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Need a sure thing celebrity spotting restaurant

I didn't bother with reading all of the posts below, so some of these may be redundant, but watching TMZ and spending time on TMZ.com will give you the best hot spots (Katsuya, Madeo's, Mr. Chow, etc.).
Ivy in BH along with Cecconi's in BH is a pretty reliable spot also these days.
Unfortunately, your niece is a bit young to hit these spots later in the evening, but some offer lunch. 1pm at Urth Cafe on Melrose is a good bet also.

Jan 15, 2010
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Coffee Throw Down

Frankly, the OP only has ONE worthy coffee location and that would be the Conservatory.

Also, it's Groundwork, singular, as opposed to Groundworks, plural. Not a big deal, but 99% of people include the S. Bad strategy on the company's naming strategy really.

But, to address the OP's request:

Urth Cafe-most of the locations are a scene and the quality of the beverages are not that high. In general, the coffee sits too long without being replenished, rebrewed, or replaced. The espresso shots, pulled by themselves range from being acceptable to downright horrid. It depends on the barista and I use that term loosely. What they do achieve at Urth is train their staff to pour acceptable latte art, which means acceptable milk steaming techniques. However, the aesthetic of art is often at the expense of quality tasting espresso.
Groundwork-they no longer use the Clover at their locations and their internal turnover in recent months/years has really diminished their sourcing, roasting and training abilities.
Their quality of beans is lower, and their quality of execution is way down.
Peet's-their roast philosophy since the beginning has been solid and executed well for a "chain" type company. For me, their roasts tend to skew to the dark, which eliminates some of the nuances from a lot of beans.
Conservatory-The best of the best from this group.

You'd also need to consider:
In LA:
LAMILL and Intelligentsia
In Southbay:
Kean
In SF:
Blue Bottle

Sep 11, 2009
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles coffee - I'm calling you out (many boos, and one hooray)

Jeet, I simply cannot agree with you.
a)the coffees that 7/11 purchases, by nature, ARE inferior coffees, simply based upon the green coffee they purchase and the estates they purchase from. Yes, Charles Shaw is wine and to some a perfectly fine wine, but Opus it is not.
b)My point of 7/11 purchasing a number of products is not a red herring (or hearing, if you like), because my intention is not to "distract attention from the main issue" which is the widely accepted definition of red herring. Rather, the fact that they purchase an incredibly perishable product such as coffee, along with scotch tape, pringles, etc. or even quasi-perishable products like beer is exactly the issue in question. Milk isn't even in the same category because milk has a definitive shelf-life that is stamped on the jug itself, unlike coffee which will usually have a roast date.
c)Furthermore, the storage of coffee is an issue, the brewing of coffee is an issue, the quality of the grind, the quality of the water in use, and the mere fact that MOST 7/11's are brewing on a typical carafe burner which continues to keep the coffee on a heat-source, makes it an inferior product.

Simply refer to the guidelines of the SCAA to find out what makes a specialty, well....special.

Because a company has purchasing power, does not make it an authority on a product. Not one 7/11 employee (and I'm generalizing now) is a specialized barista...I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on that. And you may say, well, they aren't making espresso drinks, so they don't need to be baristas....well, until an employee of 7/11 can tell me the TDS of the water and the grains of hardness in the water, then they don't know enough about their coffee.

May 18, 2009
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles coffee - I'm calling you out (many boos, and one hooray)

The answer to that question is YES, a $4.00 coffee can beat that 7/11 $1.50 coffee in quality, freshness and flavor (although the last one is more subjective).

Quality: From farm to cup, the coffee purchased by 7/11 is of an inferior quality than that of specialty coffee companies such as La Mill and Intelligentsia and a multitude of others. If you have questions, go to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, or SCAA's website. You won't find 7/11 as a member. Their coffee doesn't qualify. And why would it? When you're purchasing 100's, if not 1000's of different products, you don't specialize in ONE kind of thing. I certainly wouldn't start comparing the meat products I buy at the 99 cent store to the ones I'd get directly from a butcher, or Whole Foods, or directly at a restaurant.

