Opting Out of DineLA at Abigaile

 

Abigaile is a restaurant that has been on my list to try for quite sometime. During DineLA, they were offering 4 small plates, including dessert, for $45. It seemed like a great deal, and there was plenty to choose from off the DineLA menu. During last month’s Restaurant Week, I finally make the trek out to Hermosa Beach with a friend.

Once I got to Abigaile and was able to compare the regular menu and the DineLA menu side by side, I realized that I really wasn’t saving much money by ordering off the DineLA menu. Although the menu items are good, they are the less expensive items from the regular menu (plus smaller portions). We decided to ditch the DineLA menu and stick with the regular menu, and I am glad we did!

You can click through our food choices in the gallery above. The baby octopus was amazing–Tender and packed with flavor! The bone marrow was massive and delicious. Once we were done with the marrow, I packed up the bone for my pup, Arty, to enjoy at home. Neither of these items were part of the DineLA menu.

Next to be served were the P.I.G. Pop Tarts and Brussels. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t order this same combination in the future. Though these two dishes were good on their own, they were both very rich. After the delicious octopus and rich bone marrow, the bacon and buttery pastry of the Pop Tart and the creamy cheese and more bacon in the brussels was proving to be a bit too heavy.

By the time the scallops arrived, we were STUFFED. We will tackled the final plate with fervor. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the mushroom risotto was wonderful. Had we not been so extremely full, I think it would have been a perfect end to the meal.

Abigaile also has their own brewery, so I enjoyed a tasting flight of 6 beers. I am not a big beer fan, and unfortunately, only enjoyed one out of the six.

By far, the favorite order of the night was the baby octopus!

 

Restaurant Info:
Abigaile
1301 Manhattan Ave
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
(310) 798-8227

Trendy Brunchin’ at Faith & Flower

Faith & Flower opened earlier this year in DTLA. One of the more widely talked-about openings of the year, I was eager to check it out! I opted to visit the restaurant on a Saturday in May– I noticed that the restaurant has made some changes in their menu since then, so some of the items I had may no longer be available.

The restaurant itself is beautiful– lush, posh, and clean. The space is very open and the colors are so soothing to look at. It looks the way I would like my future dining room to look like! The menu was also exciting. I was instantly drawn to the bone marrow waffles– an interesting combination I’ve never tried before. The Egg Mousse was also a fascinating concept– I could also feel the fluffiness of the eggs as the server described the dish to us. Yes, we will take an order of both, thank you very much!

Sadly, I wish I could say the rest of my experience at Faith & Flower was as delightful as my first-impression. The food just wasn’t up to par with the ambiance and decor. My bone marrow waffles were great waffles, but the minute specks of bone marrow I rarely came across were so tiny they didn’t add to the overall taste or texture of the dish. The scallop ceviche was nice, light, and fresh. However, it didn’t have the “wow” factor I’ve experience with some other raw dishes (Oysters at ink and scallops at Swan Oyster Depot are two examples of raw dishes with the “wow!”). The baked egg was delicious, and the egg portion was everything I had imagined, but the country potatoes below the eggs were cut into fairly big chunks. The truffle was delicious, as truffle usually is, but the big chunks of potato below the frothy, airy eggs gave the impression that the cook did not want to spend that much time on the “unseen” part of the plate.

Nonetheless, I think the ambiance and design of the restaurant is worth a visit in itself. I might not be back for brunch anytime soon, but look forward to trying out the dinner menu sometime in the future!

Restaurant Info:
Faith & Flower
705 W. 9th Street
Los Angeles CA 90015

(213) 239-0642

The Bazaar By José Andrés: Lots of Flair, Lack of Flavor

I walked into The Bazaar in awe of the beautiful decor thinking, “I’m going to like it here”. Unfortunately, this was not exactly the case. Yes, this is a beautiful restaurant located within a beautiful hotel. I don’t know of any other place that exudes the flair and style of The Bazaar’s interior, with it’s rich hues, dangling chandeliers and plush seats. However, once we were seated and the dishes started coming, the “wow” factor slowly started dissipating.

I think my disappointment laid mainly with the service and lack of flavors. Just by restaurant aesthetics, you would think the service would be top notch as well. Not so much. I ordered a cotton candy cocktail. No photo below– let me explain. I LOVE cotton candy. LOVE! When the server was explaining the drink to me, I was so excited and told him that was exactly what I wanted. With all the enthusiasm I was displaying, you think he could respond a bit too. Nope. He took my order calmly and left. When the drink arrived, the glass was filled with cotton candy. The liquid portion is then poured OVER the cotton candy so that the cotton candy dissolves and you have your drink! Yay! I had my camera ready and everything… Without a word, the server set my glass down and very unceremoniously poured my drink in. Cotton candy gone, and I now had a glass of boring liquid in a martini glass. I couldn’t help but notice the table next to us had ordered the same thing, and the server was very chatty, friendly, and allowed ample time for photos and “oohs” and “awws”. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but still optimistic that the food would be great.

