Sunday, July 31, 2011

Denver: The Warwick Hotel

We went to Denver in January to see The Airborne Toxic Event play with the Colorado Symphony and to visit one of Mr. Monkey's best friends.

We stayed at The Warwick Hotel.
It wasn't an exciting hotel, but our room was huge (including a giant walk-in closet) and only cost $65 per night via priceline. That was just fine for our short weekend jaunt.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Best Crust Ever: Mr. Pizza

Whenever we go to concerts at The Wiltern, I'm always intrigued by Mr. Pizza across the street. One night, we finally went inside to try Korean pizza. Yes, you read that right. Korean pizza!
Mr. Monkey saw this deal and was sold.

Blacken [sic] chicken -- Cajun chicken breast, tomato, goat cheese (regular price $16).
I only had a bite to taste it. It was fine. Nothing special.

I had no interest in pasta. I was only there for one thing.

The Beselo -- four different pizzas in one ($26).
(1) Potato Gold -- tomato sauce, mozzarella, ground beef, corn, onion, potato wedge, nacho chip flakes, sour cream.
(2) Shrimp Gold -- salsa sauce, mozzarella, Cajun shrimp, mushrooms, ground beef, corn, onion, bell pepper, olive, jalapeño, bacon bits.
(3) Crab Gold -- Alfredo sauce, crab, mozzarella, ground beef, onion, bell pepper, paprika, bacon bits, bleu cheese dressing.
(4) Secret Garden -- spicy Alfredo sauce, Cajun chicken breast, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, olive, spinach, bleu cheese dressing.
This is what I came for! I love variety!

The toppings are plentiful and interesting, but really there is only one reason to go to Mr. Pizza.

I loved loved loved this. It was like dessert at the end of every slice.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Decent Thai for Silver Lake: Wat Dong Moon Lek

Contrary to what my previous three posts may indicate, I don't actually eat all of my meals with insomniac! I went to Wat Dong Moon Lek for lunch with my brother, mother, and stepdad during a househunting day a few months ago.
It's a tiny Thai place in a Silver Lake strip mall with tall uncomfortable stools.

Papaya salad -- green papaya, green bean, dried shrimp, peanuts, tamarind, lime, chili ($7.99)
My family seemed to enjoy this. Very spicy! After many tries, it is now established that I do not like papaya salad, no matter how good it is.

Big plate of Hainan chicken rice -- garlic rice, steamed chicken, spicy soy ginger sauce ($6.99).
Very nice version, surprisingly so at a Thai restaurant!

Pasta kee mow -- stir-fried linguini, basil, onion, tomato, chili, bell pepper, chicken ($7.99).
Italy meets Thailand! Weird in concept, but somehow it works. Get this!

Big bowl of Wat Dong Moon Lek beef noodles -- rice noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, rare beef, meatballs ($6.99).
Lovely consistency but a bit too sweet for me.

Stir-fried ong choy with crispy pork belly over rice ($7.99).
Pleasant but not even close to the other-worldly version at my beloved Pa-Ord.

If I lived in the area, I'd probably visit fairly often. But we bought a house elsewhere, so this won't be a neighborhood haunt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great for Groups: Stefan's at L.A. Farm

The first time I went to Stefan's at L.A. Farm was in January. Ajknightfan lives pretty close to the restaurant and loves it, so I was excited to sample the special Blackboard Eats $40 four-course prix fixe meal with her, PDX, and insomniac.
If you watch Top Chef, you know that Stefan Richter totally should've beat Hosea Rosenberg during Season Five.

And this restaurant is proof.

The space is L.A.-cool with ample indoor and outdoor seating, including comfy banquettes around fire pits. It's a great place for groups.
Drinks are strong and delightful. I had a Wild Lemonade -- Wild Turkey, ginger beer, lemonade, bitters ($10). insomniac opted for the S.M.D. -- St. Germain, Domaine Carneros Sparkling, grapefruit juice, Finlandia Grapefruit, fresh lime juice ($11).

Cured salmon salad with frisee, micro dill and champagne vinaigrette.
Fresh and light yet infused with just enough salmon saltiness.

