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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

A Gossip-Worthy Croissant

"I haven't been this excited about a croissant in a long time," says soniabegonia. It's better than all the other major L.A. contenders. "Amazing crunch to the exterior, tender and buttery sweet ribbons on the interior, perfectly seasoned and perfectly sized."

Yep, Bite Bar & Bakery, a new café and bakery, is driving many a Chowhound mad with desire.

Pain au chocolat is light, flaky, and utterly memorable, says mnosyne. "The taste and texture of the pain au chocolat was amazing—crispy almost shard-like in texture on the outside, flaky, soft, and buttery inside, enveloping a nice strand of quality dark chocolate in the middle," says bulavinaka.

Bite Bar is also a restaurant, and breakfast there is excellent, says bulavinaka. The fruits are unusually good in the fruit salad and blueberry muffins, and there's a croissant sandwich with homemade nutella and strawberries. There's even a nice, light, eggy soufflé, with slices of sweet cherry tomatoes in a cup of flaky croissant pastry.

For lunch, you can have such excellent items as Death by Pig, a pork belly and cracklings sandwich. Go ahead and court a heart attack by ordering with the twice-fried Belgian fries, reminiscent of the long-departed and much-missed Benita's Frites. "Perfectly seasoned and impossibly crisp and light at the same time," says soniabegonia.

Best for last: The crab sandwich is superb. It's simple, with a gentle paprika aioli to bind things together. It's so refreshing, says Dommy, for a place to actually let the quality of the ingredients stand on its own.

Bite Bar & Bakery [Westside – Beaches]
3221 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica

Discuss: Bite Bar & Bakery – seriously good croissants

Westside’s Secret Jamaican

Port Royal "doesn’t look like it belongs in the neighborhood, but once you go in and meet the proprietress, you understand that she belongs anywhere," says lil mikey about the restaurant in a little house standing by itself in Santa Monica.

The hostess is friendly, ebullient, and a real pleasure to talk to, says lil mikey. Her best dish: curried goat. "It's deeply tender from obviously long cooking, and it has a rich flavor with just a hint of interesting gaminess. But it's not too gamy … you just get the message that it's not beef or pork," says lil mikey.

Jerk chicken is the real deal, with cooked-in, not ladled-over, jerk flavor, says lil mikey. But a warning: Port Royal's hours are fluid, as is the menu. The proprietors open when they feel like it, and they serve what they feel like. Go with the flow.

Port Royal [Westside – Beaches]
1412 Broadway, Santa Monica

Discuss: Port Royal – Jamaican in Santa Monica

Kahlua Gets Fancified

The new Firelit Spirits Coffee Liqueur is booze made in food-geek heaven, a mix of cult-distiller St. George Spirits' brandy and cult-coffee roaster Blue Bottle's cold-brewed coffee, with some vanilla and sugar thrown in the mix. Be on the lookout for the White Russian gone all artisanal at a fancy cocktail bar near you soon. I think the Dude would abide.

Firelit Spirits Coffee Liqueur, $45

Mofongo Makes It Big Out West

Mofongo's, a pop-up that operates in the evenings every day but Monday at La Espiga Café, is pure New York–style Puerto Rican, says lil mikey. The star of the show: a mofongo, which is a mashed green plantain, shaped into a little cake and filled with something. In this case, stew. At Mofongo's, the cook also mixes the mashed plantain with cracklings—your choice of pork or chicken. This adds interesting crunchy, salty emphasis to the mofongo experience, says lil mikey. On the Saturday afternoon he visited, everybody there either spoke Spanish or was a recent New York transplant.

Mofongo's at La Espiga Café [San Fernando Valley – East]
5757 1/2 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood

Discuss: Mofongo's – Puerto Rican in North Hollywood

Can Honey Help Alleviate Allergies?

Can Honey Help Alleviate Allergies?

That would be totally sweet! READ MORE

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"The broth is marvelous. It's a really refreshing yet rich beef broth, very reminiscent of the Chinese beef noodles (niu rou mian) ubiquitously found in the SGV." – J.L. on Chabuya's new beef ramen

"I love these croissants! No nuts or anything else. Just some apples and a hint of cinnamon between light flaky pastry. I could eat them every day but the only problem is that they only have them on certain days and no one at Nicole's is ever sure of what days." – trolley on Nicole's in South Pasadena

"Billy's is my favorite deli in LA. If you head in to eat there try to be seated at a table with the thin, short, older Italian waitress with the NYC accent." – tornadoliese, on Billy's Delicatessen

Alterna-grains from Small Farms

We recently received a lovely sample of nutty, chewy heirloom wheat from a family farm in Washington called Bluebird Grain Farms. It was emmer (a.k.a. farro, if it’s grown in Italy), an ancient variety that used to be grown before hybrid varieties of durum cornered the market due to their higher yields. Emmer is making a comeback, along with alterna-grains like amaranth, teff, spelt, and rye: Why, just the other day, I saw "rye emulsion" while perusing the menu of Vidalia in Washington, D.C.

The idea of small American farmers growing these grains that were popular back in the time of the pharaohs intrigued me, so I looked into who else was doing it. I found...


Grüner Veltliner’s a Good Mouthful

Grüner Veltliner’s a Good Mouthful

The perfect spring wine. READ MORE

Getting Gold at the Beer Olympics

On Saturday the Brewers Association held the eighth-annual World Beer Cup, which broke the record for the biggest commercial brewing competition ever. 3,330 beers, produced by 642 breweries from 44 countries competed in 90 categories. READ MORE

Liberty of London’s Gorgeous, Cheap, Dunclare Dinner Plates

I wasn't the only design whore who had March 14 circled on her calendar for months: on that date, items from the collaboration between Target and British design powerhouse Liberty of London became available in stores. Liberty of London is best known for its brilliantly colored floral patterns, which it imprints on housewares, clothing, and high-quality fabric. It's also known for its major prices. It would be very hard to justify a $100 teapot or a $176-per-plate dinnerware on a writer/editor's salary.