Downey: R&J Southern Home Cooking is Worthy of (GAC) TV Stardom
GAC TV? What in the hades is GAC TV? “Great American Country”. As much as most of South Los Angeles is still afraid of being lynched in Alabama, GAC TV has somehow reached the most deliciously random Southern restaurant in all LA (and no, it’s not the Hart and the Hunter). Last year, GAC TV visited R&J Southern Cooking in Downey, and filmed a segment for Kimberly’s Simply Southern. A little preface: Kimberly Schlapman is apparently a country singer and belongs to a the group “Little Big Town” which just won a Grammy for best duo/group performance for “Pontoon”. GAC TV is actually available on Verizon channel 223, Charter channel 160, Time Warner 122. Really, you can watch Great American Country TV in Los Angeles. Thank you Scripps.
Back to Downey, CA: Julie Petersen, I’m in love with your chocolate butt(er cake).
I haven’t eaten at too many Southern diners in LA (only enough to form an opinion?) but R&J, out of all the Carolyn’s, Hambone’s, Bertha’s, R&R’s, M&M’s, Dulan’s, etc. should be everyone’s short list.
Did I mention Julie is a bombshell and smells like.. I don’t know… a New Orleans belle? Not that I’d know what beautiful women in New Orlean ought to smell like, but I’m pretty certain Ms. Julie possess the floral essence of Nola. After a thorough digging, it appears other than the freshman foodie show hosted by celeb country singer, the only lip service ever paid to R&J soul was in the local rag, Downey Patriot. In the article, we find out Ms. Petersen is one-quarter Korean, one-quarter Mongolian, and half African-American. The food here? A mixture of Southern, and New Orleans.
Visiting LA James Beard Noms: Tar & Roses, Sycamore Kitchen
Sycamore Kitchen is everything Short Order isn’t. It’s exactly like Huckleberry for Hollywood-adjacent and it’s so damn good. It’s a lil bit Jewy, which makes it passively endearing in the way most pastry shops in LA simply can’t be — there is a “babka”, but it’s really just a cinnamon sticky bun along the lines of a Tartine morning bun. Sycamore is not Chaumont Bakery, which is also lovely, but in a completely different manner. With the departure of Parish’s pastry chef, Sycamore Kitchen has become the pastry driven restaurant champion of Los Angeles.
Can you imagine being married to a James Beard-nominated pastry chef ? Even if this round is just the semi-finals? No wonder Mr. Hatfield races crits. I’ve rooted for Chicago’s Mindy Segal since 2007, and she finally won last year. This year, Karen Hatfield all the way. She may not win until 2015, especially with the rockstar-cum-pastry-chef at Del Posto, and those $10 pastries at the red hot Craftman and Wolves, but hopefully Sycamore Kitchen will be around as long as “Hot Chocolate“.
Last summer, Tar & Roses positive blew the hell up. You couldn’t get a reservation without contacting the PR rep, even on a Wednesday. It was nuts. Chef Andrew was errrrrrwhere, and the restaurant’s PR machine was humming along, offering ordering tips to anyone who was visiting, or planned to visit. Naturally, all the dishes that were thoroughly enjoyable were all the ones that the public tended to ignore:
The smoke trout rillettes were the highlights of the meal (top left above) and signaled all the pickled fish that was to follow Tar & Roses (witness The Parish, withness the Hart & and Hunter, and the Gorge, etc.). If three’s a trend, LA’s positively on the smoked/pickled fish bandwagon. And hellulah as it fits the ’13 foodstuff resolutions nicely. Silver, sustainable, local fishes done in a Jewish tradition? Everybody sign up.
The charred octopus was also delightly, reeking of smoked, wood, and double kudos to Tar & Roses for not chasing the pulpitos trend. Let’s not eat the babies first, let’s eat the grown cephalopods.
The bacon popcorn was sent on the house, and while the table was thankful, and slightly obsessed with the corn, it remains, much like all of Black Hogg’s pork porn, but a nostalgic novelty. Instead, a dish like baby carrots with currants and chermoula creme fraiche is where one really wants to be, especially when it’s summer. Ditto to the simple wood roasted corn topped with goat cheese and lime. It was clearly evocative of the various Mexican street corn found alongside LA barrios.
There were two lamb dishes on that night, and both were better choices than the more fashionable pork tenderloin. The only dish that offered nothing but ennui during the night was the soft shell crab. While the presentation was entertaining (see above, middle right), it was just a deep fried soft shell crab, with none of the nuances and complexity of the smoked trout.
To sum Tar & Roses up in one sentences: it’s MB Post in Santa Monica. And MB Post is nominated for a Beard, as is Tar & Roses. Two peas in a (cast iron) pod, then?
Last night Bludso’s Opened… And it Looked Something Like This?
Which is to say, it looked glorious, at least on Instagram, especially with some beer, cocktails (AND WINE!), in West Hollywood, literally next door to everyone’s Italian cafe, Cube.
Here’s a link to one of the original write-ups on Bludso’s from October 2008. It was posted to Chow at around the same time, but willfully removed by Chow (and I still do not know why).
mazel, Mr. Bludso. So glad to see your name spread beyond Compton. The menu can be seen here. And he has nothing to do with Scoops ice cream being served at that location.
Bludso’s Bar & Que
609 N La Brea
Chaumount Bakery & Cafe
Eater LA’s Daniela Galarza gave a detailed rundown on Chaumount Bakery’s origins yesterday. She couldn’t tell you how anything tasted, nor show you pictures of the food because, well, it’s not within Eater’s editorial policies.
