Figaro Cafe: HH with Crab Cakes, Mussels, and Escargot

Figaro Cafe was the home of the only hot bartender on the Hot Bartenders Crawl in Los Feliz a couple of months ago.  Therefore when the Happy Hour experts, The Minty and The Vixen, asked me to join them for the Happiest of Hours, I quickly agreed. I had just returned from my trip up in NorCal and Josie had class that night so I made the trek to my old hood. I lived in Los Feliz in the giant orange building behind the post office for two years of my life and I exhausted every shop and restaurant on the two main blocks. I used to go into Figaro Cafe for a croissant and to get a spotting of Danny Bonaduce after his radio show. Side Note: My mom used to tell me she sent fan letters to Danny Bonaduce in her teenage years. After I watched the Partridge Family in re-runs I asked her, “How could you have a crush on Danny?” She explained to me that she didn’t, she loved David Cassidy like all the other teeny boppers, but she was worried that Danny would get no mail and be sad that David Cassidy got bags full. That is my mother, she is the most considerate person. I told her I would tell that story at her funeral but I might as well tell it here, while she still very much alive.

Anyway, I arrived this evening at 5:45 and walked in with the Minty. The Vixen was already there and had just downed the smallest martini in the smallest martini glass I have ever seen. She laughed when she saw us staring and said, “Well, in all fairness, it does say mini martini on the Happy Hour menu.” It was priced at $5 but it was probably half the price and size of the normal sized martini. I am not sure if that is a deal so I got champagne for $5. Minty did the food ordering and got us escargot, mussels, crab cakes, and I piped in for the carpaccio that I have had there numerous times. All of this food ordered off the Happy Hour Menu and ranged in price from $4.50-$6. There HH is everyday from 5pm-7pm. The escargot was OMG garlicky, but apparently I was the only one complaining. It costs under 5 bucks for 1/2 dozen of these snails and it is well worth it. These slippery little suckers (oh yeah, Pretty Woman reference) stick around way after they have been consumed, not just the garlic aftertaste but you can dip your bread into their butter and you get a brand new delicious dish. The carpaccio was just as good as I remembered and the mussels were also doused in garlic. The food was good quality and well worth the discounted prices.

I don’t want to generalize but what is it with bad service at French restaurants and bad service in the actor infested Los Feliz? There were several awkward turtle moments with various waiters and waitresses. We had to say “We would like bread, too” when we noticed all of of the surrounding tables were topped with baskets of bread. I had the extra table torn away even while my arm was resting on it. We also had to play musical drinks each time the drinks arrived because they were served to the wrong people. Minty ordered the exact same drink for the night, a $4 well drink with bourbon and soda, and it seems that each time was various degrees of alcohol content and different levels of glass fullness. We laughed it off and said, “We get it, you are an ac-tor” in our heads. Whatever it was a fun night with the two girls that are bringing LA the Sexy Single Soiree 2.0 next week. It was also deliciously inexpensive snails, I was happy. Although, I would have been happier if the hot bartender, Ventura, was working.

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Sizzling Hot Good Times Despite Lukewarm Bartenders

Minty has become one of my best foodie friends and she is also the one I look up to as my leader, crawl leader that is. This past Friday night was the Hot Bartender Crawl #2 that she organized in Los Feliz. I lived in Los Feliz for two years one street west of Vermont so consider this area my old stomping ground. My ex-boyfriend and I spent Sundays being serenaded by the accordion player at Palermos, eating Mac n Cheese balls at Fred 62 at 4A, and endless days playing scrabble at the Leonardo DiCaprio library, Psycohobabble, SBux, and the Daily Grind. This was my old hood and I have a ton of memories in this little couple block neighborhood. I was excited for the evening and even brought along my friend Nora and her boyfriend, who assumed we were referring to hot female bartenders when he agreed to come. As Minty describes this event, it is a Bachelorette Party without the bride. As a girl that used to work for Bride’s Night Out, the nation’s premiere Bachelorette Party Planning Company, I knew this would be a night right up my alley. Here was the line-up for the crawl:

