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magggiccat

Recommendations for dinner downtown on a Monday night around 8:15 - to impress jaded east coast person. Anything considered except organ meats; money no object but happy with good dives too.

Can you help?

Sep 12, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

.Grilled Lobster

Upstairs2 served my family the poorest excuse for a meal a few years ago such that I will never do business with it again. (I had been there previously for professional gatherings where food an wine were served and had no complaints.)

So, it's Thanksgiving. We have a reservation for 12 or 14. We arrive at the appropriate time and wait a short while for a table. As it is a family gathering, we have people in their 90's and someone 5 and all ages in between.

After our wait, we are escorted to a long table, not in the regular dining room, that backs up to a wall, effectively trapping the people in the middle on the wall side.

we wait, we schmooze, and then we wait some more. The servers are very nice, although it is clear that they have been hired for the event and aren't regularly employed there. Again, they a re very nice and ultimately apologetic for things over which they had no control.

Ultimately, the food begins to come out, slowly. I can hardly believe what I see and have trouble containing myself as I do have a hot steak when it comes to what I want my family (not all of whom I like) to be served. This sounds unbelievable, but it is true - they had run out of food and served us the leftovers of other diners' meals. The turkey was served plated (no sign of a bird anywhere) and in shreds. The portions were miniscule - no surprise - and of whatever they could scrape off of the other diners' carcasses. Not one palate contained a normal portion of carved turkey breast.

It was the same with the rest of the food. Tiny bowls of gravy, random vegetables... I questioned why they did not go to a store and purchase gravy, and side dishes, so ate least there would be some even if they weren't cooked on site; similarly, the manger or owner should have been on the phone with everyone he or she knew soliciting turkey.

It was embarrassing to the wait staff and it was embarrassing to me to be put in the position of accepting what they proffered as acceptable food and trying to make the family happy.

My uncle, who had arranged the dinner, didn't say much and I don't recall the restaurant acknowledging the problem despite its obviousness. In short, the whole thing was offensive. Miscalculations happen, but the restaurant's utter failure to communicate with us and apologize was beyond the pale.

As I said, I will never visit Upstairs2 again, and when people I know are planning events there I feel compelled to describe my experience and suggest they go elsewhere.

Sep 03, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

.Grilled Lobster

What restaurants do grilled lobster? It's easy enough to find them steamed, but I like them grilled. Thanks

Aug 30, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area
1

beverly hills?

I had lunch at Frieda today and in my opinion, it has gone downhill, although I never thought it was wonderful to begin with.

That said, I always enjoyed the 5-mole tasting plate but today it just didn't stand up. The sauces were okay, but the shredded chicken upon which they were to be presented wasn't there, other than a few shreds under each sauce. Just a plate of five sauces and beans and rice. I will wait for a while to see whether it improves, changes or closes.

La Serenata on Pico may not be in BH nor as polished but to my taste, the food is more authentic and far superior.

Apr 11, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Spiny Lobster

Figures. My bad for not paying attention. Are they still available in Ensenda? I am too old and lazy to drive down for a meal, but curious. Thanks.

Apr 05, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Answering The Age Old Question Of Whether It's Worth The Drive From The San Gabriel Valley to Eat at ROC Dumpling

It doesn't surprise me that the food suffers in comparison with the same dishes at restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, but the comparison escapes me completely. I adore food; a hobby is reading menus, and I always choose the restaurant. That said, under no conceivable circumstances would I drive to SGV to eat a meal just because I think it will taste better than what I might get here.

If I don't go to SGV, I can still have a satifying although mediocre meal (especially if I am in a crisis situation where I need a specific comfort food such as soup dumplings) or I can eat something else. Either way, I will have a great deal of time to spend doing something else, or taking a nap. It is everyone's personal decision, but the marginal benefit of eating in SGV seems to me to be hugely outweighed by the wasted time and inconvenience of getting there. If I really wanted soup dumplings often, I might consider learning to make them myself. (Of course, I would likely fail at it, and need to go on a field trip to SGV to eat properly prepared ones, thus invalidating everything I have said.)

Apr 05, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Spiny Lobster

I tried this a couple of years ago but it was the wrong season; I think they may be avaiable now. Anyone know where to get spiny lobsters, preferably cooked and served in a restaurant setting? They used to be readily available but I can't find them these days.

Apr 05, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Jerry's Deli - West Hollywood

If Jerry's is closing quietly, good for the company.

