Melrose and La Brea: Intersection of Delicious Food & Drinks

Photo Credit to The Minty

Last Monday was a dinner that included some of my favorites in the LA food blogging and, more importantly, food photography worlds. The usual suspects of Minty and I were there while Josie was missing; also present was The Delicious who runs the greatest food porn site (TasteSpotting), DJJewelz, and LAEasyMeals. The plan was food at Cube and then drinks at Tar Pit. I had been to Cube only once before but I absolutely loved it. I was having a first date with a guy that suggested we do a dessert date. I was so impressed he thought of this until I realized that it said I love dessert dates on my Facebook page. The funniest thing about this night was even though it was supposed to be dessert I asked if I could order mac n’ cheese and the whole time our male waiter was flirting with my date. I was like, “Excuse me, I want to order too.” It was hilarious and I was very eager to return. On Monday, I was running late and when I arrived the group was in the back room. It was kind of romantic and Mafia-esque at the same time, great combination. I was probably a half an hour late and it was perfect in food blogging time. The first two dishes were ordered but the dishes were too busy being photographed not a bite was taken and the wine was already open and poured. I love my peeps! We had a nice cheese plate and brussel sprout salad for starters.

We then ordered some dishes for the table. We got the braised baby octopus, maple braised bacon, and I suggested the house gnocchi with english peas (this resembled matzoh balls to me). As if this wasn’t enough, we also ordered fresh maltagliati with braised oxtail ragu.

I am exhausted of uploading pictures and I am not even on to main courses. Also, I would complain about the lighting in the room but everyone else managed to take way better pictures than me. DJJewelz even has the exact same camera as me but his pics are like a bazillion times better. I had some major photography envy that night. Thankfully, I had a million of plates to ease my pain. I don’t love bacon; I do, however, like a thick pork belly and well this bacon was kind of amazing. It is a must order. For main courses, I had the pan-seared diver scallops with creamy lemon risotto and, yes, more english peas. What can I say? I love when peas pop in my mouth. This was a total Carina dish; I love when food completely matches my ideal flavor profile. The Delicious always lets other people order for her, which I love to do, but maybe we shouldn’t have gotten her the biggest dish. She got the balsamic glazed skirt steak. DJJewelz seems like he is a burger man. I have been to the Lazy Ox with him twice and both times he gets the burger. At Cube he indulged once more in the American classic dressed up with shallots, truffles, and a bun made of brioche. LAEasyMeals is a runner with a ton of health conscious recipes and she had the stuffed branzino, easily the healthiest thing on the menu. Minty is a girl after my heart and palate. I laugh because we always seem to enjoy what the other person orders. On her post she said my scallops were her second favorite dish and I may have to agree. Minty won the ordering in both of our opinions with the venison meatloaf. It was comfort food at its best.

Everything was spectacular, not a dud dish in the group. In fact, I think I am ready to declare something right now. If any of you work in music or movies then you are probably constantly asked what your favorite song or movie is. I am constantly asked what my favorite restaurant is. My favorite restaurant ever is Boiling Crab in Alhambra, followed by Church & State, and now I think Cube may be my new #3, if not #2. I really loved my meal. Plus, they always have the best tweets. After this decadent meal we strolled next door to the new lounge called Tar Pit, a place I had never been to before. I liked the retro decor and they had some tasty cocktails and small bites. I ordered the Lemon Thyme Daiquiri and later the Juniperitivo. The latter even had my enemy gin or as Delicious calls it, “The devil’s drink”, and I still drank it. We also ordered the fried oysters, as if we didn’t eat enough. Minty and I ordered dessert; I got the apple tart and she ordered the bananas fosters parfait. Once again, I liked Minty’s ordering so much that I ate 70% of her dessert. I love tarts but I don’t love crust and this tart was placed in a beautiful basket made of crust. In fact, in college my best friend, Risa, once had an epiphany when we were at a Vegas buffet. We were both eating tarts and she was only eating the crusts of hers and I was only eating the fillings. She was from Tokyo and she exclaimed, “I think this a representation of us. I only care about the outside, like if the man is beautiful. And you only care about the inside, like if he is a good writer.” Perhaps it was true. The inside of the banana parfait was deliciousness: roasted banana ice cream, rum caramel, candied pecans, and toasted marshmallows.

