Pick your Picnic

26 May Pop up Picnic Table

Summer is just around the corner which means it’s time to ditch the silver for plastic and enjoy your haute cuisine basket style while at your favorite concert venue.

Here are a few places where it’s just a trendy to eat out of a box!

Patina at the Hollywood Bowl

This year marks Patina’s 16th season collaborating with the bowl and brings with it new menu items from restaurants Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre. Prices range from $69.00-88.00 for a basket for two, but each one has about 4 types of dishes inside. Highlights from The Dandelion ($69) include the honey stung golden fried chicken entree with warm glazed cinnamon rolls. The Sunset ($88) serves a roasted hanger steak with summer vegetables and horseradish cream, and finishes with flourless dark chocolate cake, local raspberries, and chocolate sauce.

Honey Fried Chicken

Marston’s Restaurant

Perfect for the Pasadena Pops Marston’s has a special menu dedicated to just picnic baskets, or for a $3.95 surcharge you can have anything on the regular menu as well. They all come with a beverage, utensils, and dessert and best of all nothing is over $30 dollars. Keep it light with their Vegetarian Picnic Dinner ($23.00) which includes an orzo salad made with kalamata olives, basil, sun-dried tomato and spinach, grilled eggplant, heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with a pesto vinaigrette, plus fresh berries and a rustic roll.

Vegetarian Picnic

Ray’s & Stark Bar

Every Friday through the end of the summer Ray’s will be offering three course dinners to go as well as picnic baskets to be enjoyed during the Friday night Jazz concerts on the lawn. Prices range from $40-$100 dollars but considering that the concerts are free, this is really one of the best dinner and a show deals around.  The Duke ($40) is all-inclusive of disposable plates, napkins, plastic-wear, bread, and butter while The Louis ($100) is a deluxe luxury basket offering a bottle of wine, real china, a fold-out table, a picnic blanket, and cloth napkins presented in a wicker basket. One more added perk, it’s a dog friendly venue!

Foodlab

Brownie points for affordability, Foodlab in West Hollywood specializes in clean organic eats, and the philosophy extends to the packaging of the Picnic Box.  Each $20 box includes your choice of over 20 sandwiches, a vegan salad, a daily side salad of your choice, a cookie by Deluscious Cookies, a bottle of water, a stick of gum and ecofriendly picnicware.With a meal this biodegradable you might find yourself asking…did I eat anything at all?

Picnic Box

Say Cheese Silver Lake

Perfect for a night under the stars at the Griffith Observatory, Say Cheese Silver Lake offers a great made to order picnic basket menu of salads, sandwiches, meats, breads, and of course cheeses. Featured wines and champagnes are available in convenient split sizes. Prices range from $3.25-$10.99 but a word to the frugal, an actual picnic basket will set you back $11.99.

Selection of Cheese from Say Cheese in Silver Lake

 

 

 

 

Say Cheese on Urbanspoon

Patina Group at the Hollywood Bowl on Urbanspoon

Free Cocktails every Wednesday in May!

6 May The Mixing Room_JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE

Do you have unfulfilled dreams of becoming a mixologist? Then why not come out and judge some?

Tonight, May 6th is the kick-off to the 3rd Annual May Mix-Off event at The JW Marriott Downtown and for every Wednesday in May professional drinkers can become amateur judges for the night and sample the cocktails of their favorite bartenders!

The Mixing Room_JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE

Don’t have a favorite bartender, then you get to try them all! Some of this year’s finalists competing for a chance to go to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans include:

  • Aaron Alvarez – Alcove
  • Josh Yerkey – EMC
  • Brian Quint – Ace Hotel
  • Dylan Snyder – ACME Group
  • Gia St George – Tacoteca
  • Melaney Schmidt – The Standard

Unfortunately I won’t be present at this year’s judging because a girl can only stand so much temptation but for everyone else, there’s never been a better excuse to start the weekend early.

2014 MixOff Finals

The Mixing Room on Urbanspoon

My First Mother’s Day in LA

3 May

Maybe you’re not supposed to plan your own mother’s day–but subtle hints are allowed right?

