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paulfromla's Profile

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Pecorino Brentwood or Il Grano or a third choice?

Want to take someone who is Italian to a good italian place on westside LA without too much pretension. Pecorino and Il Grano were two thoughts. Any others? Preference of one of these two over the other?

Il Grano Restaurant
11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Pecorino Restaurant
11604 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

Jun 21, 2011
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Vancouver One Night

Will be in Vancouver one night.

Looking for really great food but casual, meaning not dress up. Not sushi/asian.
Downtown somewhere, we are at Le Soleil Hotel.
Price open.

Fraiche-Bad Service for Us too in 2009

The real test is if an "important person" like Brad Pitt or Steven Spielberg try to order off the bar menu in the dining room. Would the answer be no?

May 13, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

The Falls in Palm Springs

Had brie appetizer, caesar, steak, onion rings, and asparagus
all very average to me
ambiance is okay, service is great
wine list is dull
i'd pass

Apr 25, 2009
paulfromla in California

Jiraffe Wed Ravioli Nights

Jiraffe has just added a wednesday ravioli night to go with their monday bistro night.

If anyone went last night, please report back. It sounds like an amazing deal - farmer's market salad, ravioli entree, dessert and two 3oz wine pours for $29. Given the quality of Jiraffe's food, this sounds like one of the better stimulus deals around.

Apr 02, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Westside Tavern

Wow, yes, that is an interesting comparison. I haven't been to Nook in a while but it seems like a lot of the menu items and prices are probably comparable. I liked the food and just the whole vibe at Nook and remember thinking that they were really trying to do something good with their food. At Westside Tavern it did feel a little like they're trying to make money which is of course the goal of a restaurant ultimately. But I do think the goals of Westside Tavern are different from Nook - it's vastly bigger first of all and it's called "tavern" for a reason and I think ultimately the liquor's going to be one of the big draws. I won't be surprised if someone refers to the place as having really good bar food. If I was choosing between the two, I would go for Westside Tavern, especially if i was with a larger group, because it's bigger and seemed like it had a broader range of choices. (Also it's closer to me than Nook!)

Mar 31, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Westside Tavern

Tried it tonite, thanks for your post which prompted me to know that it had opened finally.

I disagree that the prices are out of touch - entrees are priced at the $20 mark and I thought they were as satisfying as many other restaurants' 30$ plus entrees. The grilled salmon with asparagus got raves and was priced at $21. The $14 hamburger looked pretty good but can't vouch for the taste - the home made potato chips were pretty good though, not overly seasoned but perfectly light and crisp

Also, the restaurant itself is ultra casual so that is not an issue for the movie crowd. Seems like depending on how your order you can get in and out pretty quick also.

Here's what we sampled:

Aritchoke Gratin - edible but a little bland - good chunks of artichoke baked with butter/cheese

Macaroni and cheese - outstanding, with nice texture to the macaroni and made with quality cheese

Caesar salad - a respectable version with ultra crispy croutons, those "can't go wrong" parmesan crisps, and a nice mild dressing

Flat iron steak w Bearnaise - not the greatest steak but the fries were good

Short Rib Roast - melt in your mouth beef, a little fatty, okay a lot fatty, but with amazing little carrots and irresistible buttery mashed potatoes

The above-mentioned salmon - didn't taste it but it got raves

Crispy brussel sprouts - as described, crispy, cooked with enough butter to transform anyone's idea of brussel sprouts

Green beans with almonds and a burrata cheese (i think) - solid rendition of the vegetable with good flavor

toffee cake - really good

apple pie - unbelievably large portion, good for 3 to 4 people easy and declared one of the best pies by most at the table - a little sweet for me but the portion size at 9$ was quite amazing

the bill for 6 was $222 w/o tip - service was solid, a little awkward because the table was small for the amount of food coming out

also tried the petite syrah by the glass which was very good and a blackberry julep which came in a metal mug piled high with perfect crushed ice

i look forward to trying some of the other menu items which include a couple of pastas, fish specials, and a pork chop which was not available when we went

Mar 29, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Chow near Arclight Hollywood?

Second Los Balcones de Peru

Mar 12, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Gulfstream, Toscanova, Rocksugar, which one?