Forget Pinks Hot Dogs (also at the Melrose and LA Brea intersection) and head a little more south for great food and drinks. This was a fun night and I must say that I love dining with bloggers. You have to wait for everyone’s camera to flash on your food before you can bite into it and it seems perfectly normal that Delicious is running to other tables to steal candles for back-light. Yes, we also refer to one another by our Twitter names and have to wait until the group virtually “checks in” and tweets where we are before we can look at a menu. We are a group of wonderful weirdos that love to eat, drink, and be merry!

615 N La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 939-1148

The Tar Pit

609 N La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036


A Mini-Vacay in Culver City for a Night

LA is a vast land of 88 cities and 8 million people, it is no surprise that exploring these new cities and people can sometime feel like a mini vacation. Our friend, French Chef Wife, recently said that despite living in LA for many years she was having her first meal in Slverlake the other night. We understand, as much as we strive to explore, we are still eastsiders in our heart and get annoyed every time we pass the 405. Josie always says that those that love LA the most are the ones that venture out of their regular areas. After a previous weekend in Man Diego, we had the weird feeling that the following weekend had to be epic. What does a vacation include: unusual food, scandalous clothes, stripper poles, meeting new bartenders? We got all of that and only had to venture to Culver City last Saturday night.

Our unusual food for the evening met our vacation standards and actually surpassed them. I had Indonesian food at Simpang in Culver City with The Minty and two yelpers, one of who was a native Indonesian that did all of our ordering. We had several appetizers and plates but I can share with you only my favorites. The first picture was the spider, which Jenny (the Indonesian) ordered prior to us ever sitting down. It was a fabulous vegetable fritter that was fried and looked like its animal name. I also ordered the mie tek tek noodles which were sweet and a good addition to the meal. The rest of the dishes weren’t all that memorable to me and it seems like a lot of work to find the names and cross-reference for spelling. Although, if you would like a complete description that made up our Indonesian feast check The Minty’s post. As with most meals, there was one dish that took the cake. The dish of the night was without question the nasi bungkus! It came wrapped up like a present and you opened up the paper and then the banana leaves to reveal a mixture of rice that had a protein on each corner. There was chicken curry in one corner, beef rendang in another, citrus infused veggies, and eggs. Rather than a boxing match all of these sides worked marvelously together in unison. It was the dish I am sure I will soon crave and have fond memories of, it was fragrant and colorful perfection.

Josie was ready to go out after a long day at work, my partner works 4 jobs and 6 days a week, and joined us at our next stop. After a quick Jameson with The Minty, we all went to Rush Street for a birthday party of another Yelper. The bar was more than packed. According to someone in the party we were only let up to the second floor, where the stripper pole was, with false pretenses and using the name Lauren. Uncouth! Upstairs was so crowded and we had an answer to the age old question: Where do people on the Westside hang out? We stayed for a few hours, Josie got in to a fight with a couple on the dance floor for getting in their stripper pole space and a good night was had by all.

Around midnight, we debated going home but instead opted for checking out the hipster bar the Mandrake. We were amazed by the princess parking in front but we learned that they were closed for a private party. Our other bar in the area to check out was Bigfoot West. Josie and I are regulars at the Bigfoot in Los Feliz, so were excited to check out their second location. It is more sophisticated than the Lodge location but didn’t have that same kitschyness. Sure the bartenders are better, the crowd is cooler (not Rockabilly), but I didn’t like it as much. The stump ceiling was cool but it felt more like a movie set and the shell of a real bar. I suppose you don’t really have to chose, although I think Josie and Minty preferred this West version.

Anyway, Culver City gave us a night to remember. We are so fortunate to live in LA, which offers us so many neighborhood and cities to explore but wherever you live get out of your nook and venture out. Each exploration will act as a vacation to your every day.

