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Layne Murphy's Profile

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Amazon Fresh in LA

I like Amazon Prime. It's great to have groceries waiting on the porch when I return from a trip. It's not painfully expensive. They package everything in frozen water bottles so you'll never need to buy water again. Some of the produce has been less than fantastic but mainly very good. The fresh challah is excellent and items from Santa Monica Seafood are just terrific. Good fishys are hard to come by on what we're not allowed to call the Eastside anymore.

Feb 18, 2014
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

London: We've done our homework. Help us mind the gaps...

Thanks all. Flight too late for the Wolseley. So far we have enormously enjoyed Nopi and Launceston Place. Theaters we're attending are the Apollo and Noel Coward. Have no idea what time they let out but suspect around 10:30. Actually we have a little Ethiopia in Los Angeles so that is readily available. We're doing the Tates on Sunday but have a big dinner that night. Should we just pick up something at one of the museum cafes or is there a great snacking destination in the vicinity? Anything near our theaters worth checking it out or should we high tail it elsewhere? Thanks to all of you for your help thus far.

Aug 17, 2013
Layne Murphy in U.K./Ireland

London: We've done our homework. Help us mind the gaps...

We are booked as follows:

Thursday: Wolseley. This is the day before my traveling companion arrives so I'm booked to dine solo. Good choice for a lady alone?
Friday: Lunch: Gallery Fortnum and Mason (sentimental attachment from living in London in 1970s)
Dinner: Nopi
Saturday: Lunch: Launceston Place
Saturday night we're seeing a show in the West End. We've told ourselves that after such a big lunch we couldn't be hungry again but we are self deceivers and I know we will leave the theater ravenous. What's good and not super greasy in the West End for late evening. Neither of us eat anything that ever walked on four legs.
Sunday: We're doing Heston Blumenthal for dinner. We'll have breakfast in our flat. V&A probable destination. Any good choices for light Sunday lunch?
Monday: Won't be in London
Tuesday: Lunch at Ledbury. Again, West End Theatre area for late snack. I will add that being from Los Angeles we aren't particularly interested in Chinese or Mexican ALTHOUGH I AM SURE THAT SOME OF IT IS REALLY REALLY GOOD.
Wednesday: Tea a Brown's Hotel (sentimental choice) Dinner at Quillon

Any really egregious errors or omissions? I realize due to scheduling we probably won't swing the Burough Market as Sunday will likely be our day at the Tate. Finally, and this will show I haven't been in London for about ten years, I walk almost everywhere and tend to wear a simple dress and sandals without stockings. They're not like Birkenstock sandals and my legs are shaved but I don't do super dressy or high heels. Appropriate for the places we're dining?

Aug 06, 2013
Layne Murphy in U.K./Ireland

Glendale / Eagle Rock - Vegetarian Friendly Take-Out?

Vietnamese next door neighbors Halong Bay and Lemon Grass have good choices.
Fusion Burger-way better than average veggie burger
Masacasa-sweet tiny Japanese place
Yum-Me Banh Mi (despite name I wouldn't say out loud) is better than I expected.
There is a vegetarian Mexican restaurant called Cinnamon in Highland Park. Lots of fake meat. Haven't been for ages but people like it. I guess. They've been there forever.
Another Vietnamese option is Good Girl Dinette which is sort of hipsterized.
Potato Tacos at My Taco and Potato and/or Mushroom Pierogi from Polka are both delicious if calories are no object.
Spitz has a couple good choices.
Will third Cacao as being outstanding. My two meals at Four insured there will be no third, let alone a fourth but it's very popular and quite amiable.

Mar 03, 2013
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Survey of LA Hounds

I'll probably regret this because I seem to get flamed here for super innocuous things but here goes.
1. Lucques. In my neighborhood Oinkster and Auntie Em's.
2. Canters. Yeah. It ain't Langers but I am always happy there. Decent bakery. Soup. Baked apples. Chocolate phosphates. Go on. Slash my tires
3. Rivera, Tar and Roses, Lazy Ox, Nickel Diner
4. Gjelina, Son of a Gun,

Sep 08, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

best in pasadena

Actually, Oxy is not in Pasadena, it's in Eagle Rock. Pasadena generally considered, with a couple of exceptions, sort of a lackluster food destination. Eagle Rock/Highland Park, IMO, has some more interesting offerings. I'm not crazy about Auntie Em's but it has a huge following. Maximilliano is a swell neighborhood Italian joint and right across the street is the very amiable, down to earth gourmet burger place called Fusion. On Colorado, Vietnamese Lemongrass and sister restaurant Halung Bay are very good. Down the street, Cacao has some of the best Mexican around. They should have wine and beer license soon too. Casa Bianca is old school pizza with a huge line unless you go very early. I like it but others are less enthusiastic. The York is cool and reliable. I could go on and on. It's a great neighborhood with a lot of terrific choices. Enjoy1

Aug 17, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

The Cheesecake Factory, per Atul Gawande....Really?