Thanks for the responses and feedback. We chose Gulfstream and weren’t disappointed. Servers were a little corporate but efficient. They demanded that one of my companions remove his hat before we were seated – haven’t experienced that before and didn’t exactly seem like such a haute establishment, especially since one of the servers sported a shiny tongue stud. Anyway it made for good dinner conversation.

Salmon was okay, crab cakes were great. Clam chowder was meaty and well seasoned. Fries nice, if salty. Biscuits were delicious. All in all, solid, comfortable, good food.

Somehow we ended up at Fraiche in Culver City for drinks and dessert. I’ve never had dinner there but have had drinks and dessert there before and everything I have tasted in that restaurant has been outstanding. Cheese plate was exceptional and they had Italian donuts that were so light and airy and came with a perfect vanilla custard and an Italian sweet wine for dipping. This place is great and I look forward to a full meal there soon. It probably helped the overall experience to have Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Oliver Stone, and Ron Meyer dining together two tables away. Oh, and several people were able to keep their hats on in that dumpy establishment.

Mar 08, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Gulfstream, Toscanova, Rocksugar, which one?

Anybody recommend one of these over the others?

Mar 06, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Pizzeria Mozza Review

That's an unfortunate experience.

I lunched there a couple of weeks ago - bean bruschetta, fried squash blossoms, goat cheese pizza, mushroom pizza, and the butterscotch budino - all were AMAZING with top marks to the bruschetta, the mushrooms, and the budino. Oh, and the rosemary biscuits, great! The wait was long with no reservations but you do what you have to.

What really was outstanding was the service - flawless, relaxed and most importantly the food came out fresh and hot and fast, right out of the kitchen - the blossoms could be savored at their peak perfection with no sitting around time.

No charge for tap water - and I actually like the fact that rather than serve by the glass, the wine comes in 250ml carafes. The barbera d'asti at least was extremely good.

Mar 03, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Need recommendation for nice b-day spot in LA (similar to Craft or Lucques)

cut obviously comes to mind
or campanile?

Jan 15, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

JiRaffe Santa Monica - Monday Prix Fixe

i don't think so - they set the menu several days ahead of time, anyway, so no way to know what's going to be unsold - also, i notice they often run out of the items on the prix fixe menu quite quickly depending on the night - so no,i think it is all good and while not the most amazing deal in the world, it's not bad - i have had great dishes there on the prix fixe and even when they have sold out and had to improvise, the meals have been outstanding

anthony bourdain would be so lucky to run a restaurant with the longevity and customer loyalty of jiraffe

Jan 13, 2009
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Frank at AGO Mini Review

Had the chance to visit the new AGO and try Frank, the gallery restaurant, the other day. The gallery itself is spectacular with imposing spiral wood staircases and soft Douglas fir hardwood floors that seemingly stretch forever.

Waltzed into Frank without a reservation (dining room was full) and sat in the bar area which was a little uncomfortable but good for people watching as it's right by the entrance. The brunch menu was being served but contains many of the lunch menu items.

The restaurant space has a casual but design-y feel to it with a wall of wine bottles stacked up in a glass case and a flowing ramp that goes up to a higher level where most of the dining tables are.

Everyone around us was ordering the moules frites which has become such a staple in restaurants of late. Had to resist the urge to follow the crowd and instead settled on the maple dale cheddar souffle and the rosemary chicken pot pie and of course the french fries served in a cone with a dark paper lining and the obligatory aioli and a untomato ketchup.

Two kinds of bread were served, a dark nutty variety and crumbly oatmeal bread. Unsalted goat butter and sea salt was provided, the bland butter desperately in need of the salty kick.

The fries were average and the dipping sauces didn't do much to help unfortunately. Score high on presentation, low on taste.

The souffle was perfectly airy but the aged maple dale cheddar didn't add much flavor - but it's a nice light alternative to a quiche. The accompanying beluga lentils (which are small dark lentils resembling caviar, hence beluga) were tasty, well seasoned and worked well with the souffle. Al dente carrots play a supporting role but seem oddly out of sync with the other elements on the plate.

The chicken pot pie is a solid, comfort food rendition of the classic with a lighter than usual broth and well seasoned chicken and vegetables.

Prices are okay and service relaxed but efficient even during a busy time. Would recommend a lunch here if you're visiting the gallery, not worth a special trip though.