My Time at the First Annual Tasty Awards

Josie and I were thrilled to be part of the process of the 1st annual Tasty Awards, as we both acted as judges. At the last minute Josie made the tough decision to honor a work commitment rather than attend the Tasty Awards with moi. I completely understood but I found myself dateless. 20 minutes before leaving for NorCal I quickly wrote a post and asked on Twitter if any SF/Bay Area foodies/bloggers wanted to accompany me to the award show and after party. In typical UG fashion, I wasn’t overwhelmed by a plethora of date options but a nice girl who goes by Smashed Potatoe was interested. Smashed Potatoe (Ashley) and I communicated via Twitter on my drive up north to my hometown of Santa Cruz. I arrived late at night, read books with my bro, and had to wake up at 7A because my favorite hair stylist Tommy-tito was sweet enough to squeeze me in on his busiest week for cut and color. He opened the Parlor, just for me, and darkened my hair and gave me bangs. I left in the late afternoon off to meet my new friend and have an adventure in San Francisco. The recommended attire was black tie but I noticed that some were in ball gowns and tuxes and some were in jeans and sandals. It reaffirmed why I love San Francisco and first annual events so much. It is the unexpected, the surprises, and all the awkward turtle and uncouth moments that make life grand. The show was hosted by the very sexy and zany Zane Lambrey of Three Sheets. I wasn’t all that familiar with him but my date Ashley was and said he was someone we definitely had to get a drink with after the show. Since you have already seen the first picture you know we made this dream a reality.

The award show began with their person of the year, Anthony Bourdain. Unfortunately, he was not there but he made a video acceptance speech and his executive producers came up and said that he asked them to tell dick and fart jokes. This is how the award show started and more uncouth and awkward turtle moments followed and caused me and my date for the evening to bond in looks and laughs. Some funny lines of the night came from the Cooking for the Clueless and her producer husband that admitted to sleeping with the talent. We were seated in the second row and had the honor of being only a few seats down from the lovely Debbie Mazar who we discovered was starting a web show called Under the Tuscan Gun. We also were both gawking at the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” guys who won the award for best animated food related movie, of course they were the only nominees but we loved them..too bad they had dates.

There was quite a lot of talk during the night from presenters and winners talking about wanting to go to the party to eat and/or drink. Ashley was making me laugh by adding in comments like, “I have seen his/her show and they need a cocktail”. It was in walking the few blocks to the after party at New People that the whole evening really loosened up. People didn’t know what the awards ceremony would be like but we all knew how to have a party. The space of the After Party was a gallery, store, and cafe. The whole event took place in Japan Town so the party was equipped with Harajuku style girls and it was funny seeing everyone get loose when alcohol and food were finally added to the mix.

One of my favorite people of the award show was the Queen of the Trailer Park, Miss Jolene Sugarbaker, who won the award for Best Comedy Series. She was a kick and was in character all night. The other award winners I thoroughly enjoyed was Average Betty and Leslie from Check, Please! Bay Area. These Tasty winners were complete UGs, as they both ended up using their awards as drink holders. Hilarious, and all women I aspire to become!

The awards show was fresh and had a laid back attitude that is unusual in such a setting. The after party was like a maze of finding all of the interesting characters of the night and searching for wine and chocolate. Ashley was a perfect date and I was thrilled to learn we both like food, booze, and have elephant tattoos. Anyway, a big thanks to all for giving me a great night and making the Tasty Awards as tasty as can be!

Thirsty Thursday: Happy Hour Lineup

There’s a great new bar downtown called The Down and Out. It is brought to you by the people of Bar 107, aka my favorite bar in LA and the one that Josie always thinks stinks (literally). The night that I fell in love with Bar 107 was Seis de Mayo where they had a 1/2 off drinks if you drop your pants night filled with karaoke and fun. Here I am with a man in an elephant thong.

The Down and Out is like the slightly more sophisticated big brother with an interest in sports to the 107. I am not a sports girl kind of a girl but I really liked the place and was impressed by their lack of downtown prices. Plus, I heard something about free pizza on game days.

Also, since we have written a lot on Montrose, it is worth noting that our local Chinese restaurant the New Moon has just opened up their lounge and offer their food at $3-$4 between 5:00P-7:00PM on Monday-Thursday. Josie and I are big fans of the BBQ spare ribs.

