Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Le Menu...A Restaurant Review

My friends and I like to explore all manner of restaurant haunts in and out of town. Some spots may be big in size, in menu selection, ambiance and elegance while others may be proverbial old “hole in the walls,” which I have come to find to be my favorites! Taco stands, sushi bars and street vendors with steaming carts that offer deliciously small bites that are enjoyable and filling. Here are some of my all-time “faves and recent finds. Bon Appetit!

Nicks Coffee Shop & Deli
8536 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA. 90035

If the walls could talk in this small and friendly establishment, they would tell you of all the neighborhood folks, celebrities and passers by who have sat at one of their quaint red leather booths or swirling red leather counter chairs. Generation after generation have been chowing down a hearty breakfast here at this greasy spoon. The original owner Mr. Nick (himself) has long sold the establishment and is gone, but the breakfast here is still all the rage, not only because of the taste, but simply because of the folks that still cook the food and graciously serve you here. It’s always nice to see a friendly, familiar face especially after a long day’s night!! Try Paco’s Spanish omelette, (one of my all time favorites since my days at Faifax High School) Every breakfast comes with the tastiest hash browns this side of the packos’. They are crunchy on the outside and potato-ey delicate on the inside, probably because they cook them with butter. The cornbeef hash, Belgian waffles and chicken apple sausage featured from their countless offerings from the menu board are all delish!! And yes for my vegetarian friends, they do have a wonderful selection of breakfast yummies for ya! Nick’s coffee shop serves lunch, but the real reason for the line outside is purely for their down home breakfast. If you wind up going back again and again, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Nick’s is finger lickin’ good! .

Twin Dragon Schezwan Cuisine
8597 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA.90035

Directly across the street from my acclaimed breakfast spot “Nick’s Coffee Shop and Deli” has got to be the most flavorful schezwan Chinese restaurants on Pico. For almost 50 years, Twin Dragon has been the home to the locals in the neighborhood and delivers quality Chinese cuisine to West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The food here is simply rich in flavor and deliciously comforting. It sort of gives you that New York Chinese cuisine vibe. Lovely! One of my Jewish guy friends and his dad traveled all over city in search of the best “Shrimp and Lobster Sauce,” and they swear by it here. They should know, they have tried a many a Chinese restaurants and Twin Dragon reigns supreme. The restaurant features a full bar, so have William (one of the many pleasant waiters) make you a Mai-Tai (he works on Sundays) and order the fried wontons stuffed with chicken and shrimp, these modest little bundles are delicately fried to a rich golden brown, bursting with aromatic flavors of ginger, sesame and scallion their served with a sweet and spicy chili dipping sauce for an appetizer. Then jump into the menu and start ordering. The Spicy Shrimp, Steamed Fish Filet with Ginger, Cilantro and Scallion, Pepper Beef and Chicken and Broccoli are some of my favs!! Hell…every dish is worth trying.. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the folks from Nick’s having Sunday dinner there. The neighborhood is jumpin’!

Giorgio Baldi
114 W. Channel Road
Santa Monica, CA. 90402

Dining at this elegant beach shack that sits in the Santa Monica canyon off PCH is where you’ll find this cozy and casual Italian hideaway. It’s quaint and homey dining atmosphere has captivated the wealthy Malibu elite with its simple, yet elegant offering of a Tuscan menu.
Owner and chef Giorgio Baldi and family have been bringing you true Tuscan fare since 1990. There is no reason for complex sauces or over compensated dishes that present unnecessary ingredients for culinary approval here. It’s not that type of establishment. Such dishes as the hand-cut, handmade papparadelle with meat ragout, a rustic blend of premium ground beef and veal. The sauce exudes the flavors of Giorgio’s famed housemade tomato sauce bursting with vine-ripened tomatoes, garlic, basil and a touch of cream, the pumpkin ravioli with a hint of fresh nutmeg, oven-roasted striped bass with fresh herbs and premium Italian olive oil, the beef carpaccio and the bone-in rib eye are just some of the flavorsome menu selections worth trying. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself seated next to Quincy Jones, Tom Cruise, Goldie and Kurt or Flockhart and Ford for that matter, yes the place is visited by those who appreciate damn good Tuscan cuisine. At the end of the day the food here is the real star sighting.

Iroha Sushi of Tokyo
12953 Ventura Blvd.Studio City, CA 91604

Sprouting all across the San Fernando Valley are sushi houses galore. It can be a bit confusing on where to grab a decent bowl of miso soup or even a spicy tuna hand roll made with the right amount of sesame oil and spice, but a well hidden boutique sushi house that myself and some famous celebrity faces have discovered is located on Ventura and close to Coldwater Canyon. Either seated in the outdoor garden or indoors at a table or the sushi bar, Iroha Sushi of Tokyo makes yummy Agedashi Tofu and their Special #3 (Crab and Salmon, wrapped in Cucumber-served with ponzu sauce) and Seared Albacore Sashimi with Crispy Fried Onion is mouth-watering, serve it up with and a bottle of chilled sake.

La Velvet Margarita Cantina
1612 Cahuenga Blvd
Hollywood, CA.

Only the premium of tequilas reside at the home La Velvet Margarita. Walk through the black curtains of the establishments entrance and expect to be astounded with a sexy room of mystique and Mexican gourmet faire. The ahi tacos and tequila shrimp bisque are excellent.

4326 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA. 90029
(323) 664-1011

While walking down the streets of Sunset Blvd in the artsy area of Silver Lake, I stumbled upon a modest little bar/taqueria. The little black building with green neon sign has a hip unpretentious look on the outside and once inside you’ll feel a cozy and cool vibe, in a dimly lit setting. “One of the best places to taste tequila in Los Angeles”, says Sunset magazine, I had found home to an undiscovered new haunt and discovered over 150 different tequilas, fruit margaritas and mojitos. Seated at a quaint little table for two in the darkened cavern of the tiny restaurant, I ordered a pomegranate margarita and munched on the burnt habanero and crema salsa with an order of “fried to order”house made tortilla chips. (Voted Best Chips and Salsa in Ciudad Magazine). They have over 5 different salsas to try. Malo’s simple, creative and gourmet style of authentic Mexican food is very tasty. The taco baskets are a must try. The ground beef and pickle may sound surprising, but it’s kinda like a “taco burger” only wrapped in a fried tortilla shell. The chicken posole with hominy, has a rich and hearty broth with condiments of cilantro and onion. Oh mama, it’s good!! The place is open on the weeknights until the bewitching hour and on the weekends until 1:00am. …Gayot claims “One of the “top 10” best Mexican restaurants in Los Angles” featured on Gayot .com.

Electric Lotus
4656 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA. 90027

The Electric Lotus restaurant sits on the corner of Vermont and Franklin. The harmonious and heavenly scents of curry, tandoori and cardamom fill the candlelit room and encourage an ambitious appetite. Assorted colored floor cushions with round tables are scattered through out the dining room, making it look like a beautiful East Indian temple. Their authentic style and culturally spiced East Indian menu offers a host of traditional tikka’s, samosas and naan breads.
I enjoyed the saag with lamb Coconut curried shrimp, Aloo Gobi.and Daal. A bottle of Indian Shiraz was the perfect compliment for a wonderful evening that felt like we were dining in Bombay.

No comments:

Post a Comment