2121 7th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Thurs, 01/22/2015, 9:00pm reservation
*One of my favorites*
Ori Menashe is the beast behind Bestia. The executive chef brings an Italian menu that speaks of originality and innovation with a hint of Mediterranean flavors influenced by his upbringing in Israel. The food is superb in all aspects of culinary arts. Since leaving his former establishment as chef of Angelini Osteria to start his solo career, Menashe has used his experiences and skills in creating fresh pastas and breads brought forth to Bestia. But the concept that makes Bestia unique and transcends other restaurants is their in-house meat curing techniques, implementing over 60 various charcuteries.
Set in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, the restaurant provides a modern and industrial atmosphere. A patio is situated prior to the entrance. The best seats in the house are at the bar or the pizza counter where all the action happens.
Chef's Old Fashioned Cocktail($15.00): lardo infused bourbon, hickory smoked sugar, angostura bitters, salt. This is a man's drink. Lardo (a type of salumi) infused into bourbon?! Who would have thought to ever do such a thing...and have it taste delicious? Well, if you wanted something that tasted deep with a hint of sweetness and smokiness from the sugar, this is the drink for you.
Singapore Sling Cocktail ($13.00): botanivore gin, benedictine, cherry heering, lemon juice, pineapple juice, seltzer. The girly pretty drink. Sweet, a bit sour, a bit fizzy all in one. Just enough to make one smile.
Chicken Liver Crostino ($10.00): My favorite dish. chives, marjoram, aged balsamic, sea salt. Imagine a decadent pate put onto a freshly baked piece of grilled toast that delivers richness, sweetness, and saltiness beyond conception. Everything about this dish was seasoned perfectly. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner...and quite possibly, dessert.
Salsiccia ($18.00): white pork sausage, honey, ricotta, mozzarella, grana padano, fennel pollen. The pizza was thin, chewy, and oh so delicious. It was sweet and savory with the perfect blend of cheeses to resemble Mediterranean flavors. This pizza is comparable to the level of Pizzeria Mozza (one of my favs).
Roasted Marrow Bone ($18.00): spinach gnocchetti, crispy breadcrumbs, aged balsamic. Rich, luscious bone marrow is mixed into the warm sauteed gnocchetti to create a dish that is impeccable. If you haven't tasted this dish, then you haven't lived. This was almost my favorite dish, but I just couldn't get that delicious pate out of my mind.
Cavatelli alla Norcina ($29.00): ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffles, grana padano. Salty and savory sausage mixed with the earthiness of black truffles in a voluptuous sauce. Again, black truffles?!? I think I'm in heaven.
Overall, Bestia is by far one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles. All the plates created by Ori Menashe are simply well constructed and executed to perfection. Bold Italian flavors mixed with a bit of Mediterranean flare is what gives Bestia its foundation to unconventional creativity. Reservations are hard to come by so be sure to call in advance. Word of advice: don't book a large group at the restaurant. The food is remarkably superior when its served for smaller parties of 4 or less.
Notable dishes: Chicken Liver Crostino, Roasted Marrow Bone
Superba Food + Bread
1900 S. Lincoln Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90291
Tues, 01/20/2015, 9:30am walk-in
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It should be warm, satisfying, enticing, and ultimately delicious in all aspects of the palate. Superba Food + Bread attempts to capture the essence of breakfast, but misses the mark. Sure, they offer a decent selection for breakfast. Sure, they serve a decent cup of joe from Heart Roasters of Portland (which was hand picked by Tyler Wells, one of the original co-founders of Handsome Coffee). But the mere fact is: the food is almost repetitive and dull which loses the excitement that I was looking for in my breakfast selection.
Approximately one-third of the breakfast menu consists of toast. The toast is composed of various spreads and garnishes to accompany the pain au levain bread. This is where the problem arises: just one type of bread for all the various toppings. What if I didn't like the pain au levain and wanted a biscuit to go with my maple custard and bacon confit? C'est la vie!
Jam of the week ($8.00): Quince jam, ricotta on pain au levain. Quince is a fruit that resembles a pear but tastes like an apple/pear mixture. The ricotta went well with the very sweet quince jam. This dish was good, but nothing to be excited over.
Prosciutto ($9.00): Cultured butter on pain au levain toast. The toast may photograph well and looks pretty, but looks are deceiving. This was good, but quite honestly, a bit dull. The toast was accompanied with arugula and comprehensively, it lacked flavor and was considerably dry.
Maple Custard ($9.00): Bacon confit, crispy sage. My favorite dish. If you were looking for something sweet, salty, and a bit creamy, then this is the dish for you. The creaminess and sweetness of the maple custard sugar coats what would have been a very salty bacon confit. It was like having thick cuts of bacon drizzled in maple syrup. Disappointingly, the hint of sage barely came through in the dish.
