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Locando del Lago roasts up a beast of a communal dinner

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Regulars and newbies make a night of the Northern Italian restaurant’s authentic Morso Della Bestia feast of a whole animal

When you think of Italian hospitality, you think of the kind of warm familia ambience that welcomes guests at Locanda del Lago; and when you think of the heartiness of a satisfying Italian dinner, it is a table filled with generous servings of meat, pasta and wine, like that of the restaurant’s monthly feast, Morso Della Bestia. If you are not familiar with this Italian tradition, translated as “Bite of the Beast,” it is a banquet that is the epitome of Italian cuisine – a celebration of food, family, friends and life, Italian style.

The last Thursday of every month, Lago hosts this communal, four-course dining experience, featuring a different animal roast each month, along with rustic Northern Italian dishes for which the restaurant is known, with recipies originating from Italy’s Bellagio on Lake Como, an homage to the hometown of restaurant’s founder.  Of course, to complement the meal, diners may also select wine pairings.

As is the case with all of the menu items at Lago, the fare is fresh-sourced locally from farmer’s markets and other purveyors with whom the restaurant has long-term associations, as this business places a high value on trusted relationships, doing business the way it was done in the Old Country.

The restaurant usually seats between 30 to 40 guests to this RSVP-required event, at which the main course has featured whole-animals, such as boar and venison, or on occasion lesser daunting beasts, like rabbit, goose, or even tuna. Chef George Pincay endeavors to use all parts of the animal for a variety of dishes, featuring generous portions, served throughout the night, giving time between courses for guests to pace themselves and preserve an appetite while they socialize.

 

 

Guests who come as couples or even solo diners will find by the end of the evening they have made new friends; and in fact, one group of wine aficionados has attended the event together for many years, adding to their club and their friendship circle each year.

The staff have become part of the meal as well, with the owner, West Hooker-Poletti, and his wife, Karin Fumagalli, and general manager Megan Heritage, who is lovingly referred to by staff as the restaurant’s “soul,” often joining the gathering, and many regulars call their servers by name, and joke like family, such as one patron who elbows Lago’s tall, lean and handsome resident mixologist, Mirco Pallotti, in the ribs and teases, “I order the six packs, but he wears them.”

While Morso Della Bestia is one of Locanda del Lago’s most popular events, the restaurant hosts an ample crowd most nights, with the restaurant dining room and outdoor seats filled nightly at the location on Santa Monica’s bustling Third Street Promenade.

If the Bite of the Beast is not your taste, say if you are vegetarian, Lago hosts another night, Meatless Mondays, that may be more your style.  Or if you prefer to stick to libations, check out the bar for local flavor and stocked with a curated wine list of more than 400 vinos from across Italy, along with organic, local liquors. The restaurant keeps a full calendar of events and celebrations and is open to serve its extended family of regulars, tourists and new friends seven days a week.

Locando del Lago is located at 231 Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica. Street parking and several Santa Monica public parking structures are walking distance, with 2-hours free or $3 flat rate on weekends.

 

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkRestaurantsThe Left Coast

Fred 62 – They’ve got your number

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Iconic Los Feliz diner serves up everyday, anytime food for everyone

I was afraid my picky, eats-like-a-bird 10-year-old son would not find anything to nosh on at Fred 62.  Trained by his health-conscious dad at a young age to have a taste for only healthy, gourmet food, he generally scoffs a restaurant fare, but we were in for a huge surprise.

For a sure bet, we ordered one of my son’s favorite appetizers, Crispy Calamari, served with sriracha and remoulade; and for the grown-ups we got the Avocado Toast with chili flakes and Chickpea Fritters.  But when the food arrived, the tables were turned, and my son devoured the toast and fritters first, then did damage on the calamari, and that just whetted his appetite.

His eyes lit up as he slurped up the Noo Deli noodles, a steaming bowl of vermicelli, in spicy lemongrass broth with Thai veggies, which was followed by a “freshwich” of seared ahi tuna, wrapped in rice paper and served with a Japanese dipping sauce.

