Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bye Bye, Brunch: Elements Kitchen


R.I.P., Elements Kitchen.
Your brunch was a delight. I will miss it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Small Plates, Big Flavor: Baco Mercat

The Lazy Ox Canteen used to be my favorite small plates place in Los Angeles. My heart belongs to another now. Well, kind of.

Chef Josef Centeno's latest venture, Baco Mercat, is like a less expensive version of his much-adored Lazy Ox. Similarly wonderful food that's easier on my wallet? Sold!
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I ate here twice in two weeks. I liked it that much. I didn't take photos during my first visit with weatherjen, so I went on another date with insomniac, dapotato, and yeah4me to capture the greatness of this restaurant and to sample more dishes.

Baco Mercat is moody and dark but not so dark that beautiful, busty Christina Hendricks from Mad Men could hide in a corner from us. insomniac reminded me that I failed to mention that we also saw Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family when we ate at ink. It seems that, whenever insomniac and I are together, we spot television redheads. Maybe we'll see the dude from Homeland the next time we dine!

Baco Pop -- orange ginger juniper soda ($3).
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I loved this so much. You can get a cocktail with this and gin for $11. dapotato liked hers.

Caesar Brussels sprouts, pecorino, anchovy, garlic ($11).
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When vegetables taste this good, you know you're in for a fabulous night.

Lamb ragu, cavatelli, pecorino, herbs ($14).
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weatherjen and I went gaga for this, so I was excited to order it again. It wowed twice!

The Toron Baco -- oxtail hash, pickle, cheddar, tater ($12).
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The baco is basically a flatbread taco. So very tasty!

The Original Baco -- pork, beef carnitas, salbitxada ($9).
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The best fucking finger food I've had in a long time. This is the inspiration for the whole restaurant, and I could taste why. The meat! So crisp! So melt-in-your-mouth! Dude. So freaking yummilicious.

Pork shank crepinette, farro, shellfish Bearnaise ($16).
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Rich and meaty and grainy. The flavors! The textures! Party time!

The Ham, Egg, & Cheese Coca, pancetta, salsa verde, ricotta ($12).
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When you roll out the dough for a baco to be flatter and thinner, you get a pizza! Not as incredible as the baco but still quite good.

Pistachio semifreddo, pine nut, chocolate ($7).
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Otherworldly. Seriously. A perfect meal for one would be the Original Baco and this.

Almond cheesecake, chocolate crumb, lemon curd ($7).
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Nice and light for a cheesecake with a lovely tart accent. While the rest of us lusted after the semifreddo, insomniac liked this dessert the most.

Warm pound cake, lemon verbena, yogurt ($7).
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Another solid dessert. We all gave it the silver medal.

It's difficult to say what was the best part of this meal. It may have been my bill -- just $37.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Casual Brunch: Wolvesmouth

Wolvesmouth, a semi-secret supper club, continues to dazzle Los Angeles. I was lucky to partake last August. It was an incredible experience. A few months later, I got lucky again when Craig invited my brother over for brunch. Sometimes I think my brother knows everyone in L.A.
Completely different from dinner. Completely delightful and delectable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cure Your Bored Palate: Red Medicine

I resisted Red Medicine. I didn't want to try Vietnamese-inspired food made by a white guy. I didn't like the way the restaurant treated S. Irene Virbila.
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But insomniac raved about Red Medicine so much that I set my feelings aside and finally tried it. In fact, I trusted insomniac's opinion enough that I suggested Red Medicine for a belated birthday dinner for Mr. Monkey. The Cruisers treated us!

Campo de Encanto Pisco, Galliano, pineapple syrup, lime, soda, Fee O.F. Bitters shaken with purple basil, grapefruit peel, candied pineapple and rolled into a tall glass ($10).
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I loved this drink. Exquisite. The Cruisers loved their drinks, too. The cocktails here are top-notch, and they should be part of your prescription for a good time at Red Medicine.

Pork rillette, crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs ($11).
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A running theme at Red Medicine is the hiding of the good stuff under something else. Take away the greens to unveil the rich, salty, meaty spread!

Brussels sprouts, caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth ($9).
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Surprise! There are Brussels sprouts underneath those shrimp chips! Tangy and sweet!

Chicken dumplings, caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures ($9).
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Wrap these li'l nuggets in leaves smeared with Sriracha and hoisin. Green pockets of chicken delight!

Crispy spring rolls, Dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbes, chili ($15).
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I've never met a spring roll that I didn't like. And these were stuffed with crab!

Heirloom rice porridge, egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter ($17).
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This may not sound or look like much, but this was hands down my favorite dish of the night. Stir it all up, and you have a warm bowl of pure happiness. You must order this!

Beef tartare, water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanuts ($15).
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Scoop up the beef and pile it high on a shrimp chip. So weird. So tasty. So artistically carnivorous.

Rabbit, five-flavor berry, pandan custard, roots, tubers, black currant, sesame leaf ($31).
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Not as interesting as the other dishes but still quite yummy.

Lamb glazed in tamarind, hibiscus onion, Swiss chard, pomegranate ($24).
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Another hidden treasure! I loved the meatiness of the lamb combined with sweetness of the tamarind and punctuated by the pop, pop, pop of pomegranate seeds throughout.

Vietnamese iced coffee -- El Diablo Dark Roast, Blue Crane Rooibos, condensed milk, crushed ice ($6).
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Red Medicine really doesn't mess around when it comes to its beverages. This includes its coffee drinks. Strong. Creamy. Fabulous.

Coconut bavarois, coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut croquant ($9).
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Man. Man! I really adored this dessert, and that is a big deal because I don't really like coconut. All the different flavors and textures really worked. Such a creative combination of ingredients!

Bitter chocolate, kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet ($11).
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I liked how this dessert looked more than how it tasted, but it was still a pleasant end to our inspired meal.

Mr. Monkey commented that Chef Jordan Kahn looks like a hipster Jesus.

Consider me a fan of Chef Kahn's modern culinary miracles.
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