Here is my list of the best brunch spots for Mother’s Day, broken down by mood–and hopefully my husband is reading this :)

Trendy

The Little Door Santa Monica has launched a weekend brunch just in time for Mother’s Day! Post-natal mom’s should definitely check out the seared foie gras with poached eggs, fingerling potato frites, and green lentils, while us pre-natal’s should stick to the $14 breakfast basket filled with pain au chocolate, and both butter and almond croissants.

The Little Door Santa Monica

Also new on the brunch beat, The Larchmont will be offering an alfresco brunch with menu highlights like The Stoner,  which is a peanut butter crunch French toast, with maple bacon, roasted banana, and the option to add foie gras.

The Stoner

Decadent

Nothing says I love you mom more than caviar on ice, but if you’re not able to pay by the gram this mother’s day then Petrossian Restaurant & Boutique has you taken care of. For the entire mother’s day weekend  an à la carte menu from Executive Chef Giselle Wellman will be offering menu highlights such as a Caviar Salad with butter lettuce, shaved egg, shallots, chives, and crème fraiche and the Eggs Benedict with a choice of black forest ham, smoked salmon, or salmon & caviar. Both entrees under $25 dollars each.

Petrossian West Hollywood

Interested in the MOST expensive brunch in Los Angeles? Then take mom to Wolfgang Puck at The Hotel Bel Air for their $120 3 course prix-fixe menu. Highlights include Maine Lobster and the eggs benedict with maple hollandaise.

Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air

 Thrifty

Bring a mother to Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse on mother’s day, and she can eat free the next time too!

Meats at Fogo de Chao

Looking for a place where mom can eat completely free? Well then Hooters is your spot–because after all, nothing makes mom feel more treasured then being surrounded by girls in tank tops and hot pants.

Hooters

Lazy

If the ultimate mother’s day for her means not ever putting pants on, then treat mom to the best in the comforts of her own home like some treats from Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe. During the month of May the menu will feature highlights like apricot muffins and cherry tarts made with fruit from Murray Farms, cookies n’ cream glazed donuts, rustic banana cake with cream cheese frosting and much more. Be a dear and just bring one of each :)

huckleberry cafe

 

Huckleberry Café on Urbanspoon

Aside

Brazil comes to DTLA

21 Apr Meats at Fogo de Chao

How do you fogo?

Fogo de Chão operates 25 locations in the States and just a few months ago they opened a location in downtown Los Angeles to ease the traffic burden for East-siders lusting after roasted meats but too tired to drive to the La Cienega location.

Although the restaurant has always been known for their abundant dinner offerings, did you know there is more than one way to fogo?

Classic Dinner Service

The $54.50 prix-fixe menu features 16 cuts of meat prepared gaucho style and every cut is always available rare to well done (perfect for mommies-to-be). PS-if the taste of well done is something you are having to get used to, their chimichurri sauce makes everything better.

Meats at Fogo de Chaochimichuri sauce

The Market Table offers an array of salads and fresh vegetables along with cheeses and charcuterie items displayed in such a way that you might forget there are meats on swords swirling around you. Vegetarian?…The Market Table is also available on it’s own for $29.50 during dinner and $15 during lunch.

IMG_2119IMG_2120

The pace of dinner is controlled by the diner with a card you can flip from green to red. Along with all the premium protein come side dishes like fried plantains, crispy polenta, and farofa to top on your rice and beans. Plus a steaming hot basket of Pão de Queijo (cheese bread).

If you still have room available, try their Papaya Cream. It’s a natural digestivo from the dessert menu made with fresh papaya and vanilla ice-cream which can also be topped with Crème de Cassis. Note: this is large enough for the whole table.

papaya

Lunch Hour

The same full dinner menu but at a fraction of the price, $34.50.

Bar Fogo

A great option for lunch or dinner if you’re looking for lighter fare and hand crafted cocktails. Happy hour runs from 4:30 PM-6:30 PM.

Family Fogo

All children six and under are complementary when mom and dad are ordering off the prix-fixe menu. Children seven to twelve are half price. Best of all, the noise level is such that all the kids running around just seem to blend in with the gauchos :)

Secret Menu Item

The beef ribs are not on the menu and are not always available because they take 4 hours to prepare. But if you’re lucky enough to catch them, these crispy on the outside tender on the inside delicacies are worth flipping your card over to red for.

ribs

Fogo de Chão on Urbanspoon

There’s Something in the Water at Ray’s & Stark Bar

13 Apr Ray's & Stark Bar at Night

What if I were to tell you there was a place where moms-to-be could enjoy a flight of drinks with dinner plus leave feeling refreshed, euphoric, and not the least bit guilty.