He then began sharing off our plates of “Pastramid” Short Rib combo of short rib slow smoke short ribs with coleslaw, jalapeno pickles and spicy mustard on a potato roll, served with French fries, and Moroccan Tajine Eggs with harissa, Castilian sausage, and green olive tapenade. He polished it all off with a Chocolate Peanut Butter shake.

All of this food was consumed by a boy who basically eats every other day.  He declared, “Let’s definitely come back to this place.” And of course, we will have to, as we didn’t even try the famous griddle treats, like the Bearded Mr. Frenchy, a fluffy brioche French toast with cornflake crust, or the hearty comfort food meals like the Partridge Family, a dinner of pan-friend chicken, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, gravy, sautéed greens and a mini waffle.

 

This 20-year-old funky retro-themed restaurant, easily recognized on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz by its bright lime green exterior and orange awning, is known as LA’s coolest all-nighter diner, open 365 days a year, where hard partiers can get munchie-satisfying delights from the Stoners & Drunkards menu, like F-Bomb Mac n Cheese Balls, Falafel Sliders or Frito Pies, anytime in the wee morning hours.

 

It is a rare diner that has a cook called a “chef” and that promises food prepared “mindfully and with care,” which is what makes Fred 62 an anomaly in the diner universe. Owner and chef, Fred Eric, had a unique vision of Fred 62 when he opened the restaurant with the concept of a diner serving food that people want to eat every day, serving it all day and all night, every day of the year.  Two decades later, he’s still cooking with gas and expanding his menu of enlightened diner food with more healthy menu offerings for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free patrons.  For those who love a surprise, he offers daily “Fred Plate” specials.

After enjoying a meal at Fred 62, make a day of exploring the hood, including a variety of eclectic stores selling everything from clothing and rare books to housewares and jewelry made by local artisans, or stop in for a flick at the vintage cinema house, Los Feliz 3, or see a live production at Skylight Theater.  Fred 62 is located at 1850 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles.

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkRestaurantsThe Left Coast

Turningfire brings fresh and inventive fare to satisfy creative types

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Eagle Rock eatery turns up the heat with flavorful rotisserie cuisine

Turningfire Modern Rotisserie in Eagle Rock is a year-old restaurant with a fire-brand new concept that is skewering traditional rotisserie cuisine. Michael Rolibi came up with the idea of a rotisserie restaurant with a modern twist in a setting he calls premium casual, which is a tic up from the newly branded fine casual category.

Rolibi, a career changer who achieved enough success in his first professional life to pursue his passion of opening an eatery, is the author of most of the restaurant’s eclectic menu of unexpected taste combinations. Rolibi’s original recipes includes rotisseries of free-range poultry, natural pork and beef dishes that are flavored with proprietary, made-from-scratch freshly ground spice blends, marinades sauces, dressings and condiments.

 

Besides the rotisserie entrees, which can be ordered up a la carte or as a meal plate with a protein, side and a salad, Turningfire makes mincemeat of stodgy old-school meatballs with a modern blend of pork and beef with added crushed fresh tomatoes and a topping of ricotta salata, for the most-tastiest meatballs ever. The menu also features a short list of sandwiches, among which is the most popular chilled Cali Gold, with lemon lavender chicken, mesclun, orange shallot vinaigrette, avocado spread, lemon aioli and tomato.

Other twists on traditional fare include LA Street fries, which are thick hand-cut potatoes covered with frilled chile corn, pickled red onion, cotija cheese crumble, grilled scallions and cilantro lime creme.

Despite what the rotisserie namesake implies, many of the restaurant’s dishes are vegetarian, including flatbreads and a number of gourmet salads loaded with ingredients like purple kale, golden beets, toasted pepitas, watermelon radish, roasted white yams, spicy pickled carrots, jicama and other out-of-the-box, not out-of-the-bag bag veggies and fruits. There’s also an excellent kids’ menu with healthy versions of approachable favorites, like chicken cheese quesadilla, served on whole wheat tortilla.

