Just thinking back on Chaya makes me wanna hurl some sushi rolls at the full length glass panes surrounding the entire restaurant.
I, too, love the miso black cod. It’s black cod, it’s miso. In Adam Fleishman speak, this would be umami on umami love. Unfortunately for the Chaya Downtown branch, no one comes for the food. The lawyer and CPA suits come for the happy hour. Or therapy; overheard repeatedly from a neighboring blonde who shouldn’t have been in a pencil skirt: “why is the sex so good but it still didn’t last?” Uhhhh… Hey you banking groupie douchebaguette, sex != love != relationship. Didn’t Marie Claire teach you that back in 1999? Geebuz I’m trying to eat raw fish here without having the imagery of you doing nasties swimming around in my virgin mind.
That particular nite, photog Jay Clendenin shot crowds of minglers at peak HH time. Lucky for him, he didn’t have to taste the food. This stuff is about 2 notches above TJ’s fridged sushi.
The cocktails, OTOH, were fantastic. Below was the “Russian Blue”:
This particular cocktail above was “citrus vodka + muddled blueberries + lemon juice”. The “Seeing Red”, not shown, was fantastic as well. You will not taste the tequila but you will be basked in lavender perfume. It’s like droplets of a herbal garden straight down your gullet. Top notch. Come (before 7pm) for the booze, leave when hungry.
Magnolia DTLA is the second branch of the Magnolia mini-chise and the fourth enterprise from Ron Marino and Laurie Mulstay. While I love the vibe of Bar Chloe in Santa Monica, the food has been always hit and miss. And given any opportunity to dine in the area, I almost always chose Bowery (burger!) over Magnolia Hollywood. Nonetheless, this is Downtown Los Angeles and the dining scene is still a bit laggard behind Hollywood. So off we went on the opening day. We had a nice time in the nearly empty room, met the manager, wrote a Yelp blurb and got a caring response back from Ms. Laurie.
On a random evening, I dragged a few buds off to the happy hour. Great thing about the HH menu was its neutral stance on meat (pricey!) which suited my non-meat grubbin’ pal just perfectly.
The price of booze is $7 for a cocktail and the drinks were just splashes of non-descript alcohol. $4 for a beer isn’t exactly cheap so I’d come for the food as executive chef Richard Crespin has Gordon Ramsay and Jean Georges under his toque. From here on, I can drone on about the various happy hour $7 dishes but… that’s just such a snore. Bottom line: don’t get the chicken satay, the rest is a-ok. Friends liked the calamari & hummus, I like the fried goat cheese and the hot hostess. Sorry for the rhyme.
Alternative bottom line: come for the great decor, come for the outdoor seating; come for the good bites, be prepared to get drunk elsewhere. So far, relative to other DTLA happy hours, this is easily my favorite room, including the fire place to the rear and the long well lit bar. Food wise, it’s all perfectly palatable, more than what I can say about the ever-popular McCormick.
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