Imagine a giant hour glass filled not with sand but with calories. That’s pretty much a perfect visual for this first year of living in and exploring L.A., eating my way from ocean to desert, hopping from cuisine to cuisine. As I said in my post yesterday, for my budget and interest-level, L.A. has more to offer than New York. You can eat extraordinarily well without breaking the bank. So here, then, are my 10 favorite places to eat here… the ones I’ll miss the most when I’m gone for 3 1/2 months. Are they objectively the best? Not by any means; they’re just the ones I’ll be running back to when the plane lands at LAX in January.
It could’ve been the way that I angled my hands. It could’ve been the way that I positioned my body. But last night at Fig & Olive on Melrose, out celebrating Craig’s cousin Katie’s birthday, I positively drenched myself while washing my hands in the bathroom. And, truth be told, I pretty much blame the sink.
The International House of Pancakes is not, by any standard, a hip place to eat. Leave it to Chef Roy Choi (a chef I cooked with for my cookbook, best known for starting the Kogi Truck) to turn an IHOP into a must-visit L.A. dining destination, one that effortlessly oozes panache and cool.
“Who’s Marion Cunningham? Isn’t she the mom from ‘Happy Days’?”
That’s what the guy next to us asked the server upon seeing the menu at last night’s Sunday Supper at Lucques. As Cunningham (who passed away last week) said herself in this 2001 article by Kim Severson, “I’m not trying to be modest, but it doesn’t feel like I have any celebrity. Really, I’m not saying this just to say it, but it doesn’t.” So I suppose it was appropriate that those who were at Lucques last night to celebrate Marion Cunningham were really there to celebrate her and those who weren’t were simply happy beneficiaries of a meal cooked in her honor by one of the country’s best chefs, Suzanne Goin.
[Image via DeliverBliss]
Today someone told me the story of a bad restaurant experience that involved a steakhouse with $30 steaks, a totally oblivious staff, dishes gone missing, and steak knives never proffered. Our storyteller, let’s call him Mr. X, grew so frustrated that he finally jumped out of his seat, stormed past the waiters who were watching a hockey game on the bar TV, into the kitchen where tired-looking line cooks were flipping steaks on a grill, and into the manager’s office “where I really let him have it.”
The manager was immediately apologetic–when he emerged from the kitchen, the staff scattered–and he ultimately comped Mr. X’s meal. “When I got home,” said Mr. X, “I really thought about writing a bad review on Yelp, but decided against it.”
This got me thinking: when is it OK to write a bad Yelp review of a restaurant?
Last week, we went to see “Follies” at the Ahmanson Theater (my second time seeing this production) and, beforehand, we needed a place to eat. I Tweeted out to the world and received a response from @StarryKitchen: “Starry Kitchen’s not a bad place to start.. Oh wait a minute, that’s my restaurant. (Tee hee hee) we’re only a block away ;).” I already had Starry Kitchen on my mental radar so the fact that the restaurant itself (or its Twitter handle) was beckoning me in (and that it was super close to the theater) made this dinner decision easy.
There was a moment at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.–where Craig and I went to celebrate our six year anniversary this weekend–when I washed down a bite of my egg yolk gnocchi (the first course on the tasting menu) with a cocktail made of mezcal and smoked salt and thought to myself: “I’ve never tasted anything like what I’m tasting right now. How is this happening?”
My mom may not cook, but she’s an absolute authority when it comes to eating out at restaurants. She and my dad eat out almost every night of the week and they do so with a real zest for excitement and experience; they love to patronize busy restaurants, especially ones that are hard to get into. Which is why I had the idea to call my mom, this morning, to ask her for her tips on getting into an impossible-to-get-into restaurant. What follows is her top secret advice.