I recently enjoyed an evening at Ray’s & Stark Bar for Executive Chef Viet Pham’s new “Riddle Me This” Menu and had no idea I was in for a hydration education from Martin Riese, the only water sommelier in the United States (yes this is a thing, check him out on Kimmel next month :)).

rays

Ray’s & Stark Bar has always been my go-to place for cocktails after a late afternoon of wandering around LACMA so I never realized before they were home to a 43 page water list along with all those superb suds. Speaking of which, if you are partaking in the first annual dineLA  Happy Hour Week on April 27th, then make the Stark Bar one of your stops for a $9 Summer’s Comin’Smash. Although my version had pecan bitters instead of rum and apricot liqueur, it’s worth getting smashed over.

Summer's Comin' Smash

But back to the water! All H20 is certainly not created equal and I’m not just talking about the difference between tap and Evian. The water menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar allows you to choose based on mineral content and a water flight is an encouraged way to educate your palate. For me the best part was drinking out of a wine glass for a change. Unfortunately my relationship with my brita at home is now forever strained…

Water Flight

Now on the food…

The Riddle Me This Menu changes every two weeks from now until June 6th 2015 on Friday and Saturday Evenings. This past weekend’s riddle was “The cheekiest part of the pig”…and if you’re like me you’ll have to pull your head out of the gutter to guess this one.

The riddle dish is meant to be enjoyed along with the rest of the menu rather than as a stand alone entree, so leave room for some of my favorites below.

Crispy Fried Broccoli, charred to perfection and topped with thinly sliced pieces of Garrotxa cheese, which will soon become your favorite goat variety.

Crispy Fried Broccoli

Chitarra; Squid ink pasta, with calamari, garlic, ginger-lemongrass water, Calabrian chili, Red Boat fish sauce, lime, and Thai basil. You’ve never tasted anything like it.

Chitarra Pasta

Chicken Pot Pie; Now while this is not my go-to dinner item on a night out, a great pot pie is food for the soul. If you haven’t had one in a while, try Chef Pham’s version, where the  crust just sort of levitates over the hearty taste of childhood.

 Chicken Pot Pie

Banana Cognac; Just the right way to end the evening if you’re looking for something that’s not too sweet. It’s banana bread pudding with caramel sauce, brûlée banana, and vanilla cognac ice cream.

Banana Dessert

Maybe it just comes with the real estate, but Ray’s and Stark Bar seems to be on a mission to elevate the traditional Saturday night out. Their Curate Dinner series kicks off May 5th, where along with a tour of the European art wing of the museum comes a 4-course dinner by executive chef Viet Pham.

Looking to test your own guessing skills? Coming up in the next two weekends, April 17-18 and 24-25, is this puzzle–“This part is used to shoo away pesky files on this old world plough animal”.

Make sure to hashtag #Ray’sRiddleMeThis and let them know what you think, and scroll down if you want the answer to the dish I enjoyed!

 

 

 

 

The cheekiest part of the pig is…..

 

 

 

 

Pork Jowl! One of Chef Viet Pham’s childhood favorites, this is the cheek of the pig used very often for bacon. Pham’s version is crispy with sweet chili sauce, cucumber, mint, scallion, and cilantro.

Riddle Me This

Ray's Restaurant and Stark Bar on Urbanspoon

Easter is going to the Dogs

31 Mar pinot

For most Angelenos, our dogs are just as much the baby as an actual baby, so it’s only natural that we want to spend holidays with them. Here are some great places to enjoy Easter Brunch this year that are also fido friendly.

Everleigh

Head to Everleigh on Sunset Blvd where you can enjoy yourself a Bubble & Squeak while your dog bubbles and squeaks all he wants on the outdoor patio. Made with corned brisket, cranberry potato & greens hash, and a sunny side egg it’s on the richer side, but fitting on Easter Sunday.

