Archive for the 'Restaurant Review' Category

Firecakes Donuts – Chicago

Firecakes - Chicago

The Polar Vortex couldn’t stop me from getting my deep-fried high on while in Chicago this past January. In fact, it may have contributed to my appetite—a full belly means a warm Gastronomer.

The first stop on the Chicago feeding frenzy took The Astronomer, Cousin Jackie, and me to Firecakes Donuts.

Firecakes - Chicago

Opened last spring by Jonathan Fox (President and CEO of 3Sixty Dinning Intelligence and owner of La Madia), Firecakes is a notable player in Chicago’s robust gourmet doughnut scene. The doughnuts made in this teeny 600-square-foot shop use an heirloom recipe that came from Mr. Fox’s wife’s great-grandfather, Billy Hobbs.

After waiting in a painfully cold and winding line at The Doughnut Vault during my last trip to Chicago, it was really great to stroll on in and be served straightaway this evening.

Firecakes - Chicago

For our pre-dinner “snack,” we selected four doughnuts to share.

First up, a light and lovely cake ring dusted with toasted coconut flakes and prettied with coconut cream ($2.49).  This well-balanced creation was my fave pick of the four.

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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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