Clare K's Profile

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Need a wide range of Chicago recs - breakfast, lunch, dinner

Thanks SO much for this amazing list. I am going to take it with me. I did find the hot dog thread, and think I may hit Hot Doug's since I saw it recently on No Reservations. Everything sounds wonderful and I will have hard time deciding!!

Looks like I should make the hotel gym a regular stop on this trip as well. BTW, it's the Hyatt Regency on Wacker...

Thanks again-
Clare K.

Feb 25, 2009
Clare K in Chicago Area

Need a wide range of Chicago recs - breakfast, lunch, dinner

Coming to Chicago for four days in March and am relatively clueless on where to start. I have been one time, but only spent one night there and ate at Shaw's Crab House, which was nice. But I'd like to try some new places.

I'm looking for the following:

Dinner: Mid-range ($$) restaurants for 30-somethings; perhaps something cool with a bar, or a wine bar setting. We have three nights so a few suggestions would be great. Would love to find a great French bistro, perhaps an Italian place and a New American place. Or whatever you think is good. We're staying at the Hyatt Regency so in the general vicinity would be great. We are major foodies so nothing run-of-the-mill.

Breakfasts/Lunches: Best place for a Chicago hot dog? Also cute cafes with great sandwiches/salads would be nice.

Overall: Any Don't-Miss places.

Thanks,
Clare
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Feb 24, 2009
Clare K in Chicago Area

PLEASE POST YOUR VOTES HERE: Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants 2008

Over $25:

Pizzeria Mozza
Bar Marmont
Melograno
Hatfield's
Mike & Anne's

Under $25
Europane
Casa Bianca
Langer's Deli
Yuca's
Coffee Table, Eagle Rock

Dec 14, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Where To Find Venison

Harmony Farms in La Crescenta has venison fillets, stew meat and sausage. They also have elk, alligator, buffalo, etc. All of it is frozen so buy at least one day ahead.

Clare K.

Dec 14, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

5 best bites of 2008?

Great question!

1) Taglierini al brasato de leper e melograno - an angel hair pasta with a Barolo wine braised Hare and pomegranate reduction sauce at Melograno, Hollywood. (pictured)

2) Thinly sliced toro with flower petals at Urasawa, Beverly Hills

3) Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake with Cappuccino Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche Anglaise and Chocolate Sauce at Brooks Restaurant in Ventura. I swear, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

4) Warm cheese gourgeres at Bar Marmont, West Hollywood. I actually had TWO orders, that's how good these are!!!

5) The Baco (carnitas, pork belly) at Lot 1, Echo Park (now that Centeno's gone, no need to ever go back). (pictured)

A few honorable mentions:

-Brown butter and cream corn ravioli at Palate Food + Wine, Glendale
-Fried anchovies with honey at Bar Celona, Pasadena
-Skirt steak with caramelized onions and chimichurri at Vertical Wine Bistro, Pasadena (dish is no longer on the menu. Sigh).
-Sticky toffee and peanut butter pudding at Baschan, Montrose. (pictured)

Clare K.

Dec 09, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Pasadena Recommendations

I love the fried anchovies - such a classic tapas dish.

http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Dec 09, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Pasadena Recommendations

I agree - Crepe Vine is very good. I usually split the steak tartar and a salad and a pizza with a friend. It's the perfect light but decadent meal with a couple glasses of wine.

Dec 07, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy game/unusual meat pasadena/LA?

Thanks, this is exactly what I'm looking for!

Clare K

Dec 03, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Siena (Pasadena) - Review

Thanks for a great review. I've been a couple of times and really love the place. I hope it does well!

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Dec 03, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy game/unusual meat pasadena/LA?

Trying to find a place where I can buy some unusual ground meat, perhaps ostrich or elk or alligator. Anyplace in Pasadena or LA where I can get some?

Thanks,
Clare K
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Dec 03, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Pasadena Recommendations

I agree, most of Pasadena's offerings are mediocre. But here are the standouts:

-Siena: really authentic Italian food, great wine list
-Bar Celona - now that Josef Centeno has completely renovated the menu, it's a winner.
-Vertical Wine Bistro - the food is always excellent and you can't beat the service
-Celestino's - another great, authentic Italian resto
-Mike & Anne's in South Pasadena - great bistro food
-Briganti, South Pasadena - Italian, great pastas (pizzas are just OK)
-Daisy Mint - one of my favorite places for Vietnamese fusion (BYOB)
-Pie 'N Burger - for one of LA's best

Nov 12, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Centeno's stamp on Bar Celona menu

Recently checked out the new menu at Bar Celona in Pasadena, and it's definitely a winner. Before Chef Josef Centeno swept in for his consulting gig, this was yet another waste of space in Old Town; great atmosphere, but no substance or style when it came to the food. Now it's a different story.

