Sunday, March 29, 2015


Le Comptoir 
The Historic Hotel Normandie
3606 West 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: 213.290.0750 (Reservations taken online only)
$$$$ ($50+)
Fri, 03/13/2015, 8:30pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)

The Exterior: No sign

Le Comptoir, which means counter in French, is a 10-12 seat counter, farm to table conceptual restaurant. Chef Gary Menes takes pride in his restaurant concept. The menu changes regularly depending on what is in season. Menes offers seasonal ingredients, obtaining most of them from his organic farm in Long Beach, CA. 

The eatery is small, with only the counter and the kitchen. The open concept is taken literally where everything is out in the open for you to see. Chef Menes, who had stints with Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and Alain Ducasse, offers a 6-course prix fixe menu for $69 with wine pairings at $42. Although it seems fairly reasonable, the fare is heightened with supplemental fees if you want to devour more than beautifully cooked vegetables. 

Chef Gary Menes (Far right) with his sous chefs hard at work
Amuse Bouche: Crispy rice, carrot, shisito pepper and lemon rind. This a beautifully constructed bite. Great acidity, crunch with a hint of Asian influences.
MY FAVORITE DISH: FIRST COURSE: "Tomato bisque" veloute with greek yogurt, fried bread crumbs. The original menu stated that the first course would be Japanese mountain yam veloute, but it was changed last minute. Boy, am I glad it did. This was a creamy soup bursting with tomato flavors. The super crispy fried bread had a roasted feel to them. The yogurt added a nice richness to the bisque. This was the perfect way to start the meal. I literally could have had 10 bowls of this.
SECOND COURSE:  "Vegetable and fruit" plate. Potato, beets, celery root, celtuce, calamantsi, pickled onion, carrot, tangerine, zucchini, peas, grape, radish, and more...  (If desired, foie gras with $25 supplemental fee) If you didn't have your vegetables for the day, then this is your plate to make sure you do! Everything was freshly prepared and it gave you all the crunch, acidity, and texture imaginable. A good dish overall. 

THIRD COURSE: Oeuf en cocotte, beurre noisette, baby lettuce, brown butter, lemon, chives. (If desired, lobster with $16 supplemental fee seen below) The egg was beautifully presented; however, my egg was slightly overdone (I do like my eggs a bit runny). I definitely enjoyed the brown butter sauce. The greens were fresh and strong with a horseradish taste to them.  
THE THIRD COURSE WITH A $16 SUPPLEMENTAL FEE: Santa Barbara lobster, "lobster bisque", cauliflower leaves, lime. This was a fresh dish that takes you to the sea. The lobster was cooked perfectly and utterly succulent. The cauliflower leaves and lime added a nice touch. The "lobster bisque" sauce was delicious. Is it worth the supplemental fee? I think it depends on your preference of food whether you desire eggs or lobster. They are both two completely different dishes.  

FOURTH COURSE: Tranche of roasted butternut squash, wheat berries, preserved blueberries, pistachio. (If desired, tagliolini with black truffles with $30 supplemental fee). Who would have thought eating vegetables could fill you up?! The butternut squash was extremely delicious and buttery. The chef provided a substantial amount in the size of a steak. The wheat berries were a grain that complemented the squash well. 
FIFTH COURSE: "Fricasse" romanesco, apple, almonds, sweet onion, stone ground polenta, jus d'onion. (If desired, dry aged prime beef with $16 supplemental fee as seen below).  Anything with creamy polenta I am a fan for and this dish is one of them. The dish offered a nice acidity counteracted by sweetness from the onions. The apple was cooked perfectly. A successful dish. 

THE FIFTH COURSE WITH A $16 SUPPLEMENTAL FEE: Dry aged prime beef, rouge de hiver, pear, parsley vinaigrette. The steak was cooked to rare versus medium-rare. Some parts were over seasoned and others were under seasoned. Regardless, the quality of the meat was exceptional. Overall, a good dish.
SIXTH COURSE: Sourdough donut, sour cream, meyer lemon curd, orange marmalade (If desired, chefs selection of cheeses with $15 supplemental fee). The donut was crispy and made fresh. The lemon curd added nice acidity that went well with the donut. Instead of marmalade, we actually had a bruleed banana that was delicious. 
HAND CRAFTED ORIGIN COFFEE ($8.00): Must order at the beginning of the meal. Please allow for 15 minutes of brew time. The coffee was not too strong so no need for sugar and cream (they will not provide it). 

Overall, Le Comptoir is a vegetarian's dream. Chef Menes provides exceptional vegetables that are straight from his garden. I appreciated that dishes were timed perfectly. The service was a bit blotchy and I felt one of the sous chefs (who acts as both a waiter and busboy) was a bit pushy in terms of supplemental orders and wine pairings. There are two seatings at 6:00pm and 8:30pm. I prefer the later time as you won't feel rushed to leave. The restaurant is not cheap, especially since you would be easily lured into upgrading the dishes with the supplemental fees. Comprehensively, the food is good, Chef Menes is personable and you will feel somewhat healthy for eating your vegetables for the day. On a side note: You can do valet at the hotel if you are unable to find street parking. 