Figaro Bistrot

I arrived a little early with my friends and we decided to sit outside and grab a little bite along with the our cocktail. I walked in to the bar saw the Minty and I met Jennie from The Happy Hour Tour. She was fantastic and I was bummed I missed the Happy Hour with the HHT girls and Josie a few months ago. I walked back to my table and thought I would catch up with the girls later but I thought there was still a silly way that I could be involved with what was going on in the bar. I was sitting next to two Italian men that were getting ready to go. I told them to walk in the bar and ask for “The Minty” and tell them Carina says hi. The man did so, Minty thought she she should stop 4sq’ing due to stalkers, and I sat outside laughing. Figaro lived up to the crawl name by having a Hot Bartender. His name was Ventura and little did I know he’d be the only hot one of the night. He was adorable and as friendly as can be. Here is a picture of Jennie and I with him, but unfortunately his eyes are closed. Check the Minty’s post for a better pic and another recap of the fantastic GNO (Girls Night Out)!

Agave Tequila House y Cantina

This second location was far bigger than the first and I was joined by my other UG half and one of my favorite Twitter/Techie friends Veronica of VeronicainLA and Venturing with a Vengance. The problem with this place was that the bartender wasn’t nearly as cute and he as an “actor” didn’t want his picture taken. Yes, that makes less than no sense to me, as well. The mojito here was described by Minty as “Weak as Hell”.

1739 Public House

The third stop had no male bartenders but a ton of guys in the establishment. I have issues with sports bars so I was not into it. But Josie, who is a beer drinker and more of the man, loved it. Oh yes, and she is B-O-Y-C-R-A-Z-Y and this place was filled with them.

Rockwell VT

The Rockwell is where the night once again picked up. The cocktails were better, we had a cute bartender, and sometimes a tease is exactly what the ladies want. What do I mean by a tease? Well, there are a ton of gay men at the Rockwell so we got the eye candy even if we couldn’t taste it. Whatever this was a girls night and at this venue I think there was a total of 30 of us girl crawlers. I got the same Champagne Rocktail that I enjoyed many of on my birthday celebration a few months back and Minty got a beautiful drink called the Gemini with grilled grapefruit.

Dresden Room

The Marty and Elaine locale was to be the last stop of the night. It was here that we got our only group picture of the night. Minty and I who are self-proclaimed food ballers had done a terrible job eating this day, so let’s just say alcohol was hitting us harder and faster. As the group headed home at around 1A, Minty, Veronica, and I headed to Fred 62. There was a 20 minutes wait so we walked across the street and instead went to House of Pies, home to many of my dessert dates and outings with the kids I used to nanny. I got a hamburger, Veronica had onion rings, and Minty had a bacon avacado burger. Maybe it was from all of the booze but my burger was perfection and a great end to a successful Girls Night Out and Hot Bartender Crawl!

Minty has more crawls up her sleeve and I am so stoked about her next bar crawl in WeHo called Gays & Dolls. It pairs hetero women with gay men. I have wanted a Will for my Grace for so long that I even went back and found a classified ad I wrote in search of a gay boyfriend nearly a year ago. As much fun as I have with my girlfriends I am looking for some that are, well, men.

Girls Having a (Matzah) Ball!

I was recently told that I am not disclosing as much about my relationship and dating adventures as my other UG half, Josie, this post is an attempt to correct that. I am going to strive to be as honest as possible. We all know that Josie pines for Mr. Fig aka Mr. Tartless but perhaps my own dating escapades are more unknown. One of my good friends, who just happened to be best friends with my ex, had a show in downtown. His band The Mo Odds are awesome and I was excited to see my friend Tony especially after he asked me on Facebook: “Am I neglecting you?” We have been missing our tennis and wine club for more months than I care to count. Josie and I were going to see him at Casey’s bar but when I arrived there was no one there. Apparently, I had the wrong time and they were really set to go on at 11. It was now 10pm and I had a second party to attend, a Shabbat birthday dinner. My friend Barrett has become both my business and religious mentor. He also has become a yenta and told me that I must stick to kosher meat and pressured me in to dating Jews exclusively. Clearly, he knows what he is talking about because he is following his dream career doing what he believes in, found his perfect shul, and has an amazing Brazilian girlfriend whose birthday we were celebrating.

