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Reviews - Johnny Rockets (Hollywood and Highland), Red Medicine

Dinner @ Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

http://www.redmedicinela.com

Overview

Established by chef Jordan Kahn, a veteran of notable restaurants such as Alinea, Michael Mina and Per Se, Red Medicine seeks to provide a modern, western take on Vietnamese food.

This restaurant is infamous less so for its food but more for Chef Kahn’s decision to kick out and publicly out a LA Times critic who visited the restaurant in its early days. Neverthless, treated as a restaurant serving western food with Vietnamese flourishes, as opposed to a restaurant serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine, it certainly delivers an excellent meal. The food was mostly excellent with only two dishes falling into the “good” category. Services was professional and attentive if not overly friendly, although this could be due to the crowding of the restaurant when we visited.

The major drawback with the restaurant is the darkness of the dining room, most likely designed to create a hip environment, and the poor acoustics making it almost impossible to hold a conversation unless you wish to shout the entire time. Provided you do not need to talk at length with your dining companions, you should be fine.

The Meal

#73 Novo Fogo Silver Cachata, Lime, Sugar (served in a Mason Jar) - The novelty of this cocktail, being served in a mason jar, was half of the attraction. The cocktail certainly contained ample alcohol for $10 but was too strong for my liking.

#70 Johnny Drum Bourbon, sapling maple liqueur, maraschino liqueur, shaken with an orange slice and served over crushed ice with seasonal berries and mint - Again a strongly alcoholic drink only slightly sweetened by the myriad of berries sitting on top of the ice. Again, a decent drop of alcohol for $10 but I personally prefer my spirits served neat or diluted by more refreshing flavours than this middling contrast.

Chinese Lion Peppers, almond skins, honey, soy, violet basil, dates - This course was our attempt to add some vegetables to a meat-centric meal and it was an excellent addition. The Chinese Lion Peppers contained excellent flavour and the breadcrumbs added a nice texture to the dish. Fantastic.

Crispy Spring Rolls, dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbs, chili - Unfortunately the photo for this dish does not do it justice. The spring rolls were perfectly cooked, with a crisp outer shell and decent amounts of crab on the inside. While there was no strong flavour aside from the crab meat, it still provided a tasty twist on the traditional spring roll.

Chicken Dumplings, caramelised sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures - This dish provides a do-it-yourself takes on san choy bao. A dish containing nine compartments featured four crisp meatballs of chicken mince that could each be placed in provided lettuce cups and to which a range of accompaniments could be added, including pickles, scallions and various sauces. While not traditional dumplings as described in the menu, this dish provided quality ingredients that could be molded together to form quite the fun and tasty snack.

Pork Rillette, crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs - An extremely generous portion of rillette served in a cocotte covered by salad that had to be removed to reveal the feast that lay underneath. The rillette was warm and all of the ingredients worked well together even if by combining so many together there was no true standout flavour.

Pork, caramelised black vinegar, goji berry, spring onion, dried almond - Don’t let the picture fool you; this dish contained two very large pieces of caramelised pork shoulder that fell apart at the first touch of a fork and which melted in your mouth. Not dissimilar from Momofuku Seiobo’s caramelised pork shoulder, the version at Red Medicine acted as a true main course, as opposed to Seiobo’s play on petit fours, with stronger, heavier flavours. This dish was divine.

Heirloom Rice Porridge, Santa Barbara uni, egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter -
Probably Red Medicine’s most famous dish, it appears at first instance to be your standard rice porridge eaten at dessert. However, the savoury nature of the dish quickly becomes apparent courtesy of what appears to be three sticks of butter mixed into the porridge. The savoury flavour is then further enhanced once the egg yolk and uni is mixed in to the porridge to transform an attractive dish into an unattractive but absolutely delicious bowel of glop. A truly memorable dish.

Birch Ice, almond praline, red current, orange blossom, jasmine - Initially mistaking this dish, ordered by the table next to us, for something else on the dessert menu, we accidentally ordered the right dish and I am glad we did. Served in a clear bowl so that you can see the bubbles forming underneath a crunchy crust, once the crust and contents underneath were mixed together every spoonful conveyed something cold and refreshing while extremely sweet to the point that I was worried my teeth would fall out. A visually stunning and delicious dessert.

Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

Reviews - Johnny Rockets (Hollywood and Highland), Red Medicine

Lunch @ Johnny Rockets

6801 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA

Overview

Describing itself as an “All-American” hamburger joint, lunch at this chain was a quick fix after our flight from Sydney was delayed as we did not want to eat lunch any later and risk being too full for our dinner reservation.