Unfortunately, once the dishes started arriving, I realized that everything seemed to LOOK really fascinating and beautiful, but once I started chewing, a lot of the dishes were lacking flavor or pizazz. The unagi taco for example- limp, thinly sliced cucumber with a strip of unagi over it. Barely any texture and was very lacking in my opinion. The king crab steamed buns seemed like a cheap, fusion, dimsum dish to me. The brussel sprouts were my biggest disappointment. The presentation was great, like all the other dishes, but this was perhaps the most boring plate of all. The brussel sprouts tasted like something I could have sauteed at home- add some oil and lemon zest, and there you go! The lemon foam was beautiful, but once it was mixed into the veggies, you really didn’t taste (or see) it anymore.

There were parts of the meal I enjoyed. The caviar cones were very light and creative. The squid was very fresh and tasted wonderful with the corn and avocado. The scallops, though not my favorite, were also very fresh.

I can tell that The Bazaar definitely uses quality ingredients, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and ambiance of the restaurant. If the food tasted half as good as the place looked, then I would be back. It’s a wonderful place to go if you are on a first date, but if you are going solely to enjoy a good meal, I would recommend you go elsewhere.

Restaurant Info:
The Bazaar By José Andrés
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 247-0400

No Complaints at Osteria Mozza

About to devour my main course... Yum!

About to devour my main course… Yum!

Really. No complaints. I love this place. I’ve only been here once so far, but I had a great experience. The space is open and welcoming, and the servers are all so pleasant and polite. I came here for an early dinner awhile ago, and wasn’t exactly starving. However, the next time I come, I am considering the Pasta Tasting Menu they have available for $69/person. My favorite dish here was the squid ink pasta with uni and crab… Three of my favorite things combined in one dish! One unique thing to note is that this pasta dish is served cold.

 

Restaurant Info:Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 297-0100

Josef Centeno’s Orsa & Winston

When I found out that Josef Centeno, chef of one of my favorite LA restaurants, Baco Mercat, had recently opened a new Japanese/Italian inspired Omakase restaurant, I was… excited, to say the least. I made reservations to visit with a friend the very next day.

Upon arrival, we were escorted to our table and seated immediately. The menu was simple and plain, and we were presented with 3 choices: Family style for $50/person, 5-course for $60/person, or 9-course for $95/person. There is another SUPER omakase option, which is 20+ courses for $195/person, and requires a reservation. On the back of the menu, there are à la carte dishes you can order as supplements to your meal. I thought I’d test the waters first before I went overboard with the Super Omakase, and am I glad I did! We each ordered the 5-course menu and, as you can see from the photos below, we were able to enjoy a total of 11 different dishes! The photos below show the order our dishes were served. Everything started out on the smaller scale, and after the second plate was served, my friend and I exchanged glances… Are we going to leave full?! Do we need to add some supplements? After awhile, it was clear that this would not be a problem.

Aside from the “promised” dishes, we were served delightful little plates compliments of the chef. The pomegranate infused shaved ice was presented as a “cleanser” to prepare ourselves for the dessert dishes. This was such a wonderful surprise, and it definitely was the perfect transition to our rich and flavorful dessert items.

Would I visit again? Definitely. Next time, I think I will attempt to conquer the 9-course… That may be as far as I can physically take, though! Enjoy photos from my meal below!

Last but not least, a fun fact: Orsa & Winston are the names of two little pups!!!

Just Around the Corner: DineLA Restaurant Week!

Like Christmas for foodies… DineLA is just around the corner! Between Jan 20th-Jan 30th, this dining event gives diners special opportunities to enjoy a selection of prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at restaurants all over Los Angeles! I already have my reservations made at a couple spots… Can you tell I’m excited?! Below is my personal list of top places to visit during Restaurant Week this month (in no particular order).

First Time at Gordon Ramsey, still in a daze from the obviously delicious dessert I moments ago inhaled...

First Time at Gordon Ramsey, still in a daze from the obviously delicious dessert I moments ago inhaled…

Gordon Ramsey at The London
I’ve dined at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant at The London twice during previous DineLA’s Restaurant Weeks. The decor and service are always perfect. If my memory prevails, my first meal here included duck breast, beef carpaccio, and a chowder of some sort. Very, very good and totally worth it, which is why I returned again early 2013 to try the DineLA prix-fixe course yet again. Unlike some other restaurants, Gordon Ramsey does a wonderful job at switching things up, and the DineLA menu is always different. My second trip blew my first trip out of the water. I had scallops that were perfectly cooked and seasoned. This truly is an amazing deal for $45 and although they haven’t released their menu yet for this month’s Restaurant Week, I already have my reservation made!

a.o.c.
A friend of mine who is also an incredible chef recently raved to me about her amazing experience at Suzanne Goin’s a.o.c. She went out and bought Suzanne’s a.o.c. cookbook that very week. Although I am not much of a chef and probably won’t go so far as to buy the cookbook, I am going to take her word for it and make a trip to a.o.c. for lunch! The menu has been released already- lunch only- and I am already leaning towards the Spanish fried chicken and Torchio. Yum!

