Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where to eat in Los Angeles, California

1. Tavern by Suzanne Goin : What to order --- Be aware that the portions of the entrees are huge here. So, you probably don't need an appetizer. We had first the Marinated artichokes with olives, prosciutto, and burrata. The burrata is the best! So creamy and melty. The prosciutto was served with a lot of visible fat (I think they should trim it). The artichokes were acidic and salted at the same time. I made combination of three of them on a slice of bread and it was unbelievably rich!

For my main dish, I got the Artic Char with fennel orange salad and green olives in green harissa. I decided to eat fish, because I wanted something light and tasty. In change, I received a plate swimming in olive oil. I know that olive oil is good for, because it is a healthy fat, but this plate was so huge and literally swimming in oil. I was so disappointed!!!

My husband ordered the Devil's chicken, because the waiter said this is the most popular dish. Well, it was tasty, but extremely big. You can feed easily two people with that one. Also, if you are not a mustard lover, it might be too much mustard for you. My husband said it is almost overpowering. It had potatoes, the crust was nice, and the presentation original (served hot in a terracotta dish).

We sipped two glasses of Rose Olivares. A dry rose wine with strawberries flavor. At the end, we ordered the "Snickers" Bar for dessert. Very original idea. The salted caramel and the vanilla ice cream were good additions. It was again a big portion and a little too sweet. The peanuts on the top provide a different crunchy textura, while the mousse inside was just opposite: smooth and soft.

Tavern on Urbanspoon

Marinated artichokes with olives, prosciutto, and burrata

Artic Char with fennel orange salad and green olives in green harissa

The Devil's chicken with braised leeks, onions, and mustard breadcrumbs

"Snickers" Bar - salted peanut caramel and vanilla ice cream

2. Sotto Italian Restaurant by Steve Samson and Zach Pollack : What to order --- This restaurant is famous for its wood burning oven that reaches 900 F and it was build by Italian master. It is a great place for lunch. We ordered the original Pizza Margherita. It has four basic ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. This restaurant has a great wine list, but only ONE beer. So, we ordered the only beer: Peroni (Nastro Azzurro), because it was hot outside. The pizza itself was very tasty. However, the crust comes really burnt. I don't like it so burnt, because it tastes bitter. In the middle it was soggy. Overall, the taste was salty and it came with huge basil leaves.

For dessert, we got the Bittersweet chocolate crostata with hazelnuts and salted rosemary caramel. It was OUTSTANDING. So rich and delicious. The portion was pretty big, but it was easy to eat. The caramel had just a tiny hint of rosemary. I loved it!!!

Sotto on Urbanspoon

Pizza Margherita

Bittersweet chocolate crostata with hazelnuts and salted rosemary caramel

3. Spago Beverly Hills by Wolfgang Puck : What to order --- This is so far the best restaurant I have been in Los Angeles. It is AMAZING!!! We were not very hungry, so we ordered two main dishes, two glasses of wine, and a dessert. Everything was perfect, even the bread that they serve there (walnut, sourdough, and olive). The wine was Gros Plant (H. Rousseau, Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France, 2009). But they have a thick wine book, if you want to be adventurous!!!

My husband got the Sauteed Maine Skate Wing. It was served with little neck clams and seafood sausage "boudin blanc", leek fondant, fingerling potatoes, puree of sunchokes and champagne-saffron emulsion. He was in love with this dish. He said that the skate wing was perfectly prepared! I got the Sauteed Alaskan Halibut. It was topped with Jaime Farm's Confit Cherry Tomatoes and Micro Basil. On the bottom of the plate, there was a puree of zucchini, provencal olive oil, and warm tomato vinaigrette (served on the side). It was soooo good. I wanted to have a second serving of that dish. So clean flavors, so well cooked. BRAVO!

And for the grand finale: Chocolate Infinity Tart (warm chocolate tart, cherries, port reduction sauce, earl grey gelle, black cherry sorbet). It was a small portion. The texture was very fragile. It was served with dots of cream and sliced yellow cherries. Overall, all the components were in a perfect union. One of the best desserts ever. A great pastry chef!!!