Inside, the restaurant impresses with a contemporary and clean design, with textured concrete floors, light spilling through a glass brick front, and lofty wood-beam ceilings.  The space is sleek but cozy with about 30 duets, foursomes and bar tables of butcher-block-style table tops surrounded by iron modern chairs, with the furnishings and trims all painted in earth tones.

The restaurant’s interior, envisioned by North Hollywood designer Janelle Wright, achieves its purpose in making food colors pop against the muted color palette, enhancing the appeal to the human palate.  The chic style is a nod to the trendy tastes of the Eagle Rock neighborhood, an area that is gentrifying so fast that restaurant concepts are popping up on a nearly monthly basis on the main strip of Colorado Boulevard.

Turningfire is located at 2146 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, and is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.

 

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Eat & Drink

Hey hey hey, it’s Fat Sal’s

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Unabashed non non-fattening sub and burger restaurant serves up what every bro wants

As the name Fat Sal’s Deli implies, you would not expect to find quinoa salads and kale here. This is a burger and sub joint. And also chili, and shakes. The subs are, well, fat, some of them filled with everything but the kitchen sink. If you think I’m exaggerated, get a gander of the Fat Jerry, loaded with shaved rib-eye, French fries and a fried egg on top.

 

This is the anti-salad place. If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, no worries, the fat fries can be a meal in themselves. Take the buffalo chicken cheese fries, which are topped with chopped chicken fingers, melted cheddar and mozzarella, buffalo hot sauce, and blue cheese dressing. Talk about a hot mess, this is a fat mess, and delicious and fattening and decadent by design.

As evidenced by the majority of the patrons being guys, this place is a bro hang out, with most of the women tagging along with their dates, though there were a few females indulging in some satisfying subs, perfect for a girls night out. For those trying to watch their figures, there is an Albacore Tuna sandwich and a token Grilled Cesar Salad option.

At the Fat Sal’s location in Hollywood, the open air patio and HD stereo system filling the air with R-rated rap music is inviting to their target crowd of urban hipsters, and the chunky concrete slab table tops, metal stools and wooden booths create fitting ambiance for a fast casual meal of hearty hamburgers and subs. It’s a place one can enjoy going to occasionally, but if you made it a habit, you wouldn’t be able to get out the door.

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkEntertainmentRestaurants

Beloved by Walt Disney, Tam O’ Shanter is still serving up legendary prime rib, 95 years later

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Known for its prime rib and Scottish style, LA’s oldest running restaurant hosts Hollywood history you can feast on

Tam O’ Shanter is most famous for being the oldest running restaurant in Los Angeles, and if you know anything about the fickle LA culinary crowd, you know this is a notable achievement.

Besides its historic longevity, this legendary Scottish-pub-inspired eatery is renowned as a celebrated venue for special family gatherings, anniversaries, office parties and other events, accommodating its clientele within the rooms of its storybook-house walls, with a variety of dining spaces that offer either a subdued or festive atmosphere or something in between, for anything from a romantic dinner for two to a boisterous office party for 20.


Patrons in-the-know often request to sit at the Tam’s busiest booth, table #31, where Walt Disney frequently sat with his team of a imagineers and doodled his ideas on the table, where his sketches have been preserved. It is said that Disney’s visits to the thatched-roof burnished wood Tudor-style facade, which houses a labyrinth of banquet rooms and tucked-away private booths, inspired some of the buildings and rides at Disneyland and Disney world.


As far as the restaurant’s Scottish pub fare menu, the prime rib has a reputation as one of the best around Los Angeles, owing to the aging process, whereby the meats are hung to dry for weeks and kept at a precise temperature to achieve ideal curing, which accounts for the mouth-watering tenderness and flavor of the cut. Besides the steaks and chops, the Tam is a favorite for its signature dishes like the Toad in the Hole, Yorkshire Pudding, English Triffle dessert, and of course, their artfully distilled and aged single-malt scotch drinks.