If Brent comes to the west side, we will have wonderful food to compete with our good delis.

The whole scenario is a win-win.

Mar 31, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Ethiopian Saturday lunch?

I have to agree with your last statement. At least when I traveled to DC (and ate all the Ethiopian I could get and dragged other people) which was at least 15 years ago it was much tastier, if you didn't order the spaghetti.

Mar 15, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Ethiopian Saturday lunch?

I happened to be on the two blocks of Fairfax that make up Little Ethiopia on Wednesday night.

I chose Messob, and as I often do if I am alone ordered the vegetarian platter with the larger number of dishes. Vegetarian Paradise? I can't recall its name, but it includes several things that the regular Vegetarian Delight does not.

I love the food and would be happy to serve it to guests. Additionally, I have always been treated well and I have found that the staff has gone out of its way for me. On Wednesday, I mentioned early that I would like to take home an additional order of one of the dishes I was eating, a bracing and somewhat spicy dish made of injera melded with one of the sauces. Forgot about it entirely. When I opened my huge plate of leftovers the next day, there was an additional portion of the dish, although I had forgotten about it and certainly not paid for it, which I had intended t do.

The bottom line, to me, is this - there are several places with good Ethiopian food on Fairfax. That said, every time I am on the street, I visit Merkato for snacks and soap, and often have a cold drink with the few Ethiopian people on site, who are uniformly welcoming. It is a great place to hang out, and even when I don't eat, it is my go to place, and I am not nearly Ethiopian. It is a far better place than many others.

I think I would choose Messob and then visit Merkato. Skip Nyala, which I have always regarded as a tourist trap.

But again, I know very little.

Have a good time.

Mar 15, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Trying to Find Mexican Restaurants that Sell Meat Trays

How about Gilbert's El Indio in Santa Monica?

Mar 07, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Westside spot for business-meeting drinks?

I cannot agree more that you should not consider taking a female client to a hotel bar or restaurant that is dark or sparsely populated. I do like outside or in a main restaurant.

I am a woman usually doing the client entertaining, mostly of men, but recently had occassion to be on the client end of things. My host's invitation to a downtown hotel bar, with so many superior options, made me shudder and explain just how busy the next few months are. You might find that having nothing to do with you, your client is sensitive to the issue.

If she seems up for new places or tastes, take her to La Serenata on Pico just past the Westside Tavern. There are booths in the front, there won't be many people there in the afternoon and the staff is friendly and will work with you. If you eat spicy food, ask them for a side of chilaquiles with molcajete. If you both eat and like it, you will have a client for life. (Consider the other sauces as well, of course. They will make what you want, and it is unlikely to be something with which the client is bored.)

I believe I have just talked myself into dinner tonight.

Mar 07, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Westside spot for business-meeting drinks?

I am surprised at some of these responses. Clearly, my opinions differ from some others:

Whether or not the Grill has good food (and I happen to love the place), it is not a place to take a client for drinks. There are no bar tables and dining is expected except when seated at the bar itself. The restaurant is used to business meetings, but not those of unknowns taking a table and not eating.

Barney Greengrass is also inappropriate, even if it is open at the time of day you are looking for. Its tables are small and close together and otherwise uncomfortable and often uncleaned.

Cafe del Rey is very far away in terms of driving time in the after work hours. I work in Century City and unless my client insisted on meeting there by threat of replacing me I would never consider it. I could easily spend an hour and a half getting there and back.

I think you would find the Century Plaza, which is on the corner of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation (smack in the middle of Century City), the most comfortable alternative. There is the X Bar, which has some nice large booths and also a large outdoor space with tables and heaters. There is a bar with tables in the lobby, and they also have a restaurant called Breeze just off the lobby which has pretty good food and sushi (this is LA, after all). The X Bar and the Lobby Bar also serve limited food menus.

Have fun.

Feb 06, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles Dish of the Month (Feb 2013) - Nominations

Split pea soup.

Jan 25, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

The best Neapolitan pizza in LA?

Somehow missed this. Thanks.

Jan 25, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Dango Mochi & Mar Vista breakfast

The very best chilaquiles in town are found at La Serenata on Pico, in West LA. They are offered on the menu with the weekend breakfast with red or green sauce, but if you ask nicely they will make them with other sauces (at least that has been my experience). For anyone who enjoys a medium+ to spicy heat level, the chilaquiles con molcajete are life-altering.