Acorn squash soup with cinnamon.
Autumn in a bowl. Along with the fire nearby, it was perfect for that brisk evening.

Crispy duck breast with braised red cabbage, pretzel dumplings, chocolate sauce.
Succulent! A little sweet! With crunchy skin! It's duck! Of course I loved it!

Orange soufflé and Valrhona chocolate mousse.
Hot and fluffy and airy citrus with a side of chilled chocolate. Ohhh, yeah.

When FluteCatT came to town two weeks ago, I was happy to return to Stefan's at L.A. Farm to try the regular menu with her, JulzRulz, ahappywife, and Elle.
It's summer! My camera loves eating dinner when it's still light out!

Finnish Me Off -- Finlandia Tangerine, peach tea, fresh lime and cranberry ($11). Ginger Mojito -- 10 Cane Rum, ginger elixir, mint, lime ($11).
I would like to try every drink on the menu here please. They are goooood.

Bowl of corn dogs, spicy mustard ($5).
Fancy fair food! Miniaturized! Fun little bites to start!

Crab gnocchi -- Alaskan King crab, Shimeji mushrooms, Bechamel au gratin ($24).
As rich and as decadent as it sounds. Light pasta, this is not. Happy belly, this is.

Piedmontese burger, Swiss cheese, smoked Gouda, arugula, onions ($18).
A classic. A thing of beauty.

Wild mushroom ravioli, foie gras, black truffle ($24).
Deceptively plain-looking. Secretly flavorful and filled with fanciness.

Dark chocolate "cappuccino," cinnamon whip ($7).
It's not really a cappuccino. It's just served in a coffee cup. There's actually mousse in there!

Nutella crème brûlée, blueberries, brown sugar ($7).
Ohmahgah. Damn good. I wanted to lick the dish.

Apples a la beignet, vanilla ice cream ($8).
I never say no to hot doughnut-like objects. Neither should you.

If you're looking for a place for quality group dining on the Westside, this is it. And bonus -- parking is right there, ample, and free.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A+ Picnic: A-Frame

Last month, insomniac and MissAshleyG accompanied me on a modern picnic at A-Frame. "Modern picnic" is not my term. It's what A-Frame calls itself on its website, and it's not a bad description, as plates are meant to be shared in the casual setting.
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Girls, be advised that much of the seating is on communal benches, so consider this before you come in a skirt like I did. I had to ask everybody sitting on the bench to get up and move the bench, so I could wriggle my way out.

Ting Jamaican grapefruit soda ($4).
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I loved my Ting. Why doesn't American soda have bite like this?

A-Frame is kind of a blogger's nightmare with its dim lighting and patterned plates. Luckily, the food is fab and helps you forget your photographic frustration. Well, at least until you pull up your photos for your blog and groan at your odd focusing.

The Classic -- grilled pencil asparagus, crispy pancetta lardons, fried egg, shaved Parmesan Reggiano, and lemon ($10).
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Asparagus never tasted so good. Of course, having pig parts strewn about didn't hurt.

Kitchen fries -- purple Okinawan sweet potato, yam, and Korean sweet potato with kimchi sour cream and sea salt ($6).
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It's a deconstructed fried carb log cabin! Honestly, I didn't know which fries were which, but I knew I liked one kind much better than the other two. Too bad I can't identify it for you!

Cracklin' Beer Can Chicken, kimchi, century egg, salsa roja and verde ($11 for half).
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Yummeh! Get this. Everybody in your party will like it. Unless they are crazy.

Grilled Berkshire pork chop, fresh citrus, pickled scallion, polenta cakes ($21).
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Pork chops are often prone to being dry because of the fear of undercooking. Not these! We loved every juicy bite! The polenta cakes were great, too!

Thick Ass Ice Cream Sandwich -- black pepper Szechuan ice cream and salted chocolate cookie ($6).
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Aptly named. Rich and creamy and not too sweet. You can taste the pepper. You can taste the salt. Great flavor combo.