 


Because the restaurant is owned by Lawry’s, founded in 1922 by the owners of the esteemed restaurant group, diners may expect a certain quality and ambiance, which the Tam delivers, but with distinction.  Tam O’ Shanter’s is as independent as its famed namesake. And in case you were wondering about that, name comes from a fabled Scottish soldier, the eponymous plaid wool-bonnet wearing hero of a poem written in 1790 by Scottish lyricist Robert Burns. In honor of its historical inspiration, the servers at the Tam wear plaid kilts and knee socks, and as a salute to the finest drink of the land, the restaurant features a Wall of Scotch, with more than 102 single malts and blends from distilleries around the world. 


The Tam remains one of the few institutions in Hollywood that has lasted through the city’s many restaurant fads and fancies, and by Hollywood standards it is a legendary superstar on the restaurant scene, where it has continued to age gracefully for the past eight decades, bringing many generations of families together to celebrate reunions and anniversaries, and it has been the backdrop for many gatherings of celebrities and famous love affairs, where gentlemen have proposed on one knee, couples have raised a glass to toast to anniversaries of their lasting love, and families have come together for reunions and milestone celebrations.

After all, if you are going to choose a place to visit each year to commemorate a special occasion, you might as well choose a place that has been there forever and will likely stand until its walls fall down.

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Kicking off football season Hollywood style with Danny Trejo

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Nothing goes with LA football like a tacos and donuts.  Not to be outdone by anyone’s fonut, Los Angeles Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts created a Rams-themed donut and football-themed taco, which will be available starting September 5, just in time to kick off football season, ushered in by stops around LA by the Trejo’s food truck.

 

To make this combo even more enticing, Trejo’s invited some Rams Cheerleaders and Rampage for a Hollywood style launch on September 5 at the donut shop, at which namesake Danny Trejo will make a showing, along with Eric Dickerson,.

The Rams-branded truck will be on the road from September 5-9 giving away Rams-themed donuts from Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts each morning, and football-
themed Tacos during the afternoons and evenings.

Fans who visit the Rams Food Truck will have the opportunity to receive team merchandise and one lucky fan at each location will be randomly selected for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the season opener on September 10.

Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts is located at 6785 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.  Get there early for street parking or limited parking in the parking lot.

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A badass dozen from Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkRestaurantsThe Left CoastTravel

Six best brunches in West LA

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Beachside Brunchin’
 

There’s no better way to brunch than being near the ocean while sippin’ on a mimosa or Bloody Mary. After all, brunch without booze is just a sad breakfast. While Los Angeles is known for having some of the best brunch spots, we want to shed some light on the west side. Here are some of the best brunch spots in the beach cities of West LA.  

1. SURFSIDE VENICE BAR + GRILL – Venice Beach  
 

Venice Beach recently welcomed Surfside Venice Bar + Grill to the boardwalk and with that, they’ve been serving brunch not only on the weekends, but seven days a week. To highlight what Surfside serves, Chef Jesse Gutierrez has created a brunch menu that features Gold’s Standard brunch burger which is their house burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and a sunny side egg on a brioche bun. The Pipeline Burrito is every breakfast burrito lover’s dream served with scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, cheddar cheese, and country potatoes served with a side of wipeout salsa. Paying homage to the community is the Muscle Beach Tofu Scramble with black beans, onions, cilantro, country potatoes, tomatoes, wipeout salsa and avocado — lot’s of avocado, served with house-made corn tortillas. The Cinnamon French Toast Plate topped with homemade whipped cream and seasonal fresh mixed berries is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. And for those searching the globe for the perfect breakfast sandwich, look no further as The Boardwalk breakfast sandwich is served with two eggs, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese on a toasted baguette. “The brunch menu is delicious. I didn’t want to go 5 days without serving it!” Gutierrez says. When it comes to beverages, Surfside has a full bar and a must try is their House Bloody Mary with their secret Cajun bloody mary mix and of course, a Mimosa.
 