Spago Beverly Hills on Urbanspoon

Sauteed Maine Skate Wing with seafood sausage, fingerling potatoes

Sauteed Alaskan Halibut with cherry tomatoes confit, puree of zucchini

Chocolate Infinity Tart

4. Villetta Italian Restaurant (Santa Monica) : What to order --- This restaurant is located in Brentwood, where Santa Monica starts. We went there for lunch and the place was empty. But I guess, it gets pretty full for dinner. We were given a table in the patio: the garden has orange tree and it is beautiful. We shared the Pizza Pesto. It is made with Burrata cheese (which is becoming my favorite now), artichokes, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil pesto. The pie was absolutely delicious. The crust was addictive and the cheese was melting in my mouth. To complement the creamy flavors of this lunch, I ordered a glass of white wine: Domodimonti, organically-farmed Passerina, Marche, 2010. My husband enjoyed a glass of Peroni.

The dessert was OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD. It was names "Torta Caprese", but basically, it is a gluten-free almond and chocolate cake, served with vanilla ice cream, creme anglaise, and chocolate sauce. The cake was super moist and tender. The use of almonds instead of flour is a brilliant idea. It helps the cake maintain its moist and it feels very sexy.

Villetta on Urbanspoon

Pizza Pesto: burrata, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, basil pesto

Torta Caprese (almond and chocolate cake)

5. AOC by Suzanne Goin : What to order ---I have to tell you: the portions are BIG. Even if they tell you that the concept is more like tapas style, this is not true. We need only 1-2 plates for dinner! The sommelier was a very nice person. We got a bottle of Domaine de l'Hortus, Le Loup dans la Bergerie, 2010. Very soft and easy to drink wine.

Ok, our server was not very knowledgeable. I ordered the Arctic char with green garlic soubise and citrus chutney. He did NOT tell me that it was sooo sweet, almost like a dessert. Full with currants and the churney was like a jam. So, asked him for a side dish. He suggested the Farro and black rice with pinenuts and currants. THIS WAS SUCH A BAD CHOICE. First of all, the plate is huge, this is not for one person, not for two, this is for an entire table to share. Second, it was super sweet, it had more currants than anything else. And last, it did not complement the salmon. Both dishes were sweet and they did not taste good to me...I was very sad, because I think the chef overpowered both dishes.

My husband ordered first the Brioche with prosciutto, gruyere, and egg. This was a huge sandwich. The bread was buttery with plenty of cheese. The egg was fried and served on top of the prosciutto. Later, he got the Chicken Saltimbocca, served with capers, brown butter, and chicories. He said that it tastes like Cordon Bleu, because it was stuffed inside with cheese and prosciutto. He really enjoyed it.

The dessert was not bad at all. We got the bittersweet chocolate torta with crushed honeycomb, espresso cream and salted caramel. The crushed honeycomb is not the real honeycomb. It is more like crushed cookies. The espresso cream was a very nice addition. And the best part was the chocolate torta!!!

A.O.C. on Urbanspoon

Brioche with prosciutto, gruyere, and egg

Farro and black rice with pinenuts and currants

Chicken Saltimbocca, capers, brown butter, chicories

Artic char, green garlic soubise, citrus chutney

Bittersweet chocolate torta with crushed honeycomb, espresso cream, and salted caramel

6. FIG at Fairmont Miramar Hotel (Santa Monica) : What to order --- The breakfast room has a very nice view towards the garden and the swimming pool. On Sundays mornings, you will see a lot of people, reading their newspapers and enjoying fresh and sustainable dishes. I ordered the House-smoked salmon with caper berries, lettuce, tomatoes, and fromage blanc. I decided to try the whole wheat bagel (but the flavor is a little overpowering, so it might be better with the plain bagel). The amount of salmon was so small that it was difficult to taste it. The hairloom tomato slices were super sweet and amazingly delicious. The capers are too much, for this size of plate, maybe two-three berries are enough. Overall, it is a very elegant breakfast. I ordered coffee and enjoyed its warmth.

My husband ordered a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese. He also tried the quartered, sauteed red potatoes and the endless orange juice. He said that the potatoes are better than the salmon (because my salmon was too mild). But if you are near the Santa Monica beach, please visit FIG restraurant!