Freshness: Freshness can be discussed in two ways, the freshness of the bean, and the freshness of the brew, and indeed a third way, the freshness of the grind. All specialty coffee companies roast to order, roast minimum amounts of inventory and at the end user level are instructed to grind to order only. Coffee SHOULD be rotated and brewed every 20 minutes, or at least every hour. I guarantee that does not happen on a regular basis at 7/11.

Flavor: This one is subjective. To each their own.

May 05, 2009
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles coffee - I'm calling you out (many boos, and one hooray)

no by single extraction, it was referring back to part of the OP's post about single estate coffees being extracted.

Single espressos rightly shouldn't be pulled....in my opinion

Mar 31, 2009
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles coffee - I'm calling you out (many boos, and one hooray)

Ah, this is so great to have a discussion on:
I have to say that there is a philosophical, technical, and literal difference when having a discussion on drip coffee, espresso, and espresso based drinks.
So, for the purpose of the OP's post, let's talk about drip coffee.
1. Groundwork (no S): I disagree that Groundwork has fresh coffee and great roasted coffee. I think they USED to but that company has endured a lot of internal turmoil and have really slipped in the last few years. Part of that, in my opinion, is too much expansion too quickly. Trying to duplicate their success in multiple locations and now the quality suffers. Plus, their baristas aren't as skilled as other locations and I don't feel the love.
2. Conservatory-spot on assessment.
3. Intelligentsia (with an S): The pinnacle of espresso love and passion in LA. They have the best baristas with the trophy case and the youtube videos to prove it. They excel at espresso. With that said, they do buy some of the best beans around for drip, but I don't know if they execute it as such. Drip coffees almost seem like an after thought sometimes. As for single extraction, I think a lot of people will do that, you just have to ask.
4. LAMILL: The coffee here is definitely NOT an after thought and I'm not sure how many times you've been, but they do more with drip offerings than anyone else in LA. Intelligentsia kicks their butt in pure espresso (Black Cat Blend) but LAMILL excels in single estate, varietally sourced beans. Example: You can order an Organic Guatemala El Soccoro Cup of Excellence coffee ($49.00 /lb.) and then have it prepared in a french press, siphon, chemex, eva solo, or Clover cup. Each will give you a different mouth feel, sediment, solids content, etc.
Ask them to extract anyone of those beans as an espresso too and you may just find them willing to do that.
Part of the problem/challenge here is that FOOD is more of a focus than a coffee-haven like Intelli, or Kean, or Groundwork where food is an after thought and where a Michelin starred chef doesn't have anything to do with the places, let alone designing and instituting the menu like at Lamill...with that said, sometimes the focus is too much on the food and that takes away from the coffee experience.
5. The Fix: drip coffee should ALWAYS be brewed to order, by the cup, or the press, whenever possible. Holding coffee in a carafe, thermal or not, is a sin. Coffee degrades the minute the brewing cycle is complete. If the carafe is on a heat-source, then forget it, you're COOKING the coffee..yuck.

Just a few notes on your posts:
Blue Bottle is awesome! Their 'melitta' bar is awesome and a work of art to boot.
NYC does have Intelligentsia now and a few other indie, SCAA based coffee companies, you just have to scour, and ask the locals.

You mention single-estate light roasted coffees...and I can tell they make you smile....Roasting coffee too dark will always eliminate the nuances and layers of a coffee. The exothermic reaction that takes place in the bean itself literally changes the composition of the bean and once you hit the '2nd crack', in my opinion, the coffee is starting to lose its nuance, and is best served for blending, or as a component in blending and espresso. I think you truly mean medium roasted coffees are your favorites...Light roasted coffees can sometimes be underdeveloped, especially if the roaster isn't an expert at time-management and temperature control of the roasting cycle. Somewhere between that first and second crack is where the magic happens. Some of the best coffees I've ever had are best experienced right at the beginning of what we'd call a medium roast, fully developed, full of complexity, nuance, and layers....all of which continue to evolve as the coffee cools...especially if you're enjoying it in a chemex....mmm.

