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

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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

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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

 

 

Valentine’s Day in LA

7 Feb Valentine's Day 2015

Whether your single or coupled there’s no lack of love themed events to attend in Los Angeles on February 14th. Best of all they are all things I bet you didn’t do last year :)

For the Singles

Bacari PDR’s Anti- Valentine’s Day for Singles

Head to this Playa Del Rey spot for an extra long happy hour (5-11 PM) where small plates will be $6 and cleverly named specialty cocktails like the “Love Me Tinder” will be $8. There will also be a $20-90 minute open bar special available all night featuring their house wine and sangria selections. Just make sure to save that last one until the end of the night.

Bacardi PDR

Tom Bergin’s S.A.D. (Single Awareness Day) Party

If you’re idea of a happy Valentine’s day includes lighting your ex’s memories on fire with a bunch of strangers, then Tom Bergin’s is for you. Beginning at 5 P.M you can sip $5 “bitter” Old Fashoneds and purge bad memories with their indoor fireplace. They are also taking Goodwill donations of gently-used clothing, so that oversized shirt of his that you still sleep in…it’s time to let it go to a good cause.

tom bergin's

For the Couples

Ray’s & Stark Bar 

Head to LACMA at twilight and cap off a few hours of culture with a plated dinner. The 3 course dinner is $60 while 4 courses is $75. Highlights include the beef heart tartare and the spaghetti with bacon, carrot, leek, spinach, and Cuvée Champagne. Speciality “love potions” will also be available.

ray's and stark bar

Descanso Gardens for the “That’s Amore! Dinner” 

For any fellow Glendale residents, this is a rare opportunity to have a gourmet dinner in your backyard…or in this case your own botanical garden.

The Descanso Gardens generally only offers these plated dinners once or twice a month, but for Valentine’s Day they are offering two seatings (5:30 PM and 7:30 PM) on one night.

The 3 course meal is $75 for members and $84 for non-members and highlights include a pink gazpacho starter with warm diver scallop and crisp cucumber and the strawberries and cream vanilla sphere for dessert with strawberry consommé, genmaicha granola, and fennel fronds. Love potions will also be served, like the Kiss from a Rose made with yellow chartreuse, silver tequila, honey syrup, and muddled raspberries.

descanso-gardens

Terrine

Make sweet memories under the stars in the newly opened rustic french inspired restaurant Terrine. For $65 a person couples can enjoy a 5 course dinner with decadent highlights such as a smoked beet tartar with Osteria caviar and halibut cheeks with braised beef cheek ragout. Be sure to leave room for dessert, your choice of glazed chocolate cake with sea salt caramel frosting, or a parsnip terrine with mascarpone ice cream and walnut streusel.

Terrine

For Everyone

Tortilla Republic

For the entire month of February, Tortilla Republic’s new Pastry Chef Katie Shyne is offering dishes with love in mind. For a limited time, enjoy the chocolate molten chile cake , or the sorbet Champagne float which includes a tequila float in a glass of champagne. Look out for that last one :)

Tortilla-Republic

Valentine's Day 2015

 

 

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Preview of DineLA/Restaurant Week

20 Jan Acabar

Yesterday was the official start of DineLA/Restaurant Week in Los Angeles and so begins 2 weeks of Prix-fixing and planning!

Every year I enjoy the search for a place I’ve never been and for a price value that makes January 20th-January 31st the ideal time to go. Lucques for example offers a $50 prix-fixe dinner which appears to be a good value but is actually more than they charge every Sunday for the famed “Sunday-Supper” Prix-fixe.

This year I got an opportunity to preview a dinner at Acabar which I must admit is usually a place I think of for drinks before dining. Chef Kevin Luzande is on a mission to change that, and there’s no better time than DineLA!

Three-Course Menu

Choice of Appetizer

Shades of Winter Salad with parsnip & cashew puree, cauliflower couscous & goat cheese

Shades of Winter Salad

Kanpachi Crudo with olive dust and salmon roe

Kanpachi Crudo

Beef Carpaccio with bone marrow, black truffle arancini, crispy pulled beef, and horseradish 

IMG_1776

Choice of Entree

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with hen of the woods mushroom and brown butter

IMG_1777

Seared Scallops with roasted chestnuts and bok choy

Scallops

Braised Short Rib with smoked oyster cream and smoked grapes 

IMG_1780

Dessert

Choice of Coconut Coulant, Parsnip Split, and Gimmie S’More

gimmie smore

How you can tell a chef is absolutely invested in every diner…when you’re served a Gimmie S’More directly from his hands because he catches you slipping out of the dinner early :) Just one of the many wonderful moments on my savory journey at Acabar and my top choice for a $40 DineLA dinner that will have you rethinking this Arabian palace as just an after-dinner spot.

Acabar

 

Acabar on Urbanspoon

5 Best Restaurants for Breaking your New Year’s Resolutions!

9 Jan NYE

It’s the first week of January and despite your best intentions you might find yourself reaching for that secret stash of Oreo’s you hid behind the kale chips. So before you give in to processed food, consider my list of the 5 best restaurants for breaking your New Year’s resolutions.

Hey at least you have to walk outside your house to get there!

