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Locanda Veneta dineLA

Had dinner there tonight. I started with the grilled calamari on cooked greens, tender and delicious. My wife had the carpacio with arugula, very good. Next she had the homemade fettuccine with uni, creme fraiche and caviar. Very rich and flavorful. I had the bone in pork chop stuffed with spinach and cheese in a rich mushroom reduction, which was excellent. For dessert profiteroles with white chocolate gelato, and tiramisu. Both very good but neither of us could finish. An excellent dineLA for $45. Other choices also looked good, both pastas and secundi.

Jan 25, 2014
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Fig

Dinner on a saturday night, had a reservation and were seated immediately. The place has a nice vibe, sort of east coast meets west coast. Our main waiter was attentive, pleasant, and responsive. Started with 2 of their specialty cocktails, one with blueberries and tequila and another with grapefruit, aperol and gin...both were excellent, very flavorful without being too sweet. Bread and arugula butter were brought out quickly, we ordered the fois gras and chicken liver parfait with grilled bread to have with our drinks. it came in a small glass jar and was terrific, great texture and flavor. For our mains it was the lobster thermidor stuffed with crab meat which we both thought had too much tarragon, and the cog au vin which was very rich and satisfying, but the sauce was a little too reduced. The pot au creme we shared for dessert was outstanding. I think this would be someplace I would return to for drinks and appetizers or charcuterie but not necessarily for the entrees (although the steak frites at the next table looked very enticing).

Sep 07, 2009
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Cache - First visit

Dinner last night with friends. Promptly seated at one of the semi-outdoor tables. Waitress very pleasant and attentive. Cocktails to start (Hendricks martini for me and one friend, alas no blue cheese stuffed olives). Menus and wine list brought in a timely manner. Wine list with several interesting choices, usual mark-up. We shared several appetizers, a salad, a flat bread, and one entree. We began with a mason jar of which they offer several. We had the duck confit, almost like a rillettes, very tasty and a good texture. They also offer a fois gras parfait, eggplant caviar and others. The mussels with frties were next, slightly spicy, well cooked, good broth; we all liked it. Wood grilled calamari were very tasty, served with some chopped tomatoes, well seasoned but a little skimpy portion, afterall it is calamari. The roasted marrow was delicious, a nice piece of roasted marrow bone served with toast points covered with a mushroom tapenade-like paste, very good. We had a sort of disassembled salad that was a nice contrast to the other dishes, with romaine, hard boiled eggs, and I can't remember what else. Our flatbread choice was caramelized shallots with garlic and arugula. the crust was crispy but not too thin, the ingredients were assembled well, good arugula added obviously just before serving so nice and crisp and not too wilted. We also tried an artichoke gratin as a side for our shared entree, it was unremarkable. The entree was the night's special, a rack of lamb carved into three nice chops and served rare with basil chips. It was nicely prepared and very tasty, good quality Colorado lamb cooked just right. In the interest of full disclosure the chef knew our friends and sent out some asparagus, green beans and an order of pommes frites all of which were delicious, especially the frites. We skipped dessert. We had a bottle of 2000 Savigny Les Beaunes and a 2006 Chinon, I can't recall the producers, both were very good. The bill before tip but with the 4 cocktails and wine was a reasonable $300. I would definitely return as the service was very good and there are other interesting things to try.

Aug 30, 2009
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Bistro LQ

Had dinner here Wednesday night, arrived at 7:30 to a nearly empty place, but within the hour it was more crowded. I would describe the decor as casually elegant, soft lighting, nice banquettes along the walls with up and downdraft spot lighting. They had just obtained their liquor license so there was no official wine list (wish I had known I would have brought something appropriate). The waiter described a few bottle that they did have, we ordered a pinot noir from the Sonoma coast, Endiku, which was quite nice for $54.

Food can be ordered as full or half portions both in the overture category as well as mains, with a few exceptions only available as full orders. The waiter first brought an amuse bouche of porcini with one escargot in a crisp fried potato thread cornucopia: delicious. We then had the uni and tapioca which came with a mussel served in a lobster gelee. This was amazing both texturally and taste-wise. I would say the best uni dish (other than fresh uni from an urchin just harvested) I've ever had. Chanterelles with sweetbreads accompanied by some kind of gel that I can't recall were excellent also. The braised veal cheeks were accompanied by a pea gazpacho, pea shoots, a pea guacamole (not succesful) and a corn sorbet. This was also a very satisfying, rich dish. Grilled scallops served on thinly sliced artichoke hearts were mundane, but they were accompanied by a small torchon of seared fois gras on smear of hummus with home made corn flakes which was a real treat. The flakes were very crispy and slightly sweet and were a great foil to the rich and soft fois. We also shared the lamb composition which consisted of one chop, some braised shoulder, a piece of sweetbread and tongue in the same braising juice. This dish was disappointing: the chop was overcooked, the braising juice over powered all the meats and had a strong flavor (?allspice). The chocolate assembly dessert was a small souffle, a light mousse and a layered cake/cookie, all delicious. The complementary petit fours were also nicely done. Service overall was very good, especially considering they have only been open 2 weeks. The check before tip came to $154 which seemed very reasonable to us given the quality of the food. We are greatly looking forward to returning.