LOVE this thread, so thanks for starting it.

Mar 27, 2009
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Great meal at Village Idiot

I practically LIVE there. I'm there usually twice per week. It's great to have lunch with a friend because it's not too crowded and if you sit at the window side booths, there's floor to ceiling light and there's great Melrose people watching.
If you go for dinner, get there before 7am or be prepared to wait b/c they don't do reservations. If you don't mind the crowds, the bar gets 2 to 3 people deep, especially Thursday-Sunday nights.
They have a small but great and varying selections of beer on tap and an inventive array of bottled beers.
The staff is attentive and nowhere near bordering on stuffy. They are relaxed, laid back, fun, and seem as if they genuinely enjoy being there.
The owners, Dean, Charlie and Lindsey are all great guys, love people and love coming to work.
If you ever have a problem with something, let them know and they'll make a concerted effort to rectify the problem and make sure you're happy before you leave.
I've had lunches, dinners, and just binch drinking nights there and have always had fun.
As for the food, it ranges from typical so so pub fare, up to some darn good roasted chicken, pork tenderloin also. Yum

Feb 28, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

The Waffle -- worst restaurant experience EVER

I hate that this happened you, LilZ, but as with ANY restaurant opening, there are going to be kinks, with food, with service, even with ambiance. Hounders are notorious for pouncing on a place before it's had the opportunity to work out the kinks.

Let's be honest, Scooter comes with a solid resume and The Waffle will turn out to be just fine, in my opinion. If everyone goes back in mid-March, I would hasten the guess that 90% of the problems mentioned here are GONE.

FWIW

Feb 28, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Katsuya?

Katsuya is definitely a 'scene' and will be trendy. I'd vote for the Hollywood and Vine location over Brentwood because a)traffic to Brentwood is the worst, b)the Hollywood location is newer and therefore more trendy at the moment.

The H&V location has a great long sushi bar which is awesome to sit at depending on the size of your group. Also, they have the adjacent S-bar which is somewhat fun and swanky and will be a conversation point for you and your friends. Dinner doesn't guarantee admission, but judging by the name "Holly" a group of women usually has a much easier time getting in than a group of guys.

It's definitely worth a visit, knowing it'll be crowded, knowing it'll be a scene, knowing that the specialty drinks are great but over priced.

Feb 13, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Mid-City Coffee Round Up

Caffe Etc. is incredibly inconsistent in the quality of their espresso beverages based on who the barista is. Extraction times for shots vary widely, as does the proficiency with which they steam milk.
Sabor Y Cultura is a great spot for espresso although it hasn't been as consistent recently...
...for what it's worth...

Feb 11, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA MILL

They do have naked or bottomless portafilter baskets, but they are also using traditional La Marzocco double portafilter baskets.

Feb 06, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Griddle Cafe Suggestions

1)Rite-Aid-great idea for the parking, and makes life a lot easier than finding street parking.
2)Counter-sitting here will make life easier also, but only if there's a max. of two in your group, because you can hardly find more than two seats available.
3)Arrive Early-as stated above, it gets insane. From 10am onwards, it's at least an hour on weekends.
4)Prepare to gorge-the portions are MASSIVE. Don't plan on eating later in the day.

Now, my personal opinions are these: The staff is adorable, friendly and willing to help, but Providence this is not. Don't go in expecting anything fancy, but more on an IHOP type service but with an LA pretty face. Expect massive portions and the smile to go along with it when you taste this comfort food. Now, expect some long wait times, and if you happen to gripe to management, don't expect too much of a solution. The owner is a tyrant, and about as moody as it gets. Catch her on a good day and she's your best friend, will introduce you to the celeb regulars, and drop free food at your table...catch her on a bad day and you'll get the wrath. There's plenty more on other blogs about her attitude and sass.