Notable dishes: Tomato bisque veloute and sourdough donut

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Manhattan Beach Post
1142 Manhattan Ave.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Tel: 310.545.5405
$$$ ($30-$45)
Sun, 03/08/2015, 12:00pm reservation
     (4.5 Piglets)

Once upon a time in a little kingdom in Madison, Wisconsin, there stood a boy who loved to watch his mother cook. That love transcended everything else and strengthened his desire to learn to cook. As he grew older, the boy forgot that love and enrolled in college to study engineering. Then one day, he had enough. The boy left college and decided to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America to embrace that love of cooking his mother once instilled in him. And this is how it all began....

The little boy's name is David LeFevre. LeFevre had the opportunity to travel to France to learn from some of the best Michelin-starred chefs. From there, he returned to the United States and whilst in Los Angeles, became the Executive Chef of Water Grill in Downtown Los Angeles. The Water Grill was where he became a reputable chef, earning his first Michelin star. And it was then that he decided to start his solo career at Manhattan Beach Post.

Manhattan Beach Post (also known as MB Post) is a rustic, open, and captivating restaurant set in beautiful Manhattan Beach. It is a social house where people gather and socialize over delicious food prepared from Chef LeFevre. Plates are meant to be shared and through each delectable bite, you can taste the effort and love Chef LeFevre put into the dishes.

ILLY COFFEE ($4.50): Regular or decaf. Good coffee. Unfortunately, the waiter was not attentive with refilling my coffee or providing enough sugar/cream. 

MY FAVORITE DISH. BACON CHEDDAR BUTTERMILK BISCUITS ($6.00): Maple Butter. This is by far one of the best biscuits I've ever had. The crisp exterior was perfect to the moist, crumbly soft interior. It was savory in all aspects and the maple butter was the ideal complement. I think I could eat a dozen by myself, but unfortunately, an order comes with only two. 

FRENCH TOAST ($12.00): Stuffed with in house ricotta, Ha's bartlett pears, candied almonds. Brunch is a sweet thing to do and it is only necessary to order a sweet dish in honor of brunch. The toast was crisp, the ricotta added a nice texture and the pears were cooked perfectly. My only complaint was that it was such a small dish (but that's cause I'm a piglet).

BENEDICT ($15.00): Bacon cheddar biscuit, arugula, la quercia tamworth proscuitto, hollandaise. So delicious. This is how a twist on eggs benedict should be. I appreciated the biscuit at the bottom and the salty proscuitto. The hollandaise was creamy. Everything meshed well together and as a result, this was a successful dish.
TRUFFLE HONEY LACED FRIED CHICKEN ($15.00): Kohlrabi slaw. Imagine the most delectable chicken coated in a perfect batter and deep fried to a supreme crispiness. The chicken was juicy and moist. The honey added a nice sweetness. Everything about this dish was immaculate and was by far one of my favorite dishes. A must order!

THAI PORK SAUSAGE ($6.00): Papaya salad, lime. The presentation of the pork sausage just reminded me of a hamburger patty on a bed of vegetables. But, little did I know that this sausage would be so different than any other sausages I would eat. The first bite was moist and savory. Towards the end of the bite, I received a nice kick from the Thai spices and chili. Thank goodness for the papaya salad to cool off my palate. If you like spicy food, then this is a good contender. 

HOUSEMADE PORK AND SHRIMP DUMPLINGS ($12.00): Citrus Ponzu, Chicharrones, Chili oil. These delicate pillows of pork and shrimp were flavorful The ponzu sauce added a nice acidity while the chicharrones added some crunch to the dish. The chili oil balanced out the dish by adding some heat. Although this was not one of my favorite dishes, it was by no means awful. It was just out-competed by so many other flavorful and wonderful dishes. 

Overall, Manhattan Beach Post is a fantastic restaurant that lives up to the name: A Social House. The drinks are great and the food is fantastic. This is considerably one of my favorite restaurants in the South Bay, let alone, in Los Angeles. Whether you choose weekend brunch or weeknight dinner at MB Post, you can't go wrong with any of the dishes. On a side note: parking can be quite difficult. If you're lucky, you may be able to find street parking or valet if you come during dinner hours.

Notable Dishes: Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits and Honey Laced Truffle Fried Chicken

Monday, March 23, 2015


Tipsy Cow
15005 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Tel: 818.986.8472
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 03/07/2015, 8:00pm reservation
    (2.5 Piglets)

Tipsy Cow is a gastropub that features a selection of pub food and specialty burgers. Thirty-two draft beers and crafted cocktails contribute to their menu. The restaurant has an outdoor patio seating area and has an open dining floor. The ambiance is simple, making Tipsy Cow an ideal place to grab a drink after work and relax.

MY FAVORITE DISH: GOOD TALK DAD ($7.00): Vanilla Ice Cream, Salted Caramel. Delicious vanilla shake mixed in with salted caramel?!? This was rich and satisfied your every sweet tooth cravings. The vanilla shake with a hint of salted caramel was exactly what the doctor ordered. I slurped this bad boy in no time.