Another Happy Hour I discovered runs all day and every day in the bar of the very posh Drago Centro. Everything is priced between $3-$8. I had the Aviation a few weeks ago and liked it plus the bartender, Mark, was so sweet I brought him dessert to eat.  Also Megan, the Special Events Director, is one of our new friends that came to the UG Holiday Party. If all of this isn’t reason enough to check out Drago Centro, there was that one time when the woman thought I was her blind date that made it as the “Awkward Turtle Moment” of my year.

Another all day, every day, Happy Hour for you non-Eastsiders is at Bar Food in West LA. Happy Hour lasts all hours that Bar Food is open, from 5pm to midnight. Click here for the menu. We have not actually been to Bar Food yet, but we feel like we know them as we have read the owner’s tweets for a long time and we think we know who his wife is. Plus, the hot dogs are free! That deal is like a UGs wet dream.

The last Happy Hour to discuss is my favorite one that thankfully only comes once a week, or else I’d be there everyday. It is the Checkers Four where you get 4 specialty cocktails, 4 plates, for $4 each, from 4pm-8pm on Thursday. It is the deal of the century and here is the menu for tonight, January 7th, 2010:

  • Classic Gin & Tonic – what more ideal way to savor Hendrick’s flavor?  Garnished with a cucumber, rather than a lime unless you say otherwise!
  • The Aviation – from 1916, a classic.  Hendrick’s Gin, a very light Maraschino liqueur, a dash of Crème de Violette, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice!
  • The Singapore Sling – The classic 1915 drink from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore has inspired a multitude of variations.  Ours is the classic version: gin, cherry brandy, lime juice and Benedictine.  Ok, not the lightest of cocktails, but fantastic nonetheless!
  • The Mayfair Cocktail – Named after one of the swankiest districts in London… Hendricks, lemon juice and cucumber tease your palate!
  • Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs served with a Garden Herb Salad
  • Scallop Tortellini with Roasted Turnips, and a Smoked Tomato Broth
  • Torchon – duck foie gras served with brioche toast points and a huckleberry jam
  • Rapini and Green Garlic Soup with White Asparagus

Here are some photos from their last Four, before the holidays:

Wherever this Happy Hour Lineup may take you, please remember to not end up in a police lineup. In case you didn’t read my earlier tweet, I learned via Wikipedia that a police lineup in Britain is called an “Identity Parade.” That just sounds so festive, but not quite as festive as a Happy Hour!

Girls Weekend in Man Diego!

I, Josie, am officially a year older and in celebration of my birthday, Carina decided to take me on a weekend getaway to a classy hotel in San Diego. We were going to take the train, but opted to drive instead. When we arrived at The Ivy Hotel, we were taken aback to see that it looked a bit like the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. I immediately asked who the designer was, and even though it wasn’t the famous, Philippe Stark, we knew we were going to have a fun night. The front desk treated us very graciously and we ended up in a suite. There were three nightclubs in the hizzy and, as you know, we were going to try all three by the end of the night. That’s just how the UG ladies roll.

Once situated, we chilled a bottle of champagne and I took a shower in the swanky bathroom. We were shocked to see that you could see into other people’s rooms and that despite there being curtains, no one uses them. We followed suit and did nothing to give us the privacy normal folks would want. At some point in the evening, after too many glasses of champagne, I said, “I like this voyeuristic take on the world, let’s get undressed and then dress up again.” Carina agreed.

Despite already being a bottle into the night, we decided to take on Man Diego and head to dinner. We arrived at Tabule on 4th St and were immediately taken by the attentive service. Everyone working had some kind of accent, which in my book, is always super charming. Carina disclosed it was my birthday and the staff did everything from that point on to make my meal as pleasurable as possible.

The meal started with a filet mignon carpaccio with capers, scallions and parmesan. We also had the mix green salad with candied spciy nuts and a mustard papaya dressing. Both were excellent. I had the filet mignon medallions with roasted veggies and a baked potato. The sauce made the dish extra special as it was a fig reduction. Carina opted for the shrimp and scallops in brown butter sauce. We both liked our meals, but were probably more impressed by the starters.

The staff was the best part. For dessert I couldn’t decide between the cheesecake or the cannoli so they surprised me with a little bit of both. Carina went for the ice cream and exotic fruits. Since that girl eats slower than I workout, her ice cream melted. I was on coffee and she was on a milkshake. At one point during my coffee, I needed milk so she gave me melted. I had to fish mangoes out of my coffee; it’s a good thing we’re uncouth.

