wasn’t the case in this dish. The squash and cherries were also a nice touch to give the dish a bit of sweet and tart.
The Breast of Duck, rutabega, creamed swiss chard, golden raisins, and fingerling potatoes was one of the two entrees. The duck was cooked perfectly and was nice and tender and not too gamey. The dish had a bit of a bitter and a bit of sweet to it which was nice.
Our second entrée, Caramelized Scallops, beets, chipolinis, balsamic brown butter sauce. These are some of the biggest if not the biggest scallops I have ever seen/eaten. Who would have thought 3 scallops can actually be a bit filling. Probably my favorite dish of the night. The scallops were perfect – not mushy not fishy. All the accompanying ingredients really made this dish spectacular. Two types of beets gave it a bit of a sweet tang, and the chipolinis onions also added a bit of sweetness. And then there was the sauce, which I thought was more of a foam. So many great flavors  on this plate.
To start our desserts, a Blood Orange Bar, balsamic, and goat cheese ice cream. A very light dessert. The blood orange bar definitely had a citrus taste but I didn’t feel like it was strong enough. The goat cheese ice cream was really nice and smooth and not as sour as I thought it would be. When combining the two together and wiping it in the balsamic, you get a really tasty dessert.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread Pudding with peanut brittle ice cream. This was by far my favorite dessert of the three. It really was like having a PB&J sandwich with ice cream on top. Simply delicious.
Our last dessert and final course of the evening was the Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Opera Cake with pistachio sauce and chocolate sorbet. Again, everything about this dessert was great. The pistachio and chocolate in the opera cake went really well together and the dark chocolate in the sorbet must have been at least 80%. Best chocolate sorbet I’ve ever had.
Sadly, not everything was perfect. We had to wait a very long time before our first course came out and the timing of everything was just horrible. However, the food and the comped items definitely made up for it. We ended up getting the bottle of wine, the shots, an appetizer, and a dessert taken off the bill without us even saying anything.

The Foundry on Melrose
7465 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 651-0915
http://www.thefoundryonmelrose.com

Posted by: guythinks | January 20, 2010

Bottega Louie

I have a friend who recently moved from Los Angeles to Sacramento and for his “goodbye” dinner he decided to have everyone come to Bottega Louie. What you have to understand about my friend is that he is an extremely picky eater. When I say extremely, that probably doesn’t even do him justice. I mean like, really reeeaaaaaally picky. He usually sticks to fettucini alfredo, pizza, burgers & fries, mac & cheese, and occasionally some mexican food. So when I heard we were going to this place Bottega Louie, I didn’t have very high expectations.

Upon walking through the front doors you’re greeted by a glass showcase of their pastries, yum! There were muffins, cupcakes, tarts, eclairs, french macrons, and more! That’s definitely how you get my attention!

The place is a huge open space. There is a restaurant, a cafe, a deli, a market, a bakery, and a bar. In the pictures above you can see the cafe area in which to the top left you can somewhat see the bar area. Then you can also see the deli case in which you can order most or the items from their menu.

Here you can see the kitchen. This was one of my favorite things about the restaurant. You can pretty much see everything going on in the kitchen because it’s literally placed right there in the open.

Not sure if this bread is baked in house but I’m assuming it was. Fresh wheat bread served to each person individually in a small bag.

All of our dishes came out at the same time but I’ll describe them as if they came out one by one. First we had the Asparagus with Fried Egg. The dish came with a deconstructed hollandaise, grilled asparagus, fried egg, and shaved pecorino cheese. The asparagus was grilled the right amount of time to soften it up a little bit but still give it that crunch. The “hollandaise” was actually very flavorful.

These mashed potatoes were delicious! Some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve had! I especially love when the skins are left inside to add texture to the smooth and creamy potatoes.

For the main dish, we had Chicken Carcioffi. The chicken is pan sautéed with artichoke hearts, capers, garlic, herbs & white wine. The chicken was really moist and tender and the flavor was really great. However, I would compare this to a chicken picatta at any other restaurant minus the artichoke hearts. Also, for $15 I kind of expected a bigger piece of chicken.