I adore Gawande although his field is medicine and not food. Nevertheless, he posits in the New Yorker that hospitals would be more efficient if they were run like the Cheesecake Factory. He describes the food (at the restaurant, not hospitals...) as delicious. I've never been but after reading this piece I admit I'm tempted. Worth a whirl or should however the good doctor stick to medicine?

Aug 16, 2012
Layne Murphy in Chains

Faux Meat - Recommendations

I'm on the Eastside--Figueroa Produce in Highland Park and Fresco Market in Hermon. Frye's has a website so I'm sure you can find out about other local purveyors.

Ba in Highland Park?

We haven't been yet either. Am very curious but agree, for a neighborhood joint, the prices on their website seem quite steep. I get the concept of a limited menu but the one posted on the website was minimal to the extreme. My fussy husband would choose nothing and even for my less neurotic self it would sort of be a lesser of evils thing. Understand the menu is ever changing though. Hoping someone takes one for the team pronto...

May 16, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Faux Meat - Recommendations

I am an inconsistent vegetarian and some folks make a big stink about the use of faux meat but I actually love it. The trick in most cases is that it be used as an ingredient for flavor and mouth feel rather than served as is. I like some of the Field Roast products and agree that Gardein and Quorn, as mentioned here, are about the best. But there's a South African brand Fry's that is available at a few places here in LA. I've tried a number of their products and all are excellent, particularly the hot dogs. For those located in Los Angeles, the Buddhist vegetarian store in Rosemead has a ginormous selection of frozen fakery. Recommend "shrimp" and "ham" particularly.

LA why do you vex me so?

It's quite a recent phenomena but you really won't be sacrificing quality by sticking with Downtown. Just prepare to do a bit of walking and avail yourself of the Dash. The Water Grill just remodeled (finally) but the food has always been noteworthy. Newish places I've enjoyed very much are The Lazy Ox, Ytza, Spice Table, The Gorbals. The Nickel Diner if you're not up for pastrami at Langer's would be fun for lunch. Plus you're close to Grand Central Market, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and even though it looks touristy, there are a couple of decent restaurants on Olvera St. And the Umamicatessen is just opening and sounds interesting. Other hounds will have other great downtown recs. Enjoy!.

Mar 02, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Tar and Roses off to Promising Start and Tar Free

We seldom venture into brand new places but it piqued my interest, although husband noted that the word "tar" in the name of a restaurant is not particularly appetizing. I'm going to have to rely on my memory which was a bit clouded by a scrumptious Downtown Brown Ale on tap because the menu isn't up on the website-although they expect to post it this week. Didn't bother with the wine list but there's a nice selection of on tap and bottled beer.  Beer expert/cheapskate Husband had Craftmen Peated Scotch ale which was outstanding, and according to him, fairly priced.
There's a separate menu of starters mix and match style--3 for $12.  There are three different brushettas, a selection of cheeses and a number of charcuterie choices.  We had a lovely California goat cheese along with brandade and white anchovy brushettas. There is also a duck rillette brushetta that we didn't try.  Starters are served on a board with a jar of homemade pickles including multicolored carrots, Jerusalem artichokes in addition to cukes.  There was a few slices of a fruit nut toast and dollops of membrillo and honey and a sliced apple.  A very hospitable start indeed. 
The main menu has a section of snacks which seems kind of redundant because the starter menu falls into the same category.  Nevertheless, there were some interesting items like chicken "oysters.'  Side dishes are divided into starch and a number of great sounding vegetable preparations. As my dining companion is not fond of vegetables I chose only a chanterelle "stuffing"which pretty much tasted like turkey stuffing with lots of sage, delicious but not too mushroomy. Also had a wood fired broccoli garnished with what was called 'Parmesan pudding," kind of a grandiose description of a tiny blob of a creamy parmesan concoction-very tasty but kind of spartan at $8.  We shared a wood roasted branzino that was stuffed with herbs and lemons. Simple perfection and served with a Myer lemon risotto which was maybe a nonce heavy on butter.  Dessert was a mind blowing Strawberry Crostada on a marcona almond crust and served with phenomenal honey ice cream.
There service was super friendly and obliging.  At first I thought a bit bordering on unctuous but the restaurant has only been open two weeks and it seems the staff is just terrifically ebullient at how swimmingly it's going. The only sign that we weren't at a long established and perfectly oiled machine is that they were out of decaf coffee. Shocking but given how good everything else was, forgivable.  The room is brick and modern light fixtures and a bit drafty in the booths that provide a view of the kitchen. It was fun hearing the server to cook patter although when it was announced there was VIP on table 24 I felt sort of hoi polloi. Perhaps the presence of big shots should be noted a bit more discreetly.  The serving vessels-cunning little casseroles, planks and jars-are adorable. The music is a bit loud and the mix started with Neil Diamond and Suzanne Vega but fortunately got a bit more innocuous so I didn't have to blow my brains out. We had a 5:45 reservation and the joint was full by six.  Think it's going to become a tough reservation but one I definitely hope to finagle again. 

