Foodlab

7253 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90046(323) 851-7120foodlab-la.com

image

Having only ordered from here, I think it’s safe to say that things are still in the clinical trial phase, because not much was nailed. The iced tea was bitter and basic. And the grilled cheese (pictured), while made with gruyere, tallegio and gorgonzola on 5 grain with glazed onions and grain mustard, proved to be a bit too much of one note. Granted it’s a good note, but not as interesting as one would hope after reading that epic list of lovable ingredients.

The best thing for me was the prosciutto and fig sandwich on a baguette with ricotta and honey, then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. However, do not be fooled by the menu description, because it is NOT served on raisin walnut bread. Also, do not be fooled into thinking this sandwich is SO good that I am recommending the Lab on the whole. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to have to eat here, this is my suggestion.

2 teeth

Advertisements

Dominick’s

8715 Beverly Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90048(310) 652-2335 dominicksrestaurant.com

dominicks-crawfish-boil-los-angeles

I’ve been to Dominick’s twice now, with about 10 years in between those two visits and not much has changed. It’s still just very mediocre Italian food and a waste of your money and time. Especially when there are so many better Italian options in the city (Capo, Via Veneto, Piccolo, Valentino…). But since most of the great Italian is on the West side, I suppose Dominick’s has its place in a pinch. Granted I’d still take Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills over Dominick’s any day, but enough of the woulda, coulda, shoulda- If you go, be sure to get a table in the garden at the back, it’s much nicer than the inside. No need to add insult to paccheri.

Of my two-time sampling, the soft polenta with black truffles proved far and way to be the best thing on the menu and the only thing I would ever dare use a word more effusive than “good.”  The spaghetti and meatballs was a very distant second clocking in at one notch past average. Everything else from arancini to artichokes, was a big ole C average.

There was, however, one other exception on the dessert menu, the pear fritter/begniets were pretty solid. But other than that, the rest of the desserts were back to blahsville. Oh, and as for that pic above, that’s their crawfish boil, and I must admit, it does looks pretty damn tasty. Not sure how Italian it is, but people seem to swear by it, so perhaps I’ve just been ordering wrong? guess I’ll have to find out when I return to Dominick in another 10 years.

2 teeth

The Ultimate Foie Gras (Seared)

Seared-foie-gras-with-compressed-apple

For me, foie gras in the seared form is almost categorically an Ultimate. So fucking good it actually requires profanity. And so much better than terrine I’m not even sure why the pate version exists. It’s like watching an SD channel on your HDTV when you know full well that you have an HD version of the same exact station! Why? Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.

But as remarkable as seared foie gras is, that blessing is also a curse, because it means chefs have to go above and beyond to stand out from the entry level awesome. Here are two brilliant examples of exactly that.

Animal – West Hollywood, CA

If you are as into foie gras as I am, you’ve probably realized that pairing it with an element of sweetness is a common go to among chefs, so much so that it has become table stakes. So, Animal decided to go one better, forgoing the jams and reductions in favor of a down home Southern preparation, placing the foie gras on a buttermilk biscuit with maple syrup gravy drizzle over the top. It sounds insane, I know. And it is… Insanely good. In fact, it’s so fan-friggin-tastic I think it single handedly overturned California’s ban on foie gras. Sorry geese, but sometimes you have to take one for the team. Oh come on, don’t be offended. Geese are nasty creatures and you know it. They had it coming. (I probably I just lost a follower or two, didn’t I?).

Blue Hill – New York, NY

This is the one and only time I have ever seen foie gras in the form of soup and I can’t speak highly enough about the unrivaled, unbridled joy it elicited. Forget Coke, I’d like to buy the world a foie gras consommé.

Made in a broth of the liver itself, filled with chunks of seared foie gras and earthy mushrooms. Such a treat in the winter and also worthy of an Ultimate Hot Soup distinction.

