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djquinnc's Profile

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n/naka

Like a good fanboy, I watched Niki's episode of "Chef's Table" on Netflix today. To say I was moved is an understatement. It was a beautiful document of the steps that she has taken to get to n/naka that left me a bit misty-eyed and my heart very full. I think I'm going to have to make up a special occasion and get over there sometime soon.

In contrast, I also watched Dan Barber's episode as well, having had an outstanding meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this past January. A very compelling story, but what a mouth that guy's got on him! Can't wait to watch the other episodes soon.

Jon & Vinny's

I live in the neighborhood, was craving pasta, and headed over about 9pm last night. Bustling scene. I advised the hostess that I was a solo diner and she told me that they could squeeze me into the bar in 10-15 minutes. She asked me for my name, which I provided. She looked down at her list, but didn't write anything. She told me to come back in 10. Cautiously, I did as instructed. Zero acknowledgment from the FOH staff, hostess included. But I waited. And waited. And waited (Had the new Jon Ronson book on my phone to pass the time, so I wasn't suffering per se). Seats open up at the bar. Party that sauntered in were briskly seated before me. I left. Sure, they might have been in the weeds. But if the FOH is going to exhibit this inattentive/millennial/head-in-the-clouds reception on the front end, I might be reluctant to return at all. A simple "I'm sorry this is taking longer than I expected" goes a very long way.

Apr 24, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Connie & Teds

I'm a big fan of the hot lobster roll with butter and the Blondie for dessert.

Apr 21, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Shake Shack is coming

Preach! Just had my first Shake Shake burger this past January. A very bland affair. Kudos to the marketing department, though.

Apr 21, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

midtown/west hollywood/hollywood help

Papilles?

Apr 21, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area
1

Le Bernardin - what to order?

It was two savory courses and one dessert. They had a section on the menu that had two categories of appetizers: "amost raw" and "barely touched", and mains that were titled: "lightly cooked." I think there were a couple of non-seafood items to choose, but the menu is overwhelmingly seafood based. There was also an amuse of salmon rilettes and the bread service was fantastic (I might return if only to have one more of those perfect pretzel breads).

Apr 20, 2015
djquinnc in Manhattan
1

ISO Good food near Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Whenever I am in that neck of the woods, I always try to hit up Yuca's, either on Hillhurst (which I prefer) or on Hollywood. The cochinita pibil is superb, but friend swear by their carne asada and hamburgers as well. Nothing to speak of - just a small stand, but some of the best Mexican food to be found in the area. Both have parking lots.

Apr 18, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

n/naka

Every time I've gone, Niki has graciously and skillfully accommodated my one dietary restriction and my one food aversion. I went with someone who did not like uni last time. Solution: double uni for me! I reached right over the table and took seconds off of my dining companion's plate. Easy fix that benefited me greatly.

Apr 13, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

What are some over-rated L.A. restaurants to you? Why, specifically? Only one each!

Was just driving down Melrose this morning and thought of a good one to add to the list: Blu Jam Cafe. I have no idea why throngs of people pour out into the street for some mediocre breakfast items every weekend. It completely boggles my mind.

Apr 13, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

n/naka

I'm a long time Niki fan. Azami on Melrose was my favorite sushi spot until its closure, and I regret that I never took the initiative to experience any of her prototype kaiseki meals in the SGV prior to the opening of n/naka. When asked by others what my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles is, my rote answer has usually been Providence through the years. It still may be, depending on how my mind is functioning on a particular day. n/naka is obviously a restaurant, but it's in another class. It may be trite to call it an "experience" (quotes intended for dramatic effect), but it's more than just a series of plates of food. It is meditative, precise, heartfelt, mindful, and profoundly delicious. There is nothing quite like it in Los Angeles. And at the end of the day, it is my favorite place to sit down and have a meal anywhere in the world.

Apr 12, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

TERRINE on Beverly

Finally went for the first time last night. Food was "pretty good" to OK. The highlight of the meal was the chicken with charmoula which was delicious. The beet salad had this flavor that was reminiscent of Now & Laters, or Jolly Ranchers, or Kool-Aid mix. It was odd. The fluke crudo was perfectly decent, but not noteworthy. The Yorkshire pudding smelled much more exciting than it tasted. The agnolotti were alright, but the "truffled rice" filling was odd in that my tongue really wanted it to be cheese and that silly foam on top was quite incongruous with the rest of the meal. It was very scene-y with lots of air kisses floating around the room. Best way to describe the service might be sparse and with flattened affect. Server plopped the check on the table and kept on moving down the isle with zero eye contact. Tim Carey and Walter Manzke do this type of food a million times better. I don't see a reason to return.

