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Westside gastropub explosion

Amusement at sudden proliferation of places with similar concept, design, menus.

Feb 17, 2012
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Westside gastropub explosion

I have been amazed and amused by the proliferation of gastropubs on the westside - everyone seems to be hurrying to get their entry in. I get that it is a fun and easy way to drink, dine or just hang out…there are designer cocktails, beer, wine and small plates - enough to interest just about anybody. But wow - they just keep coming and it's getting hard to sort out the clones from the genuine article.

Here's a few I have visited recently:

Next Door (by Josie's) (Pico)
Waterloo and City (Washington)
Freddy Small's (Pico)
Westside Tavern (Pico)
Upper West (Pico)
Sunny Spot (Washington)
Misfits (Santa Monica Blvd.)

and there's that new one coming on Sawtelle with the odd name of Plan Check.

Here's what you can expect at any of them:

Carmelized brussels sprouts
Jidori chicken
Gourmet banh mi / Cuban / pulled pork sandwich
Overpriced concept burger
Chicken liver pate
Raw kale salad
Designer deviled eggs

…and don't forget the $12 absinthe old fashioned with house-made quince shrub.

But, seriously, which one do you think is the real deal and what do you love about it?

Feb 13, 2012
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Unusual dishes - greater London

Thanks for response - will report back when I try them. - BIM

Jul 26, 2011
BIM in U.K./Ireland

Unusual dishes - greater London

A review and a request:

Had dinner (twice) at Arbutus in Soho recently and was delighted: I had a dish called "Pieds et paquets - lambs' tripe parcels and trotters (Marseilles style)" which was fantastic. Hard to describe...two bundles of minced meat and grain(?) wrapped in skin-like meat, PLUS a small cast iron pot with chunks of tripe and vegs in a thick broth. The flavors were just what an organ-meat lover would want - that pungent, rich, sort of sour flavor. Another marvelous item was the "Warm crisp pig's head, radIsh and turnip salad" which was a sort of thick, warm slab of meaty terrine.

At this point you're either really with me or totally turned off. If you're with me, read on.

Where else - BESIDES ST. JOHNS (I'm going) - can one find delightful unusual organ-y things of this nature in greater London? Really good blood sausage, or "umble" pies, or the like. All ethnicities considered. Shock me!

- BIM

Jul 25, 2011
BIM in U.K./Ireland

Mondongo!

Mondongo is a tripe-based soup from the Carribean, not unlike menudo, and it appears on the menus of several Cuban and Puerto Rican restaurants, often as a daily special. If you google "mondongo" and check out the images, you see many different types. On one hand there is a kind of thin soup with pieces of tripe floating in it, the other extreme seems to be a rich stew or casserole, almost like a cassoulet. It's this second kind that intrigues me - would anyone know where to find a thick, stew-like mondongo in greater manhattan?

Nov 10, 2010
BIM in Manhattan

Sausages!!!!!!

I am in the mood for SAUSAGES!! Big fat ones! Little spicy ones!! Coarse-ground organ meat ones!! Garlicky, sweet, peppery, awesome, exotic SAUSAGES!!!

Uptown, downtown, restaurant, street -
Toothsome tubes of juicy meat!
Off the griddle - piping hot -
C'mon chowhounds, whatchu got?

Nov 03, 2010
BIM in Manhattan

Offally good meal at Commerce

Wow Kathryn - thanks for the in-depth breakdown. My mouth is watering. If I can make it to some of these places I will report back.

Jul 22, 2010
BIM in Manhattan

Offally good meal at Commerce

That's quite an intimidating list - considering I'm only here for a week! What if you had to pick one or two?

Jul 22, 2010
BIM in Manhattan

Offally good meal at Commerce

Walking through the West Village last night, randomly ended up at Commerce and hit the organ meat jackpot. Busy, loud - the service was a bit slow, but the menu is a lot of fun. Went for the trifecta:

1. Ragu of odd things: oxtails, trotters and tripe with hand rolled orchiette - was fantastic, rich and intensely flavored, with succulent melty pieces of tripe.

2. Foie gras with sweetbreads and summer vegetable minestrone - also really good. Generous chunks of foie gras that burst into liquid on the tongue, the sweetbreads were nearly the same texture - and just a bit of highly flavored broth. Great value at $17 imho.

3. Degustation of young lamb offal: heart, liver and kidney. Small portions of each - the heart tataki style on a shiso leaf, the liver on a flavored mustard. The kidney, two tiny slices on a potato/ramp puree, was exquisite.