The food was promptly served and generally passable even if forgettable. I would only recommend eating here if you were in Hollywood & Highland and did not want to go to the effort of travelling somewhere better for lunch.

The Meal

Chili Cheese Fries

The #12 - Cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, white onion, pickles, mayonnaise & their supposed signature “red red sauce®”

Photos available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

Thoughts on 2 Sparrows, Bar Toma, and Yusho - half of my St. Patrick's Day experience in Chicago 2012.

Me too! I am thinking Yusho for snacks one night before heading over to Aviary for the cocktail tasting menu

May 11, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Chicago Area

Alinea # 2 in USA in 2012 Pelligrino's Top 100

You're right, my booking is for July 29. Most of my trip to the US is in August and I must have been thinking about that when I posted! Sorry about the confusion

May 02, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Chicago Area

Alinea # 2 in USA in 2012 Pelligrino's Top 100

It took me 113 redials at 1am Australia time (10am Chicago time) yesterday but I managed to snag myself a booking at Alinea in August. I did Per Se last year and was thinking of visiting it again when I go to NYC after Chicago so I might be able to do a pretty close side-by-side comparison.

May 02, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Chicago Area

Adelaide review - lunch at Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico

160 Hutt Street
ADELAIDE SA 5000

http://www.chianticlassico.com.au/

The Good

An excellent lunch featuring some of the best pasta I have ever had in the form of the tagliolini with a rich sugo featuring many, many chucks of spanner crab meat. The offer of a dessert tasting menu when we could not decide on our dessert options was a fantastic service touch.

The Bad

None.

The Meal

House bread with olives and olive oil

Arancini alla Boscaiola - Lightly fried risotto croquettes flavoured with wild mushrooms, black truffle and parmesen

Fiori di Zucchine - Lightly fried zucchini flowers filled with ricotta cheese and pine nuts, served with tomato relish

Tagliolini con Granchio - Fine pasta ribbons with a rich sugo of Queensland spanner crab meat, tomatoes and basil.

Pappardelle con Anitra - Handmade broad pasta ribbons with roasted duck meat, red capsicums, spinach, pinenuts and olive oil.

Dessert tasting platter - semifreddo, Torta di cioccolate, zabaglione, panna cotta amongst others

Photos can be viewed on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

The Canberra Food Scene

Lunch @ Ellacure

Corner of Braybrooke and Battye Street
BRUCE ACT 2617

http://www.ellacure.com.au

The Good

A quick lunch at Bruce's favourite restaurant featuring very friendly and efficient service. The food was good for what is was, and I would be happy to return to obtain a better idea of the restaurant's capabilities.

The venue is very nice and perfect for a lazy weekend lunch.

The Bad

As odd as it sounds to say this, the service, while friendly, was perhaps too casual with the staff talking to my wife and I in a jovial manner that was initially off-putting given we had never been to the restaurant or met our servers before.

The Meal

Fresh bread with chive butter & olive oil
Twice cooked pork belly with apple & mint salsa
Spaghetti with prawns, garlic, olive oil, lemon, chilli & cherry tomatoes

Photos can be viewed on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

The Canberra Food Scene

Dinner @ Sage

Gorman House Arts Centre
BRADDON ACT 2612

http://www.sagerestaurant.net.au

The Good

A fabulous meal featuring excellent ingredients and presentation. While some of the dishes were creatively presented, I never felt that creativity came at the expense of taste, something which cannot be said of a number of other restaurants I have visited.

The menu changed in the days before our arrival, which unfortunately denied me a dish that I had been anticipating when I made the reservation. However, the dishes on the new menu did not leave me wanting at the end of the meal. The lemon sole and veal tenderloin, which featured a small addictive sweetbread, were particular standouts. I cannot fault any of the dishes, although perhaps the beetroot and carrot dishes lacked the punch of the protein courses.

Our server was friendly and helpful throughout the night. From the moment we sat down, he offered help us add additional courses to the autumn omnivore tasting menu should we desire. We did so desire after reviewing the a la carte menu and after a quick trip to the kitchens our server confirmed there would be no issues incorporating two extra courses (the pork and duck courses).

As for the venue, it is within walking distance from the centre of the city and thus conveniently located. The room is very nice with tasteful, modern furnishings.

While not an inexpensive restaurant, I regarded the meal as providing exceptional value for money in Canberra.