Moroccan Eggs ($11.00): Tomato, peppers, runny egg, marcona almonds, pain au levain. This was like having tomato soup for breakfast. The eggs were poached and definitely runny. The peppers gave the dish a slight kick that was needed. And guess what? They served this dish with none other than pain au levain bread. Seriously, by the time this dish came, I was drained from eating the same type of bread.
Daily brew ($4.00): Heart Roasters coffee. Good coffee. Strong. A bit aromatic. Goes well with all the dishes. Presented beautifully. Enough said.
Overall, Superba Food + Bread is quaint and very Californian. The food is satisfactorily, although a little variance to the bread selection presented wouldn't be a bad idea. This place simply fails to elicit dishes that give the meaning to originality that would entice one to be a regular (unless you lived close by out of convenience). Recently, the bread master Lincoln Carson and chef Jason Travi of Superba Food + Bread have since departed the institution. What could have been an outstanding breakfast spot is candidly a coffee and bread-to-go locale.
18415 Vanowen St.
Reseda, CA 91335
$ (under $15)
Sun, 01/19/2015, 7:15pm walk-in
In 1982, Alejandro and Norma Morales decided to open an authentic Mexican restaurant called Las Fuentes, which translates to "the fountains." With bright orange-yellow painted walls, blue tiles, and folkoric art, you are transported to a Mexican hacienda. Since their opening, the Morales' has managed to expand three other restaurants: Sol y Luna, Melody's, and Senor Sol. All three restaurants offer the same authentic taste Las Fuentes offers.
Upon entering Las Fuentes, a large menu is displayed on the corner wall. There are three divisions to the counter: one for ordering, one for chips and drinks and one for picking up orders. A number is given to you following your order. As you wait for your number to be called, you can inspect the salsa bar that is replenished frequently displayed near the pick up counter.
The restaurant was overloaded with hungry customers just waiting to get a taste of their comida (food). Everything from their taquitos, burritos, and enchiladas are appetizing. And good luck finding a seat! The place is seat yourself and feels like a flock of angry birds in search for an open table.
The salsa bar (ask for the containers at the counter):
Chips ($1.00) with a small guacamole ($1.25): Chips were thin and decent. As for the guacamole, this is probably the smallest guacamole I've ever ordered. I think this equates to approximately 2-3 tablespoons. It's creamy, flavorful, but just disappointingly small. There is an option to order a large guacamole plate for $7.75 but is seasonal.
The small guacamole:
Horchata ($2.00 small): Made from scratch. This creamy drink is one of the better horchatas around. The cinnamon is pungent and goes well with any of the dishes.
Taquitos, Rice and Beans ($6.20 for two): The taquitos are topped with cheese, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce. You can choose between chicken or beef. The chicken was a bit on the dry end. Probably wouldn't order again.
Burrito de Carne Asada ($7.25) + "Gringo Style" ($1.30) + Rice and Beans ($2.30): My favorite dish. The burrito contains cut up beef steak, beans, tomatoes, onions, avocado and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. "Gringo style" refers to ranchera sauce and melted cheese. The beans are refried and the the rice is good and includes peas and corn. Altogether, the burrito is an explosion of flavors in your mouth and they don't skimp on the ingredients either. You can order the burrito alone. But, why would you when you can make the meal complete with the best sides a burrito can have?
Inside the carne asada burrito:
Overall, Las Fuentes is fabulous. The menu is extensive and include Mexican classics, such as quesadillas, burritos, tacos, and taquitos. Most dishes can be made as a combination with rice and beans for an extra charge. The salsa bar is elaborate. The prices are also fairly reasonable. The only downside to the place is the seating arrangement. Likewise, parking can be a hassle. Word of advice: try to come during off hours or order take out.
Joe's Italian Ice and Ice Cream
12302 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92840
$ (under $15)
Sun, 01/19/2015, 1:30pm walk-in
What is italian ice one might ask? It's a combination of slushy ice with fruit or sweet flavorings produced in a similar method as ice cream, and is lighter, smoother and more refined than a snow cone. Often referred to as water ice, this frozen dessert originated from the East Coast and has been brought to the West Coast courtesy of Mike Abeyta.
Joe's Italian Ice is made in-house with fresh fruits and offers a variety of flavors, including strawberry, horchata, peanut butter cup, and Tiger's Blood (watermelon/coconut combination). The soft serve ice cream is shipped in from Pennsylvania and is creamier, denser with less aeration than most soft serves due to their ultra high temperature cooking. And if you're not in the mood for italian ice, you can order a sundae made with Dreyer's ice cream (personally, that would be a crime).