I was also able to get a bite of their White Pizza and it was very good! Unfortunately, I was unable to get a taste of their desserts. I was actually really looking forward to trying their Peanut Butter and Chocolate Terrine but no one else at the table was in the mood for dessert so I passed. Nevertheless, I will be back to try it because I really did enjoy this place, not to mention our server Natalie was absolutely wonderful! The service at this place overall is just spot on.

Posted by: guythinks | January 7, 2010

Gindi Thai

It has been a while since my last post but I promise I will be more frequent with them from now on. My latest outing takes me to Gindi Thai, a restaurant between the cities of Toluca Lake and Burbank that serves both Thai dishes and Sushi. This was actually the second time I had heard of a restaurant offering both Thai and Sushi. Accompanying me was Patrick. Only a week or two before someone had told me about another restaurant, Red Ginger that did this as well. I thought, how strange to serve both in the same restaurant, but at the same time, how wonderful because I love both! My name is Guy, and this is what I think.

The restaurant is very nicely decorated with a large open dining room that actually consists of three areas. In one of the areas there’s a sushi bar and a wine and liquor bar is in another area. The decor is pretty modern with dim lighting. There was no wait to be seated which was great I was hungry.

Our first dish of the night was the Steamed Chicken and Vegetable Dumplings with spicy coconut cream curry sauce ($6.00). It was garnished with peas, peppers, and cilantro. The dumplings were steamed just the right amount of time so as not to fall apart when I picked them up but also not to be undercooked. The flavor of the curry sauce went really well with the dumplings and the peas, which were also cooked nicely, added a nice touch.

Since they also served sushi I couldn’t resist. We ordered the Gindi Special Roll ($9.00) which was sushi rice wrapped with Tuna and topped with spicy shrimp. The fish was definitely fresh and good quality. Flavor wise it was perfect. The spicy shrimp had some good heat. I was very pleased with this roll.

We each ordered separate entrees. Patrick ordered the Atlantic Salmon in Pineapple Curry, which I did not taste since I’m not a fan of salmon. I had the Tangy Thai Cashew ($9.00), a more traditional Thai dish that is Wok fried with chicken, fresh roasted cashew nuts, bell pepper and onions. The meat was all white, which is what I like, and the flavors of the dish were all what you would expect.

We also had some green tea ice cream to finish which I didn’t take a picture of. Overall I really enjoyed the food, service, and atmosphere of Gindi Thai. Their prices are pretty decent except for the sushi which I would say is a little on the pricey side. I look forward to another meal here.

Gindi Thai

4017 W Riverside Drive

Burbank, CA 91505

(818) 567-1221

www.gindithai.com

Posted by: guythinks | November 22, 2009

A.O.C.

This is one of those restaurants that I have been wanting to dine at for quite some time. I finally had the opportunity this past Friday night. We were seated immediately at a nice table for two on the bottom floor of the restaurant. The design of the restaurant is really modern and chic. The restaurant was well lit which is something I really liked because usually you go and it’s really dark inside. A.O.C. is largely known for their wine selection and their small plates. The portions are small, but not as small as a tapas bar.

As soon as we sat down we were served a basket of bread with a tapenade and asked if we wanted still, sparkling, or tap water. I also ordered a glass of their Riesling, which if any of you know me is not something I ordinarily do. Drink wine that is. However, I am trying to open my mind up to wines because I believe I am missing out on a lot, especially when it comes to pairing wine with food. Turns out that Riesling was really good.

For our first dish, we ordered Young Broccoli with garlic and chili. The broccoli was cooked really well and the garlic and chili gave it a really nice kick. It wasn’t really spicy but it definitely had some heat. The portion was a bit small for the price but it’s what you expect from dining at a place like this.

For our second plate we had the brioche with prosciutto, gruyère and egg. This was probably my favorite dish of the night. I could have eaten the whole thing, but that would have been rude. The brioche was nice and warm fresh out of the oven with the melted gruyère. Then they top it with prosciutto and a fried egg and serve it wit some greens. The egg was cooked really well, the yolk was runny but not too runny. This really would make a great breakfast. Each part of the dish tasted great on its own, but when combined it was a really great mix of flavors.