FIG Restaurant on Urbanspoon

House-smoked salmon with caper berries, lettuce, tomatoes, fromage blanc, and whole wheat bagel

Quartered, sauteed, red potatoes and orange juice
 7. Bouchon by Thomas Keller (Beverly Hills) - What to order: If you are not very hungry, order the "Saumon Grille". It is a Scottish Salmon served with farmer's market vegetable salad and young greens. If you have a great appetite, try the "Croque Madame" (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich on brioche with a fried egg and sauce Mornay). It is served with plenty of French fries! Our dessert was amazing: Marquise au Chocolat (dark chocolate mousse with burnt orange cream). The service was great. The place is very elegant: great for a date or for a business lunch meeting.

Bouchon Bistro on Urbanspoon

Delicious French bread: crunchy outside, soft inside

Scottish salmon with endive-cranberries salad and young greens

Croque Madame (grilled ham and cheese sandwich on brioche with a fried egg)
 8. Vintage Enoteca (Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood) --- What to order: We went to Vintage Enoteca on a quiet Sunday morning for a brunch. The place is very small, but with a modern design. I got the Bagel and Lox. It was served with a lot of salmon (almost for 2 people to share), a ball of cream cheese, capers, and tomatoes. The flavor of the lox was great!

Vintage Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Bagel and Lox
 My husband ordered the Meatball Panini, served with roasted garlic butter, mozzarella, and arugula. It also came with a side of house greens salad. He really liked it, especially with a beer! He tried the local Alleycat beer from Eureca, CA.

Meatball Panini with roasted garlic butter, mozza, and arugula
I think Vintage Enoteca is great for a brunch or lunch. They have a variety of sandwiches on the menu. We saw people ordering breakfast items, like coffee and egg sandwich, or oatmeal. Nearby is the Wattles Park, so try to go the restaurant after a Sunday hiking!!!

9. Pazzo Gelato (Sunset Boulevard, Silver City) --- What to order: Pazzo Gelato is a great place for Italian Artisanal Gelato. We visited it on a Sunday morning (around 11 am) and there were not many flavors to choose from, since they were not ready yet. We tried 2 flavors and they were delicious: Almond Chocolate Chip and Coconut Macadamia Nut Chip. In my opinion, the Almond Chocolate Chip was better, I was able to taste the chocolate chips. On the other hand, the Coconut in the Macadamia Nut flavor was a little bit overpowering. The neighborhood is very hippie. You will see a lot of vegan and organic restaurants around. We liked sitting outside Pazzo Gelato and just enjoy the sun while people watching!!!

Pazzo Gelato on Urbanspoon
Almond Chocolate Chip and Coconut Macadamia Chip Gelato

10) Scarpetta, Beverly Hills (Montage Hotel) --- What to order: This restaurant is located at the Montage Hotel. It has nice romantic boots, excellent service, and quiet ambience. We started with the bread basket and the great selection of spreads. In the basket, there were ham and cheese strombolli; rosemary whole wheat focaccia, ciapattis, and baguette. The spreads were garlic olive oil, mascarpone butter, and caponata. All of this with a cold Peroni beer!
Scarpetta on Urbanspoon

Garlic Olive Oil, Mascarpone Butter, and Caponata

My husband ordered the Buckwheat Pappardelle with Homemade duck sausage and swiss chard. The pasta is very wide and flat. The texture was silky and soft. The aftertaste was oily and satisfying. He liked the portion size, which was just the right amount.

Buckwheat Pappardelle with Homemade Duck Sausage

I ordered the Pink Snapper, served on top of black garlic puree, spicy calamari, quinoa, and capers. I liked the crispy skin on the fish. The calamari were also delicious. I was expecting more quinoa, but there was only one tablespoon of it. The execution was perfect, the serving size a little bit on the small size.

Pink Snapper with black garlic puree, spicy calamari, and quinoa

Our dessert was outstanding! A warm chocolate cake made from Italian (more precisely Tuscan) bittersweet chocolate, espresso sauce, and burnt orange-caramel gelato. The presentation was so elegant and spectacular. We loved it!!! I still believe that these lava cakes are addictive :)

Chocolate cake with orange-caramel gelato

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