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

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 :)).


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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