These were all appetizer-sized and priced dishes. We also split an order of spaghetti carbornara and were each given a portion topped with a barely set egg. I'd like to come back and explore the menu a bit further.

Any other good organ-meat gems around town that you might recommend?

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Commerce
50 Commerce Street, New York, NY 10014

Jul 22, 2010
BIM in Manhattan

Westside Basic Mexican

And the ceviche too - pretty happening.

Jun 07, 2010
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Westside Basic Mexican

And btw our go-to taco place is La Playita - the little stand on Lincoln just north of Whole Foods - best tacos on westside imho. #2 is Pili's on Santa Monica - reminds me of when we lived in Echo Park.

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La Playita
3306 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Jun 04, 2010
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Westside Basic Mexican

Casa Escobar on Wilshire probably deserves a mention in this thread - a classic rice and beans platter place. I really like their Chili Verde.

Jun 04, 2010
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Boneless Chicken Wings

My friend Mark and I were picking up a pizza at our local place, and I noticed a come-on for a new item: Buffalo Chicken Wing Pizza. I said to my friend - it can't be actual wings, can it? On a pizza? So we asked the guy and he said yes - it was wings. With the bones in? I asked, incredulous. He laughed at me. No bones - of course not, he said. On the drive home we turned it over. Impossible, I said - I have NEVER EVER seen chicken wing meat served off the bone. How impractical - who would ever serve boned chicken wings?

The next day I called them and ascertained that, no, it was not wing meat off-the-bone, it was breast meat in a buffalo sauce. Ok, duh. But I got to thinking about wing meat off the bone and I realized that I HAD sort of had it - as the boneless stuffed "angel wings" you can get at some Thai restaurants. Though even those usually have the bony wing tip attached.

So here's my question: has anyone ever heard of any dish that involves boneless chicken wing meat? Either pre-boned or cooked and then de-boned. I know you can slide the double bones out and have a boneless treat, but SERVED that way?

Love to hear about it -

BIM

Jan 31, 2010
BIM in General Topics

Beef Ribs

Hi BIM the OP here - so today I went to Philip's (on Centinela) and split the 4 beef rib dinner with my cousin. Asked for mixed sauce (thank you CulverJack).

Truly good beef ribs - tasty and fun to eat, and I wish I'd had all 4 to myself. If I was going to say anything at all, I might say that the beef flavor was a little too subtle for the overwhelming sauce. The meat was very moist, almost like it had a touch of steam, and the ribs were awash in the vinegary sauce which - don't get me wrong - was very good.

Though not quite the Santa Maria intense oak-smoked ribs I had last week, I think these are worth a repeat visit.

Sep 18, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Beef Ribs

OP here - so I tried the beef rib at Baby Blues on Lincoln yesterday as reccommended above. It's completely bizarre. The thing costs $15 and is the size of a football. I was pretty excited when I saw it - huge and black - sitting on the grill getting licked by flames. A guy would dab sauce on it occasionally and turn it.

BUT...it was just not that good. The meat had very little flavor and seemed stringy and overcooked. It was just not fun to eat - I think the size of it kept the insides from having much flavor and it had a grainy, brisket-y feel. The outside seemed burnt but not crispy - and worst there was NO SMOKE FLAVOR at all - not even much BEEF flavor. I couldn't eat very much of it, and what I did eat I had to drench in sauce for it to have any appeal.

You know, this happened before here: I was doing a sandwich blog and someone recc'd Baby Blue's pulled pork sandwich and I remember it just not having much flavor. Again, no smoke whatever - just texture and cole slaw on a bun. I know this place is popular - maybe I hit a bad day - but I'm starting to wonder.

Sep 16, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Beef Ribs

Wow Baby Blues is right near by - been there a few times but didn't even know that had beef ribs. Going tomorrow. I'll try to hit some of these other places in the weeks to come. Thanks.

Sep 14, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Beef Ribs

We were up in San Luis Obispo for the Thursday night farmer's market and they've got these serious BBQ set-ups in the street doing the Santa Maria thing - tri-tip and ribs - and I had a total yen to try some beef ribs. I wouldn't admit this to my friends, most of whom have only contempt for anyone who would choose a beef rib when pork ribs were available - but I think comparing beef ribs and baby backs is like comparing sirloin steak and salmon steak - a completely different animal (literally.)