And close to Mar Vista.

Jan 25, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

The best Neapolitan pizza in LA?

Obika, a restaurant in the Century City mall, opened a couple of years ago, built a pizza oven recently, and makes very nice Neopolitan pizzas. See obikala.com I had always eaten the pizza with anchovies until they added the truffle pizza. My guess is that the flavor is primarily from truffle oil; there are a few shavings of truffle, but they can't be enough to give it the flavor it has - although they do make a difference. But don't take my word for it - I am no truffle expert. The scent and the taste are delicious, so much so that I think I might be heading there now. Just trust enough to try it. Also, they have delicious mozarella.

Happy new year, all.

Jan 02, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Restaurant somewhat near Geffen Playhouse in Westwood for Sunday Night

I would never choose Upstairs 2; I have eaten lots of restaurant meals in many places and they served the worst one I have ever had. It was a Thanksgiving dinner reserved well in advance but they clearly had no idea what to do. Suffice to say, astonishing as this sounds, we were served other tables' leftovers, as they had run out of food but wouldn't admit it or resolve the problem. How they thought we would not notice being served a turkey carcass I have no idea. Needless to say, no server would come near us, although we were friendly, so there was no more water, no more bread.... How they could act like that with people in their 90's in the party amazes me.

Had we not had a couple of older people with us (let me not discuss the seating), the restaurant would have heard from me. As it was, I tried to make the best of things for the family members while someone else dealt with the restaurant. Whoever was manager at that time lucked out. I am still angry at the treatment we received.

Jan 01, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

New Years Day Buffet Brunch

The last time I looked, lots of places, and all hotels, had large Sunday bunch buffets. The quality varied, of course, but you knew you could go to a hotel and get an omelet made as you wished, sliced turkey and/or prime rib, an assortment of salads and even some cooked shrimp. Then you could have multiple desserts.

But when I looked for one today, especially one convenient to Century City but I got over that requirement quickly, I was unable to find the traditional buffets that I remember.

I know I didn't make these buffets up; they aren't that great. And I am sure someone out there knows whether there are any left, and if so, where. I would be grateful for any information available. Thanks, and happy new year.

Jan 01, 2013
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Best Burgers in Los Angeles

This is an odd one (and I haven't read the 300+ below, so I may not be first to recommend it), but my favorite burger in LA other than In 'n Out is at Gulfstream in the Century City mall, which is generally a fish restaurant.

First, they use great beef with nary a bit of bone or gristle. I am hypersensitive about that and never eat somewhere again if I feel something I don't like, which I haven't there although I have eaten there for at least five years.

Second, they will cook it to your specifications - if you want medium, you get medium, if you want well done, you get well done.

Third, it is topped with cheese, lettuce (really arugula) and tomato and some house sauce and also pickles and very delicious marinated onions. I usually ask them to leave off the arugula and tomato (and just leave the flavorful things). It is served with very tasty shoestring french fries, but you can substitute other sides.

I have not ordered it plain, but I have seen others do so, and it looks good too (they also claim to make the ketchup in-house). But the stock way is extremely tasty and quite a find for a fish restaurant. The crunchy fish sandwich (euphemism for fried) is also very good.

Dec 12, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Any recommended Corned Beef Hash?

I was going to suggest that the canned CBH lovers should get together in a show of solidarity (I was going to suggest the S&W Diner), but it occurred to me that the restaurant might run out of CBH. Hard being a fan of the can.

Oct 08, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Any recommended Corned Beef Hash?

I can't stop thinking about the extra-crispy canned for days after I eat it. The uninitiated just don't understand. (And it helps if you don't have high blood pressure going in.)

Sep 20, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Any recommended Corned Beef Hash?

I can't help with the SGV, and someone already mentioned the S&W Diner in Culver City, but what they didn't make clear is that S&W has two kinds of CBH on its menu: homemade and canned. I once sat at the counter, ordered the canned CBH extra well with over mediums and a side of pancakes (it also comes with a choice of myriad side dishes), and within 5 minutes someone sat next to me at the counter and ordered the identical meal, except with the homemade CBH. Each to his own. The canned CBH meal, well done, is salty and fabulous.

Aug 18, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Any great Thai / Indian restaurants in the Westside?

Right, but I think you are confusing it with Pakistani food, which is a whole different thing and to my palate much like Indian food.

Persian food is basically middle eastern rather than southeast Asian.