Lilian is awesome and while not being born Jewish has definitely proved to be the Jewish woman I dream to become. Every week she thinks of fun ways to celebrate the sabbath through interesting culinary choices. Being kosher, does not mean not being creative. On our Shabbat dinners spent with this cool young downtown couple we have had traditional Mediterranean, kosher Chinese, Indian, and Italian food. Her birthday was no exception and this week’s theme was southern with fried fish, barbecue beef ribs and chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes.

It was a fun night with delicious kosher food. I ended up giving a ride home to a guy that was supposed to ask me to dinner a month ago. Apparently, he had my phone number incorrectly in his phone so that never happened. This was not the typical guy. He has drivers, lives in a hotel, and his family’s winery has 80% of the kosher wine market. He was making Josie and I crack up all night and when I took him home I got talked in to going back to the hotel for breakfast the next morning and then going to shul. I have been to the very cool and hip Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles a few times and really like it there. I can’t read/understand Hebrew but I like eating pickles and talking to everyone after services. I don’t like singing but am all about pounding on the table and taking l’chaims. I was planning on a Saturday at home reading and watching movies but this guy is clearly not used to the word “no”. He made up parking spots for me, talked to door men, read through the Torah quickly so I could get out at the time I desired, and after returning convinced me to go to the movies. We were shuttled to the theater down the street and afterward had dinner. I was planning on none of this and one cocktail and half a bottle of champagne later I went home and fell asleep. By the way, the UGs will be taking a tour of the Herzog Winery in Oxnard in the very near future!

Josie called me and woke me up from my nap telling me that the very lovely Lisa from the Party Bus was having her party at the same place I had mine, The Rockwell. I was going to tell her that she was on her own, as I was way out of it, but I read her FB status that read: “My dear Carina will you take me on a date tonight?” I knew I couldn’t leave my other half hanging. As good UGs, we brought pear and gooseberry tarts and madeleines that we made for the birthday girl.

It was great seeing Lisa, Arun, Kane, and the vivacious Veronica who is finally back from Australia. I was busy talking to someone all night that went from Harvard to Burning Man and had an ancestor that was responsible for telegraphing the Emancipation Proclamation to all the armed forces. It is times like these, meeting all of these fascinating people, that make me so thrilled to be single in LA. I have been slightly down lately because the guy that I have a crush on told me he loved me twice but he was sleeping and had no recollection of it in the morning. I love declarations of love and have an affinity for crazy men that tell me that they love in the first week. It was far too early to hear such terms but I got excited and then disappointed. Oh well, it is good to have less pressure on that particular gentleman and just have fun. I went home on Saturday night with my favorite date, Josie. We woke up and got breakfast at Twohey’s in Alhambra. Josie is a champ and got the lumberjack breakfast and I had the tuna melt with the famous onion rings.

The food was classic diner and very filling. The story behind Twohey’s and their famous logo of the man with his nose plugged is that a woman was seated by a man who got his burger with pickles and onions and uttered “Oh Stink-o”. It was so good it stuck and is perfectly uncouth! The best part about this place is the people watching and the excellent management. The sweet manager, who is a member of the family business, came up and made sure we were enjoying our meal. I commented to Josie about what a nice Jewish man he was. When he returned Josie asked if he was Jewish. He responded, “Look at me, I am Greek…we are all cousins”. We gave him our card and he came back a few minutes later and said,  “Ladies, I looked at your blog and you two are having too much fun!” Truer words have never been spoken! We are having a ball or at the very least a matzah ball!