Surfside Venice serves brunch daily from 11:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: Surfside Venice
Surfside Venice is located at
23 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291
 
2. DOMA KITCHEN – Marina Del Rey
 
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If you’re looking to unwind after a long week by brunching on the Westside, Doma Kitchen in Marina Del Rey has just released their new brunch menu — and it’s something to roll out of bed for!
 
Every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this MDR hotspot is dishing out some of the best items in town. Brunch favorites include Lamb and Waffles featuring lamb, two fried eggs, and homemade Belgian waffles, perfect for those craving something sweet and savory. The Latkes and Eggs include two house-made potato pancakes, two sunny-side up fried eggs, served along side a cup of fruit, sour cream and apple sauce. Bacon lovers can get their fix with the Pancetta Scramble including cage free eggs, pancetta, scallions, home fries, toasted bread, herb butter and fig jam, and the Brighton Beach Benedict is something not to be missed with potato latkes, arugula, smoked salmon, poached eggs, Malta’ise sauce, red onions and capers. Doma’s Nicoise Salad is full of fresh mixed greens, Italian tuna, hard boiled eggs, green beans, warm potatoes, cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, red onions, fresh dill, topped with red wine vinaigrette. For those looking to soak up the last nights alcohol can indulge in Chef Kristina’s Double Chicken Avocado Burger a house ground chicken burger topped with smoked gouda, arugula, tomatoes, avocado and served on a brioche bun. 
 
Doma Kitchen also has a full espresso bar featuring Red Bay Coffee blended beverages, lattes, coffee and tea. Check out their full menu here.
 
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Photo Credit: Doma Kitchen
Doma Kitchen is located at 
4325 Glencoe Ave, #8, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
 
3. THE ROCKEFELLER – Manhattan Beach & Hermosa Beach
 
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Just steps from the beach, begin your weekends a day early with brunch at The Rockefeller. Starting 11 a.m. on Fridays and 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, their brunch includes dishes such as their popular Breakfast Burrito made with braised short ribs, bacon, egg, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, hashbrowns, as well as Chicken & Waffles with bacon butter and maple syrup, French Toast made with french brioche bread, macerated berries, maple syrup, and powdered sugar, and their delicious Apple Fritters with caramel dipping sauce. The large open patio windows, bottomless mimosas with four flavors of peach, guava, watermelon, and orange, and endless selection of craft beer on tap makes The Rockefeller the go-to brunch spot to people-watch and have a relaxed day party that will seem never-ending.
 
Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: The Rockefeller
 
The Rockefeller is located at
 
1209 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
422 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
4. THE STANDING ROOM – Hermosa Beach
The Standing Room is a unique, boozy brunch spot near the beach with a menu that can satisfy and adapt to all cravings. Each dish has a unique Asian-American twist, usually with Korean or Hawaiian influence. 
 
If you’re craving a hearty breakfast, the Loaded Loco Moco comes with a half-pound beef patty, caramelized onion, cheddar cheese, kimchi fried rice, and a fried egg with homemade short rib gravy poured on top. For the active runners and yogis, they have healthier options such as their Garden Vegetable Egg White Frittata made as an arugula salad and tossed with spring vegetables. If you’re looking for something a little more classic, they can whip up their Hawaiian Bread French Toast to satisfy your sweet tooth, which comes with Nutella, sliced bananas, and toasted coconut. 
 
Aside from the food, the restaurant offers drink specials during brunch, such as bottomless mimosas, Irish coffee, and various Deep Eddy specials including Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, Greyhounds and more. 
 
The Standing Room serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: The Standing Room
The Standing Room is located at
1320 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
5. R10 SOCIAL HOUSE – Redondo Beach
R10 Social House is situated on one of the South Bay’s best locations– right on the marina. With floor to ceiling windows and multiple patios plus two full bars, it is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon drinking and enjoying the ocean breeze. Priding themselves on using all natural ingredients, everything from their ketchup to alcohol mixers are made in-house to ensure the highest quality and flavor being served. Choose from the wide variety on the brunch menu– from their Watermelon Summer Salad to their Huevos Rancheros to their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, everything is sure to be a hit and keep your party going from the night before. 
 
