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LA Cooking Classes

We've done two classes at Hipcooks, they were great for beginners but not great for real cooks who want to expand their skill set.

Jul 20, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Lot 1 - Echo Park, Review with photos

Went tonight for a last minute late bite and the place was packed at 10pm. Great service, we split the onion soup, the arugula salad with eggplant, the torn pasta and the pot roast. Way too much food for us but we couldn't decide! The portion sizes are a little bizarre -- huge salad, small midi. Also there is a split plate fee of $2 per plate that should be on the menu. The meal was $54 before tip.

But the food was lovely, especially the salty and crunchy salad and the fried egg on torn noodles. The service was fast and informed and we had no issues with the chairs. We'll go back, hungrier and with friends!

Jun 28, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Anyone know anything about Animal?

Oh yeah, that is probably totally true!!! :) Call for a res!

Jun 16, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Anyone know anything about Animal?

We had a reservation but on a Sunday night it was unnecessary. I heard that Thu-Sat was packed though.

Jun 16, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Anyone know anything about Animal?

Had dinner there last night (Sunday) and was overwhelmed with Animal-ey goodness. Started with the soft shell crab and bacon, burratta, and the petite basque with chorizo. Everything was amazing, especially the petite basque -- we ordered two just to satisfy the table... the basque was presented perfectly browned on top with soft onions and chorizo slices underneath, served with warm toast.

The service was friendly and not too overwhelming, and the sommelier was knowledgeable. I was surprised how French the wine list was given the menu but everything paired really well. I'm so used to ordering Napa/Sonomas but these French wines were spectacular paired with the dishes.

We ordered the quail, tomahawk steak for two and the rabbit (new to the menu that night) and split everything. The steak was one of the best I've had in LA, perfectly done, pink in the middle with a simple reduction. The quail was fried like catfish and we barely got to taste any of it because the person who ordered it was licking his plate before we could get at it! The rabbit was good, the gnocchi and vegetables it was served with were stellar.

Dessert was spectacular -- it had to be because we were so stuffed but we managed to chomp down on chocolate pudding, the crisp and the bacon chocolate bars. The bacon chocolate thing has been burbling up, but I've never had it fresh, which makes all the difference in the world.

I think Vinny and crew have come up with a fantastic restaurant, and we'll be back. Having recently spent way too much money at Sona, this felt like a reasonably priced meal considering the quality of the meal -- we all ate for under $100/person including bottles and tips.

Jun 16, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Lot 1 - Are you open?

There was a blurb about it in the LA Times:

http://theguide.latimes.com/restauran...

Echo Park is awash in new restaurant openings. The latest in this wave of higher-end cuisine is Lot 1 Cafe, which is owned by mother-son team Eileen and Miles Leslie and has scored former Opus and Meson G chef Josef Centeno for kitchen duty. The place, which is located in a renovated corner storefront on Laveta Terrace and Sunset Blvd., is tiny, with about nine tables inside and three tables on the sidewalk. The decor is minimalist; a coal black exterior gives way to a light tan interior that houses plain black chairs and tables without tablecloths, candles or salt and pepper shakers. The lighting is bright and an iPod plays bouncy jazz very softly.

The food is thoughtfully presented and is salted with interesting options like a wild arugula salad with pickled red onion and a fried jidori egg on top that, when punctured, acts as a thick dressing to the tangy greens. There is also a yummy confit beet gazpacho with a dab of crème fraiche and chewy chicharonnes. Main dishes include a mild English pea ravioli, red wine braised pot roast with cream of wheat and kumquats and a juicy 10 oz rib-eye steak with a side of crispy potato wedges.

A beer and wine license is pending and in the meantime there is no BYOB option.

May 10, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

The Park in Echo Park

Yeah, I was wondering that, too -- we were there last night and got two entrees, two salads and dessert and we still didn't break the $50 mark! The food remains good but the wait is getting ridiculous. We were hoping to have it all to ourselves for at least a few months.

May 10, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

The Park in Echo Park

We have been back twice and are still impressed -- the lighting has gotten better but the ceiling is still sorta blah. We've had the Jidori Chicken which is amazing every time. Tonight we had the szechuan calamari which were spicy and flavorful; Ben had the hangar steak and I had the chicken (again) and we split the apple tart. Bill was $40 and service was excellent. The place remains 3/4 full. We feel really lucky to have The Park so close!!