The menu features tapas that you would actually find in Spain: fried anchovies with a touch of honey (believe me, these are addictive); chicken liver conserva [pate] on crispy toasts, blistered padron peppers with just a touch of sea salt, charred bread rubbed with raw garlic and tomatoes. This is the kind of food I love to eat, and paired with one of the selections from the restaurant's new wine list (Centeno also consulted on this), well, it's all I need for a good night out. To finish? I highly recommend the chilled cinnamon rice pudding with candied pecans and caramel.

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Oct 29, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Anywhere to watch the debate tonight (eastside)?

Would love to watch the smackdown between Bidon and Palin tonight at a Pasadena or eastside restaurant/bar...anyone know of good locations that will be showing the debate tonight?

Thanks,
Clare K

Oct 02, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Review: Melograno, Hollywood: Authentic Italian!

With pics: http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot.com/2008/09/viva-italia-melograno.html

They say travel changes you. When I traveled to Italy last year, it left a permanent impression that will no doubt last a lifetime. Sometimes I’ll get on the computer just to flip through my photographs from that vacation; with just one glance, I’m immediately transported back to the smells, flavors and spirit of Italia.

My friends and I would spend our days trekking around the cobblestone streets of various medevil villages and end up at little hole-in-the-wall trattorias where we’d feast on some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. Wild hare ragu with parpardelle, bistecca alla fioretina, pomegranites straight off the tree – it was heaven. While I know I will return one day, the hope has been to find an Italian restaurant that captures the essence and heart of those I visited on that amazing vacation. On Friday night, I found one, and in the most unlikely of places: Hollywood Boulevard.

Melograno, while situated right smack in the middle of one of the busiest parts of the boulevard, is quiet and relaxed and rustic. We sat on the patio, which wasn’t anything fancy but perfect nonetheless. Candles flickered on the tables and a slight olive tree leaned in near our table. The wait staff? Italian.

We started with the Paloma cocktail, a light and refreshing drink made of Prosecco, pomegranate juice and liquor. The sparkling drink was an ideal way to start off the meal; afterward, I switched to red wine while my friend stuck with the Paloma.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Stracci di salmerino e limone ai capperi – the house-cured Chinook salmon with preserved lemons, capers, caviar and a light salad. The salmon was bold; it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill gravlox. The flavor was very intense and the lush oil of the salmon really hit the palate with a punch; it was balanced nicely by the acid of the lemons and capers. I loved the concentration of the flavors. We also shared an appetizer from the specials list, a duck carpaccio that was truly a revelation. It was also cured, cut paper thin and served with greens dressed in a light vinaigrette. The duck was rich and flavorful, and not at all gamey. We both loved this dish.

Melograno offers actual pasta-sized pasta portions. In Italy, pasta is typically served between the appetizer and dinner courses, so you won’t see any Olive Garden-sized portions there. Think of the size of a dinner salad plate – that’s about the right amount. However, if you want to make the pasta your main course, Melograno gives diners this option for an additional $5. We chose to get the smaller portion of the Taglierini al brasato de leper e melograno, which was an angel hair pasta with a Barolo wine braised Hare and pomegranate reduction sauce. With the first bite, I was utterly transported back to a tiny outdoor café in + where I had a very similar dish. The rosemary flavor, the richness of the hare with the sweetness of the olive oil – it was magical. The conversation ceased with our first bites and didn’t resume until our plates were clean. Yes, it was that good.

We then shared a main course, which was also on the specials: Braised oxtail with white beans. Another perfect dish. The beans were creamy and savory and the oxtail fell right off the bone. So tender, perfectly seasoned and reminiscent of some truly great dishes I had in Italy. Melograno gets it. There are no thoughtless dishes or even sides here. It’s simple, rustic, authentic Italian food that celebrates fresh ingredients.

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Sep 23, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

birthday party in Old Town Pasadena?