The Ultimate Calf Brains

348s

Animal – Los Angeles, CA

Not that I’ve eaten an extensive array of brains, but of the few I’ve had, I have to give it up to Animal. Not only were they so good that I could’ve cared less about the fact that I was eating a calf’s cerebral matter, they were so good that I would happily order them again. I know it sounds like Fear Factor type shit to some, and zombie food to others, but I swear it was so good it’s mental. Okay, puns aside, if Green Eggs and Ham taught you anything, you owe it to yourself to branch out and try these sweet, apricot-glazed morsels of magnificence. You will be a better person because of it.

The Ultimate Sweetbreads

-1

I’m not sure why, but there is a huge misconception as to what sweetbreads really are. But to clear things up for the misconceived, they are NOT brains. They are glands. Now, I can only imagine that if the thought of them being brains was irksome to you, the whole gland thing didn’t exactly move the ball either, but at least now you know what you’ll be rejecting the next time someone offers them to you.

Animal – Los Angeles, CA

There is virtually no part of the anatomy this place can’t turn into gold. And man do they spin some sweet-ass sweetbreads. The thing I love so much about them is that they don’t overly bread and fry them. So many other restaurants seem like they are trying to hide something as opposed to improve something. Well, Animal gets it. They let just enough of the savory through, and then contrast it with an outer shell of crisp sweetness, so that when you bit into it, the two collide like someone walking along the street with a bar of chocolate and another with a jar of peanut butter (as though anyone has ever done that, ever) and BOOM- Two great tastes in one gland-based dish. Reese’s advertising was so stupid in the 70’s, and yet I still remember it. Scarred for life I suppose.

Dovetail – New York, NY

When dealing with a delicacy that isn’t exactly the foie gras of fine dining, you have to try a little harder to impress. But therein lies the razor’s edge. How much trying can you do before it becomes overdone? Like at The Gander, for example, overdone to the point where they actually miss the point and you taste absolutely nothing of the sweetbreads. Well, I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but whatever Dovetail is doing is hella right, taking the sauce and batter right up to the very threshold of pomp, without crossing the line. In fact, it’s so good you’ll be all like “foie who?” Assuming you talk like that, which, dare I say, is a bit annoying.

Matsuhisa

129 N La Cienega Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211 • (310) 659-9639 nobumatsuhisa.com

NOBU___Yuzu_Curd___raspbe-Matsuhisa-20000000002075608-500x375

The food is really quite something here, but that’s to be expected. I mean Nobu isn’t an icon of Japanese cuisine because he doesn’t know his ass from albacore. What isn’t to be expected however, is how horribly cheesy the décor is, covered in hand-painted murals that look like something out of the halls in an elementary school. And on top of that, there are trophies and mementos everywhere as well, like Andre Agassi’s tennis racket, and not done in a tasteful or even kitschy artful way either. Nor even campy like The Palm. More done like a twenty-something guy’s first apartment with no sense of how to make an environment appealing. As a result, it is SO distracting that it brings the entire experience down.

But if you must, there is little I’d say to dissuade you when it comes to the menu. Everything is tops.  But the one dish you would be criminally negligent not to order is the black miso cod. Nobody does it better, which is in large part due to the fact that he invented the dish.

3 teeth

 

Ink

8360 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90069(323) 651-5866mvink.com

ink-spaghetti-squid1

A fellow foodie recommended this place to me, which is always a risky proposition because, well it might surprise you to know it, but I’m kinda hard to please. And I was pleased as punch. Never understood that expression, but it seems fitting now. From start to finish it was one inventive concoction of yumosity after another.

To kick things off we had the scallops, which they serve raw, along with pickled papaya and chili kicker to give it some nice heat. And the textures were tremendous. The scallops being soft and tender and the papaya being dense.

After that came one of the best beet dishes I’ve ever had. I hate to double down on the “dense” word, but the beets were so meaty they almost gave the sensation of steak. Just bodacious.

And speaking of steak sensations, the wagyu beef cheeks were sensational. Tied for my favorite thing of the night. So buttery soft it melted in your mouth.

Also, the perfect side to go along with the wagyu would’ve been the potato polenta with bone marrow. It’s incredibly creamy and equally delicious, but because it came before wagyu it felt like a supporting role without a main act, unable to truly stand on its own.