Brunch is served every Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: R10 Social House
R10 Social House is located at 
179 N Harbor Dr, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
6. PRIMO ITALIA – Torrance
 
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For truly authentic (and truly delicious) Italian cuisine, Primo Italia has become the South Bay’s go to spot, using the freshest produce Southern California has to offer. True to its Italian roots, Primo Italia changes their menu with the seasons, reflecting the best of each and their brunch menu is no exception. Only available on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., their menu includes Panettone Toast and Rucula, a traditional Italian toasted bread dipped in eggs and milk and served with fruit, Ricotta Pancakes, served in a cast iron pan with homemade syrup– or for the truly adventurous they have regular Italian dinner items such as Lasagne and Maine Lobster.
 
Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: Primo Italia
Primo Italia is located at 
24590 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkRestaurants

Best artisan ice cream in Los Angeles

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When not just any ice cream will do, indulge in summer’s favorite frozen dessert at these top LA artisan ice cream shops, where scoops are handcrafted with premium ingredients and available in extraordinary – and bizarre — flavors beyond your imagination.

If the name fits

“Unusually creative and absolutely delicious” is the way Salt & Straw describes their ice cream. The shop’s quirky name (a reference to the rock salt once used to freeze hand-churned ice cream and the straw it was packed in to keep it cold) is as unique as their flavors.

Founded by two cousins, Kim and Tyler Malek, one with a flair for the culinary arts and the other a mind for business, and both of a mind to create something amazing, the opened their first shop in Portland in 2011, and now they have three in Portland, five in LA and one in San Francisco.

 

Their handmade, small-batch scoops are sourced from select local and sustainable farmers and artisans, from Southern California and Oregon (they also have shops in Portland, where they started). The shop features an ice cream sommelier who will take customers through tastings of their classic delights, like, sea salt with caramel ribbons, almond brittle with salted ganache, chocolate gooey brownie and peach vinegar cobbler with toasted nutmeg, olive oil and lemon custard; or their revolving menu of inventive flavors, such as rhubarb crumble with toast anise, wildflower honey with ricotta walnut lace cookies, naked stage “we are love” tea and roses, and lemon grand poppy sherbet. The community-minded shop has frequent fundraisers to give back, such as partnerships with local schools where students get to invent flavors, and proceeds from sales are donated to the schools.

 

Cool is the new hot

Coolhaus’ founders Natasha Case’s and Freya Estreller’s venture into ice cream was a departure from their backgrounds in design and real estate, but they paid homage to their professions by naming their ice cream creations “cool houses,” otherwise known as ice cream sandwiches. But instead of ordinary chocolate graham cracker and vanilla, their custom-made “sammies” are filled with ice cream flavors like brown butter and candied bacon, pistachio black truffle, balsamic fig and mascarpone, aunt Glady’s fruit cake, beer and pretzels and dirty mint chip, bookended by gourmet cookies such as snickerdoodles, confetti whoopee pie, gluten-free cocoa pebbles, and of course chocolate chip.

The Coolhaus duo took their creations, dubbed “Farchitecture,” or Food + Architecture, to their hometown streets in Los Angeles in in 2009 in a beat-up old postal van, which became the first of their current national fleet of 10 mobile ice cream trucks and carts in LA, Dallas and NYC, and two storefronts in Culver City and Pasadena.

Their line of treats has expanded to decadently dipped ice cream bars on a stick, such as mies vanilla rohe dipped in salted caramel milk chocolate rolled in crushed pretzels, and their scoops served up in their shops included a changing menu of seasonal flavors such as Mo’ Honey, No Problems, a sweet honey ice cream with OG Honeycomb cereal and McFaddy’s chocolate-covered honeycomb, and Hazed and Confused hazelnut ice cream with hemp protein power, Grape-Nuts cereal, hemp seeds and hemp-based CBD oil.