Bubble & Squeak

BLD

BLD on Beverly Blvd allows dogs on the patio and they have superb Brunch hours for early birds and night owls alike (8AM-3PM). You’ve never seen a more inventive egg menu and pre-pregnancy, I would be going with a Spanish Frittata made with chorizo, fingerling potatoes, roasted piquillo peppers, paprika, and manchego cheese. Currently, you will probably see me diving into a plate of a plate of Nutella Crepes or the Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast.

Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast

Ray’s & Stark Bar

Located at the BP Grand Entrance of LACMA. Ray’s& Stark Bar is offering a special Easter Brunch menu, and before 11 AM the parking is on them. I highly suggest the Monte Cristo filled with bread pudding, ham, Emmentaler cheese, Grana Padano, melted leeks, and blackberry jam. A close second will have to be their French Toast made with Cinnamon Anglaise Terrine, Pecans, Cranberry Compote, and topped with Bourbon Whipped Cream. Dogs are free to sit on the patio, but not in the bar area.

French Toast

The Waffle

The Waffle in Hollywood offers 17 kinds of waffles for you and a woofle for your dog. At only $3.95 for 3 dog friendly treats made with Parmesan, parsley, and whole wheat flour, this is a deal you usually have to beg for.

The Waffle Restaurant Hollywood

Black Cow Cafe

Possibly my favorite dog friendly brunch spot, the Black Cow Cafe in Montrose specializes in making you feel right at home. Case in point, they open at 9 AM but let people start sitting at 8:45 AM. So if you’re thinking of coming with your pooch try and arrive before they open as outdoor tables are sometimes hard to come by. As far as food goes go if you’re in the mood for something sweet, try what they have on special–doesn’t even matter what it is I promise it will be good. Savory lovers should try their entrees served in a skillet, with extra biscuits on the side.

Black Cow Cafe Skillet

Until the real baby comes, he’s got a seat at the table.

Pinot

BLD on Urbanspoon

St. Paddy’s Fatty

17 Mar St. Patrick's Day 2015

Despite the luck of the Irish often being found at the bottom of a glass, here are a few places to enjoy the spirit of the St. Patrick’s Day without any spirits :)

Corned Beef and Cabbage

A tie between Nate N’ Al’s Delicatessen in Beverly Hills & Greenblatt’s Deli in West Hollywood, it really all depends on what side of Doheny you are on. If you’re looking for more variety, try the The Hollywood at Nate N’Al’s which features corned beef, rye, coleslaw and Russian dressing. If you’re just looking for a massive quantity of corned beef, then a traditional sandwich from Greenblatt’s will keep you satisfied.

greenblatts corned beef

 Shepherd’s Pie

Casey’s Irish Pub in DTLA has a plethora of traditional Irish food choices to choose from (and 3 pages of different Whiskey’s to pair with them) While this wasn’t my original first choice for Shepherd’s Pie, The Morrison in Atwater Village no longer serves them and The Cat & The Fiddle is undergoing renovations. So…I recommend heading downtown to Casey’s where in honor of the holiday they are having their 42nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival. Hours are 6 AM-2 AM and general admission is free before 3:30 PM. Note: Admission does not include a Shepherd’s Pie, but you can always dine in :)

Shepherd's PIe

Irish Soda Bread

While this is also available at Casey’s, if you’re trying to steer clear of drunken buffoonery then you can also enjoy a sandwich made with Irish Soda Bread at The Wilde Thistle. Yes this is a British themed cafe named for Oscar Wilde, but you can’t tell me A Ploughman’s Lunch : Chef’s Choice of Artisinal Cheeses, Housemade Brown Soda Bread, Cabbage-Potato Slaw,Mango Chutney, Kerrygold Irish Butter, Mixed Organic Greens, Pickled Onion, & Fresh Seasonal Fruit doesn’t borrow from the emerald isle.