The most popular frozen dessert here is the Joe Latti ($5.24 for regular): Philadelphia italian ice with your choice of flavor layered with soft serve ice cream. Below is the strawberry Joe Latti. My favorite dish. The strawberry is definitely sweet and goes well with the dense soft serve. If you think you simply have a cup full of italian ice, well, surprise....you'll find out that at the bottom of the cup is another layer of soft serve! So delicious!
From left to right: strawberry, mango tango, tiger's blood. You could undoubtedly taste the mango in the mango tango and it was less sweet than the strawberry. The tiger's blood was good and reminded me of a jolly rancher in ice form.
Overall, Joe's Italian Ice and Ice Cream is pretty darn good. It's very similar to Rita's Italian Ice which is located in Santa Monica and has multiple locations throughout Southern California. Joe's is quite small, has a window for ordering and picking up and is cash only. There are a few bar stools available for outdoor seating and nothing indoors. If you want to tread from the usual ice cream and cake desserts, Italian ice with soft serve is definitely a refreshing way to finish off a meal.
Faith and Flower
705 W. 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Thurs, 01/15/2015, 8:15pm reservation
Located within minutes from the Staples Center and just around the corner from The Original Pantry Cafe, Faith and Flower is a restaurant that attempts to bring uniqueness and originality to Downtown Los Angeles. The eatery offers a distinct decor that strives to reflect on the 1920s as well as incorporate a contemporary ambiance. Grandiose chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows, large green goblets, low velvet booth tables transforms what would have been a simple restaurant into something luxurious.
Chef Michael Hung, formerly from La Folie in San Francisco overlooks the kitchen. Dishes are meant to be shared, preferably 2-3 per person. The food is modern with a hint of Asian influences from the chef.
The interior (with a raw bar at the corner for shucking oysters):
The menu: a book made with precision. The menu is elaborate and is integrated into a foreign language book along with quotations from the famous.
Delicata Squash and Apple Salad ($12.00): Truffled mustard cream, pecorino cheese. If you expect this to be a healthy salad, then you are out of luck. It's creamy, a bit salty from the cheese and offers sweetness from the squash. Tartness and bitterness can be tasted throughout the dish stemming from the endive. Its not a spectacular dish in my opinion, but then again, can salad ever be spectacular?
Duck Liver Mousse Tarts ($6.00): Grenadine candied onions. This is one of the more popular dishes. The tart itself is a crispy puff pastry filled with duck liver mousse. The mousse was definitely creamy and the candied onions was unquestionably needed to counteract the creaminess. The tart to liver mousse ratio was off the mark. There was just too much mousse and not enough tart (and that's saying a lot coming from me)!
Dungeness Crab Toast ($16.00): Jicama, avocado, green goddess aioli. Fresh dungeness crab with a hint of spice on a fairly thick piece of dry, stale toast. Everything about it was fresh other than the toast itself. Maybe it was meant to be stale so the crab could shine?
Lamb Pierogis ($18.00): Caramelized onions, Fermented black soy. The sauce was rich, tasty with a soy sauce undertone. The lamb was a bit on the gamey side, which was fine. The pierogis themselves were soft until I bit into the edges, which were a tad undercooked.
Housemade Cavatelli ($16.00): Roasted mushrooms and garlic, baby kale, parmigiano reggiano. Our original order was for the spaghetti, but I think they were testing out the dineLA menu. Cavatelli is a shelled pasta resembling a hot dog bun. The pasta was good, cooked al dente. The sauce was more like a broth than a sauce with a hint of citrus.
Oxtail Agnolotti ($17.00): My favorite dish. Bone marrow butter, asian pear salsa, beef tendon chicharrones. This order was forgotten by the waiter and was meant to be on the fly (which translated to a 20 minute wait time...not very speedy in my opinion). Again, the sauce was similar to a broth with a few pepper flakes. Texture of the agnolotti was great and the chicharrones was a perk to the dish. I just wish there were more of the chicharrones to the plate since the crunch was needed in every bite.
Overall, the restaurant was meant to offer uniqueness with complicated flavors which fell short. Most of the dishes were good but were not amazing. The restaurant has a great ambiance and considering that its been less than a year since opening its doors, it was bustling. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to try this restaurant again; however, if you're in the area and have no idea where to eat, then this might be a good contender. Tip: parking can be a bit difficult. The restaurant offers valet for $6 with validation and can be easily missed. Make sure to pay attention to the signs and turn into the alleyway on 9th after Figueroa.