Ice cream by design

Before artisan ice cream was a thing, Jeni Britton Bauer was ahead of the trend. She founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in 2002, using dairy from grass-pastured cows, natural ingredients and from-scratch recipes to create inspired flavor combinations, like Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, Savannah Butter Mint, Mango Butter Milk Frozen Yogurt, Cocoa Curry Coco, and Gooey Butter Cake. Jeni’s purist approach and complex processes of building texture and flavor without synthetic flavorings and dyes, stabilizers and emulsifiers not only makes great tasting ice cream but also gives her scoops a uniquely smooth texture and buttercream body.

From art student to baker and then perfumer, Britton transferred her aesthetic eye, culinary artfulness and passion for creating sensational concoctions into an ice cream enterprise that has earned her the distinction of one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business.

Her dedication to quality extends beyond her product to extraordinary service and the environment of her sparkling-clean and beautiful storefronts in four SoCal locations and eight cities nationwide, where patrons can enjoy their dessert in a space fitting to serve up sophisticated mixtures like Roxbury Road, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.

Sweet science

Sweet Rose Creamery utilizes its ample-size research and development kitchen in Santa Monica, featuring a 1,000-square-foot freezer, to experiment with ice cream flavor combinations, using all organic daily and integrating season produce form neighborhood farmers’ markets, perfecting classics like Old Fashioned Vanilla, Chocolate Caffe Luxxe Coffee, Salted Caramel and Cookies& Cream, and inventing new flavors like their Chef’s Picks of Chef Fox’s White Chocolate with Minty Pea & Macadamia Nuts, Brown Butter with Orange Wafer, Lemon Chiffon and Rose Geranium with Raspberry Ripple.

The masterminds behind the operation, restaurateurs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan and co-owner/Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa, who opened the original ice cream shop in at the Brentwood Country Mart in 2010, have since opened four more shops and continued to grow the company and leverage its talent and resources as a member of the family of celebrated eateries that includes Huckleberry, Milo and Olive, and Rustic Canyon. In addition to ice cream, the shops sell pastries from sister restaurant Milo and Olive and coffee from local roaster Caffe Luxxe.

 

 

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ROKU for sushi date night

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ROKU restaurant on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood dashes the belief that you can only get authentic sushi at an underground, insiders’ sushi bar. While there may be a certain romanticism about dining at an dive sushi bar, there is much more to be said about enjoying the ambiance of a fine restaurant while also indulging in the highest quality sushi, and that is what ROKU offers.

DSC_1229I am not a regular eater of raw seafood, but I have tagged along on plenty of sushi excursions with dining partners who are connoisseurs of this category of food art. I have been to the hole-in-the-wall sushi bars where there was no sign on the door, where you have to duck under a noren to get in. While one may find interest in the cultural experience, I much prefer the comforts and upscale environment of a modern sushi restaurant, especially one that offers an extensive menu of cooked food, like ROKU.

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As with their décor and atmosphere, ROKU challenges traditional sushi menus with inventive, modern preparations, as well as traditional style sushi for their old-school sushi enthusiasts. At the sushi bar, Chef Jiro Kobayashi prepares his recommended chef’s choice Omakase along with a variety of fresh fish daily, including Roku signature style sushi of warm rice with an innovate touch for their Ume six-piece selection or their Matsu eight-piece selection. Specialty rolls include hand rolled baked crab, Shima shrimp wrapped spicy tuna, with cilantro and avocado, and Ebi Tuna shrimp tempura topped with tuna, jalapeno vinaigrette and eel sauce.
For those who enjoy the communal and interactive dining experience of Teppanyaki, at the grill table Teppan chefs prepare A-5 Japanese Wagyu, Matsuzaka beef, Santa Barbara spot prawns and other high-quality ingredients at interactive grill tables. This dining style is offered for dinner, generally for groups of two to eight.