Right on the heels of that came the weakest dish of the night, the sea bass with chicken skin. Its description impresses far more than its flavors, but it was cooked well and offered a nice textural playfulness between the flaky, buttery fish and the crispy, salty chicken skin. Hmm, I’m making it sound so good I almost tricked myself into ordering it again.

But just when Ink started to show signs of mortality, the dessert chef closed things out like Mariano Rivera. The yam dessert being the best thing yams have ever accomplished since the dark ages. Served in an inventive array of dollops that I can’t recall because I was too busy horking it down. All I know is that there were flavors of cinnamon and toffee and it was off the charts.

And while the second dessert might’ve been more “chartable,” it was still extraordinary. A chocolate pudding unlike any I’ve ever had. Served almost like slices of cake set amidst ice cream and dried coconut.

Easily a five-knifer had the service not fouled it up. First, by trying to seat us at the shittiest table in the place, right at the front between the bar and the host station. And this was with the place 60% empty, which it remained from the start of our meal to the end.

The other nit, which is a big pet peeve of mine, is when you ask a server for recommendations and they give you the ole non-committal cop out, “everything’s good.” Which he was mostly right about, everything was good, except the service.

4 teeth

Barney’s Beanery

8447 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069(323) 654-2287 • barneysbeanery.com
 348s

If Baskin Robbins decided to serve burgers instead of ice cream and to become a Hell’s Angel, this would be their restaurant. And I use the term “restaurant” loosely. The word “dive” is much more fitting. But the burgers aren’t bad. And the décor is certainly “interesting.” Perhaps a little out of place on the promenade to the point where it feels inauthentic, so if you’re gonna go, I recommend the original in West Hollywood. It’s the real deal. Plus, at that one they used to have live lingerie models on display once in a while as a nice added perk. I’m not a doctor or anything, but I believe it helps with digestion.

And while the novelty of Barney’s certainly has its merits, the burgers only hold up so much. If you truly want a bodacious bite on a bun, head to Father’s Office instead. There’s one in Santa Monica and Culver City.

But if you’re not in the mood for a burger, not to worry, Barney’s has tons of other options on their menu ranging from salads to sandwiches and pizza to Mexican. I can’t vouch for any of them, but they’re on the menu.

3 teeth

Lucques

8474 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood, CA 90069 (323) 655-6277lucques.com

olives

I think the legalization of medical marijuana is the only possible explanation as to how this place got 4 stars on Yelp. Either that or people only voted on the decor and service, both of which are great.

But the food!?! Are you kidding me?! What a waste of taste buds. The best thing we had were the olives & almonds (pictured) that come with the bread. Neither of which they actually make. Everything else was lacking. The ricotta dumpling app being the only solid good. The soft shell crab app being “eh.” The scallop entree tasted fishy and the other flavors in the dish simply didn’t work with the mollusks, better on their own. And the short rib entree was equally underwhelming. Cooked well, but simply lacking flavor. The sum of its seemingly delicious sounding parts netting out to be a heavy mush reminiscent of dog food.

So, why did we order dessert you ask? Because, we were hoping for some form of redemption. Unfortunately, it never came. Both the caramel tart and the creme fraiche cake were as equally bland as everything else.

Guess I should’ve known better as I was equally nonplussed by AOC. Oh well, at least I spared the wife from the disappointment.

2 teeth

Angelini Osteria

7313 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 • (323) 297-0070 • angeliniosteria.com
thumb_600

The best part of the meal, far and away was the fact that we sat next to Ed Norton and Flea.

The second best part was the service. Love the fact that these are real, authentic Italians. Every one of them. All shouting around the noisy cramped dining room. It’s chaos, but it’s a cozy chaos.

The food, unfortunately, was a major disappointment. I don’t know what the hell Giada was thinking when she named this the “best lasagna she ever ate.” My wife makes better lasagna and she’s Turkish!

As for the buratta caprese, the tomatoes were a bit on the mealy side. Capo’s is MUCH better.

And the dessert was just eh. Didn’t even bother to finish, and don’t even recall what it was, which is telling in and of itself.

There are SO many better Italian restaurants in LA from Capo and Piccolo to Valentino’s, Villa Blanca and Via Veneto. I’m not even sure why this place is still in business.

2 teeth