Archive for the 'Atwater Village' Category

WILD at Canelé – Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Wild at Canele - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

I had the best lunch last Thursday. In addition to the great food and even better company (Sarah! June!), it was a last hurrah before maternity leave draws to an end. These past four and a half months have been a glorious introduction to motherhood, and I am thrilled for what’s to come.

But first, lunch.

Wild at Canele - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

I’ve been desiring a meal at Ria and Matt Wilson’s pop-up WILD for weeks now, but only got my act together with my return-to-work date looming in the distance.

Prior to popping up at Canelé, Matt spent time in the kitchens at Bouchon Las Vegas, Son of a Gun, and Sqirl, while Ria cooked at The Mansion Las Vegas, Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Canelé, and Sqirl. Killer resumes, the both of ’em.

Wild at Canele - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

WILD, as defined by its Instagram blurb, is “playful, experimental and knows no cuisine boundary.” Matt and Ria’s anything-goes-so-as-long-as-it’s-delicious-and-seasonal approach means that the menu changes from week to week (sometimes even day to day), dabbling in different genres, techniques, and cuisines along the way. You never know what you’re going to get…

The duo are clearly having a blast at WILD, and I love how you can taste their collective energy in every bite.

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Proof Bakery – Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Proof Bakery - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

If you thought the recent heat wave was rough, imagine having to make croissants without air conditioning in that weather. That’s exactly what the team at Proof Bakery did, and I will forever bow down to Chef Na Young Ma and her band of talented bakers for possessing that kind of masochistic moxy. This redefines the meaning of bad ass.

Proof Bakery - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Proof Bakery, which debuted in Atwater Village in late 2010, has been a stellar addition to an already happening neighborhood (See: Canele and Viet Noodle Bar).

The aforementioned croissants are made with a touch of sourdough starter and are considered to be some of the city’s best. In addition to plain ones, Proof also makes croissants filled with Valrhona chocolate, almonds, and ham and Gruyere. These flaky pastries sell out in a heartbeat; each and every one had been scooped up by earlier birds when I arrived at 11:30 on the nose.

Proof Bakery - Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Available throughout the day is an array of stunning sweets ranging from simple to intricate. The gorgeous tart with fresh figs and diplomat cream was damn near perfect. The fruit was plain luscious, while the cream was cool and balanced. The buttery, crumbly crust tied everything together.

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{swoon} Pig Candy at Bigmista’s Barbecue

Bigmista's Barbecue - Los Angeles

A lengthy wait for a table at Canele prompted the Astronomer and me to stroll over to the Atwater Village Farmers Market to kill some time. After skipping along the aisles and nabbing samples of oranges, apples, and strawberries, we stumbled upon a man with a giant-ass smoker and a long-ass line. It turns out that Bigmista’s Barbecue is a big draw here on Sunday mornings.

Neil and Phyllis Strawder, also known as Bigmista and Mrs. Mista, launched the roving barbecue operation in 2008. They started vending at the Watts farmers market, but have since moved on to the Atwater farmers market (Sunday), the Torrance farmers market (Tuesday and Saturday), the El Segundo farmers market (Thursday), and the Echo Park farmers market (Friday).

Bigmista's Barbecue - Los Angeles

After checking out Bigmista’s menu of delights, a part of me wanted to ditch our brunching plans and instead dine on some down home goodness. Alas, I was accompanied by The Astronomer’s visiting family from Alabama who eat ‘cue on a regular basis, so only a small bite would do. I guess the ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and Moink balls (bacon-wrapped meatballs) will just have to wait!

Bigmista's Barbecue - Los Angeles

I could not resist ordering some Pig Candy ($1.50) even though brunch was moments away. It was comprised of thick slices of bacon, slathered in brown sugar and spices and smoked until the edges caramelized. Initially, it was the smoky sweetness that registered on my tongue. As I savored a little more, an intense heat was unleashed. Small, deliberate bites are the best way to approach this beastly good Pig Candy.

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Viet Noodle Bar – Los Angeles (Atwater Village)

Viet Noodle Bar - Los Angeles

While I was living in Vietnam, one of the most popular restaurant trends was repackaging traditional street food with Western aesthetics in mind. Dubbed “air-con street food” by the expatriate crowd, these joints served Vietnamese fare in comfortable settings, complete with competent waiters and English language menus. While I didn’t care too much for these sterile eateries, places like  Pho 24 and Bun Bo Xu were extremely popular with middle-class locals, tourists, and expats.

I thought that I had left air-con street food behind me when I moved to Los Angeles, but the moment I stepped into Viet Noodle Bar in Atwater Village, I was instantly transported back in time. Something about the exposed brick walls, sleek furnishings, and the romantically dated Vespa on display was reminiscent of District 1, Saigon.

Viet Noodle Bar - Los Angeles

Viet Noodle Bar serves a hodgepodge of Vietnamese dishes to a hip and trendy crowd.  According to the Los Angeles Times article “Inspired by a World of Ingredients”, the restaurant’s owner, Viet Tran, traveled across North Vietnam for five years and studied noodle-making and soy milk-making in little villages. Viet Soy Cafe in Silverlake and Viet Noodle Bar were inspired by his experiences abroad.

Viet Noodle Bar - Los Angeles

My posse of noodle-goers [Laurie, Diana, and Anjali] and I started with an order of jicama spring rolls, also known as bo bia ($5). Rolled to order, each one was filled with tofu, a jicama and carrot slaw, fried shallots, and a basil leaf. A sweet hoisin dipping sauce was served on the side. Although I generally prefer the non-vegetarian version of this dish, the freshness of the ingredients, especially the powerful punch of the basil, made me forget about the missing Chinese sausages and scrambled eggs.

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