Thanksgiving Dessert on Westside?

Anyone know of a good place for dessert only on the westside for later this afternoon/evening, Thanksigivng Day?

Nov 27, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Italian or other, SM Blvd/Bundy?

guido's is right there just east of bundy on santa monica blvd - heavier red table cloth style italian but not bad
further down the street is il grano, a higher end italian restaurant and its more casual sister restaurant

Oct 15, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Sandwich store in Encino

used to be an okay place for an overpriced deli sandwich with a mom/pop feel
recently changed management and i don't like it as much anymore

Oct 10, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Steak in LA

Cut - far and away the best - the steaks are topnotch - and the sides/appetizers/desserts blow away every other steakhouse

Mastros - ridiculously large portions, decent but average sides/appetizers, steaks are good but can be gristly

Ruth's Chris - don't love the steaks but sides are good

Pacific Dining Car - just good and needs to be great if you're going to pay those prices

Arnie Morton's - steaks are excellent - sides/appetizers not good

Jar - everything is good - would go there if Cut was booked

Nick and Stef's - gets a bad rap but i had a good steak and decent sides there

Sep 29, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Quiet Place for Drinks

san francisco saloon - pico west of sawtelle
or the bar at the landmark theater in the westside pavilion

Aug 24, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Best Chicken Strips in LA?

san francisco saloon on pico in west la has good chicken strips
also cheesecake factory had a good take on them, at least the 6 years ago that i tried them there
jan's diner on beverly in west hollywood used to have good ones but they changed the recipe so not sure if they're as good

Aug 14, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Mr. Cecil's BBQ on Ventura. Is it worth it?

nothing gets people going like a bbq thread
but as one of the very few, maybe only posters that gives cecil a thumbs up, i was intrigued to notice that another thread which purports to be a bbq taste test gave mr cecil's a third place finish .... shocking considering the utter lack of love it gets on this thread

and i have tried boneyard bistro once and the ribs - so - so - but that fried mac and cheese is so wrong yet soooo right

Aug 07, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Simon LA

when i tried simon la about a year or so ago, it was definitely all gimmick and no substance - tried a bunch of items and all were absurd attempts at defining classics that failed miserably - the meatloaf especially was a dry tasteless slog - not to mention the famed junk food sampler which was only remarkable for its excess - the taste was not there at all for me - if you are spending this kind of money it should be for real food not this pseudo-retro americana gimmick cuisine

Aug 07, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Mr. Cecil's BBQ on Ventura. Is it worth it?

i've had the pico location ribs many times and i like them for what they are - still prefer JR ribs on la cienaga for their sauce - cecil's sauce is not good but the ribs dry have a good seasoning on them so edible without sauce - sides are okay - prices are high

Aug 05, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Haves and Have Nots at Fraiche

if you're drinking, try one of their signature cocktails - they are usually seasonal and very well made

Aug 02, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Need Help finding relaxed fine dining in LA...

first, i'm jealous since you've hit so many good places in just a summer
you might try jiraffe in santa monica - not at all uptight
also campanile is more chill than some of the other fine dining establishments
and nook in west la is another possibility
and fraiche in culver city is pretty casual too with incredible food

Jul 30, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Veal Parm.-Sherman Oaks area, suggestions?

i've eaten there (giorgio's sp?) so many times over the years (decade at least) and honestly i'm pretty sure i've had the parm but don't remember it specifically - but overall it's such a comfortable relaxed non fancy place and all the food is somehow warm and satisfying to me - nothing gourmet though for sure!

Jul 05, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Veal Parm.-Sherman Oaks area, suggestions?

i expect giorgio's in studio city does a decent one
they're just east of laural canyon on ventura blvd in a mini mall with a dupar's out front

Jul 05, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area


taste on melrose had some of the best fries i've ever had

Jun 29, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Wine List at JAR?

haven't been to jar in over a year - but i remember they were pouring a 2003 neal family cabernet by the glass that was a little pricey but very good - based on that i would expect the wine list is excellent but with standard markups - don't miss the butterscotch pudding if they're making it, that's one thing you can't bring in yourself!

Jun 28, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy flat iron steak?

i just got some flat iron steak at ralphs' in encino
will u share your recipe - i was just going to grill it

Jun 25, 2008
paulfromla in Los Angeles Area