Archive for the 'Eagle Rock' Category

The Oinkster – Los Angeles (Eagle Rock)

The Oinkster - Eagle Rock

Eagle Rock was the place to be last Friday night for track and field lovers and their pastrami-craving spouses. While The Astronomer was stoked to see some of the nation’s best distance runners competing at Occidental College, I was excited for dinner beforehand at Chef Andre Guerrero’s The Oinkster. It was truly a win-win situation for all parties involved, a rarity that we recognized and relished.

The Oinkster - Eagle Rock

The Oinkster opened sometime in 2006 and the crowds haven’t let up since, especially with Guy Fieri joining the legion of fans. A line a dozen deep was snaking out the door when we arrived at half past six.

The menu here is all-American with a “slow fast food” bent. There are burgers, roasted pork, and rotisserie chicken to be had, but everyone seems to dig the pastrami most. Everything is reasonably priced under ten bucks.

The Oinkster - Eagle Rock

We snagged a seat by the window as soon as we placed our order at the counter. The stack of napkins atop the table came in handy later when things got finger lickin’ messy.

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Auntie Em’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

Most of the shows on the Food Network are barely watchable, but I gotta say that Throwdown with Bobby Flay is damn fine television. Granted, I also think that The Hills is quality time spent in front of the telly, so do take what I write with a grain of pink salt from the copper mines of Montana.

During Episode 9 of Season 2, Flay challenged Terrie Wahl of Los Angeles’ Auntie Em’s Kitchen in a Cupcake Throwdown. He pitted his gingerbread cupcake with mango and vanilla buttercream frosting against her famous red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Prior to the Throwdown, viewers at home watched Wahl prepare her highly-acclaimed sweets from scratch. I was appalled and intrigued as I witnessed her glugging dangerously liberal amounts of vegetable oil and red food coloring into the batter and frosting each cupcake with an ice cream scoop’s worth. At the end of the episode, Flay claimed victory over Wahl, most likely because one of the two judges was rival Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes fame.

I finally tasted Auntie Em’s red velvet cupcake when my friend Carissa brought one into the office to share. Visually, it was a stunner. The cake was blindingly red—far and away the deepest-hued red velvet I’d ever encountered. The frosting was piled an inch high and dotted with cute red sprinkles.

Taste-wise, I was impressed with the cake’s moistness (vegetable oil sure does the trick nicely!) and the frosting’s sweet tang and smooth texture. There was a time in my cupcake eating career when red velvets made me swoon, but these days I find them simply too sweet. Plus, food coloring in large quantities is a definite deal-breaker. However, as far as classic red velvets go, Auntie Em’s creation is solid.

“So to all you cooks out there, keep doing what you do. But ask yourself this, are you ready for a Throwdown?” Ha!

POWER RANKINGS

Sprinkles Cupcakes > Dots Cupcakes > Vanilla Bake Shop > Crumbs Bake Shop > Auntie Em’s Kitchen > Yummy Cupcakes > Violet’s Cakes.

Auntie Em’s Kitchen
4616 Eagle Rock Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: 323-255-0800

Café Beaujolais – Los Angeles (Eagle Rock)

Even though my mom doesn’t remember my birthday (she gets confused between the 7th and the 9th), I still insist on remembering hers (the 7th). My mom celebrated the big 5-6 with The Astronomer and me at Eagle Rock’s Café Beaujolais. My treat, of course!

Café Beaujolais is open for dinner only and does not take reservations for small parties. Because we dined on a Friday night during peak chowing hours, we waited 45 minutes for a table to open up. To pass the time away, we chatted with a local couple who have been dining at Café Beaujolais for years. Their excitement about the food was contagious.

I chose Café Beaujolais for my mom’s birthday dinner after reading some major swoonage on Yelp and Chowhound. According to Yelpers, the food was comparable to Parisian bistros and the French waiters provided some nice eye candy too. When I turn 56, I hope that I am whisked to a restaurant manned by French hotties to celebrate.

The waiters were indeed gorgeous—I felt like I was at a Hooters catering to straight women and gay men. The Astronomer was good-humored about the ogling. I’m not self-conscious about photographing my dinner, but I couldn’t bring myself to take happy snaps of the waiters. Sorry, readers.

In stark contrast to the hot waiters was the ice cold bread. Yelpers warned me that the bread at Café Beaujolais was lacking, and unfortunately they were spot on. The uninspiring white bread was served with equally frigid butter. It’s funny how bad bread is less disappointing when proper warning is given.

My mom started her birthday feast with an order of Escargots de Bourgogne ($7.95), which were served in a shallow porcelain dish with perfect snail-sized indents. The freshly baked escargots were drenched in a savory butter and garlic sauce. The Astronomer and I fished out a couple of snails to taste and they were Awesome with a capital A.

For our appetizer, The Astronomer and I split the soup of the day—a carrot and ginger creation ($5.95). The brilliantly bright orange soup was smooth, subtly sweet and a bit spicy from the ginger. The fresh and light soup was an excellent note to start a heavy French meal on.

Heeding the advice of the regulars whom we chatted with earlier, my mom ordered the Le Fletan au Champagne ($22.95) for her main, which consisted of a fillet of halibut in a champagne sauce with a Parmesan crust topped with candied orange zest. The fish was light and flaky, while the champagne sauce was rich and creamy. The salty cheese crust and sweet candied zest kept the creaminess properly in check.

The Astronomer chose the Carre d’agneau dan son jus ($22.95), oven-baked rack of lamb in its own juice. The lamb arrived medium rare, just as The Astronomer requested. Rack of lamb is a special treat because eating meat like lollipops has a caveman appeal that I can’t deny. The simply and deliciously executed lamb was evidence that with good technique and high-quality ingredients, bells and whistles are completely unnecessary.

For my main, I went with the Magret de canard au miel et citron ($19.95), duck breast with lemon and honey sweet and sour sauce. This dish was another example of great ingredients prepared deftly. The duck was moist and flavorful, and the sauce kept things interesting. I would have appreciated a sprinkling of candied orange zest upon my duck, but had to settle for stealing my mom’s.

In true French fashion, all of our mains were served with with a selection of vegetables—steamed baby zucchini, half a baked tomato topped with bread crumbs and potatoes au gratin. My favorite was the potato au gratin, which consisted of paper-thin potato slices baked in an insanely rich and decadent cheese and cream sauce. [Here's an excellent recipe for Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin by Chef Frank Sitt.] Long live the French!

For dessert, we shared the evening’s special—a lemon curd tart. Great crust? Check. Great filling? Check. Full and happy bellies? Check and check. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Café Beaujolais
1712 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: 323-255-5111

Cafe Beaujolais on Urbanspoon

Cafe Beaujolais in Los Angeles

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