I adore Vertical Wine in Pasadena. Great atmosphere, incredible food and outstanding service. Their menu is all small plates, so it's ideal for sharing. But it's not Spanish; more French/California fusion. Start with a cheese and charcuterie plate and a few apps (their red onion and corn fritters topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche is my favorite!) then move onto a selection of mains. I love their skirt steak and duck confit...

Sep 18, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

750 ML, South Pasadena

I've given the place two tries and will not be going back. The service is downright careless (what do you expect when half the waitstaff is out on the sidewalk out FRONT smoking cigs?) and the food is mediocre at best. Not surprising; Arroyo restaurants have little to do with what a diner wants, it's more about forcing a particular concept - customers be damned.

Sep 18, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Need CHEESE!!!

I'm with you, Chowpatty. The Cheese Store of Silverlake is a true neighborhood gem with helpful and knowledgable staff and an impressive selection of cheese and incredibly well-priced wine.

Sep 18, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Local in Silver Lake

Tried Local for breakfast yesterday (Sunday). I'm seriously bummed. We were very excited to try this place, and it was about half-full when we arrived so we were hopeful. One look at the menu and I became a bit skeptical. First of all, they don't have a very well-written menu. For chilaquiles, and two other Mexican-inspired dishes, the descriptions are exactly the same. A bit confusing if you are not already familiar with the Spanish names of these dishes (sorry, can't remember the other two). The prices seemed relatively high as well, especially for a place that takes counter orders.

I ordered the chilaquiles, egg whites only, and a decaf coffee. It came to just under $18.00. The chilaquiles were OK...the chips were soggy and it took a lot of Tapatio and salt to give it any flavor. The avocado that came with it was hard; I could barely cut it with my fork. The black beans on the side were good, but the only redeeming item on the plate. My sister ordered a custom omelete with egg-whites only, caramelized onions and roasted red peppers. What came on the plate was a pile of caramelized onions and roasted red peppers. There was nothing on the plate that even resembled an omelete, and what little eggwhites were in the mixture was RAW. We're talking slimey here. The potatoes on the side and the toast were fine. Nothing special. And she paid just under $20 for her breakfast, including coffee.

The coffee was excellent, but for $3, it should be. The customers have to work a bit as well; there is one coffee condiment table, so everyone is in line vying for the sugar and creamer and stuff that should be on each table. If you want salt, pepper or hot sauce, you have to go to another table to get it, as there are only two of each for the whole place. While I am totally fine workin' for my food if it's cheap, at these prices, I expect more.

Definitely will not be going back.

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Sep 15, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Anyone tried the "new" 750 ml in South Pas?

I was there with my sister (tokyoastrogirl) and I have had squab many times (especially at Opus back when Centeno was still there), and this was close to being raw, not rare. Very chewy and cold.

I, too, thought the chicken liver mousse was a disappointment, and I usually love liver/pates of all kinds. It was too bitter inside and the port was too sweet; it was like trying to gain balance with two extreme flavors and it didn't work. The smoked trout was the worst...ugh. One bite and we were done with it.

Yes, we had wine, and it was excellent. But good wine is not hard to find in SoCal....not enough of a reason to go back there.

Aug 15, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Ostrich Meat

Gelson's has frozen ostrich filets, though they are 2 to a pack and quite pricey.

Aug 06, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Pre Reunion Dinner Pasadena

Marston's is fine for a so-so breakfast, but I wouldn't go there for dinner - especially for a special occasion such as this. I'd recommend Vertical Wine Bistro where you can share small plates (and they have a lot of reasonably priced bottles of wine plus full bar), or Celestino's, which has pretty authentic Italian food. I've heard nothing but bad things about Smitty's...

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Aug 04, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Centeno's Last Lunch Service At Lot 1 With Photos

I give the place 4 months tops. The owner is way too green to run the place without a seasoned chef, and to my knowledge, they do not have one.

Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Aug 04, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Bakery for Grapefruit Cake or Tart?

Is that a bakery? Where is it located?

Thanks,

Aug 01, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Bakery for Grapefruit Cake or Tart?

Odd question, I know...but is there a bakery in the Pasadena area that makes a good grapefruit cake or citrus cake? Something light, a cake with possibly a grapefruit mousse and fresh fruit.

Firefly restaurant used to have an incredible grapefruit tart, similar to a key lime pie but with grapefruit. Something like that would work great as well...

Thanks,
Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Aug 01, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Need dinner and bar for after recs - Mission, Potrero..

