Like the rest of Silver Lake, there was no way in hell a free chance to get sloshed by Belgian beers on tap would go unattended. Barbarella stepped up huge 2 days ago during its “Opening Day Celebration”, March 3rd, 2009. Chimay White, Maredsous 8, St. Bernardus abt 12 (none of which the bartender knew how to pronounce, so please, order by pointing at tap) etc., all flowed incessantly straight into the liver without bothering the wallets. Fantastic.
The decor, per other previous PR/blog entries: LA Times, Eating LA, Thrillist, isn’t sci-fi at all. Nothing was culled from the movie except the corsettes all the bartenders wore. This is just a warm room with high ceilings, a great looking beer delivery system, situated along an extremely busy stretch of Hyperion, across the street from SiLA, up the block from The Fix burger. Valet HIGHLY recommended.
Food wise, the free finger foods all tasted / looked tres disgusting and being a buncha cheapasses, no one ordered off the regular “non-free” menu. Not fair to judge, tho the neighbors said the rack of lamb was great and the neighbors’ neighbors said the mac n cheese was great. Not convinced, a (drunken) heated (and vapid) discussion on who makes the mac n cheese ensued, only to result in some random, unsettling mac-n-cheese bake-off to be held somewhere, sometime, somehow. After being thoroughly convinced by St. Bernardus abt 12′s supposedly high alcohol content, a quick skip and hop across Hyperion brought on the second stop….
Frank (taller w/ glases) and Dennis (shorter), you guys rock. Apologies for calling you out on using Jinro soju as mixer. The populace understands how difficult it is to obtain a new licker license. We don’t need no licker, let it burn let it burn. No seriously. Barbarella for hard liquor, SiLA for country fried steak made from hand-pounded pork tenderloin. This isn’t your All-American Grandma’s Country Fried Steak. It ain’t greasy, it doesn’t have collards and it doesn’t have thick gravy. From this dish, one finds a discernible preference for sweetness in chef Bill Saifo’s cuisine. The gravy is a bit more sweet than savory, and the absinthe shrimp definitely slanted towards the sugary side. Regardless, both dish were hits. The country fried steak had a loosened protein texture, akin to being pre-chewed by a baby with lots of saliva, hence it was extremely tender. It was obviously feverishly pounded (just how a good recipe for Taiwanese style pork chop rice – a perennial fave – calls for), and then re-compacted by the deep frying. Perhaps it’s the organic carrots sourced from the farmers market, perhaps it’s the beers; somehow the lightly blanched carrots which accompanied the country fried steak were also spectacular.
The absinthe shrimp had a light emulsion sauce, also on the sweet side, and the shrimps were just perfectly grilled, sized in the mid U20s (per Frank), so they were bordering on “jumbo”. The 6 or so pieces were perfect for sharing; everyone agreed it’s so hard for “American” resto’s to cook seafood right, and Mr. Saito hit this one out of Silver Lake/Echo Park…
Finally, the burg, the reason why a previous fruitless trip to SiLA Bistro was made a few Sundays ago (note: they are NOT open Sunday for lunch). A huge disappointment. The Hawaiian roll was near Sysco quality (tho surely it’s not from Sysco), the half burger patty was grilled with a perfect layer of char, but the gorgonzola.. O my. Gorgonzola is just so overwhelming, even sprinkles would suffice. Our cool foodie? neighbors (hi Javier!) advised Adam Corolla’s Amalfi also does a gorgonzola topped cheese, and they always ask for the cheese on the side. No thank you sir, the cheese, served on the side, would be 3 kinds of wrong. 1: they should just make it optional 2: if sprinkled on post-service, gorgonzola wouldn’t melt, hence providing a different texture 3: heated gorgonzola stinks more.
This meat in between buns exercise is still better than Taste on Melrose, but could use restructuring to compete against the upper echelons of LA burger-dom.
Overall, it was a brilliant time, discussing restaurants all over town with fellow diners, making small talk about shrimp and liquour mixers with Frank & Dennis, then closing out the restaurant with our final bill.
A lovely day – lovely day.
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