Woodlands Cafe: An Unusual Location for Great Thai

A few weeks ago I was alone in the office and had a hankering for some curry. I was interested in the Thai variety but I feared that there was nothing good in the Montrose area. I did a quick Yelp search and the first place that came up was called Woodlands Cafe. It had 5 stars- a rarity in the Yelp world. My first thought, “well these are white foothill people what do they know about Thai food”? Have no fear, the hypocrisy is not lost on me. Although, I constantly say I am Asian in my heart; sadly, I am not in my blood. I did, however, live in Los Feliz/Thai Town for 2 years and consider myself somewhat of an expert from years eating at Ord, Ruen Pair, and Yai. I was interested in trying this perfectly starred restaurant near my office. I called in an order of panang curry and some tom ka kai. The lady on the phone was very sweet but she misheard my name and called me Serena. I liked the name, so I didn’t mind at all.  I drove by and missed the place at first. I then went up an alley to retrace my steps and in the alley I found a very colorful adorable preschool. As I turned the corner I saw the very colorful, also preschool-looking Thai restaurant. I walked in and the sweetest woman behind the counter asked, “Serena?” I happily nodded and when I went to pay by credit card, she looked down and was embarrassed that my name was actually “Carina.” I shrugged it off and told her it was fine. I left this tiny establishment and brought it back to the office to eat.

I poured the curry over the rice and it was perfect. Not spicy but surely I could have asked for it to be. What impressed me the most was the tom ka kai soup and the mushrooms in it. I hate straw mushrooms. I mean I love all mushrooms- they are zero calories of deliciousness, but straw mushrooms are always canned and, well, canned mushrooms are disgusting. It is my only grudge against Casa Bianca. I like my shrooms all-natural. However, these straw mushrooms had a perfect bite. I was so impressed by meal that I returned to dine in with our new intern, Maria.  Here at UG Global Headquarters, lunch is always top priority. We sat at one of the few booths in the joint and were served by the same lovely lady. The menu was interesting, all pictures with a big photo of a dish per page. Maria got the pad thai extra spicy (I like the girl’s style). I ordered the ginger and chicken and asked her to add in bamboo shoots; I am basically a panda bear in love with all rooty things.  The sweet woman smiled and told me she loves the shoots.  I asked her why her straw mushrooms were so darn good and she explained she spends a lot more and gets them shipped in a bag from Thailand. Great business decision, totally worth the extra money. I really love this place and find it to be some delicious neighborhood Thai.

Woodlands Cafe
Category: Thai
Neighborhood: Glendale
2527 Canada Boulevard.
Glendale, CA 91208

What’s Bubbling and Brewin’ Around Verdugo Road

Our social lives were once again made possible by our bff, Twitter. Speaking of which, do you think in 2010 twitter talk will become the new baby talk? Twello twits, what’s tweetin’? Anyway, the owner of Rosso Wine Shop found our post on Montrose and wrote this:

@uncouthgourmand If the UG Headquarters is in Montrose how come you have not visited us in Sparr Heights @rossowineshop?!

It was a good question and actually I was talking about visiting some local wine shops for an upcoming budget wine post. Rosso is blocks away from our office and Josie and I arrived just in time to try some champagne. The special occasion of the night was their open house which featured neighborhood businesses. Bashan restaurant is neighbors with Rosso and they offered some complimentary small bites for the occasion including tuna tartare, cauliflower soup, and a braised pork sandwich. All were delicious and that will definitely be a restaurant to check out when the UG are back in the money.

The star of the night was the wine shop that was everything you imagine a neighborhood wine shop should be. If you read our Montrose post you know that this area has earned a place in our heart and it was reaffirmed at the wine shop when I ran in to the couple that I sat next to at Fork only days before. I am now a member of the community. Rosso owner, Jeff, was charming as he poured us some bubbly and it is clear that he is living his dream of bringing reasonably priced wine to this foothill neighborhood. It says on their site that they are a “neighborhood wine shop for the disenchanted Trader Joe wine-buyer, social nomad and local wine enthusiast.” I think that is exactly what LA needs more of and it was a fantastic neighborhood find. I hope they didn’t mind meeting us because I am pretty sure we will return often to grill them on all of our wine questions.

As I previously stated this night was made possible entirely by Twitter. I read early on in the day that Verdugo Bar was going to be serving the first pours of Eagle Rock Brewery brew. This was huge news because for the last year I have been following the progress of Eagle Rock Brewery on their blog and Twitter and find myself fully invested in this story and their success. Josie and I arrived at around 7:30 and despite being at Verdugo Bar before this was my first time driving there and arriving sober. I saw Josie’s car already parked and so I parked next to it, knowing that she beat me and was already inside. I saw a group of people of standing by a lit building with christmas lights and started walking towards the crowd. I heard yelling in Spanish and beer bottles being thrown. Clearly I was not at the right place, and these lights were from a house. I called Josie who walked outside from across the street and laughed at how I missed the enormous cocktail sign. She already ordered us are Eagle Rock brew, which was a black mild ale called Solidarity. I felt honored to be served the first batch and since we were one of the first 20 people to try it we got this awesome commemorative glass with the logo.