Chu-Don't-Know-Mang -- pound cake cinnamon churros with malted chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream ($7).
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You have to order this just so you can sound ridiculous when you say it. These are not your usual churros. Remember SAT analogies? Well, here's what I think of these in SAT analogy form:
Fried donuts : cake donuts :: churros : Chu-Don't-Know-Mang
I prefer the fried version myself, but these hot, dense, sweet sticks inspired insomniac to make a return visit to A-Frame only a few days later. Yeah, they were good.

A-Frame's food is interesting and well-executed, and the service is lovely, even if your server may sometimes be too busy bopping around to '80s music to refill your water glass.

But that's ok. You'll still be smiling because you'll be having a blast, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

British Food Can Be Good: Waterloo & City

When BandA came to town a few weeks ago, insomniac, kirkette, aubergebride, yeah4me, Ajknightfan, and I gathered at Waterloo & City, a British gastropub in Culver City. It also happened to be yeah4me's birthday, so we had much to celebrate!
"Pub-tails" are $10 each. I enjoyed my Pimm's Cup (Pimm's No. 1, lemonade, cucumber), even though it had lemonade instead of my preferred ginger ale. insomniac sipped a Westside (Plymouth gin, fresh watermelon juice, mint, lemonade).

Ajknightfan and BandA each got a tomato terrine special to start.
The bite I had was pure summer refreshment.

Radicchio and watercress salad, truffle vinaigrette, burrata ($10).
aubergebride began her meal with this fresh garden arrangement.

Duck and walnut country pate, orange marmalade ($12).
insomniac and I shared this charcuterie offering. Felt like we were on a picnic in the English countryside. Jolly good!

Braised short rib pizza, Stilton, chimichurri ($15).
BandA noshed on this and let me take home her leftovers. I was not terribly impressed with the slice I had, but Mr. Monkey liked his share late that night.

Steamed mussels, red Thai curry, lime, ginger, ciabatta ($19).
kirkette cleaned up this bowl of bivalves.

Ajknightfan ordered the only miss of the night.
I don't even remember what this was, but, needless to say, it's unlikely I would ever order a salad for my main course at Waterloo & City. You shouldn't either!

Local halibut, cilantro gnocchi, chorizo, cherry tomatoes, spinach ($25).
If you maintain a gluten-free and soy-free diet like yeah4me does, you can still eat well at Waterloo & City!

Truffle pasta special.
insomniac often plays the role of Mr. Monkey when we dine together, i.e., she'll trade plates with me halfway. Boy, was I glad she was my eating partner. This fine pasta was just wondrous. aubergebride got this, too, and we were all mmmmm-ing up a storm!

Crispy confit pork shank, spring potatoes, Bing cherries, smoked bacon ($25).
I'm totally biased, but I think I got the winning dish of the night. Just look at it. Perfectly golden and crispy outside and extraordinarily tender, juicy, and flavorful inside. So mouthwateringly luscious that I almost didn't want to give insomniac her half. Ha!

Miti Cana goat cheese from Spain, Torta La Serena sheep cheese from Spain, Oma by Von Trapp Farmstead cow cheese from Vermont ($10).
insomniac and yeah4me mowed through this plate, while insomniac carefully recorded each cheese in her infamous cheese journal. Let it be known that, without this great cheese journal, I would not have been able to name these cheeses for you. insomniac is currently foursquare mayor of a reputable cheese shop. insomniac has also taken cheese classes. insomniac knows her stuff. Just call her Mayor McCheese.

"Almond Joy" -- coconut, almonds, macarons, ice cream ($9).
Waterloo & City treated our birthday girl to this gluten-free, soy-free delight.

Waterloo bourbon glazed doughnuts, jam, custard ($9).
BandA scored with these beautiful hot bites of yum, yum, yum. So glad she shared!

"Peaches and Cream" -- peaches, peach ice cream, cream soda ($9).
aubergebride's dessert was cool and delicate. She shared, too!

Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel, vanilla ice cream ($9).
I think I was once again the winner with this pick. BandA and aubergebride agreed that this was sinfully delicious -- like eyeballs-rolling-to-the-back-of-your-head delicious. A must-order!

Two thumbs up from me for Waterloo & City.
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