For our third and fourth plates we had the arroz negro with squid and saffron aïoli and the scallops, sunchokes, pancetta and truffle butter. We got so caught up with the arroz negro that I forgot to photograph the second dish. To be honest, this was the most visually unappealing dish I have ever eaten. I mean really, if you saw this, would you wanna eat it? Well, I did and it actually wasn’t even half has bad as it looked. It was actually pretty decent. The rice is black because they use squid ink. It gives the dish a little tanginess. I am not sure I would order this a second time but I definitely wanted to give it a try. As for the Scallops, that dish was also just alright. I didn’t think it was anything out of this world. Maybe thats another reason I didn’t get a picture of it.

The duck confit and shell bean stew with ham hock was another of our favorites that night. It was cooked and seasoned really well, served hot in an iron skillet. The shell bean strew consisted of a couple different beans, carrots, and brussel sprouts. The duck had lots of flavor and was really tender. This was a rebound after the past two dishes.

One of our desserts was the banana choux à la crème with toffee and bittersweet chocolate. I really enjoyed this dessert. I think it speaks for itself, but if you have a sweet tooth this really will satisfy it.

Our second dessert was the warm pink lady apple crostata with caramel and vanilla ice cream. Is this something you can probably get at any ordinary restaurant, yes. But the quality of ingredients and the skill that went into making the crostata and the home made ice cream is something you can’t get. The homey flavors of apples and cinnamon all baked together and served warm was a really nice way to finish the meal.

Overall I think this restaurant has a lot of great possibilities but the dishes from that night seemed to be hit or miss. There was nothing I ate that I was not happy with but some of the things were just ok. When comparing A.O.C. to Suzanne Goin’s other restaurant Lucques, I would have to go with the latter. There’s a reason she won a James Beard award in 2006 for it.

Posted by: guythinks | October 22, 2009

dineLA Recap and the Future of Guy Thinks

I wanted to do a quick recap of my first dineLA Restaurant Week experience. Restaurant week was actually two weeks this time, and they actually extended it into a third week at the last minute because apparently it was so popular. I chose three restaurants to dine at: Maison Akira, The Bazaar, and Taste on Melrose.

Foie Gras

The Foie Gras was my favorite dish that night by far. It was the first Foie Gras I had ever had and it made me love it! The combination of creamy, salty, and sweet are perfect compliments to one another in this dish.

Papas Canarias salty wrinkled potatoes, mojo verde

The Papas Canarias was my favorite dish at The Bazaar. This decision was difficult to make because in reality, I enjoyed every dish that I had that night. But when it comes down to choosing which one I enjoyed the most, I would have to say these salty wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde definitely did it for me. The simplicity of this dish and the amazing taste and texture just completely surprised me. If only French Fries were as good as this.

white truffle oil & mushroom mac & cheese

The White Truffle Oil and Mushroom, Mac & Cheese was definitely my favorite dish at Taste. The smokey creamy cheese and the white truffle oil gave this dish so much flavor. The macaroni was cooked really well and overall it was a really tasty mac & cheese.

My overall favorite dish of the three restaurants would have to be…drum roll please…the Foie Gras from Maison Akira. I enjoyed everything about this dish. It was so good I wanted to lick the sauce on the plate after I had finished everything else.

As for the future of Guy Thinks, I will continue to post my dining experiences at various dinning establishments. The thing is, eating out at some of these restaurants can get kind of pricy which causes me not to update this blog as often. Hopefully you all won’t mind the less frequent updates because you can believe me when I tell you, when I do update, it will be worth it. I recently came across another blog, Kevin Eats, that has inspired me to continue eating at great restaurants and documenting the experiences. Check his blog out because he is far ahead of me. I hope to have tasted as much fine food as he has some day. So until my next great dining experience, go out and enjoy the great foods out there yourselves!