1. Bacari PDR

Beginning on Sunday this Playa del Rey favorite will be kicking off their “Beefsteak Sundays” dinner special from 5-10 PM. For just $35 you can enjoy an all you can eat feast comprised of limitless grilled hanger steak, oven-roasted potatoes, onion rings, and toasted baguette plus guests can pair their meal with bottomless house red wine, house white wine, house sparkling wine, house beer, and homemade sangria. Is the Playa a little too far for you…Eastsider’s can enjoy the same bottomless fun at Bacaro LA in DTLA.

Sunday_roast_-_roast_beef_1

2. Pot

Head to the Line Hotel in Koreatown for one of Roy Choi’s newest culinary spots-Pot. Enjoy the BootKnocker for a taste of tofu, instant ramen, 4 canned meats, fish cakes and more! Pair it of course with a side of Kimchi Fried Rice.

Kimchi Fried Rice

3. Fat Sal’s

Jerry Ferrara, otherwise known as Turtle from Entourage has undergone a pretty significant weight loss transformation since the series first began…and I’m guessing he just stopped eating at his restaurant Fat Sal’s!

Stop in for The Big Fat Fatty for $49.99 and take their 40 minute food challenge. If you can eat this 27 inch garlic hero stuffed with cheese-steak, burgers, chicken fingers, crisp bacon, onions rings, and fat sauce then they will name a fat sandwich after you :). If you’re looking for a more reasonably sized lunch then try the Fat Sal, made with roast beef, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and gravy on a garlic hero for $9.99.

The Big Fat Fatty

4. Hawkins House of Burgers

Looking for a reason to visit Watts? Well now you can if only to go to Hawkins House of Burgers, for what some call the best burger in Los Angeles. The Hawkins Special Burger includes 3 meat patties, 3 eggs, 4 strips of bacon, a hot link, chili and pastrami plus a side of fries and a drink for 25.99. Although you could also get just a taste of Hawkins for $1.25.

hawkins

5. Milk+Jar+Cookies

If you’re just looking for a sweet tooth fix that is worth every calorie, then head to this Mid-Wilshire spot for the ultimate comfort food, cookies and milk. All the ingredients are local including the sweet centers of those hard to resist ice-cream sammies.

And if one is isn’t enough, you can enroll in the Cookie of Month Club for about the price of gym membership and leave those healthy resolutions for 2016 where they belong!

milk+Jar+Cookies

 

 

Pot on Urbanspoon

New Year’s Eve 2015 in LA

23 Dec New Years Eve 2015

Whether you’re looking to ring in the New Year with a splurge, or something that just feel’s like one, EatDrinkLA has got you covered. Here are my pick’s for the best New Year’s Eve celebrations in LA for 2015 from splurge to steal that you can still make reservations at!

New Years Eve 2015

 

Harlowe’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” – 8pm-2am

Music, dancing, and a toast a midnight, Harlowe is offering a ticketed Gatsby style event. Click here to get your tickets on the spot. General Admission is $95 and includes open bar with drinks from the regular menu and select spirits from 8pm-Midnight plus complementary appetizers. Feeling more like a boss? The VIP packages will run you $500 but include 4 premium open bar tickets, a reserved table, and a complimentary bottle of champagne from the reserve list.

harlowe

Fig & Olive “White & Gold” Party – 6pm-2am

Enjoy New Years Eve on the French Rivera with an a-la-carte menu until 9pm and a 4 course menu for $150 beginning at 9pm. The “white and gold” cocktail party runs from 9pm until midnight and for $100 you can enjoy an open bar and passed apps.

Fig and olive

Acabar’s “White Carnival”- 6pm-2am

The evening will feature an exclusive four-course prix-fixe menu, with two seatings that night (first seating, 6p.m.-7p.m., $65++ per person; second seating, 7:45p.m.-11p.m., $125++ per person). Menu highlights include Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and Normandy Butter Poached Lobster. In addition to reserved seatings in the dining room, guests can celebrate in Acabar’s exotic lounge and bar, which will be offering bottle service as well as their a la carte menu with oysters and caviar available upon request. Live entertainment will include a DJ, Brazilian Samba Dancers and capoeira performances in a drum circle.

Acabar

Firefly, Studio City– 5pm-2am

If decadence is your idea of a proper New Years Eve then join Chef Paul Shoemaker for an exclusive holiday Black Truffle menu. The Prix Fixe 3-course menu is $75 and ends with a Black Truffle Cheesecake. Make a complete night of it and make a late reservation as the party goes on until 2am with a cash bar.

Firefly studio city

Sassafras’s “Black & White Party”– 8pm-2am

Enjoy a taste of New Orleans in your best black & white attire at Sassafras. Live music provided by The Dixie Giants. Tickets can be purchased here and for $85 you can sizzle with an open bar with specialty cocktails featuring Grey Goose and St. Germain and New Orleans-inspired hors d’oeuvres.

Sassafras Saloon

Now for the steals! Some no cover options to help ring the New Year.

Bigfoot West– 5pm-2am

If you’d rather spend your money on drinks then skip the cover and invest in a few rounds of the $10 champagne cocktail of the night

Bigfoot west

The Thirsty Crow– 8pm-2am

Wine for $5 or Champagne bottles for $50 should be enough to get you to midnight.

The thirsty crow

Tiki No– 5pm-2am

Enjoy a champagne toast out of a tiki glass instead at this North Hollywood kitchy favorite.

Tiki No

Hope everyone has a happy and delicious new year!!!

 

 

                

 

 

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