Used to live in SF but been away too long...I need a restaurant recommendation for a decent restaurant that's not too pricey (under $25 entrees) and has a nice atmosphere plus somewhere fun to go to afterward for drinks. Think 30-somethings, nothing clubby or dance-y; just laid-back lounge for drinks. Considering Mission or Potrero Hill area but open to other districts...

Jul 14, 2008
Clare K in San Francisco Bay Area

Outstanding restaurants in Ventura?

Hello...

Am looking for a variety of great restaurants in Ventura - preferably in the actual city of Ventura or very close by. I will need breakfast, lunch and dinner, and am open to all types of places.

I've done some research online but I can't really trust the lists I've found, as the "best of" has everything from what looks like a 5-star winner to a Starbucks. I'm looking for foodie destination restaurants, from taco stands to elegant dining. I am completely unfamiliar with Ventura so I don't really know where to start.

What are some can't-miss spots for a 3 day weekend?

Thanks,
Clare K.
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Jul 11, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Nice place to have drinks outside

Mes Amis on Vermont has nice outdoor seating out front, as does the Cuban place next door. We went to Mes Amis recently and the food was excellent. We saw lots of people outside, enjoying the warm weather over bottles of cold Rose and cocktails. Haven't tried the Cuban place next door but it looked good as well and I look forward to checking it out soon.

Clare
http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Jun 26, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Lot 1: Finally had the bacos (with pics)

I think they were around $8 each - I can't remember (my friend picked up the tab)...

Jun 19, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Lot 1: Finally had the bacos (with pics)

I definitely think the original should be your first baco experience, though they were all great!!

Jun 19, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area

Lot 1: Finally had the bacos (with pics)

More pics here: http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

When I'm on the elliptical machine, my show of choice on the boob tube is none other than "No Reservations." Yes, some may find it cruel to be subjected to visions of a juicy mortadella and cheese sandwich, dripping with fatty juice, being devoured by Anthony Bourdain while I'm working my butt off, but I find it somewhat relaxing and it takes my mind off the whole pain element of working out. Bourdain seems to favor street food, and the episodes that see him chowing down on greasy NY hot dogs or plowing through a salt fish and johnny cake sandwich in St. Maarten are my favorites. Filling, hand-held and simple. Isn't that what real food is?

This is exactly why I'm in love with the baco, created by chef Josef Centeno of Lot 1 in Echo Park. I finally got myself to his place for lunch the other day, along with my friend (who we'll refer to as Mr. Hollow Leg) to try these "global tacos." Made with a type of soft, warm flat bread and an array of fillings, they're wrapped in foil and meant to eaten with your hands. And in true street-food fashion, they're delightfully messy. Mr. Hollow Leg and I both started with "The Baco," (a.k.a. the original), which is filled with a mound of carnitas and bits of fried pork belly and cabbage and a spicy aioli. It was rich and savory and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

I opted for the vegetable baco as my second course while Mr. Hollow Leg went for the one with lamb sausage and a potato croquette stuffed inside. Mine had fried Japanese eggplant and a mess of pickled vegetables, which I loved. However, half-way through it, I was starting to feel very full; my eyes are clearly bigger than my stomach (though if I continue eating like this, it will soon catch up!). My dining companion, on the other hand, easily ate his lamb and potato baco, loving every bite.

We'd both gotten the lentil and farro side salad, and somehow I managed to eat most of mine while Mr. HL ate all of his. I have a weakness for farro, one of my favorite grains, and Josef makes his salad very much like I make my farro salad, with lots of vinegar and a few mild spices. Delicious as it was, at this point I was suffering from major food overload.

But my friend was gung-ho for dessert. Considering that food just seems to go into his mouth and dissipate miraculously into thin air, I can understand why. Of course he ordered not one, but two desserts: the chocolate mousse with sea salt and olive oil, and the strawberry and rhubarb crumble. I had about two bites of the mousse, which was very good and more enjoyable than I remembered it being the first time I tried it (before, the olive oil seemed a bit much but this time it really worked).

I also had about two bites of the crumble, which was absolutely lovely. The crumbly, buttery topping, the melting ice cream, the perfectly tart rhubarb against the sweet strawberries...how can one resist? But, in spite of my best efforts, I could not come close to finishing it. As my friend happily dug into the crumble, I was half way into my baco coma. Not a bad place to be, if you ask me.

Jun 19, 2008
Clare K in Los Angeles Area