Apr 09, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

The Park in Echo Park

The chef is from Boston, but we didn't get a chance to ask about their history or if they are from the area. Bring a bottle if you want wine, they have no corkage fee...

Mar 29, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

The Park in Echo Park

The Park just opened (soft opening) in Echo Park at the old El Autentico location (Sunset and Douglas.) We wandered down fully prepared to abandon the place the second we walked in. But we decided to stay and I'm glad we did.

We started with the New England Clam Chowder and the corn cakes with shrimp and a mexican crema plus a spicy bruschetta (it couldn't really be called salsa.) The flavor on the soup was mild, a very traditional clam chowder with a little too much cilantro and not enough heat (in terms of flavor, the temp was perfect.) The corn cakes were a clear winner, the sauce was tangy and flavorful, the shrimp were super fresh and the corn cakes right off the grill.

For entrees we had the Jidori chicken and the homemade vegie burger with gruyere and fries. The chicken was fantastic, perfectly cooked, juice and flavorful, didn't need anything on it. We felt so guilty because we were seated right next to the infamous Ti Georges whose chicken we love, so we had to tell him we were superfans. And we were sorry for cheating on him! But man that was great chicken.

The homemade vegie burger is good, very well flavored and presented and absolutely a million miles away from frozen vegie burgers. The garlic aoli and fries were okay, the fries could be crispier, they were a little on the soggy side.

The service was fantastic. Our biggest complaint is the decor... they aren't sure what they are doing with it and we really hope they decide to darken the ceiling and drop it down at least visually. A dark orange/copper paint on the ceiling that comes halfway down will help so much.

The place filled up by 9pm and everyone brought bottles of wine. I think this place could be a big neighborhood hit if they just warm up the paint job and decor in the dining area. I think they sorta took the old layout and stuck with it, which is too bad, I think the space could be way warmer. But the food is fantastic, and absolutely is welcome in the hood.

Oh, and for El Autentico aficionados, the rainforest bathroom is gone. :(

The Park
1400 Sunset Blvd
LA CA 90026
213 482 9209
open tue-thur and sunday 5:30-10pm
fridays and saturdays 5:30 - 11pm
closed monday

Mar 28, 2008
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Wine Cask in Santa Barbara

Completely concur. Great wine list (obviously) but the food feels very outdated, the fish wasn't super fresh, and the oysters were a little cold/frozen. I think the cooking is a little schizophrenic; weird poop like droplets of squash puree on an otherwise beautiful venison dish, a really homey salad with prawns that was stacked and over-plated. For the kind of cooking and the ingredients it really should loosen up. This is homey cooking with beautiful but very thick reductions and sauces. Why plate them like it was 1999 at Girraffe or whatever it was called?

Anyway.. I don't think we'll go back. As good as the wine list was, it wasn't exceptional enough food to pay that kind of cost. We could have dined at Providence here in LA for the same price and had a far better selection of food.

Great staff though. Really nice folks.

Mar 17, 2008
bethshax in California

ZIHUATANEJO "chowing" suggestions needed :)

We just got back and were blown away by La Serena Gordita (The Fat Mermaid) and the fantastic fish tacos. Best fish tacos we've had in awhile. We didn't love Tamales y Atoles Any, it seemed pretty bland and could have easily been an East LA joint.

Also, if you can, trek up to Amuleto (make a reservation, or you won't get in) www.amuleto.net. Amazing food with rotating chefs. If you are there before the end of February absolutely get the salmon carpaccio. Perfect blend of local fruits and fish.

Feb 10, 2008
bethshax in Mexico

México Eats: Polanco and Condesa?

That was such a great find, THANK YOU! We were staying at Condesa DF, a totally overpriced, overgrown youth hostel and La Rauxa was a culinary high point. We had the lunch special which is soup (celery root that day,) salad with a creamy dressing, I had the fish and my husband had the curried chicken. The food was simple and wonderful. The restaurant is located off of Amsterdam on Loredo I think -- one store front in. The place was packed with locals and we couldn't have had a better more leisurely and beautiful lunch. THANK YOU!

Feb 10, 2008
bethshax in Mexico

Suggestions for romantic LA restaurant?

We just had an amazing and romantic meal at Grace. The service was beautiful, they paired wines with each dish even though it wasn't a tasting night and the food was delicious. Such a great place for dinner.

Nov 18, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Any reports on 15 in Echo Park?

If that was true, I think every Outback Steakhouse would be shut down.