Anyway - back to SLO. There were two places selling single ribs for $2.50, and they wound up giving me two and three ribs respectively (I shared with family). Meaty, smoky, sauced up and truly terrific. The third place might have been the best - it was a Chinese joint that was dishing up chow mein but they had beef ribs - $3.00 each - and mine was huge, meaty, tender and barely dusted with a little hoisin sauce. Incredible flavor.

But now - back in Santa Monica - I want that experience close to home. Not that many BBQ places do beef ribs. Mr. Cecil's does, and I had one last night - it was good, kind of pulled away from the bone but tender, sweet sauce on the side. At $3.50 for a single rib, kinda steep. Then there's that place on Lincoln, Bennie's BBQ I think? that had a beef rack I really liked - vinegary sauce, lots of meat, a little fatty. Not a lot of people like that place but I'd go back there.

So finally the question: any other beef rib fans out there? Where's the awesome spot? Bonus points if it's within shouting distance of the west side. But I'm ready to travel for the real deal.

Thanks - BIM

Sep 14, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Help - Casual sushi on the West Side

Thing about the California Roll Factory on Santa Monica near Barrington is people either love it or hate it. One could argue it's not a sushi restaurant at all - certainly no purist would be caught dead there - but I happen to like to big roll creations loaded with spicy tuna or scallop filling, with maybe some tempura shrimp or fish and dripping with eel sauce or garlic sauce and fish eggs. I have out-of-town friends who insist on this place being their first stop when they come to visit. And if 'casual' and 'relaxed' are your criteria - why not check it out.

Aug 29, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

CALBI Korean Taco truck in Santa Monica - where'd they get THAT idea?

My daughter, who discovered the Kogi truck LONG BEFORE any else told me about this imitator on Arizona and 4th in downtown Santa Monica. We put on disguises and trotted up to the truck - no other customers in sight. It really looks like a roach coach that was selling breakfast burritos a week and was drafted into the Korean taco biz to cash in. The signage looks familiar. Five kinds of tacos (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu/veg) or burritos, plus quesadillas and sandwiches.

We tried the beef and the pork - meat with shredded lettuce, some sauce and a few sesame seeds. The pork - though not Kogi - was actually pretty good. If I happen to walk by there I might order a couple more.

Do they compare though? Yes - by this equation: ((Taste + Hype/Overhype) x (Hipness + Ripoff Factor)) / (Availability + Average Time in Line)

Jun 19, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Lunch near Fox

I will follow this thread with great interest as I happen to be on the lot doing a temp dub for a few weeks. Mike and I have already discovered Simpang (awesome! been twice) and Clementines which is a disco but has pretty swell sandwiches. Have even done Mark's truck on the lot for breakfast burritos and green sauce.

Tell me more about the Cemitas Poblana truck...which corner? Let me know if you want to carpool.

- BIM

Apr 17, 2009
BIM in Los Angeles Area

HELP! sgv bday banquet tonight...WHERE?

It's my birthday today (a big one - don't ask) and suddenly everyone wants to go out to San Gabriel (or Monterey Park or Alhambra or wherever) for a big dinner because they know it's my favorite thing to do. So guess who has to find and book a place?

I'm guessing 15-20 people, includes kids. I was thinking either a big hong kong seafood style place like NBC or 888 or I don't know...what about triumphal palace? Elite seafood?

Someone tell me what to do!

thanks hounds

- BIM

Nov 28, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Sandwich Contest

THE CONTEST IS NEARLY OVER - the judges are sampling their final sandwiches and ranking them furiously. I have posted reviews of your suggestions in three other posts but they don't seem to get much action, so I'm wondering if I should post updates here instead. Which do you think is better, updates in HERE, or in separate posts? Anyway - thanks for ALL the incredible entries - here are some reviews for you:

BISTTRO HERMITAGE - Culver City
"The Cheval - Hot French Ham & Swiss on a French baguette, with two sunny side up eggs” - CarlieInLA

Here’s a croque madame with attitude. Hot ham and melted Swiss on a French baguette – and in my book, you put a couple of sunny-side up eggs on ANYTHING and you got a winner. A little frisee on the side – some cornichons… vive le bistro! And you could split this monster between two people. Carlie says she takes hers home – seriously? Those eggs travel?