Aug 08, 2009
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Le Saint Amour, Culver City

This is a new (opened last week) bistro on Culver Blvd. Dinner on Friday night was great. Closest I've felt to a true French casual bistro in a while. Great look, noisy but not overwhelming. Really felt like a sort of updated version of a Paris cafe. There was French being spoken at many if not most tables. OK, the food: the host/owner presented a complementary Kir while we waited for our table (we had reservations). I started with the sauteed veal sweetbreads served with a nice frisee salad. It was delicious; the sweetbreads were not quite as crispy as i would prefer but the flavor was great. My wife stared with the escargot which she really liked. Friends started with the endive/roquefort salad and a green salad which I didn't try. I had the duck confit that came with an oyster mushroom fricasee, and I had to get an order of frites. My wife loved her moules frites (better than Anisette she said). Friends had the roast chicken and the steak au poivre frites. All the mains were absolutely great, well prepared, well plated. The frites were excellent. Service is professional, not intrusive. We all said we'd definitley return. We skipped dessert. The wine list is overhwelmingly French with some very interesting wines and very fair prices. We had a bottle ofRully, and one friend who prefers beer had a Fisher. Dinner for 4 before the tip was $175. I really enjoyed this new addition to the Culver City dining scene and highly recommend it.

Jun 07, 2009
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Best "sit-down" Mexican restaurants - Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Pasadena

I have to also recommend Huarache Azteca. The huaraches are good, as are the gorditas, sopes, etc. The chilaquiles in red sauce with 2 fried eggs, rice and beans is an awesome breakfast dish.

Mar 29, 2009
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Robata-ya

Tried this relatively new addition to the Sawtelle corridor for the first time recently for dinner. While it may have the same owner, it is certainly inferior to Mako. At about 7:45 we arrived and the place was essentially empty, did pick up around 830. We started with an albacore tataki salad which was very good then moved on to many skewers. Each order (vary from $2.25 to $6) is one skewer or small piece. Some, like the chicken thigh or okra have several small pieces on the skewer so they are easily shared, some (scallop/uni) are one bite so harder to share. There is a 6 skewer for $15 special that comes with salad and a tasty chicken soup. Service is adequate. There is an extensive and expensive sake list, shoju by the bottle and several beers. I found the food very uneven. The small bite of fried scallop with uni was delicious as was the skirt steak and kobe short ribs. The chicken breast came as tiny little pieces with wasabi, and was way overcooked. The chicken thigh came as tiny little pieces as well but wasn't dried out. Okra, eggplant were both good but again very small portions. Bacon wrapped quail eggs (3 on a skewer) were interesting and tasty. The baby sardine and the baby octopus were both horrible, nearly inedible. Overall, this place is not somewhere I would return to. For the 2 of us, with 2 sapporos, the bill before tip was $79 and we were still hungry when we left. I think Terried Sake House, while not nearly as pretty, has food that is as good or actually better for less money.

Nov 08, 2008
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Recent visit by an L.A. hound

During a recent weekend visit really enjoyed 2 places that were new to us. We had a wonderful lunch at Pesce, a seafood tapas place. 5 of us shared a fairly large number of dishes and everything was very good. Among what we had, the standouts were the scallops, the grilled sardine salad, the octopus salad, the tuna tartare and the baccala. Service was pleasant and helpful . I highly recommend this place, at least for lunch. We had dinner at Pizzaiolo in Oakland. Perhaps the best pizza I've ever had. Luckily we had a reservation, because the place was packed. Our waitress was very professional, made excellent recommendations. We began with their very good caesar salad, better than most, and with a roasted wild mushroom dish that was very tasty. But the pizzas were the highlight: one with pecorino and nettles, one with sweet and hot peppers and pancetta which we customized with an egg, and the chefs surprise (they call it Al Pizzaiolo) which changes day to day and that night was baby clams and garlic. They were all amazing: perfect crusts, exactly correct amount of toppings. We tried some desserts, too. Pluot ice cream had the essence of the pluot, one of my favorite fruits. A cornmeal based honey cake served as sort of a strawberry shortcake was also delicious. The wine list is interesting and fairly priced. These pizzas in my opinion were better than the ones served at Pizzeria Mozza in L.A. and that's saying something. Seems every time we visit S.F. we discover a new and wonderful place, can't wait to visit again.

Nov 01, 2008
DrHowie in San Francisco Bay Area

Cinqueterre

On the one occasion I tried this place must say I was very disappointed. We had dinner there on a friday night, there were about 6 tables occupied (including ours). The menu choices are limited with about 4 or 5 each appetizers, pastas and mains. The waiter informed us of a few additional choices. Of note, the wine list is very expensive with about a 3 times retail markup. We started with a caprese salad that the menu stated had heirloom tomatoes, burrata, basil and olive oil. While the burrata was excellent and ample, the tomatoes were quartered store bought quality romas, not heirlooms, and the basil was in a near microscopic quantity. After verifying that all the pastas are homemade my wife had the spaghetti with clams. The clams were fresh and well prepared as was the sauce, but there was only about 4 forkfuls of pasta. I opted for the seafood risotto. It came with a few mussels, shrimp, bay scallops but was mostly calamari rings and it was very dry, more like overcooked fried rice texture than risotto. The flavor was quite good but the dryness was off putting. When the waiter asked how everything was, I informed him that this was the driest risotto I had ever had, he gave the lame excuse that it was because in Liguria they don't use butter with seafood. Guess they don't use stock either. This is not a place i would return to.