WHAT'S HAPPENING HOT STUFF?? ($7.00): Vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookies, marshmallow fluff. This was a good Oreo shake. It was rich, had great chocolate flavor, but it was nothing special compared to other Oreo shakes I've had in the past. If you are in the mood for an Oreo shake, you should order this.

VENTURA LEMONADE COCKTAIL: Tito's Vodka, Housemade vanilla bean lemonade, lemon. This was a sweet and delicious drink. It was thoroughly refreshing and was perfect on a warm evening.

HAYSTACK FRIES ($4.00): with chipotle ketchup and garlic aioli. These are my type of fries: crispy, thin, and full of crunch. The sauces were good and out of the two, garlic aioli was my preference. 

BIG TEXAN ($13.00): Tillamook cheddar, BBQ sauce, bacon nibbles, pork belly, onion straws. Everything about this dish was screaming my name: Piglet Nancy. The size of the burger was substantial, but unfortunately, this failed to deliver a juicy burger that I was hoping for. The burger patty was extremely dry. My request was it to be cooked medium-rare, but instead, I received a very well done piece of meat. It was unfortunate because the condiments were pretty good. 
Inside the very dry and disappointing Big Texan burger

TIPSY STYLE ($11.00): Tillamook cheddar, butter lettuce, roasted tomatoes, grilled onions, dill pickles, spicy 1000 island. Again, the size of the burger was gigantic, but this burger lacked flavor. It needed to be seasoned well. This burger was ordered medium and it was probably medium-well. Would I order this burger again? Probably not. 

Overall, Tipsy Cow is a great place to meet up with friends for a drink or two. The food is anything but special (you're probably better off going to In-N-Out and getting a double double). On the positive end, the drinks are pretty good. Service can be a bit more attentive. With a few minor adjustments, I think the restaurant can earn a few more Piglets. Word of advice: Parking can be a bit of a hassle on busy Ventura Blvd; so look for parking in the residential area.

Notable dishes: Good Talk Dad Milk Shake

Friday, March 20, 2015


Prospect Gourmand
272 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Tel: 424.204.9151
$$ ($15-$30)
Fri, 03/06/2015, 8:30pm reservation
     (4 Piglets)

The farm to table concept has been a recent trend that is overtaking many restaurants locally and abroad. One such restaurant, Prospect Gourmand has incorporated this concept with open arms. This small and quaint Beverly Hills restaurant is new, cozy and brings fresh elements from the farmer's market to your table. Approximately 60% of the ingredients are organic. Chef Isaac Gamboa and his staff visit the farmer's market once a week in search for the freshest ingredients that are in season. As a result, his dishes are innovative and enticing. 

Using French techniques, Chef Gamboa creates dishes with a modern twist. Take for instance the Prospect BKE Burger: a delicious burger topped with kimchi! Kimchi?!?! Yes, who would have thought a ground beef patty could taste so good with kimchi. Or the Gourmand Burger with the option of adding foie gras. With the food on the verge of being top notch, there are still a few kinks to work out like any other restaurant that has recently opened its doors. 

Outdoor sign

The interior

The Bar area

POUTINE ($12.00): Gourmand fries, topped with pork belly, dashi  gravy, homemade citrus ricotta. This dish is a twist on the traditional poutine which uses cheese curds instead of ricotta. Although the homemade ricotta melted from the heat of the fries, the flavors were good overall. A few of the fries were soggy, which was expected since it was doused in gravy.

PROSPECT BKE BURGER ($19.00): Bacon, Kimchi, Organic egg, french fries. This is a good dish. The burger is juicy and moist. The kimchi adds a nice acidic and aromatic feel to the dish. It's a burger with a twist and worth a try. I'm not a fan of the thick cut fries so that's my only downfall to the dish. It is a personal preference. 

FREE TO ROAM CHICKEN ($19.00): Crispy pan fried, easy peasy mac and cheesy, heirloom carrots. This chicken takes approximately 20 minutes to make. It is moist and full of flavor. The crispy skin adds a nice touch. Utilizing mac and cheese instead of the usual mashed potatoes is a nice change. Sugar snap peas and onion au jus are present to finish off the dish. 

CHOCOLATE TURTLE SHELL TARTE ($9.00): Chocolate tarte, salted caramel ice cream. If you want a decadent dessert and just straight chocolate, then this one is for you. It is rich and definitely heavy. The gelato is supplied from a local gelato shop in Redondo Beach, CA.  I could not finish this dessert even though I am a dessert fanatic. 

Overall, Prospect Gourmand has the potential to be something amazing. It is a fairly new restaurant that still needs some minor improvements. For example, my utensils were forgotten when I ordered my food. Additionally, it took some time to flag down a waitress to order dessert and for the check. In terms of the food, it is aromatic and pretty flavorful. I'm sure with a few tweaks and some time, this restaurant will be one of the popular restaurants in Los Angeles.

Notable dishes: Free to Roam Chicken