Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Speeding Down The Strip

Sin City from my passenger window at dusk.
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Next: Our free digs -- not Wynn or Palazzo this time!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yes, Oui Can

********THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.********

Everything old is new again at La Cachette Bistro (twitter @LCBSantaMonica).
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Chef Jean-Francois Meteigner, former executive chef of the beloved shuttered L'Orangerie, has moved and reinvented his own beloved 15-year-old La Cachette from Westwood to Santa Monica.

We witnessed firsthand just how beloved La Cachette was. Chef Meteigner's loyal old fans (and, yes, "old" as in "senior citizen") have followed him in droves to this new location -- the place was populated with the geriatric set.

Unlike La Cachette's old clientele, however, La Cachette Bistro feels modern, albeit a tad corporate. The space and design are sleek, but the decor lacks pizazz. I'd characterize the food as updated classic French. It's comfort food, but it's interesting and not overwhelmingly heavy.

The prices are not overwhelmingly heavy either -- a bit lower than those at the old La Cachette, which cost a pretty penny. In fact, La Cachette Bistro will begin offering three-course prix fixe lunches for just $15 next Monday.

We were all fairly amused by this pacifier-like butter bell contraption. It's fun eating with our friends, the Cruisers.
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Mr. Cruiser even tried applying it directly to the bread. Good times.

Ms. Cruiser had eaten here before and was warmly greeted by Chef Meteigner. She highly recommended the brandade of house-cured fresh cod with garlic bread ($14), so we jumped at the chance to try it. We also got the salmon appetizer special of the day.
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The cod was lip-smacking garlicky goodness. The salmon was tasty, too, but the cod impressed me more. I piled it sky-high on my bread.

Fish and langoustine soup with rouille and swiss cheese ($10).
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Enjoyable. A happy seafood party in your mouth.

Belgian endive salad with organic California walnuts, California bleu cheese, and truffle oil dressing ($15).
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I didn't taste this salad, but the Cruisers seemed to like it.

Frisee and baby spinach, organic bacon, organic poached eggs, and garlic dressing ($14).
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Fantastic salad. I'm a sucker for bacon and spinach together. Word of caution -- the poached egg is poached very soft, so if you don't like runny yolk, ask for it poached medium or hard.

Lobster bisque served with rouille ($10).
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So interesting and particularly impressive because this bisque was non-dairy. How was it so rich without cream?! Pure essence of lobster. Mmm.

Kurobuta pork shank braised with honey and vinegar with sour cherries and mashed potatoes ($26).
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Luscious piggy! Absolutely fall-off-the-bone succulent! Lucky Mr. Cruiser!

Maple Farm duck breast with ginger rub, braised red cabbage, apple, orange chips, and orange sauce ($28).
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Slightly on the firm side, but it had a lovely sweetness and tang.

Buffalo short ribs with coffee rub, potato gratin, and Cabernet jus ($25).
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The potato gratin was forgettable, but the buffalo short ribs were something to behold. Oh-so-tender and melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious. Lucky Mr. Monkey!

Duck leg, housemade duck sausage, and lamb cassoulet ($24).
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My duck leg was fabulous. My lamb chunks were tasty. My sausage was decent. I understand this was a cassoulet, but my glorious meat was totally drowning in beans. Beans, beans, the musical fruit. I skipped a whole bunch, so I did not toot. I did have to forage for the good stuff, though. But at least the good stuff was indeed good stuff.

Side of corn gratin with parmesan crust ($7).
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Delectable. But I do love corn. A lot. And cheese. A lot. I might be biased.

Side of sweet potato fries ($7).
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Pleasant but not groundbreaking.

Berry tart and ice cream ($10).
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We ordered a rhubarb strawberry tart, but this came out instead. That's ok. It was still palatable.

Organic strawberry shortcake and crème fraîche and strawberry sauce ($9).
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Best of the bunch! Our server recommended this, and boy were we happy he did.

Tahitian Vanilla raspberry crème brûlée with raw sugar crust ($8).
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Yummy although not euphoria-inducing.

Homemade French crepe with Nutella, banana, and dark chocolate sauce ($9).
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I liked this, but I tend to like all crepes. Simple and delicious.

A big thank-you to our dear Cruisers for inviting us to dinner. Oui had a blast!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Speakasy Tuesday at The Park Restaurant of Echo Park

When Mr. and Mrs. sinosoul asked if I could join them and Kung Food Panda at The Park Restaurant of Echo Park for Speakeasy Tuesday, there was only one possible answer.
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I followed this BYOB Blazer Dude and the sign into the restaurant.
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The place was tiny and dark. We had the one table with some semblance of light.
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sinosoul brought the drinky-drinks.
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On Speakeasy Tuesday, The Park offers three courses for $15. Good deal for tough times.
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But was the food as good as the deal?

Classic chopped salad with lemon vinaigrette.
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sinosoul said it was tangy. It wasn't a resounding endorsement.

Tomato and rice soup.
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This reminded me of Andy Warhol. If you don't get what that means, you're the kind of person who would probably like this soup.

The kitchen was kind enough to let us taste a little of the vegetarian chili.
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I didn't know "vegetarian chili" was "refried beans."

Then there was the buttermilk fried chicken with collard greens and biscuits with gravy.
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Glorious, no? Golden brown and beautiful. Deceptively so. The chicken was only ok. It wasn't bad in the least, but it didn't knock my socks off. And I wasn't even wearing socks.

That didn't make sense. Whatever. This chicken not being awesome didn't make sense.

The greens, however, were quite lovely. I also enjoyed the biscuit, even though it tasted more muffin-like than biscuit-like. Borderline cake-like even.

Here's dessert. Bread pudding.
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Easily the best food of the night, although I thought it could be sweeter. And, if you know me, you know that I never think things should be sweeter.

So, after all this moderate disappointment, would I go back? Maaaaaybe. Wednesdays are $5 burger nights. $5! For a burger and a side! I'm a sucker for deals, and I think this little place is trying really hard. I'd love to see them improve, and I think they're capable of doing so.

See what Kung Food Panda thought here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sorry, Hikari

Desperate times call for desperate measures. That's when you resort to eating sushi at the Montebello Town Center. Yes, a mall. And not even a good mall. A junky mall.
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Hikari is only a small step up from food court fare. Well, to be more accurate, it's several steps away from the actual food court on the ground floor of this crap mall.

The saving grace is that the place has a crazy collection of '90s music. Think everything from Bell Biv Devoe to 4 Non Blondes. It's kind of the only reason to come here.

Oh, and there are lunch specials, too.
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Thankfully, mall sushi is not terribly expensive.

And you get to listen to Color Me Badd.

Glam got the "sexy roll" with spicy tuna, avocado, and salmon in cucumber ($11.95).
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To the heart, tick tock, ya don't stop.

I got some sort of bento box ($9.95).
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Yeah, it was that memorable.

I think I might like Hot Dog on a Stick more. Shh. Don't tell Glam.
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