Nov 01, 2008
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Outstanding in Umbria

L'Antico Forziere is in Casalina just south of Deruta. It is a small inn in a renovated farmhouse with a wonderful restaurant. We had dinner there 2 nights in a row, both excellent. The food is inspired, a mix of regional Umbrian with a a sophisticated flare. Pumpkin ravioli were great, gnocchi also. The lamb chops stuffed with lardo and herbs also excellent. There is an amazing chocolate trio dessert which, trust me, is more than adequate for 2 people. The wine list has many regional wines, such as from Montefalco, and a large selection of other Italian wines also. Service is professional. It is out of the way, but if you are anywhere in that part of Umbria I highly recommend this place, some of the best meals we had during a 3 week stay in Italy.

Nov 04, 2007
DrHowie in Italy

Terra in Malibu

Went last night for the first time. Spent some time in the bar area having cocktails until our table was ready. We (6 of us) waited well past our reservation time as there are not too many large tables. As an apology we were treated to a complementary antipasto plate/charcuterie with very good ham, breseola and salami. Service was very good and the dining room was lovely, with the fireplace active. I started with a shared gorgonzola tart that was very tasty. My main was loup de mer served with white beans. The fish had a very crispy skin yet the flesh was done perfectly and not overcooked. Some of the other starters were a beet carpacio special and baby lamb chops, neither of which I tried. The other mains were the lamb shank (I tried it and it was very good). Another special was beef cheeks which looked great and which my friends said were delicious. For desert we shared a few orders of the crustless salt caramel cheesecake; it is interesting and delicious, a cross between a cheesecake and a custard. The wine list held some interest, we had a roussane from Santa Ynez by Renard that was excellent, and an alexander valley cab someone brought. All in all it was a very good experience and we all agreed we would return. It is located on PCH (north side) just west of Las Flores.

Nov 04, 2007
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Yuzando Sushi

It actually was a weekday night and it was nearly empty, maybe a total of 4 at the bar and 2 tables. I can't comment on any of the toro, but what we ate was far from the freshest fish. Maybe it was an off night.

Sep 18, 2007
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Yuzando Sushi

Had dinner here the other night. This is the relatively new sushi bar on Sawtelle in the same strip as Orris and Chabuya. While some of the dishes were good, the simple sushi was not. The fish was dried out and "tired" tasting: yellowtail, albacore, snapper, kanpachi all not good. A scallop roll and an eel/avocado roll were pretty good, but a spicy tuna roll and a salmon skin roll were no better than the type of food one gets at an AYCE type place. We did enjoy an interesting cooked dish of a soft shell crab in an uni butter sauce, this was by far the best dish of the evening. The place is quite attractive and service very attentive, but the fish is inferior to all of the quality places we've tried on the Westside (Sushi Zo, Hiko, U-zen) yet the prices are the same. I can not recommend this establishment.

Sep 17, 2007
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

Dinner for 20 in Pasadena

I need a restaurant in the Pasadena area suitable to hold a graduation dinner for about 20-25 people (a private room would be preferable) in mid-May. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.

Apr 08, 2007
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

"Best" Midori Branch for AYCE Sushi?

I have only been to the Encino Midori. Found the rolls pretty good but the regular sushi (yellowtail, snapper, etc) far from good, not particularly fresh and with a mealy texture.

Feb 21, 2007
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area

need recs delray beach area

I will be visiting in mid-november from L.A. and wonder what's new and good. In the past have been to 32 East, City Oyster, Calypso, 5th Ave Grill and Sundy House. Looking for both upscale dining and inexpensive "joints", ethnic cafes, etc. Thanks.

Oct 17, 2006
DrHowie in Florida

Matteo's Westwood

Had dinner there for the first time on thursday evening. Retro-chic decor is "Soprano's" hip and the service was first rate. But I found the food uninspired, not particularly well-prepared and quite overpriced. A caprese salad in August should have delicious tomatoes, not cardboard tasting supermarket style ones. The mozzarella was the fresh, water made type and the basil was fresh, but the tomatoes were bad. $9.95 for a meager portion seemd high to me. The chicken marsala sauce was a little too thick and you could taste the flour coating on the chicken breast pieces; a nice portion, but again $21 for this seemed excessive. The dish included nicely done escarole but no pasta, and a small side order of spaghetti in red sauce was $4.95. $7.95 for a bottle of Pellegrino (give me a break). I can think of many other Italian restaurants on the Westside that have far better food for the same or actually less money. Perhaps the attached more casual place, Hoboken, is a better value.

Aug 14, 2006
DrHowie in Los Angeles Area