Apr 12, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Saturday Night Dinner for One

Thank everyone for their suggestions. My meals wound up being, in order: Saison, Bar Tartine, and Benu. I will try to write some feedback on individual threads, but the Bar Tartine suggestion was spot on. The family and friends brunch menu that I shared with a pal was one of the more soul satisfying meals I've had in a while. Benu was outstanding. Frankly, I do not feel like I got anywhere near $398 worth of cuisine at Saison. Aside from the truly outstanding service and a flight of four bites that sort of blew my mind, I feel like I was served a slew of unremarkable and prosaic food that seems to be priced to grab at tech and millennial pocketbooks. Having said that, I'm glad that the trip ended on a high note as Bar Tartine and Benu made me ridiculously happy.

Thanks for the help!

Ko reservation policy change

I had such a great time during my visit in January. Aside from the venue change, there was something much more light and lively about the experience. And the meal size was significantly more substantial than at the old locale that I practically waddled out the door! Had lots more interactions with the chefs and they went way above and beyond to address my dietary restrictions and aversions. I now believe that duck is meant to be dressed with lime pickle, that uni should be paired with chickpeas, and lobster should be roasted more often. I do miss the feeling a bit contained in that small space and the almost reverential tone of the space on 1st Ave a little bit. However, this is a most logical and pleasing evolution that has taken place. Good job well done.

Mar 16, 2015
djquinnc in Manhattan
1

Dinner Recs Near Ahmanson Theatre

From time to time, I have enjoyed dining at either Drago Centro (which I really like)or Chaya (which I can take or leave) before going to the Music Center as they have a complimentary shuttle to and from the theater. Alleviates the need to park twice. Having said that, both places are probably at a higher price point than you are aiming for. However, they both have bar menus which offer some more affordable bites if you were willing to go that direction. Might be worth a look at their websites.

Mar 16, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Thai in LA - less spicy options for the kids?

I've had plenty of things at both Sanamluang and Jitlada that cater to my low tolerance for heat. In particular, the morning glory salad at Jitlada which makes me very, very happy. A little conversation with your server should yield some mutually agreeable options for your entire family. Enjoy!

Mar 16, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Hollywood Area and Universal Studios

Similarly, doesn't Mastro's have a celebrity rich clientele? Also, I've always seen a genuinely famous person or two each time I've been to Spago.

Mar 15, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

ROC KITCHEN - WEST LA - LISTOMANIA!

Just went for the first time this morning. Was craving XLB and didn't want to drive from WeHo to SGV or Glendale. It was decent. Certainly can't hold a candle to DTF. At least 20% of the XLB were broken. And although they didn't taste horrible, there was no happy dance to be had either. The scallion pancake was really dry, overcooked, and under-seasoned. Next time, I will head east when I get the itch.

Mar 15, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

family dining for foodies staying at Melrose and Fairfax

Hey! Welcome to my neighborhood! Aside from the other suggestions that I can totally get on board with (Plan Check, Farmer's Market and Golden State), other local options might include:

Angelini Osteria
Animal
AOC
Connie and Ted's
Ink
Ink Sack
L'Assiette
Pitfire Pizza
Salt's Cure
Son of a Gun

I think that the Bazaar is a great idea for kids with adventurous palates -- there's plenty of external stimuli as well. I love Night+Market Song, but I am a total whimp when it comes to heat levels. Last time, I asked them to tone it down a bit, and still, my GI tract was hating me for the next day or so. Keep that in mind, although it is some of the most delicious food to be had in town right now.

Mar 13, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Saturday Night Dinner for One

I've enjoyed three dinners at Commis. I would most certainly not turn down another meal there, but would like to try something new. Thanks for the suggestions. I will take a closer look.

JUNI

I wonder if there is a significant difference between lunch service and dinner. I visited Juni for lunch this past January. A big plus was this super cool server with spiraled curls of hair and well groomed mutton chops. He seemed to take great delight in my beard, which I found kind of intriguing. At any rate, the service was the best part of the meal. My first course was called “uni - tagliatelle – winter truffle.” The pasta was pretty much coagulated together, kind of like inexpensive pad thai that you get from your neighborhood Thai place. The taste of uni was lost in deference to the flavor of truffle, which rendered the dish pretty one note. My second course was a bright red piece of salmon with a broken disc of yogurt sauce on the side. I did find that the acidity of the yogurt served as a nice alternative to a more traditional garnish, like lemon. However, the taste of the dish was somewhat unremarkable, and was more notable for its plating. For dessert, I had a very muddled cup of frozen coffee, sage, and dried pear. It really lacked much focus or refinement. My super cool server comped me a mocktail though, presumably due to his very vocal admiration of my beard. I will have fond memories of him for a long time. The food, on the other hand, was not enough to warrant a return visit.