The Bad

There were four occasions during the nearly four hours we were dining that we had to wait more than is usual for our glasses to be refilled or for our next course. However, the issue was usually resolved before we began to get really irritated by the issue. In the case of the timing of the courses, this may have been the result of our adding courses to the tasting menu, which may have placed the kitchen out of synch, so I will not hold it against them.

The tables against the walls are probably too close ot each other for my comfort, but at least the music was at a low enough level that the restaurant never felt too crowded and one did not spend the entire night listening to his neighbour's conversations.

Even though it is technically still Autumn, it got very cold in the restaurant each time someone opened the front and back doors to the restaurant.

The Meal

House baked bread with artisan churned butter with sea salt

beetroot variations with eucalyptus smoked trout, freeze dried mandarin, coriander

honey peppered heirloom carrots with malt, yolk, ricotta, olive powder, brioche

tuna & foie gras with sashimi, mojama, crackling, chervil, PX dressing

pork ‘all sorts’ featuring slow cooked belly, braised cheek, choucroute, baby vegetables

lemon sole with potato crumble, cauliflower, parsley, capers, red wine jus

veal tenderloin with sweetbreads, forest mushrooms, sweet potato, soy & maple glaze

muscovy duck with orange, carrot, pickled red cabbage, licorice

rhubarb & raspberry with quinoa crunch, creme brulee foam, rose petals

chocovado with chocolate cremeux, hazelnut cocoa crumble, lemon gel, avocado cream

autumn scenery (an alternate for my wife to the chocovado course
)chestnut log, chocolate branches, malt, apple sauce

Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

Humm and Guidara's Nomad

Great review! I will be in NYC for five days in August and it looks like another restaurant will need to be bumped to make way for this one.

How many of you were splitting the two chickens as an addition to the tasting menus?

Mar 31, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Manhattan

The Canberra Food Scene

I work on Marcus Clarke Street so go to Harvest a few times each week. Agreed, great coffee!

The Canberra Food Scene

Nice, will have to visit it now that it is back up and running.

The Canberra Food Scene

Lunch @ Bean and Grain

Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets
12 Dalby Street
FYSHWICK ACT 2609

www.beanandgrain.com.au

The Good

While breakfast may remain the star attraction, my lunch at Bean and Grain only served to confirm the talents of its chefs who are obviously committed to using quality ingredients to turn out what may be the best representations of basic cafe, or even bakery, dishes in the city. I must admit to being curious as to what these chefs are doing the rest of the week when the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets are closed.

I would happily order any of the dishes below again, although perhaps next time I will save some space for the gigantic sausage rolls I saw a few other people eating. I wonder if they do take-away?

Friendly service.

The Bad

The cafe was extremely crowded at about 1pm but slightly better when we returned half an hour later. The next time I visit for lunch, and I will be back, I will have a late lunch at 2pm to avoid the crowds.

The Meal

Tomato Bisque & Sourdough Grilled Cheese Sandwich (excellent).

Muffaletta - Olive salad, (green olive, Kalamata olive, roasted red pepper, red onion, parsley, fresh oregano, red wine vinegar & olive oil) salami, mortadella, ham, provolone cheese on roasted garlic, herb foccacia (very good).

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (good).

Oriental Twist Tea (From their website: ORIENTAL TWIST has power of the ancient Chinese super food, lychee, blended with the delicate Jasmine Flowers and Green Tea to deliver a unique tasting oriental tea experience. Rejuvenate & Revive) (excellent).

The complete review, including photos, is available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

fatmanthinwallet
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The Canberra Food Scene

Lunch @ Flint in the Vines

34 Isabel Drive
Murrumbateman NSW 2582

http://www.flintinthevines.net.au

The Good
A good meal, shared with friends celebrating a big occasion, complemented by excellent local wines and stunning countryside vistas.

The Rabbit & Pistachio Terrine was particularly impressive of the starters while the pizzas provided some interesting combinations with the brie, mango and salami pizza offering a surprisingly tasty flavour combination. The sole dessert was fantastic, albeit a little too rich for those of us who had overindulged on the savoury courses and excellent wines.

It is always difficult to properly judge service standards at a restaurant whilst sitting at a 20+ person table, so I will simply acknowledge the lack of any noticeable with the service or the speed with which dishes or beverages were brought out.

The Bad

Not much to report on this visit other than the fact that one needs to carefully choose a designated driver for the 40 minute drive back to Canberra afterwards.

The Meal

Escabeche of WA Sardines with candied lemon, fennel, parsley (okay).