Feb 06, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Atwater Village Farm is open for business

I agree here. I've been back a couple of times and there still isn't a lot of merchandise. I needed to pick up some eggs in a hurry but they were $7 a pop. Sorry, can't patronize chickens that apparently live better than I do. They did have cardoons which you don't see every day but again, I think these prices might fly in Beverly Hills, they are pretty out of line for humble Atwater. Such a cute shop and so convenient a location. I hope they do a little reality check pronto.

Jan 25, 2012
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Most Divisive Restaurants?

Definately not the best deli in town but a great sentimental favorite. The bakery is actually pretty good. The knishes are o.k. as are many of the soups. Haven't been for a while but I believe they still have baked apples. Always great people watching and fun.

Dec 17, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Atwater Village Farm is open for business

Here's their website. Very nice folks.

Dec 17, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Atwater Village Farm is open for business

It's on the way home and we've been watching through the window for some time so stopped on Friday, their opening day. No signage yet but on the corner of Larga and Glendale Blvd. The store is handsome and has a really gallery feel. The shelves aren't teeming but there is an interesting array of local products. The produce rack has high quality items at very steep prices. There are enticing small jars of local jams and chutneys at $12 a crack. I found a good brand of tomato paste in a tube and also picked up some harrisa, also in a tube and something I'd never seen before. Both items were $3 which seems fair. There is a counter with pretty baked goods, including a good selection of vegan items, and as I recall the prices weren't posted. The staff was genial and happy to add items to a wishlist they are compiling. I suspect that when they're more fully stocked there will be more items in the proletariat price range. An extremely pleasant place to shop and the parking is less treacherous than Trader Joe's. If they cater a bit more to folks who lack unlimited disposable income I predict they'll thrive as a friendly neighborhood haven of fine foods.

Dec 17, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Most Divisive Restaurants?

I'll throw in Urth Cafe and Freres Taix. Hate the former and find the latter pleasant nostalgia with a number of decent menu items but opinions here vary wildly.

Dec 17, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Need Health Food Store recommendations - Los Feliz/Silverlake/Echo Park

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. No good purveyors in Los Feliz area that I know of but the Sunday Atwater Farmer's Market is excellent. Figueroa Produce is quirky and sometimes the pricing seems sort of steep but you can't do better karma wise and they have some stuff I can't find elsewhere. I also like Sprouts in Burbank a lot, sort of a poor man's Whole Foods. Fair prices. Good selection. Icky prepared foods.

Nov 21, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Dinner mit beer twixt Santa Monica and Hollywood?

Six absolutely a contender. Also scoping out Steingarten and Golden State. Any recent intelligence?

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Aug 17, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Dinner mit beer twixt Santa Monica and Hollywood?

We go west of La Brea about once a decade but have persuaded the hub to visit the Santa Monica Museum of Art and then see a play at Melrose and Vista. Anyplace interesting between the two destinations? He's into beer. We're both pescaterians except don't eat shellfish. We are boring old fogies. Oh, and cheap too. I almost always have an appetizer as a main and he'll have a beer or two which I sip on. I've checked this board and two of the lightly candidates-District and Test Kitchen have bitten the dust and we'd prefer somewhere that isn't closed. Would like to keep tab under $70 and noise below ear splitting. No one will be surprised that we will be dining early. Culver City out of the way. GAS IS EXPENSIVE.

Aug 16, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Halong Bay Vietnamese French in Eagle Rock

This is a new place created by the owners of Lemon Grass and located next door. There are brick walls and a minimalist decor that sort of feels unfinished and not intentionally spare. The menus are printed on scrolls that are unrolled. Cute, but plastic and not the easiest to read. The service was warm and professional. We shared some vegetarian egg rolls which had sort of a bitter taste and were served with inadequate lettuce for wrapping. My teenage companion ordered Bo Lac Chao--Filet mignon sautéed with honey, chili, chopped shallots and garlic. He pronounced it outstanding but complained that the portion was skimpy although that is the nature of the beast. I ordered Cam Tim Nuong-grilled eggplant with butter and homemade tamarind fish sauce. It looked like sort of a skimpy plate of unadorned grilled eggplant when it arrived but the flavors were actually complex and mindblowingly delicious. We'll definitely go back although I don't get how the concept is radically different than Lemon Grass, which I also like very much and find it curious that they've opened such a similar restaurant right next door. Publicity materials state that Halong Bay leans more heavily on the French influence but I really didn't see it on the menu. Nevertheless, both places are good and I hope both flourish.

