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

More Montrose Musings

We began our neighborhood profile series with Montrose, the foothill neighborhood that plays home to the UG Global Headquarters a few months ago. Since then, I have been holding down the fort as my other half, Miss Josie, returned her real job-the one that actually pays her. In between Christmas and the New Year, she had some time off and returned to our office (conference room) for strategizing and local lunches. One place we dined at months ago was called Black Cow Cafe. We liked our lunch and on a rainy day we made our return. We discovered that we already knew our waiter, Drew, who is also the manager at Cafe 140, the most affordable restaurant of the Smith Brothers in Pasadena. He was a great waiter there and we even remember tweeting how much we enjoyed Drew at 140. He was just as wonderful at Black Cow Cafe. He made our wait bearable, joined me in laughing at Josie’s inability to follow a story, and brought us everything we desired from extra lemons to more hot water. Of course, the service was phenomenal but what about the food?

Josie had B.C. Chicken Sandwich with chicken, avocado, mushrooms, melted jack cheese, and sour cream on sourdough bread. It was as delicious as it sounds and who knew that sour cream worked so well on a sandwich? I ordered the tomato basil cappellini. The one thing that we really loved was that both of our meals came with either a caesar salad or the house salad. Most times Josie and I would go for our man, Caesar, but our wonderful waiter Drew had us get the house salad. The house salad was my dream salad, it came with chopped romaine, raisins, sprouts, and more in a lemon balsamic dressing. It was a notch above almost any other restaurant’s house salad. We will make it a point to return on Wednesdays when Drew is working and we even have a special table reserved for us, the window facing #15.

After lunch, we arrived at the office and finally began our day. Our friend stopped by for a tour and then our website developer, Ian, came to show us a mock-up he’s done. Yup, we are bringing you a new site in 2010 so get ready. After a few hours at work our hunger once again returned and I suggested we all utilize that new restaurant discount website Blackboard Eats. The featured restaurant of the week was La Cabanita, which was only blocks away from our office. Whenever I tell people that I work in Montrose this is always where they ask if I have dined. Up until this point we had never dined there and were stoked about using our 30% off dinner passcode.

The place is small and the way to the bathroom is covered with “celeb” photos and accolades. For dinner, I ordered the enchiladas and because I couldn’t decided between the mole and tomato sauce they offered to give me a combo of both. Our developer, Ian, had the shrimp filled chiles. Josie ordered a sopes combo and got a side of cactus (or is it cacti?)

All of the food was good, nothing mind blowing, and so affordable thanks to Blackboard Eats. Our favorite thing was the mole sauce that came on my single enchilada, I should have had it on all three. The moral of this Montrose Musings post is that even in this small town, there are endless culinary experiences to be had and the sweetest people to meet.

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!

Nothing Morose about Montrose

Since mid-October Montrose has played home to the UG global headquarters and it has been a joy for us exploring this foothill neighborhood. Where Ocean View and Honolulu meet is not a beach front view, but it is just as charming. It is another land of candy shops, ice cream, sewing and pet stores. You feel like you have been dropped into Main St. of any town in America. When Josie was here full-time we had regular walking strolls to the delicious frozen yogurt place down the street called Fro-Yo Life. We would walk in and say “Fro-yo life” in our most gangsta voices and scare children while playing games of Connect Four that they let you borrow. Josie would get her enoromous peanut butter fro-yo with a ton of chocolate, granola, and cookie dough toppings and I’d get a small fruity fro-yo with mochi, rainbow sprinkles, and yogurt chips.

Our other Montrose favorite is the New Moon, which despite causing Josie the shrimp incident has fully redeemed itself. They have the greatest staff and owners and a Chinese Chicken Salad that makes the UGs swoon. We are counting the days until their lounge opens. They have also provided us one of the funniest dining moments when they showcased their new system to clearly mark food that Josie cannot eat.

Since Josie has returned back to her full-time job, aka the one that actually pays her, I have had to discover some places on my own. One of my favorites became Gourmet A Go Go, which is where I would get an artichoke with balsamic and some brisket on a regular basis. Through Twitter I learned that a new restaurant called Fork was opening in Montrose. I went on the first day lunch was served and immediately realized that the space was far too familiar and was the former home of Gail Connell’s Gourmet A Go Go.

Sitting down at the counter, I spotted Gail and she said the restaurant is a new concept with her and another chef, Michael Ruiz. As it says on the Fork site: “The goal is to share a common space to keep costs down while offering a new dining option to the area”. This is a clever concept and something  that has worked brilliantly for our friend, Chef Ludo. Like Chef Ludo, Michael Ruiz is  a good looking chef with tattoos, a large French influence, and a lot of creative dishes. I wish I would have come in for dinner to explore that side of the menu, but alas after a breakfast of gummy worms and chocolate covered pomegranates my lunch had to be simple and vegetable heavy. I ordered the tomato, mozarella, basil, and olive tapanade panini. It was good and I was glad to learn that the bread was from another local favorite of ours Berolina Bakery.

Again, my panini was good but Chef Michael Ruiz was the chef and owner of Bistro Verdu and Ingredients and I want to come back in for dinner and to completely stick my fork in to this restaurant and their working class bistro menu concept. As far as the dinner menu goes we want to try the pumpkin ravioli, duck confit salad, and the short ribs.

Anyway, Montrose is a great little neighborhood and we are proud to have our business blossom in such a yummy and kind town!