Mar 11, 2015
djquinnc in Manhattan

Saturday Night Dinner for One

Looks like all signs are pointing me to Bar Tartine so far. I heard that sour and acidic notes are prominent. As as long as its not as painfully aggressive as my one dinner at Coi, I'm sure I'll be fine. If I had another day, Haven looks like a really good bet as well.

Saturday Night Dinner for One

Hello, all

I am coming up to the Bay Area from Los Angeles at the tail end of the month to attend a retreat at Sprit Rock. I'll be staying a couple of days afterwards around Lake Merritt and looking to get a couple of good meals in before I head back home. I already have a Friday night reservation at Saison. I'm looking for a Saturday option. I'm on the waiting list for Benu, but don't necessarily want to hold my breath. I'm perusing OpenTable and saw a few things that caught my eye:

Keiko à Nob Hill
Kusakabe
Mourad
Bar Tartine
Camino

Lazy Bear sounds interesting, but I'd have to snatch a ticket when they go on sale. I'd like to go to the newly opened Manresa, but renting a car for one meal might be a pain. Californios sounds intriguing, but I would have to wait the week prior to book.

My main criteria are that the meal be something I probably cannot get in Los Angeles, as well as being amenable to the single diner (seating, portion size, etc). Any and all feed back would be greatly appreciated. To give some context, my favorite places to eat here at home are Bestia, Din Tai Fung, n/naka, Papilles, Parks BBQ, Petit Trois, and Providence. Thanks in advance.

Guisados Will Soon Transform West Hollywood's Pitiful Taco Scene

And today we get a comprehensive rundown on the Vanderpump culinary empire:

http://jezebel.com/i-cant-get-over-ho...

Mar 09, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

visiting LA from SF

Do any of the Chris Cosentino establishments in the Bay Area offer a fair comparison?

Mar 09, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Animal Review

So glad you enjoyed. The tendon chips, chicken liver toast, and the larb are some of my favorites there.

Mar 09, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Guisados Will Soon Transform West Hollywood's Pitiful Taco Scene

Agreed. There hasn't been anything on that corner that I've found that appealing. Current tenant included.

Mar 08, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Guisados Will Soon Transform West Hollywood's Pitiful Taco Scene

It's good news indeed. But the only two places that have stood the test of time over the decades on that block are Cafe D'Etoile and Greenwich Village Pizza, neither of which are particularly good. Hopefully, all the foot traffic will bode well for the business.

I'm surprised Pump is still intact. I'm convinced that southeast corner of SMB/Roberson is jinxed.

Mar 08, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Best French dinner in LA?

Papilles.

Mar 07, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

visiting LA from SF

Here are some places that I really enjoy that are in your vicinity:

Kang Hodong Baekjeong
Dino’s Chicken and Burgers
Park’s BBQ
Guelaguetza Restaurante
Soot Bull Jeep
Kobawoo House

Mar 07, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area

Saint Martha

I concur. I went a few weeks ago and found the service and the food to be less than satisfactory. Pace of the meal was painfully slow. The servers did not know the menu, nor did they seem to know who was taking care of me. And the food was a massive dud. Putting an anchovy on a cracker is hardly an amuse. The crudo lacked any acidity at all. In the tasting, I was served two courses of unremarkable starchy vegetables in a row. The main course contained an ingredient that I greatly dislike (the server assured me that the tasting menu did not contain any of my aversions that night) and it was unapologeticly placed right in front of me. And that main course was mostly somewhat dry pork belly laid upon a rather unattractive puddle of black "porridge" that did not taste of anything in particular. The dessert was woefully unbalanced. Every dish fell pretty flat.

And the best part: the server saddling up to me and asking, "Do you like coffee?" "I do, but I think I want to get a good night sleep tonight." "Do you like a tea? Or decaf" "No, I'm alright. I just want to get home." "Well, I'm asking because of what happened with your meal." "I'm OK. I would just like the check, please." "Are you sure you don't want a decaf?" "No, I'm sure I don't want a decaf." I'm not making this up. In the most stereotypicaly millennial way possible, no apology given and this constant offering of something that I did not want. Clearly not recognizing that I just wanted to go home. I couldn't wait to get out of there. Suffice it say, I'm not going back. Other places in town to the "modernist" thing way better: Bazaar, Alma, Ink, etc. It just felt like the entire experience lacked any finesse or refinement. And it seems to me that if you are reaching for such lofty ideals on the plate that the service and the flavors should match those goals.

Mar 01, 2015
djquinnc in Los Angeles Area