***I even got to blow out candles a little earlier than expected at Tabule.

From Tabule we headed back to the hotel to start on, yes, another bottle of bubbly. (I was clearly not worried about the ominous headache that was to follow.) We drank for a bit and Tweeted, as well. Here are a few of our gems:

  • J: I’m going to have birthday sex tonight. C: With who? J: I dunno… I haven’t met him yet.
  • At Tabule in SD. Kind of drunk but a lot of fun.
  • Waiter to Josie “what’s wrong?” Josie pointing to Carina, “she put ice cream in my coffee. I am fishing out mango pieces.”
  • Man Diego, here we come!
  • Who did I have sex with before? -That man that what to Africa. There was a man that went to Africa, tell me more.
  • Randomly ended up in the champagne suite with stripper poles and bunk beds. Now in bed. Josie has been a year older for an hour and a half.
  • Josie outlived Tupac, who would have thunk it?
  • I don’t know what is making Josie feel sicker: last night’s birthday festivities or Carina making her watch the Jersey Shore in the morning.
  • Hey twitterazzi, Josie is dedicating her birthday to god and the gays.
  • What does a female wingman do?

The night was young so what else would we do? Ummm… ride a bull, almost fall into a fire pit, and maybe just maybe dance on a stripper pole in the penthouse suite. Breakfast proceeded and upon a suggestion from our new Twitter and real life  friend, Akesq, we headed to Cafe 222. We figured it had a cool website and that the meal would be just as interesting. Unfortunately, there was no magic at 222. However, there were some major carbs that the UGs desperately needed to absorb and in the end, that was all that mattered.

I never got kissed on New Year’s and I didn’t get kissed on my birthday eve either. Happy birthday to me!

Neighborhood Profile: Party like an Eagle Rock(Star)

Ever since we met Steve and Jeremy, owners of the Eagle Rock Brewery and father/son duo, we’ve eagerly wanted to tour their neighborhood beer headquarters. On their official opening night we got our wish. The proprietors kindly and humbly invited us into their “home” to see where this local brew is born. So after a rough week of three jobs, countless meetings and many weekday nights infused with delirious blogging, we made our way to the Eagle Rock Brewery.

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by name by the staff. We grabbed a pint of their latest, Manifesto, the second of three brews born there. The week before we tried, Solidarity, ERB’s darkest and boldest. The space is exactly how I prefer my spaces, simple and clean. No clutter, no noise. The brewery is an open space with a bar, communal tables, throw pillows and best of all, a glass garage door that facilitates an open view of the brew premises. You can order your beer, sit down and get a full view of how and where your brew is produced.

Shortly after polishing off our first pint, Jeremy came up to us and offered to begin the technical tour of the brewery. I was so excited. We’ve been a fan of these guys’ business for a year now and, well, I’m a beer snob so taking a tour of the place where this locally produced gem is born gave me goosebumps.

Some cool facts on the ERB are:

  • Takes two weeks to produce any one of their three brews.
  • The three are: Manifesto, Solidarity and Revolution.
  • In any two week period 3,200 pints of beer can be born at ERB
  • Father is a first and son is a second generation beer maker
  • They are going to begin bottling soon
  • And lastly, just to show you they REALLY care. Lin, Jeremy’s sister-in-law, designs all the beer labels and merchandise

After our tour we got to talking to Steve and he told us many stories. The place, the people, and the ambiance were all so warm. The pretentiousness that you get with many craftsmen were nonexistent. It was humble and kind in every way. It’s amazing how much the folks at ERB did themselves. From the beer, to the paint on the walls, to the propaganda-looking beer labels. All of it was in-house. You could taste the pride. It felt good to just be there – drinking one of 3,200 pints. Congrats, ERB!

During the tour I was asking a ton of questions and fascinated by the process. Carina, on the other hand, was quietly listening until Steve showed us some dog prints in the cement. It seems they mysteriously appeared. There is no dog that they know of and so they have to imagine that a dog snuck in late at night when the cement was setting. Carina was captivated as if this was a great ghost story or mystery she had to solve. She demanded I take this photo, so here it is.

