The residents of Beachwood Canyon are incredibly lucky to have a place like Beachwood Cafe to drop into for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The space couldn’t be any more adorable, while the cooking is thoughtful and satisfying.
Owner Patti Peck took over the former Village Coffee Shop last March and, along with Chef Minh Phan, converted the one-time greasy spoon into a cozy neighborhood spot serving farm-to-table fare. The Astronomer and I, along with a gaggle of girlfriends, dined at Beachwood Cafe on an uncharacteristically rainy Friday night. The damp weather demanded just the sort of hearty fare that Chef Minh executes superbly well.
Previously, Chef Minh (left) attended Le Cordon Bleu, served as the Pastry Chef at Axe in Venice, and spent time in the kitchens of Gotham Tavern in Portland and the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. That’s our friend-in-common Diep Tran on the right.
To start, we sipped sparking wine cocktails accented with pink peppercorns and star anise.
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Heat lamps and steam tables don’t usually signal deliciousness, but expect the unexpected at Ganda Siamese Cuisine. Ever since Saveur magazine’s chief editor proclaimed the food served at this Thaitown spot to be “the most authentic Thai food in America” a few dozen issues back, I’ve been meaning to scope it out. Book research was just the nudge I needed to pass over my dependable darlings Ruen Pair and Pa-Ord and finally give Ganda a go.
Chef-owner Sue Klinmalai rotates the selection of curries, braises, and stir-fries available each day, but expect to find two dozen or so dishes that are carefully made and intensely flavored. The array of offerings can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated, so feel free to ask the gals behind the counter for further details since most of the dishes aren’t labeled.
For just under $20, The Astronomer and I were treated to one of the boldest, spiciest, and most deeply flavorful meals in town. We shared a three item combination served with steamed white rice.
The crispy catfish (pla duk pad ped) is the restaurant’s most popular dish, and for very good reason. This central-Thai specialty, dry-braised in galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, and a plethora of spices, delivered on all fronts—crisp, sweet, savory, and spicy.
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Weekend brunches and seafood shacks are two of my favorite things, so it was only a matter of time before I made my way to Hungry Cat. A collaboration between Maryland native Chef David Lentz and his wife Chef Suzanne Goin, the restaurant is famous for impeccably fresh seafood, served without fuss, just like they do back east.
The concept has been so well received that the restaurant has opened outlets in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica in addition to its original Hollywood location where I dined.
With the restaurant located on an uber-touristy stretch in Hollywood, I found it impossible to channel the seaside spirit. Still, the restaurant tried its best to evoke that eastern seaboard ambiance with fresh lobsters and oysters on display over ice and pictures of cats eating the day’s catch.
My friend Amy and I shared a selection of oysters to start. With three varieties on deck this afternoon, I decided to go for one of each—Kumiai from Mexico, Chincoteague from Virginia, and Malpeque from Prince Edward Island, Canada.
The oysters were shucked to order and served with lemon wedges, a red wine vinegar, a rice wine vinegar with ginger, and cocktail sauce. Slurping these briny bivalves instantly transported me somewhere beachy.
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My Thai food cravings can swing one of two ways: familiar or foreign. Sometimes I want to cozy up to my standbys, while other times I desire something sassier and spicier than just pad Thai.
When the latter feeling hits, I find my way to Pa-Ord for crispy pork and boat noodles, Jitlada for green mussels and crispy morning glory, and most recently, Pailin Thai Cuisine for fermented meatballs and curry noodles.
A series of appetizing posts from Sino Soul inspired me to seek out Pailin’s Northern Thai cuisine. The homey restaurant was humming when The Astronomer and I came in for a weeknight dinner. We settled into the booth closest to the stacks of Thaitown directories.
Even when I’m in the mood for novel Thai offerings, I can’t resist ordering a Thai iced tea for its creamy sweetness and dependable spice-squelching properties.
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“When are you going to blog about our Mother’s Day dinner?” inquired my mom last weekend while I was visiting family in San Diego. “Soon, my dear,” I assured her.
Well, it’s been a month and a week since The Astronomer and I treated Mom to a belated Mother’s Day celebration at Hatfield’s, but fortunately the memories from our dinner are still fresh in my mind. Good meals have a way of sticking around the old noggin. It’s those mediocre ones that are soon forgotten.
A table fit for four, located near the open kitchen as requested, was set and ready when we arrived for our 8 PM reservation. It had been about a year since I last visited the restaurant, and I’d forgotten how lovely the space and ambiance were.
Nearly every seat in the house has a great view of the kitchen, the acoustics are perfect for conversation, and the lighting is moody but not overly so. This is the kind of dining room that a mother would appreciate on her big day.
Three dishes filled with beluga lentils, yellowfin tuna, and Meyer lemon creme friache were brought to the table soon after we placed our orders. The ingredients meshed well together, providing a fresh and bright start to our meal.
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