Jul 23, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Any great Thai / Indian restaurants in the Westside?

It may be that my taste has been dumbed down by the available food but I like Bombay Cafe a great deal compared to most of the Indian food - Northern, Southern or otherwise, that I have found on the Westside. Good meat, truly spicy vindaloo, multiple pickles...

Jul 07, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Spiny Lobsters

Where are they? Many of you must recall Ensenada, and going to a long pier where every restaurant served a grilled spiny lobster for $20. They were inexpensive compared to Maine lobsters because they lacked the big claw.

I would be delighted to find one or two to grill in Los Angeles, but fish purveyors look at me as though I am out of my head when I mention such a critter. Can anyone help? Thank you.

Jul 07, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

I have never, ever, had a bad meal at ____________and I have eaten there over a dozen times!

I would be happy to know what area restaurants you like - even if I do love Serenata, I can't eat every meal there. Although if the alternative was the Westside Tavern,
I just might. Cannot understand what anyone sees in that place.

Thanks.

Jun 06, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

Best place for fun graduation dinner near ucla

I was going to recommend Napa Valley Grill, which is in Westwood, but it is probably to pricey. However, it has a great happy hour, so if you are looking for a stop before dinner you might check it out. All of its menus are on its website, including its happy hour menu.

I do recommend La Serenata de Garabaldo (google La Serenata and you will find it; choose the West LA location), which is immediately to the West of Westwood Blvd. and Pico. As you imagine, it is Mexican, but its food is both more authentic and far better than the average Mexican restaurant. They have many seafood dishes and also will allow you to match your chosen sauce with your fish, many of their dishes are not spicy, just flavorful (including a delicious mole), they have numerous vegetarian options and they make an incredible chocolate banana bread pudding. Their website has some outdated menus on it; the most current is the take-out menu. They also have daily specials and will usually make whatever you want as long as they have the ingredients. My stomach is growling just thinking about the place. It is not fancy, but it is not a dive, and I think you can see pictures on the website. I have also never had bad service.

This sounds like I have a financial interest in the restaurant but I assure you that I don't; I just think its food is delicious.

Fancier is Frida in Beverly Hills, which is more expensive and has a more limited menu but is also very good.

Last, I feel compelled to disagree with the Westside Tavern suggestion. I don't think the food is very good, and more importantly, I don't think it would be fun. All the tables are fixed, relatively far apart and designed to keep the patrons away from one another.

Congratulations on the graduation.

May 19, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

DRAGO'S NEW SUSHI CONCEPT YOJISAN SUSHI IN BH

I have been to the restaurant in the Beverly Glen Center a few times, and while there are a few "fusion" dishes of various varieties, I always enjoyed my meals and never considered it a sushi/Mexican fusion restaurant (which I don't think I would have patronized). Nor did I consider it too Italian, although there was at least one dish with cheese which I don't ever plan to order in a Japanese restaurant. In any event, I thought it served perfectly tasty LA-style sushi and other Japanese food. But that's just an opinion, and I haven't been there in a long time.

May 18, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area

I have never, ever, had a bad meal at ____________and I have eaten there over a dozen times!

La Serenata - the one on Pico just west of the Westside Pavilion/Westwood Blvd.

First, they meticulous about the preparations of the ingredient (for example, i have a pet peeve about restaurants that include the nasty tip of a chicken breast - which is cartilage or something worse - in their chicken just because it is there and it is easier not to bother chopping it off). For that reason, I am wary when I order any shredded chicken dish. I spent half of my time the first couple of times I ordered chicken enchiladas con mole (as with every new dish) looking around the shredded chicken for bad bits, and never saw one, nor do I know of any now that I have eaten their shredded chicken many times. This may sound petty to those who don't mind an unexpected bit of texture in their sandwich, but makes me very happy.

But I would never dine there, even with its clean chicken, if I did not love the food. The restaurant is known for its sauces and they are authentic and generally deeply flavored, whether spicy or not. I am particularly partial to the spicy and very flavorful molcajete sauce, which they regularly use in several dishes but which works beautifully in a plate of chilaquilles. (Not on the menu, but no one has ever batted an eyelash at my request for a side any time of day.)

Wonderful food all the time. Also, La Serenata serves a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays with the various sauces, eggs, potatoes and the like, all complemented by the regular menu. As to dessert, the warm bread pudding with bananas and chocolate chunks does not offend, either.

May 09, 2012
magiccat in Los Angeles Area