Feb 01, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Visiting LA, Some 'must have' recs, please.

I think there are a few things to consider depending on what you want to do:
View-you could hit the patio at Boa-West Hollywood with a view of downtown, or Katana with a view of the strip.
Cooking-You could hit Bastide for the absurdity of the aesthetic but the sublime cooking of Walter Manzke.
You could hit the tasting menu at Providence.
(neither of those would be under $70.00pp)
You could do Osteria Mozza but it's nothing you wouldn't get in NYC...but Pizzeria Mozza for lunch would be great.
Speaking of lunch, how about Pink's for the sheer tourism of it.
Maybe you could hit Santa Monica or Malibu for a beach experience.

I love the Griddle but be prepared to wait for at least an hour on the weekend.

My absolute must low-end but fun place when I have visitors in LA is Fish Grill on Beverly Blvd just west of La Brea. It's a traditional Jewish location, closed on Fridays/Saturdays but has AMAZING fish tacos for a reasonable price.

Jan 26, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Must haves at Providence?

ah yes, the trio of gelee's...it was a Gin and Tonic, a Greyhound and a mojito....AWESOME stuff. Science and creativity and flavors bursting in your mouth.

the TM is definitely the way to go.

Now I'm craving a return visit.

Jan 15, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

Now THAT I have to laugh at...

And I suppose they are still a tad drunk or at best hungover so the crap quality of the coffee doesn't make a difference.

Jan 14, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

The second room isn't open :( alas, you just happened to catch exactly the same thing as I did driving home...it was either a staff meeting...I called to check...the second room won't be open for a while.

Jan 13, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

Woolsey, I beg to differ on your assertion that most people drink coffee with breakfast. I think you'll find that Charbucks does do a brisk business in the breakfast hours of say, 7am-9am, but they are actually busier at late afternoon and early evening time than at breakfast, depending of course on location. But company wide, their dollar figures are certainly not breakfast-heavy as you would attest.
So it isn't a simple fact that people drink coffee in the mornings.
Have you ever seen the Griddle? They serve a hell of a lot of coffee (swill, by the way) but they have just as deep a line at 1pm as they do at 11am...does that mean more people are drinking coffee in the morning or the afternoon?
LA MILL does need to offer more items on the menu for breakfast beyond just egg dishes. They will be offering tartare, and hopefully other items in the future...
All of these postings seem a tad premature for a place that's been open for three days.

Jan 13, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

well,in that case Ms. Cheater Cheater, head on over at 6am on Friday...that's when La Mill finally opens...YEP....fo' sho'....

Jan 08, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

I too have had nothing but great service at Intelligentsia and would agree with Woolsey that they are focused on their craft as opposed to just slinging joe the way a certain corporate chain might. They take a good deal of pride in what they do.
Techgirl-yes for sure La Mill is going to be using the Clover as Intelligentsia does. In fact, if you browse around, you can find some sneak peeks inside La Mill's location and can see plainly the Clover on the right hand side of one of the images.

Jan 08, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

LA Mill Coffee Opening On Silver Lake Blvd.?!

You may have to deal with the obnoxious lines, parking, etc...but I think the staff is really nice and warm and pretty indicative of the Silverlake neighborhood....

Jan 08, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Cofffee with siphon

I can't be sure but I would check out both Intelligentsia in Silverlake and the soon to open Lamill Coffee in Silverlake. I'm absolutely sure at least one of them will/do use the siphon method.

Jan 04, 2008
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Groundwork coffee: the Clover

and within a matter of a couple of weeks, you'll be able to add another fantastic coffee company to the Silverlake scene, La Mill Coffee. Silverlakers are going to be spoiled rotten with Intelligentsia and La Mill Coffee, both locations will have some of the best coffees in the world, plus both locations will have (do have, in Intelli's case) the Clover.

Nov 30, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

REVIEW: Cafe Contigo, Anaheim

Nice post. The owners, Linda and Petros, are two of the nicest people you could ever possibly meet and I hope that they do well in the area. It's undergoing a turnaround and soon they should have a lot of buzz and a lot traffic. Stake your claim now while it's still a little quieter.