A Ploughman's Lunch

2 More Places to Drink

As much as I’d like to make this a complete preggo-friendly space, St. Patrick’s Day is not an easy day to cut out the boozy fun. While I might be busy stuffing my face with Irish soda bread sandwiches, I encourage anyone looking for some good day drinking to try Rock and Reilly’s Irish Pub on Sunset blvd or Tom Bergin’s on Wilshire Blvd and Fairfax Avenue. Both will be celebrating all day.

tom bergin's

Nate 'n Al on Urbanspoon

Pregnant in Los Angeles

10 Mar EatDrinkLA

In the past few months I have entered the world of pregnant food writing. While I always imagined this would give me the freedom to make Los Angeles a culinary free for all where I explored every restaurant in my stretchiest of pants, I have found that some of my favorite things to write about suddenly are off limits.

Cocktails have become mocktails, charcuteries are now charbroiled steaks, and the hardest to take..soft, aged, and stinky cheeses are now all the more “krafty”.

Now before you stop reading and give up on me altogether I’m happy to share that there is a bright side! It seems my little hotel guest for the next six months shares my insatiable appetite and there is a new joy in the search for the perfect bowl of ramen noodles in West Hollywood that those with and without child can enjoy.

So while I might not be sitting down for a 10 course degustation until Winter, I’ll be happy to share my experiences in mommy-friendly kitchens all around the city, and I hope you will join me.

EatDrinkLA

 

How do you say Oscars en Español…Margarita!

20 Feb National Margarita Day

Okay…so Oscar in Spanish might still be Oscar, but Sunday February 22nd also happens to be National Margarita day! Here are a few places to catch the holiday spirit.

The Little Door Santa Monica

If Sunday’s usually mean a trip to the farmer’s market, then get ready for the next best thing at The Little Door Santa Monica. Their Pomegranate Margarita($15) made with Dos Armadillos Blanco, Cointreau, Organic Lime Juice & Pomegranate, utilizes fresh ingredients sourced from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market just down the street.

Little Door Santa Monica

Dia de Campo

In the Newport Beach area, then enjoy a Rubi ($12) from Dia de Campo. A mix of tequila blanco, grapefruit, lemon, froth, and home spice.

Rubi

Tortilla Republic

Savor a Smokey Passion Fruit margarita with Karma Silver, mezcal, fresh agave lime sweet, pineapple juice, passion fruit purée, and stirrings triple sec. Also for one day only you will receive half off on the Salsa Trio with salsa de mesa, salsa de tomatillo fresca, and salsa de papaya. At only $2.50 for the Salsa you can afford to have another margarita.

Tortilla Republic

For your Oscars Party at home –Chipotle

Too lazy to cook? Treat yourself and purchase a classic wallet-friendly Patron ($6.95) or Sauza ($4.50) margarita and get some burritos to go. The cocktails are served on the rocks with a wedge of lime, and are made to order with tequila, triple sec, a blend of fresh lime and lemon juices, and organic agave nectar. Just ask for a to go cup.

chipotle

 

Tortilla Republic on Urbanspoon

Great Way to Spend an Idle Hour

12 Feb Idle Hour exterior- Photo credit William Bradford

The valley has been undergoing a renaissance for quite a few years now and the iconic North Hollywood barrel bar from 1941 has just been brought back to life as Idle Hour thanks to the 1933 Group.

Idle Hour exterior- Photo credit William Bradford

The barrel shaped bar offers a series of unlabeled taps for your skilled mixologist to decipher offering with a wide variety of beers and cocktails on draft. Crowd favorites created by Chris Amirault (Harlowe) include the hand crafted World’s Greatest Cosmopolitan & The Mule-which is offered on draft.

The MuleWorld's Greatest Cosmopolitan

Taking this watering hole one step further, Chef Sam Hoke (Also from Harlowe) has resurrected the term bar food with colossal chicken wings, vegetarian mac-n-cheese, and sloppy joe’s braised in bourbon and cinnamon.

Idle Hour Idle Sloppy Joe- Photo credit William Bradford Idle Hour Mac & Cheese- Photo credit William Bradford

Best of all they are open daily from 11 AM to 2 AM, with both a regular and late night happy hour PLUS they have a dog friendly patio so you don’t have to feel guilty leaving fido at home for a boozy brunch.

Actually he can sit facing the Bulldog Cafe, an homage to LA’s Programmatic Architecture movement of Brown Derby’s, Bulldogs, and Barrels.

Bulldog Cafe- Photo credit William Bradford

Idle Hour

4824 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA

Soft Opening Friday February 13th 2015

 

 

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