Archive for the 'Los Angeles' Category

Faith & Flower – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Faith & Flower - Downtown, Los Angeles

Unless you’ve given up social media for Lent, chances are that you’ve heard a little somethin’ somethin’ about Downtown’s newly opened Faith & Flower.

There’s a great chef in the kitchen (Michael Hung of San Francisco’s La Folie) and a talented bar man too (Michael Lay of Vegas’s Rose. Rabbit. Lie), but what really drew me here was my friend Stephane Bombet, one of the restaurant’s managing partners. This is his first project since parting with Chef Ricardo Zarate‘s Peruvian empire (Mo-Chica, Picca, Paiche, and Blue Tavern).

Faith & Flower - Downtown, Los Angeles

Whereas most of Downtown’s popular spots are minimally appointed and distinctly urban, Faith & Flower feels downright sumptuous, complete with crystal chandeliers, fancy cutlery and chargers, and plush banquettes. To keep the done-up room from feeling formal or stuffy, the energy, music, and service all hit the perfect upbeat yet casual note.

Faith & Flower - Los Angeles (Downtown)

To start, we tried two of Michael Lay’s creations. I chose the intense and smoky “Olvera” ($14) made with Nuestra Soledad mezcal, Cherry Heering, Zirbenz Stone Pine, Royal Combier, housemade orange bitters, and lapsang souchong vapor, while The Astronomer selected the “Angels Flight” ($12) with Denizen rum, yuzu, palm sugar, and kaffir lime leaf.

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Fishing with Dynamite – Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach)

Fishing with Dynamite - Manhattan Beach

Let’s just get this out of the way: Fishing with Dynamite is dynamite!

And might I add, far and away my favorite of Los Angeles’ modern seafood shacks (Ahem, Son of a Gun and Connie & Ted’s). From its steps-from-the-ocean locale to Chef David LeFevre’s fantastic cooking, everything about this spot hits the mark.

Fishing with Dynamite - Manhattan Beach

Considering The Astronomer’s and my collective adoration of Chef LeFevre’s M.B. Post, it took us far too long to make our way to its sister restaurant. The airy, 35-seat seafood haven pays homage to the summers the chef spent on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, as well as to Southern California’s beach communities, according to the restaurant’s website.

Prior to making his mark on Manhattan Beach’s dining scene, Chef LeFevre spent seven years at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and six years as Executive Chef of Water Grill in Downtown Los Angeles.

Fishing with Dynamite - Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach)

Most everyone digs into pristine seafood, minimally fussed and chilled over ice, to start. We shared the smallest of the composed platters, “The S.S. Minnow” ($45), which was comprised of four lovely oysters, two meaty clams, four butter-poached shrimp, six steamed mussels, and half a lobster.

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Bourbon Steak – Glendale

Bourbon Steak - Glendale

Glitz. Glam. Glendale! Can you dig it?

Bourbon Steak - Glendale

I made my way to The Americana at Brand last week, the epicenter of Glendale’s aforementioned glitz and glam, for a very special dinner celebrating Chef Michael Mina’s newly opened Bourbon Steak and the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d. Both merited plenty of wine and red meat.

This is Chef Mina’s 18th restaurant and the 5th Bourbon Steak; there are additional locations in Scottsdale, Washington D.C., Miami, and San Francisco. The space feels incredibly swanky with an impressive patisserie up front, plush leather seating throughout, and a grand piano by the bar.  

Bourbon Steak - Glendale

The evening’s menu featured a diverse selection of dishes highlighting Bourbon Steak’s contemporary approach to classic American fare. There was plenty of meat and seafood, of course, but also very thoughtful and interesting starters and sides. [See full menu here].

Back when Chef Mina’s XIV was alive and kickin’ on the Sunset Strip, these duck fat fries were a happy hour mainstay. Fried crisp-golden, the shoestrings were served with house-made ketchup, barbecue sauce, and truffle aioli.

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Gracias Madre – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)

Gracias Madre - West Hollywood

While driving home from dinner at Gracias Madre last week, my mind kept coming back to the idea of comfort zones. Namely, how my food comfort zone is calibrated a lot differently than other people’s. I feel perfectly at ease in a dingy restaurant where no English is spoken and offals are served, but take me to a fancy vegan joint in a ritzy part of town, and I feel a little like a fish out of water. 

One man’s comfort zone is another’s uncharted course.

Gracias Madre - West Hollywood

I stepped squarely out of my element for a taste of Gracias Madre, a much-buzzed-about and beautifully appointed restaurant specializing in vegan Mexican fare. Chef Chandra Gilbert opened the first Gracias Madre in San Francisco in 2009 along with Café Gratitude founders Matthew and Terces Engelhart. She formerly worked at Alice Waters’ now-closed Café Fanny in Berkeley and Cowgirl Creamery and Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.

The restaurant sources its organic produce exclusively from Be Love Farm in Vacaville, as well as from local farmers markets.

Gracias Madre - West Hollywood

While my dining companions Diana and Valentina sipped spicy cocktails to start, I began with a cool glass of horchata ($5.50). Made of almond milk instead of the traditional rice milk, the agua fresca had a thicker consistency than I was expecting. Considering that horchata is naturally vegan, I found the ingredient swap unnecessary, especially since the end product wasn’t nearly as refreshing.

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