After my one beer I was done, exhausted, and needing to go home. My need for for sleep was monstrous but Carina and H.C. decided to continue the night and they headed to Larkin’s, which calls itself “a contemporary soul food joint”. I am now going to pass this post on to Carina. —>

I had never been to Larkin’s before, but when H.C. said he liked it I was immediately sold. Upon arrival I noticed a CASH ONLY sign. H.C. and I both did a wallet check and I clocked in with a $20 bill and he had $25. We sat down nervous about having to stay within a set budget but then we spotted a lifesaver, an ATM machine, and we knew we had no limits. You get a lovely cold black eyed pea salad when seated. The menu was large and thoughtful, both of us went back and forth several times with what we wanted. I decided on the meatloaf and chose mashed potatoes and pasta salad as my sides. H.C. initially ordered the catfish and switched to chicken and dumplings when I was in the bathroom. The meatloaf had a great kick to it but it was really dense and much drier than what I wanted. The pasta salad didn’t do much for me either but the garlic mashed potatoes were great and I am not a big mashed potato fan. H.C. loved his chicken and dumplings, which were a special that night.

If you follow H.C. aka LAOCFoodie on Twitter then you know that he has a therapeutic ritual everyday, eating a piece of chocolate. Knowing this about the guy, I was certain that dessert would be ordered. My sweet tooth normally falls in the fruity realm so I suggested we get the berry cobbler. It was excellent.  I was not thrilled with my ordering choices but this place has an extensive menu and I fully intend to delve deeper into it again. The dishes I liked, I really liked. The funny moment came at the end with the bill where there was some confusion since H.C. switched his order. It took two tries to resolve but no harm, no foul. I was in New Orleans for the first time in February and just fell in love with the people, food, and city. This place was a fresh and unique taste on that and the building itself reminded me of all  the restaurants in Portland where you feel as though you were dining in someone’s house. I guess that’s the best way to describe Larkin’s; it’s cozy and feels like home. There was another uncouth moment where a waiter ran up to our table and blew out what was left of a completely melted down candle. Larkin, the chef in the back, smelled smoke and was trying to figure out where it was coming from. Yup, it was our table and we didn’t even notice.

H.C. and I didn’t drink at dinner because we were on a cash budget, which we stayed $7 under with tax and tip. Not bad. Anyway, afterward we thought we deserved a drink that could be paid for with a card. I recommended my neighborhood favorite, The Chalet, which has since become The Black Boar. It is basically the same owners and bartenders but they have a new name, slightly different decor, a fooseball table and darts, and they added more alcohol. Not bad improvements. We had a lovely drink and I remembered that Josie and I were both there for a drink last NYE. We always say that we LOVE Highland Park and we do but Eagle Rock also has a ton of great things to offer. Just remember to party like an Eagle Rock(Star)!

Join Us at Checkers Downtown for 4 Hours of $4 Happy Hour

If you read the blog last week then you know that I was blown away with the Happy Hour at Checkers Downtown. I was so impressed that I want you all to join us tonight, Thursday, December 17th, from 4pm-8pm. Below is the sip and nosh menu for the day all priced at $4.

  • Checkers’ Holiday Mulled Wine – red wine spiced with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, peppercorns, and fennel, for the perfect winter’s evening drink!
  • Hot Buttered Rum – The warm welcome of Sailor Jerry rum, the familiarity of December spices, melded with the creamy richness of spiced butter.
  • Hot Apple Pie – Traditional Apple Cider, with a hint of Tuaca liqueur, and whipped cream!  Spiritual!!
  • Chocolate Candy Cane Martini – OK, a little departure from the previous three!  White chocolate liqueur, vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, and half-and-half.
  • Bay Scallops served with roasted butternut squash;
  • A Confit of Chicken served with creamy orzo;
  • Crab salad with cranberry, pomegranate, and pear; and
  • A secret 4th plate – hint: it’s Chef Todd’s ingenious take on pork-loin!

Hope to see you all tonight and maybe if we have energy afterward we can head to the opening of Lazy Ox Canteen or go to the Down & Derby Roller Disco at the Echoplex, my favorite monthly event in LA. I have been not once but twice and love getting my skate on!