Jul 23, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Dessert ideas--Vegan AND Sugar Free

Thanks for the great advice. Just for the record, my friend does tolerate agave and dried fruit without a problem if we're strict with portion control. Greater concern is refined sugar. Also, I found some vegan gelatine at Whole Foods that I'm going to play around with. Will keep you posted.

Jul 07, 2011
Layne Murphy in Home Cooking

Dessert ideas--Vegan AND Sugar Free

I have a friend with some health problems, including diabetes, who I cook for. I've nailed a very good oatmeal cookie with tons of dried raisins and cherries macerated in cider and a combo of stevia and agave but this is getting boring. Tried some peanut butter cookies which weren't thrilling. Any other interesting ideas? TIA

Jul 06, 2011
Layne Murphy in Home Cooking

Has anyone ordered Banh Mi for catering? In ALhambra?

I had a lousy experience with Bahn Mi My Tho. I needed sandwiches two weekends in a row and they were never ready on time and the last straw was when I arrived they hadn't even started making them and weren't the least bit apolegetic even though I'd purchased about 1000 sandwiches in the past. They're too small an operation to handle large orders and they've changed the bread and it isn't as good as it was. When I arrived to find my order not started I called Mr. Baguette-a few miles down Valley in Rosemead. They had 100 sandwiches ready in 10 minutes. It's a large operation. I think the bread is the best in San Gabriel. They are substantially more expensive than most but I think well worth it.

Jun 23, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy fake vegan meat (Asian style) in LA?

Bodhi Vegetarian Supply

8450 Valley Blvd

Ste 106

Rosemead, CA 91770

They have a large selection of frozen foods and don't open until ten. Credit cards only for $20 or more purchase. Bought some excellent vegan ham and shrimp and some other items I haven't tried. I guess it was a fluke but when I was there last week there was a broken freezer that was taped up and marked broken but none of the food had been removed and unfortunately the place smelled. The operating freezers seemed very cold and the stuff seemed quite solidly frozen so I took a chance but it is peculiar that food would be left rotting. Nevertheless the items I got were so good (better than anything I've found at 99 Ranch, etc) I would probably risk it again if the offending freezer and stinky contents are gone.

99 Ranch
17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

Jun 18, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Jaime Oliver's Revolution Menu at Patra's Glassell Park

I suspect that the beef burgers on the Revolution menu at Patra's may be better than the vegetarian selections. Orean's is a kick but most things are deep fried so I don't really consider it health food. Green Earth was pretty good but I really like My Vegan on Arroyo. Nice people. Very extensive menu.

Jun 16, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Echo Park delivery options

Mae Ploy delivers to Echo Park and I like it very much. Also, Farfalla would probably too. Masa delivers and has an extensive menu, mostly quite good. Tomato Pie definitely-efficient and reliable and some pretty good pizzis. Rudelli's for lower end pizza and lovely people is another alternative.

Mae Ploy
2606 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

2320 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Jun 14, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Bulan, Vegan House 2, Doomie's Home Cookin' or Truly: A Vegan Restaurant?

Have tried 2 of 4. Bulan a bit far afield from Arclight but really very good. The typical Thai vegan stuff and some interesting specials, all done well. Sweet service.

Doomie's is fun and funky. Can be a bit on the slow side but most of the food is really good and a riff on Americana at its richest, prepared without meat but just as fattening. Fake fried chicken a very guilty pleasure. Not blown away by the desserts but everything else was very good although definitely not health food.

May 10, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

ISO uncooked turkey parts

Gelson's almost always has legs, wings and thighs. I think the thighs are nicer to cook with because there's less cartilage and tendon.

May 08, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area

Hugo's Atwater-Formidable Tortas

We get office lunch once in a while from Hugo's in Atwater because they're efficient and have a good selection for our mix of vegetarians and meat-eaters. The tacos are pretty good and you can get a cheap little side of decent guacamole. There was uniform enthusiasm about the tortas though and so I tried one today, with grilled fish. I wouldn't claim to be a world authority on tortas although I have driven 15 miles or so (when gas was cheaper) to consume one based on recommendations at this board. The torta from Hugo's was jaw droppingly good. The bread was ultra fresh and soft, but not too soft. There was a thin coat of guacamole and a dainty layer of white beans and grilled onions. The fish had a nice flavor and was complimented, rather than drowned out, by the accompaniments. I hadn't been keen on ordering this because the menu claims it's dipped in honey chipotle, griddle cooked, and spicy. I was concerned it might be on the hot side and more importantly, messy. It was neither. The chipotle sauce was applied very sparingly and left the bread with a lovely glaze. Good to find something local and delicious now that the price of fuel makes me think twice about food sorties.

May 03, 2011
Layne Murphy in Los Angeles Area