Rabbit and Pistachio Terrine with grape & tarragon salad, toasted brioche (good).

Flint’s Calamari with chilli seasoning, blue cheese aioli & lemon (good).

Seasonal Wild Mushroom Pizza with roquette & white truffle oil (good).

Pulled Chicken Pizza with basil pesto, caramelized onion & sun-dried tomato (good).

Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza with fresh sage (good).

Brie, Mango & Salami Pizza with mascarpone, fresh mango & coriander (good

)

Chocolate Terrine with crème anglaise, confit lemon & cinnamon ice cream (excellent).

Photos are available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

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The Canberra Food Scene

Dinner @ Benchmark Wine bar - Canberra

65 Northbourne Avenue
CANBERRA ACT 2600

http://www.benchmarkwinebar.com.au

The Good

An excellent meal from start to finish shared with two friends. Bookended by complimentary appertizers and pre-dessert courses, we shared six tapas-style dishes all prepared with good technique and ingredients. The anchovy crostini, cuttlefish and foie gras were particular standouts.

Service was helpful, friendly and attentive throughout the meal.

The wine list is fantastic, unsurprisingly for a wine bar, with some marvellous Chianti Classico wines available.

While the restaurant furnishings are basic, as befitting a wine bar, the space and tables are very comfortable. Most importantly, there is excellent spacing between tables so you are not forced to intrude on other tables' private conversations.

The Bad

The prices are consistent with the most expensive restaurants in Canberra ($45 for duck liver pate? Ouch!) so the restaurant is definately not priced for casual visits unless one is there only for a glass of wine and perhaps one or two tapas dishes. However, the prices are not unreasonable when the quality of the overall meal is taken into consideration.

The Meal
PORK BELLY with pickled daikon and alpine pepper (good).
ORTIZ ANCHOVIES on crostini with truffled salsa (excellent).
ZUCCHINI FLOWERS stuffed with goat’s cheese, finger lime and capers (excellent).
CUTTLEFISH with a thai pomelo salad and fresh coriander (excellent).
DUCK LIVER lafitte 'foie gras de canard' with fig sauterne sauce (good).
SAUSAGE PLATE with lamb merguez, beef tomato and onion, veal and herb, pork, fennel and white wine sausages, served with tomato chutney (excellent).

Photos are available on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

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Looking for Adelaide recommendations

Thanks Darrius, Locavore might go in the list.

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Looking for Adelaide recommendations

Thanks Onara

UK Lunch Reviews - Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, Polpo, Tapas Revolution, St John Bread and Wine, Opera Tavern, Zucca, Dinner by Heston

Cheers for the kind words. I made sure the keep the gunshot pellet as a souvenir! As someone else said, it is a sign of true freshness!

Mar 21, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in U.K./Ireland

Looking for Adelaide recommendations

I will be visiting Adelaide for the first time over Easter and would be grateful for any help in steering myself towards the best food the city has to offer.

My available meals and current plans (which can easily be changed subject to any replies) are as follows:

Friday dinner - Press food and wine
Saturday breakfast - Chianti Classico
Saturday lunch - ???
Saturday dinner - Kenji
Sunday breakfast - ???
Sunday lunch - Adelaide Zoo
Sunday dinner - Pizza (maybe Est?)
Monday breakfast - ???
Monday lunch - Chianti Classico

Any other ideas?

Thanks,

Fatmanthinwallet
fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com

uhockey revisits Per Se Extended Tasting Menu. In a word - incredible.

"Service Included" - your post just reminded me that I need to read it as my wife bought if for my birthday last year

Mar 17, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Manhattan

The Canberra Food Scene

Breakfast @ Bean and Grain (again)

Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets
12 Dalby Street
FYSHWICK ACT 2609

www.beanandgrain.com.au

The Good
Presently in my mind Canberra’s best breakfast venue. The addition of a free smoothie shot with every hot breakfast is a nice touch, but getting a free large smoothie when asking if the smoothies are sold separately is even better! Very friendly service.

The Bad
None.

The Meal
Country Benedict - Two poached free-range organic eggs, house made English muffin, sausage patty & sausage béchamel, served with a smoothie shot and a potato croquette topped with crème fraiche & chives (excellent).
Bacon Buttie - Crispy bacon rashers between buttered sourdough toast (excellent).

Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

The Canberra Food Scene

Lunch @ Dickson Dumpling House

2 Cape Street
DICKSON ACT 2602

The Good
Excellent dumplings and main courses served very quickly. The Shang Tung Lamb is fantastic.