Posted by: guythinks | October 16, 2009

Taste on Melrose

For my final dineLA Restaurant, I decided to dine at Taste on Melrose. My two foodie friends Talia and Tony joined me this past Monday, October 12, for this dinner. Our reservation was for 7:30 and we were seated right away. The restaurant is small but really cute. They have a covered patio in the front and the restaurant has these huge windows that open up. We sat inside right by one of these windows so it was like we were sitting inside but not.

As we were browsing the menu we noticed they had half off all bottles of wine on Mondays. We definitely took advantage of that and ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio to accompany our meals, which brings me to why we’re all here. The food.

white truffle oil & mushroom mac & cheese

White Truffle Oil and Mushroom Mac & Cheese is what I ordered for my appetizer. This mac & cheese is baked in an oven so when it comes out it’s really hot so make sure not to burn your tongue otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy the rest of your meal. The smell of this dish was delightful. It had a smokey scent, almost bacon like, that was from the cheese, which I am assuming was smoked gouda. I made sure not to burn my tongue and as I took my first bite I immediately tasted the truffle oil and the smokey cheese. A really good mac & cheese dish.

black tiger shrimp cocktail

Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail with Chipotle cocktail sauce. I wasn’t able to taste this dish but I was assured by Talia, who ordered it, that there was nothing special about this shrimp cocktail and that it tasted just like any other. By the looks of it I wasn’t going to argue.

grilled peach salad

Grilled Peach Salad has organic mixed greens, avocado, toasted almonds, gorgonzola, and a white peach vinaigrette. This is a really light and refreshing salad that is perfect for the summer. I’m sure it’s a big hit at the restaurant during the season. The vinaigrette was subtle and so was the cheese, surprisingly. I am not one who likes Gorgonzola, or blue cheese for that matter. The toasted almonds added some texture to the salad. All in all a very good salad and simple to make too.

kobe beef meatballs

Two giant Kobe Beef Meatballs are made with Pine Nuts, Golden Raisins, and Caramelized Onions. Served on top of linguine and in a White Truffle Cheese Fondue, these meatballs are so soft and juicy. The meat just melts in your mouth. They could have added a few more raisins in there because I think I only got like one or two raisins in both meatballs. I remember tasting the raisin towards the end and saying, “Oh, I think there’s raisins in here.” As for the linguine and the fondue, the flavor was great and the pasta was cooked perfectly. A very successful dish in my opinion but at the same time, not something extraordinary or special.

chicken cannelloni

The Chicken Cannelloni is made with Sweet Crêpes stuffed with chicken, Aged White Cheddar Cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese. Topped with Broccolini and Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes in a Cremini Mushroom Marsala sauce. This dish was very creamy, but the flavor was really intense. Everything came together really well in this dish.

pan roasted salmon

Pan Roasted Salmon on top of fruit infused Israeli Cous Cous, Organic Baby Arugula, and topped with a Ginger Jelly. I was reluctant to taste this dish because of all fish, Salmon is my least favorite. Don’t ask me why, I just really don’t like the taste or the smell. However, I couldn’t not at least taste a dish that looked so delicious. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised. The Ginger Jelly and the fruity cous cous covered up the strange flavor of the Salmon to me and it was indeed a very tasty dish.

chocolate brioche bread pudding

For dessert I had the Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise and Vanilla Gelato. This definitely satisfies someone with a sweet tooth but I don’t think it’s a bread putting to write home about. The Vanilla Gelato was very good though.

port poached pear tarte

Poached Pear Tart served with Sweet Crème Fraîche was also nothing spectacular. In reality, although the flavor was okay, the tart was flat and dry and the Crème Fraîche was a little odd.

That concluded our meal at Taste on Melrose. Thanks to Talia and Tony who joined me. What I got from this restaurant was good, solid food, but nothing special or different.

Next week, I will be recapping my dineLA dining adventures with my favorite dishes from each restaurant and my overall favorite. I will also let you know which restaurant gave the best deal between the three. I will also let you all know what my plans will be for the future of this blog since dineLA: Restaurant week officially ends today. You can expect all that early next week.

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