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On days when the weather is pleasant, which is most days in West Hollywood, the patio is open for dining; or for a serene and elegant dining experience among a garden of bonsai trees and the glow of votives, the dining room offers an environment conducive to a relaxing business lunch for dinner, or of course a date night.

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ROKU has a delicious twist on the Bento Box, traditionally a take-home or carry-out meal, but at ROKU these eat-in delights include an executive Bento Box of shrimp and vegetable tempura, tuna and yellowtail sashimi, baked miso cod, chicken yakitori, green salad, and rice.
Other entrees include kobacha and butternut squash and grilled octopus with kimchee vinaigrette , and pickled vegetables and toro tartare are prepared tableside with pomp and circumstance. The bar at ROKU also serves up progressive fare, with many Japanese whiskeys, sakes and creative cocktails, like the Matcha Mule with green tea infused vodka, ginger root, fresh lemon and honey.

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ROKU answers as the sushi restaurant that has outstanding and authentic Japanese food, personal service and an inviting atmosphere. If you are seeking the casual and dressed-down sushi experience, you will need to go elsewhere. In fact, beachwear, athletic wear and flip flops are not allowed, so wear your business causal and bring your appetite for a satisfying, new LA-style sushi scene.

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ROKU is located at 9201 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Call for reservations at (310)278-2060

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Dining in Los AngelesUncategorized

Finding O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar- Santa Monica's best-kept secret

3 littlewritebrain

img_3676The only thing not great about O+O Sicilian Kitchen and Bar in Santa Monica was finding the place. Waze announced my dining companion and I had arrived, but we still couldn’t find it after 10 minutes of walking up and down Ocean Blvd.  We started to leave when we ran into a group of people who were also looking for it.  They had friends on the phone who were at the restaurant who swore it really existed and we were just a half black away.  I’m glad we did not give up the hunt.

Even on a dark, cold and rainy night, somehow a restaurant full of people had found O+O.  The place was packed.  After having a needed glass of Tuscany wine to unwind from our trek, we relaxed into the warm and friendly neighborhood atmosphere of the Italian family style eatery, where large groups had pushed together tables, and many families with children were dining together.

The menu featured modern Sicilian cuisine with a California flair, with dishes such as fennel and blood orange salad, fried olives, squid ink linguine and vegetarianna artichoke and eggplant pizza.  As a charcuterie aficionado, I was happy to see a selection of cold cuts, and for my starter I had the persimmon and prosciutto salad. The meat was satisfyingly salty, and the burrata perfectly creamy soft.

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It’s a good thing I didn’t eat lunch that day, because after the generously portioned salad, I was already feeling full, and I was wondering if we should have ordered the second course, the restaurant’s popular classic meatballs, but we were glad we did.

The meatballs lived up to their promise, of being classic. They tasted just like my mom’s meatballs from my childhood, the ones she would make for the progressive dinner parties, that percolated all day in the crockpot in their rich tomato sauce with basil, and pecorino.

For the main course, I ordered the breaded swordfish, which was previously a special, but because but it became so popular they put it on the menu. It was light and tasty, served with romaine, arugula, fennel, and cherry tomatoes.  A delicious and perfectly cooked dish.

To finish off our meal, we enjoyed the trio selection of ricotta, pistachio and chocolate cannoli, which were fresh and just the right size to not be overly filling after a three-course meal.

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The food made this place worth finding, but clearly by the size of the crowd, the restaurant was not as hidden as we thought. In fact, the crowd was a bit much, as the place was rather noisy, probably owing to the acoustics of the mostly glass walls. It seemed like everyone was yelling to be heard, so on one hand there was an enjoyable frenetic New York-y energy, but on the other hand, I would’ve liked a more tranquil environment to savior my food.

While they are not terrific for audibility, those panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows offer an incredible view of the outdoors, which on a sunny day would be the place I would choose to dine. The patio overlooks a lovely courtyard of the Pacific Terrace building complex in which the restaurants resides — and which should be part of the street address instead of Ocean Avenue, if they want to make the place less impossible to find; but maybe its best we keep that a secret.

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