UNCLE DARROWS - Santa Monica
"The Zeke: Fried shrimp and catfish with potato salad on a crunchy french roll.” – foh

The Zeke sounds good on paper, but here’s a case where the sandwich is less than the sum of its parts: I wanted to take it apart and eat everything separately. The idea of potato salad on a sandwich is interesting but in fact, with the thick roll, it’s a big mealy mouthful and obscures the fish – which is not overly flavorful to begin with. The catfish filets have a thin, crispy but bland cornmeal coating and are not as good as the shrimp, which are the best thing. Hot sauce squirted on each bite helped considerably.

BABY BLUES BBQ - Venice
""pulled pork - AndyGl1

A decent pulled pork sandwich but I was not blown away. My fault, perhaps, for getting it to go. The meat seemed good enough – not special – and the roll was good and there was some cole slaw on it that was not especially flavorful. And finally I thought the sauce was nondescript – undistinguished in any way. C’mon, at least crank some kick-ass sauce on the thing! Off day maybe?

PORTO'S BAKERY - Burbank
“Pastrami sandwich” - ErikaK

How come no one ever told me about this place before? The Cuban-influenced menu boasts all kinds of temptations: media noche with croquettes, stuffed potato sandwich, not to mention a huge glass case full of pastries and meat pies. And I’m supposed to order pastrami? On a French roll with OMG mayonnaise?? Yes and – bottom line – the thing was tremendous. The meat was tender and hot and flavorful and just greasy enough and the mustard and mayo and thin pickle slivers and roll made it seem like the greatest Cuban sandwich EVER. I want to go back to order the roasted pork sandwich with garlic sauce but no way I could go and not get the pastrami. Thank you Erika!

Other reviews at:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/522067
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/508423
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501829

Nov 14, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Lunch suggestions please!

Thanks to you both - we wasted no time and ran across the street for a couple of meat pies at the Tuck SHop. Delish!! Wandered over to Kyotufo - looks good but they were a little busy. Love how this whole chowhound thing works - maybe it'll catch on!

Sep 04, 2008
BIM in Manhattan

Lunch suggestions please!

Glory be - Mike and I are back in town on a project. As we say in California: "totally awesome!" which means essentially "what a fortunate turn of events." First stop - the local chow board.

We will need some spectacular ethnic hole-in-the-wall late evening dining recos sooner than later - but the immediate need is for lunch ideas near where we're working, which is the Brill Building at 49th & Broadway. Our faves from previous trips: Ta'am Tov and Azuri Cafe which is a brisk walk from here.

What about all those places on 9th Ave.? Any specific suggestions for a tasty, maybe even unusual lunch? Would be a bonus if it is doable on an hour lunch break. Any trucks nearby? Notable sandwiches? Paella on a stick?

Glad to be back!

- BIM

Sep 04, 2008
BIM in Manhattan

Munch - Banh mi on the Westside?

My guess is (I'm sure this has been said before) that Banh Mi profits are not commensurate with westside overhead.

Jul 28, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Munch - Banh mi on the Westside?

When a friend asked if I'd heard of the new Vietnamese sandwich place on Sawtelle my heart skipped a beat - I didn't dare hope - it sounded too good to be true!

Indeed. Munch is actually a little Thai deli with plastic clamshells of take-out Pad Thai and rice dishes and, as the aggressively friendly man said, "Vietnamese-style" sandwiches. Meaning I suppose short baguettes, cucumber spears and cilantro, some with marinated radish/carrots. We ordered three, a Vietnamese Combo which was remotely dac biet-like, but the flavors just seemed off. A Satay Chicken sandwich was bizarre - neither fish nor fowl, and the third, a Sesame Beef, was inedible.

Let's keep dreaming of a Che Cali West.

Jul 28, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

need help - quick - SGV dinner

We've got a bunch of teenagers - maybe 10 - and a few adults and we want to go to SGV TONIGHT for a big family style dinner. Not Szechuan or anything too obscure...noodles and shrimp and dumplings. NBC? J&R? Anywhere big and casual and decent food to boot?

Thanks,

BIM

Jun 20, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Taco Plus - decent tacos on the westside

Or try heading up the street to Pili's Tacos - I dig that place. Between Barrington & Bundy on SM.

May 27, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Sandwich Contest - was yours reviewed?

Both the Godmother and the Meatball sub are repeat entries and for a very good reason - Bay Cities makes a dang good sangwich!

May 27, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area

Sandwich Contest - was yours reviewed?

Ha - a review of Larchmont Wine and Cheese (in which both the #3 and #5 are mentioned) appears in a previous sandwich contest post...

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/508423

- BIM

May 25, 2008
BIM in Los Angeles Area