Aug 19, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Any reports on 15 in Echo Park?

Had dinner there on Friday night and was so pleasantly surprised. I had the flank steak on a bed of spinach and Ben had the short ribs with mixed grilled vegetables.

The flank steak was done exactly as I ordered (rare to medium rare) and was cut more like a tenerloin -- a square cut with almost no fat on it. Grilled crisply on the outside it was butter soft and perfectly seasoned. What I thought was pieces of potato on my plate were actually pieces of grilled garlic. Ben's short ribs were not too sweet and had a chipolte infused glaze but had be sufficiently deglazed to let the meat taste come thru. They far surpassed the short ribs at Dusty's.

Service was IMPECCABLE -- large forks and sharp knives appeared well before our meals, glasses of water stayed filled, I literally lifted a hand and a busboy appeared (I was actually just gesturing to Ben!)

I think it is a great addition. A/C went in yesterday and the liquor license should appear eventually. Parking is going to be a bitch (nothing nearby but Walgreens) and I think they probably will need to sharpen the menu to have a better overall "flavor". But we'll go back and hopefully it won't get too trendy. Oh, the music was just okay -- a little too classic rock/lite for my tastes (not a big Nickelback fan, sorry.)

Aug 19, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Coffeeshop/Cafe to write in?

Are they still open? The one in Greenville is closed and says it is going to be a Cosi. There's another one on 202, right?

Jul 06, 2007
bethshax in Mid-Atlantic

Coffeeshop/Cafe to write in?

I'm stuck in Wilmington, DE for the next few weeks and looking for a coffee shop you can sit and write in for a few hours. Anyone have any suggestions?

Jul 04, 2007
bethshax in Mid-Atlantic

Elf Cafe in Echo Park - So Tiny and Cute!

I'm dying to go, I'm ready for something other than Paru but they have NEVER been open.

Jan 18, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Masa in Echo Park?

I'm totally shocked about the bad reviews. We consistently eat there and have had great meals. The carrot ginger soup is spicy and hearty. The bistro pizzas are great to share. If you order Chicago pizza and get a thick Chicago pizza you kind of have no one to blame but yourself -- thats they way you make Chicago pizza.

Its been packed lately, stays open late and has the best bread pudding ever made. All around a great place to go.

Jan 18, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Toshi Sushi

I'm surprised that the Sherman Oaks location is expensive. Last night we had mixed sashimi, four rolls and oyster shooters and the bill was just under $70.

Jan 17, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Echo Park/Silver Lake pizza spots

Hard Times. Sausage and Feta pizza. Masa of Echo Park has a thin crust pizza with some fancy toppings that is a great starter for the table... try the breakfast one. But for fold in half NY style pizza, Hard Times is far superior to Nicky D's IMO.

Jan 17, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area

Toshi Sushi

We just came from our neighborhood sushi joint, Toshi (the Silverlake one, Toshi owns another place in Sherman Oaks which we haven't been to.)

The details:

The chef, Mateo, has a great eye for fresh fish and amazing combinations. You could just order sashimi and be happy with that. Avoid the appetizers; not because they aren't great but because they aren't the point. But if you insist, order the nuta (tuna chopped with a spice dressing.) Screw the edamame and the miso soup, you are just filling up your stomach with things other than sushi.

Order sashimi, any of the sweetly (if cheesily) named rolls. Ask for an oyster or uni shooter, they are outrageously good, spicy, not fishy, with a small egg on top and a fish egg infused sauce. They aren't on the menu.

We've been going since Toshi was head chef there and we've seen the place thru a grumpy (and permanantly stoned) replacement who was fine but he wasn't a true sushi chef. Mateo (and Miguel, the server and sous chef and all around guy to get you stuff) are welcome replacements.

The rolls we like especially are the Silverlake, the Mateo, the Miguel Angel and the Sexy Pink.

We have yet to find a better place for sushi; the places in little Tokyo are fine, but the fish isn't as fresh. I've suffered thru a couple of perfectly adequate though highly overpriced meals at Nobu.

Wine is byob. Gelsons and Trader's are right there. Parking in back.

Toshi Sushi, Silverlake
2804 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
323 666-1019

Toshi Sushi, Sherman Oaks
818-986-4461, 15489 Ventura Blvd.

So how is the Sherman Oaks one? Is Toshi still working there? We miss him!

Jan 17, 2007
bethshax in Los Angeles Area