Hungry Cat
The Hungry Cat is a seafood restaurant in Hollywood I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, but never quite found the chance to go. I will be watching “The Book of Mormon” at the Pantages on the 24th, and thought, what a perfect time to visit! The Hungry Cat is right down the street from the theatre and I am already fantasizing about the winter squash beignets they will be offering for dessert!

Abigaile
I’ve never actually heard of this restaurant before I noticed it listed under participating restaurants on the DineLA website. After a bit of research, I decided I had to give it a try. I love that the chef focuses on using quality market ingredients. Another plus is the huge selection on the DineLA menu! Many restaurants only give you a choice of 2 or 3 main courses, but Abigaile’s Restaurant Week menu is very similar to its regular menu, and it is a whopping 5 courses! I am particularly curious about the P.I.G. “poptart”!

Comme Ca
Yet another passionate recommendation from my chef friend, who has spent time abroad living in France. The Restaurant Week menu isn’t out yet, so I’ve been checking the DineLA website (probably more often than I should) for updates!

You can view the list of all participating restaurants and their menus here. What are you most excited to try? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Home Sweet Pasadena: Dinner at Ración

What better way to start off Eat. Taste. Savor. than with a post about a wonderful little restaurant in my hometown of Pasadena! The first time I heard about this restaurant was from a friend of mine who is also an avid foodie. She highly recommended the place, and I was shocked that there was a hidden gem in Pasadena I had never heard of! A few weeks went by and I came across the name Ración again… this time as #83 on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list! Thoroughly intrigued, I decided to go for dinner yesterday and experience the raved-about dishes inspired by the Basque regions of Spain and France.

Without further ado… Below are photos and thoughts from my meal!

Braised Beef Tongue, Pickled Shallots, & Honey Over House Bread

Braised Beef Tongue, Pickled Shallots, & Honey Over House Bread

I probably didn’t start eating and enjoying beef tongue until about a year ago. When cooked right, the meat is super tender and even a bit chewy! The braised beef tongue we ordered at Ración was definitely done right. When eating, I highly recommend that you include some pieces of the amazing pickled shallots in every bite. It adds a delicious, tangy contrast to the rich flavor of the beef which, at times, I did find to be a bit salty.

Racion2

Beer-braised Octopus with Prawns

I am a sucker for octopus and if it is on the menu, any menu, I will want to try it. The octopus dish at Ración had wonderful flavors, but the texture was rather mushy… for lack of better words. I am not quite sure if it was intentional, as most octopus dishes I’ve had in the past have a chewier feel, but I still enjoyed the dish. The waitress told me that the beans served with the dish would be a puree, so I was super excited to bite into what I thought were cloves of garlic. Don’t be fooled– those are beans. Not the most pleasant surprise, but I just stayed away from them and enjoyed the rest of the plate!

Racion3

Duck Sausage-Stuffed Squid, Brava Sauce, Squid Ink Sauce

I love duck, and I love squid, so I had to order the above.  There were three squid bodies stuffed with duck sausage, and only 2 sets of little squid legs…. Where was the third set?! The legs are my favorite parts! The squid ink sauce was probably the best part of this dish… So delicious! Although I liked the squid and I liked the sausage, I don’t know how much I enjoyed eating them together. I am all about texture, and the sausage, though very tasty, felt a bit like mush crammed into the squid. The texture of the squid was also not dramatically different from the sausage inside, so sometimes it just felt like I didn’t have much to chew on. Nevertheless, put that squid ink sauce onto anything and you’ve got a winner!

Racion4

House-made Squid Ink Pasta, Mussels, Piquillo Peppers, Saffron

If you couldn’t tell from the last paragraph, I love squid ink. Squid ink pasta is another item that I must try if I see it on the menu. The pasta at Ración absolutely did not disappoint. Fresh and chewy, it was perfectly cooked (I am not a huge fan of al dente pasta). Also, I think I found the squid legs that went missing from the previous dish! Hurray! I have nothing to critique for this dish, just a simple warning: Mix the foam into the pasta before eating. I was curious as to what the foam tasted like so I tasted some with my spoon before mixing. It tastes like all the flavors of THE SEA. Mix and enjoy!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Ración. I probably won’t order the Duck-sausage stuffed squid in the future, but I am definitely excited to try some of the other menu items. My only complaint is that menu seems to been lacking some vegetable-based dishes. I like to have a nice balance of all food groups during my meals, but there were nearly no vegetable options to choose from!

Restaurant Info:
Ración
119 W Green St.
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 396-3090