Nov 28, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Terroni-The REAL Authentic Cafe

I personally have NO problem with the no substitution policy...it's allowing them to stay true to their Southern Italian heritage via the recipes. Fabio and Max are great guys and I imagine this locale will do quite well. Beverly needs another great restaurant at a reasonable price point that can be revisited often.

Nov 14, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Katsuya Hollywood: NO

Tokyo,
you are correct in that they are related via Katsuya the person, but the company ventures are NOT related. You were correct in posting the SBE website in that the Brentwood and Hollywood locations are SBE, as are the impending downtown and the Glendale locations. The Studio City location however is not SBE owned nor SBE driven, but rather chef driven by Uechi himself.
Small clarification but an important one.

Nov 13, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Bastide: Stay away, an unpleasant dining experience.

Dyspepsia, I have to comment about Joe Pytka. YES, he's a tryant, YES, he's unique/crazy/loud/fill in the adjective, but he does indeed have a very real presence in the restaurant. He had a hand in tasting every single item that is on the menu from the bread to the food to the coffee to the wine. In fact, most of the wine comes from his private and personal collection. He has one of the largest wine collections of any individual in the US, or so I've read.
His personality is odd and almost abrasive but don't discredit him totally. He CAN be an insanely nice guy: I know he brought his own bottle of five-figure wine to another very expensive LA restaurant and had one sip and then offered the entire bottle to the wait staff for his enjoyable meal. I also know that when he reopened Bastide he comped three or four days of meals entirely...not for friends and family, mind you, but as a genuine 'thank you for dining and sharing your true thoughts' comp.

Just offering a different side...Now if you go to youtube and type in Joe Pytka, you may be interested in what you find....

Oct 26, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Hatfield's

I strongly suggest that you call Hatfields and ask to speak with Karen Hatfield. She's the co-owner, pastry chef, and front of the house manager. She's receptive to hearing about that sort of service. A restaurant of Hatfield's size survives on positive word of mouth, repeat business, and service. I'm sure they would offer you a return visit where perhaps some of the meal will be comped.
Give it a try and report back to the board.

Oct 25, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Any news on the La Mill Coffeehouse?

La Mill does indeed have parking in the back of the building for, if I'm correct, upwards of 20 spots...that doesn't ease the gridlock known to hit Silverlake on the weekends, but it does give you incentive to get their earlier in the day for a coveted spot.

As for ETA, be patient young jedi's...La Mill will be opening in a matter of weeks. I have it on good authority that the plans are in the works for the usual sort of pre-opening press/party/event, just like a normal restaurant would, or for that matter, just like Intelligentsia did.

If you want a more detailed answer of when they are opening, perhaps you could call the corporate office at 626-202-0100 and beg and plead for specifics.

I suppose with all the varieties of coffees, espressos and other beverages that will be available, along with the food, the gridlock won't seem so bad :)

Oct 25, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Bastide: Stay away, an unpleasant dining experience.

Ipse, absolutely....I forgot to include Adsvino as the entry into that paragraph. After reading all of your various posts over the years, I wouldn't expect you to make that remark.
Have a great day.

Oct 22, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area

Bastide: Stay away, an unpleasant dining experience.

My comments were simply in response to "the restaurant won't be in business in six months" to which I completely disagree based upon funding. Best-funded and properly funded are INDEED different things entirely and ipsedixit you are increditly spot-on in that regarded, based upon your Mozza comparison.
I didn't say anything about deep pockets being a key to success, but I did offer deep pockets as a counter-point to being gone in six months as the OP stated.
As for not being in the top 50 most well-known chefs in LA, that's up for some serious debate. If you said top 50 in the US or even top 50 in California, then I might be able to agree with you, but I doubt there's actually 50 chefs in LA that deserve a 'top 50' title.

Oct 22, 2007
peanut112 in Los Angeles Area