Leave it up to Josie to sit next to someone important and she was seated right next to Chris Spradley, the LA Craft Beer Examiner. Josie showed off her beer knowledge with IPA definitions that he already knew and I showcased my beer girly-ness in saying that my favorite beer was the lavender one from The Bruery and La Fin Du Monde from Unibroue. It was great fun to talk beer. I was telling the Beer Examiner that my main problem with beer is that I drink it too slowly and then it gets warm and I no longer want it and he said that most beers, like Solidarity, should be served a little more at room temperature. Who would have known? This was the first batch of Solidarity and while I am not the biggest fan of dark beers, Josie is, I still drank the whole thing. Chris introduced us to the Eagle Rock Brewers who were busy tasting and making sure that their baby was perfect. As I have known from the blog this is a family operation headed by father and son. The son, Jeremy Raub, was sure that he already met us at the LA Craft Beer Fest but honestly we remember very little of that day. The father, Steve Raub, was quick to point out that he was Vice President and that it was his son that was President. It was such a sweet family dynamic and it was so nice to hear their story. Steve started brewing at home as soon as Jimmy Carter lifted the ban and once Jeremy was married and moved in to his house he asked his dad to make a celebratory brew and the rest is history. That is the greatest birth of an enterprise since our baby, Uncouth Gourmands, was born on the trains of Europe. Relax, I kid. Anyway, as far as first batches go, this brew was pretty tasty and this is coming from a girl that likes her beer as she likes her men: light and fruity. There was a strong roasted coffee and chocolate aroma and definitely was something I’d drink again. In the next few weeks they will be launching 2 more brews. The next one will be a crisp Belgian-style beer and the final in the trio will be hoppy, floral, extra pale ale. With all of their beer bases covered we are excited to sample the trio and may even get a tour of the brewery soon.

When it comes to wine shops, brews, and bars on Verdugo Road we are in completely solidarity and wish them all the best of luck. We will be back and we are hoping that you all have plenty more to serve us!

Local Eats: Bur, Glen, Pas, Arc

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The Uncouth Gourmands’ Wedding Album continues…as read on on My Facebook Status:

Carina Ost: In Santa Cruz until Wed (according to the wife). Big party at my house today from 12-3 for my Grandpa’s 90th

Carina’s Friend Jaye: wife? lesbian now?

Carina Ost: Practically, but without the fun. We are business partners instead of life partners

Josie Mora: Like Oprah and Gayle? Arun can be Stedman

The beginning of the week was hectic, I was stuck at school overwhelmed with 50+ pages due on Monday and Tuesday. When I knew that I had to work all day at school on Saturday, there was only one silver lining and that was being in Burbank on a Saturday. You all better know what Saturdays in Burbank means; it means barbecue tri-tip sandwiches at Handy Market.

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I once wrote this on Yelp about the sandwich:

My freshman year in college this boy called me to ask me out on a date and I said “I don’t think so I just bought the most amazing looking sandwich and am planning on eating it tonight”. Every time I saw him after that he’d say, “remember the sandwich you blew me off for?”
Well I do remember the sandwich because I went back every Saturday for the BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich. That is the only day you can get it and you will never forget it.
The guy was not bad looking but the sandwich was much more memorable.

As soon as all my work was turned in I began to re-enter the world with my partner near my dining side. On Wednesday, Josie and I met with a photographer to discuss a possible UG photo shoot. We are thinking maybe white background, red dresses, UG bibs, and Carina with a crab leg in hand and Josie with ribs. Any other ideas? Okay on to the food, I was craving Middle Eastern and specifically Cafe Bravo’s cornish hen kabob with tabbouleh and yogurt with spinach. Josie had the chicken kabob with tabbouleh and hummus. We were famished. Our photographer looked at us as if we were animals as he  only sipped a Snapple. Josie, like always, put me to eating shame as she cleared her whole 2 plates and I did not. The food is so insane good, remember to ask for the garlic sauce (50 cents) which is similar to that of Zankou’s.

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Later that night Josie and I decided to do a late night work session. Josie lives near the racetrack and I have my favorite slush shop in Arcadia. I was feeling nice, okay mostly thirsty, so I grabbed us some for the evening. My slush place is called Genki Living and it is a trip, the inside of the shop looks likes the outside in  Tokyo. There is a tree in the middle and a telephone booth and benches. I got the Strawberry Mango slush and the Passion fruit one. My idea was to let Josie choose but I snuck some strawfulls in the car. I also picked up some wonton soup for myself and got Josie her favorite food-rice.

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Thursday, Josie stayed in and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on dinner to-go at Porta Via. My favorite food there is the Toscano Panini with no cheese and artichoke hearts inside. I also got some artichokes with green olives and capers, the meat lasagna, and a sugar cookie. My plan was to save the lasagna and artichokes for my drive to Santa Cruz the next day but that plan failed when I got home at 3am from the Viper Room and 3rd Stop. (Uncouth story: I found an iPhone in the toilet at the Viper Room).

My midnight snack ruined my driving lunch but Josie saved the day when she invited me to lunch with her and a talented cinematographer at Bistro Provence in Burbank. I wasn’t expecting much as it was in a strip mall. However, this little French place had fresh warm bread, reasonable prices, and very tasty food. Josie and I both had the broiled chicken with fries. I went crazy for the onions under the chicken in the garlic glaze. Josie also had  the goat cheese salad for a starter. Our male companion had the ahi salad, which was very fresh and quite good.

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I left for home with a full tummy and a smile on my face. However, I already miss my other UG half…Next time I will be kidnapping her!

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