The Bad
This is not the sort of place for attentive service – go in, sit down, order, eat, pay the bill and get out. The golden soft shell crab, while good, was far too much fried goodness for two people.

The Meal
Peking Duck with skin, pancake, cucumber, hoisin sauce (okay, the duck today was fattier than usual).
Pan-fried Prawn and Pumpkin Dumplings (good).
Golden Soft Shell Crab (good but too much fried food for two people).
Shang Tung Lamb (excellent ).

Photos can be seen on the blog at http://fatmanthinwallet.wordpress.com...

uhockey revisits Per Se Extended Tasting Menu. In a word - incredible.

True, I forgot about that as well.

When you travel and put so much focus into ensuring the best meal you can afford, which for some of us involves spending more money on food than the rest of the trip, it can be pretty frustrating watching someone else get a more attractive meal or more attentive service.

Thankfully it has only happened to me once at an italian three-star restaurant in Hong Kong where the French couple at the table next to me had shaved truffles added to every single one of their courses. Perhaps there was a truffle menu of which I was not aware? In any event, that envy, together with some very inconsistent food and service, made for a poor experience. If I recall correctly, uHockey had a similar experience at L'Astrance?

Mar 16, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Manhattan

uhockey revisits Per Se Extended Tasting Menu. In a word - incredible.

It is quite amusing to read your experiences and then someone else's experiences in observing your meal. A touch of envy, perhaps.

I guess it goes to show that just because someone else is getting something different or receiving more special treatment than you, it doesn't mean that they are a VIP - they may have just paid more for their meal or known how to order!

Mar 16, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Manhattan

UK Lunch Reviews - Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, Polpo, Tapas Revolution, St John Bread and Wine, Opera Tavern, Zucca, Dinner by Heston

It certainly is not a "destination" restaurant, but I paid a more for worse in the UK (see Mishkins) during the trip and it is a lot more comfortable than sitting by the gate waiting for the flight. That said, I would have been in the BA lounge if not for a dispute between my carrier and BA about reciprocal lounge access.

Mar 16, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in U.K./Ireland

uhockey revisits Per Se Extended Tasting Menu. In a word - incredible.

Thanks for the excellent review. It, together with my experience there last April, convinced me to go back for an extended tasting menu on my next trip to the States in June, although sadly this means another new restaurant will miss out. Ah, such is life...

Did you organize the extended tasting menu when first making your booking or afterwards? Do you know if it is also available at dinner?

Mar 16, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in Manhattan

UK Dinner Reviews - Pizarro, The Fat Duck, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The Square, Mishkins, Pollen Street Social

Our server at Dinner explained that "umbles" is the more polite name for offal. So while the umbles in the risotto at The Fat Duck definitely included sweetbreads, it may have been hearts in the umbles accompanying the pork main course at Dinner.

Mar 16, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in U.K./Ireland

The Canberra Food Scene

Cheers for chiming in. I plan on doing Italian & Sons soon!

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

When I say "out of the way", perhaps I should instead say "out of the way in walking distance from where I started walking to Berthillon, with tired feet as a result of walking all day, at 4pm in the afternoon of the 16th day of a four week holiday, bearing in mind I then walked all the way back from there to my hotel near the Eiffel Tower" :-P

Mar 12, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in France

Paris Lunch Reviews - Tuileries Bar, Galleries Lafayette, Le Cinq, Michel Rostang, Ledoyen

I added it from the a la carte menu after seeing uHockey's review of the dish last year. There was an awkward exchange about how to add it to the set menu (i.e. it was an addition and not a substitution) that left me asking my wife afterwards whether I had done something wrong (she tells me I didn't). Perhaps it was a language issue or just one of those things.

The bigger issues were with the menus and waters. We sat there for what seemed like a good fifteen minutes after being seated and receiving a glass of champagne with no food or menus wondering what the deal was. I then had to ask for water two times and even after that someone came to confirm the type of water I wanted (I noted I wanted sparkling each time). It just seemed very unprofessional, especially for a three-star restaurant, but perhaps it was just one of those days.

Luckily the food more than made up for these perceived gaffes.

Mar 11, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in France

Dinner By Heston or Pollen Street Social - Strong Feelings [London]

I am with Gareth_UK on this one after having done both Dinner and Pollen Street Social in one day. Dinner certainly has more "wow" moments if you order right. That said, I liked both very much and recommend you do both as well!

Mar 11, 2012
fatmanthinwallet in U.K./Ireland