A few weeks ago, French reporter Cécile Delarue visited Chamount and instagramed some photos. Cecile happens to also shoot French cooking videos and blog about French food in LA:
As I munch on this pain au chocolat from Chaumount, and wait to spread the plu gra butter on the toasting baguette, I’d like to say a “thank you” to Dannon for not treating the Abddaim’s well, hence driving them to open a boulangerie/patisserie/whatever-French-word-for-baked-goods on the poshest streets in Los Angeles. And since you can’t really taste this pain au chocolat, here are some photos:
January was All About the LA Pastrami.
Here’s J. Ritz’s cry for artisanal (lack of a better word) deli in LA.
Here’s New Yorker Dvora Meyer’s informative piece on what I call the ghetto pastrami scene in LA (Jim’s, George’s, The Hat).
And since a discussion of NY’s new hipster deli movement is certainly relatable to NYC, here’s D. Sax vs. Ozersky “debating” the issue. Of course, debating with Oz is a akin to arguing with an elephant, but D. Sax voted LA deli as a winner in the deli wars, so whenever he talks pastrami, Angelenos can beem with pride while listening. Of course, Sax supports the ilks of Miles End in historical versus modern deli debates, which makes him even more interesting than usual.
Here, in LA, it’s obvious Jeff’s Gourmet Sausage is a beacon of hope in the deli-forward movement. Granted, Jeff’s only offers its “old fashioned” pastrami three weeks out of the year, but the thought is there. I’m happy for Tribe members who get to showcase their skills at local shul’s brisket competition, but I’ve yet to find a way into a shul, or a temple school, so I can only hope for a taste in the future. The rest of us have to settle for Jeff’s, or for that rare occasion when Mr. Amdur’s shows up to a wine store with a side of brined beef.
Fortunately, as LA Times contrib C Thi Nguyen previously reported, Jeff’s old fashioned pastrami is damn glorious. It ain’t cheap, but half a pound of properly trimmed brisket never is. This is better than Katz’s pastrami. When you get lucky, it’s glaringly superior to Langer’s, especially considering it’s made in-house, every step of the way. Jeff’s manager himself says the quality still varies a bit batch to batch and requests feedback from many who come from dozens of miles away merely for a sandwich. On that particular day, it was a bit salty, but the pillowing rye alleviated the strain on the palate. Dangit, it was glorious. You know who’s fit to produce LA’s first historically proper pastrami? Sqirl. Someone petition TheKos to get this started. Lobster/uni crostinis might be lovable, but a legendary pastrami would be legendary.
The rest of the you, feel free to return to the Dorner coverage.
Facebook page for old-fashioned pastrami hunt
Maccheroni Republic: Handmade Pastas with a Side of Inhospitality
This entry has nothing to do with the food at Maccheroni Republic. Recently, Tom Colicchio was repeatedly quoted for the catch phrase: “people go to restaurants for food and they return for hospitality.”. It was credited first to restaurateur David Meyer. It was retweeted all over Twitter right after Top Chef. Clearly Colicchio nor Meyer run Chinese restaurants, and as much as Craft LA has some of the best service known to LA’s mankind ., non-CCA types can’t afford to constantly return to Craft just for its hospitality. Sometimes, one wants some noodles not in soup form, and ends up dealing with the environs at Maccheroni Republic.
First, Maccheroni Republic is a fantastic addition to DTLA in the way Eat.Americano.Why.Are.There.Periods.In.The.Restaurant.Name, Industriel, Towne, Coco Laurent, Kitchen Table are not: its serve moderately priced tasty food, from a concise menu, in a small space that didn’t require a million dollars to build, and requires a staff no bigger than a basketball team.
During an early evening at Maccheroni, the understaffed team (1 server, 1 owner/manager, 1 busser, and probably 2 cooks and a dishwasher?) was trying to bust its ass to punch out as many dishes as humanly possible while requiring no reservations. It was rather cold out, and the generous patio which doubles the restaurant size was being refused by all warm blooded SoCal types. By 7:30 P.M. it was obvious people are impatiently waiting in the “frigid” LA air, while others had to walk through the cramped space just to check-out at the (non-functioning) bar.
The dining conditions bordered harrowing as the one server exuded a sense of distress that sends tingles down everyone’s spine. Plates were being not-so-gently placed on hard tables everywhere, and the air was thick with an uncomfortable feeling of impending doom. While people were outwardly happy with their meal, a neighbor also remarked on the silent frenzy. This service debacle has been repeated marked elsewhere. Yet rest assured, everyone will go back. Why? Sometimes the food alone is enough to win over any hospitality issues, as nearly every diner familiar with both Koreatown and San Gabriel Valley dining scenes would testify. At certain price points, mayeb it’s just all about the food, not the hospitality.
Burger atrocities at G’eA and Abricott; Stop the Egg Topping
There’s no mistake G’eA is bro food. It’s driven by heavy metal music, powered by two cool dude of dudes who take no shit. That’s all awesome and “goulish”, but the environment bears no positive impact on the final product. None. Lemmy’s portrait doesn’t make an overcooked, underseasoned patty made of ground beef from one of LA’s better commercial purveyors of beef palatable. Below the patty with no char and no sear sat cooked ice berg lettuce. Instead of shielding the lettuce away from the heat of the patty, the tomatoes, pickles and cheese sat on top. There’s no need to harp on the fact that during the first week of opening, the burger robots turned a medium rare patty into medium-well, forgot to insert the pickles and tomatoes, and when the pickles did finally come, there were but two meager slices.
No matter the Slayer sound track, the the eggs and bacon, the Eagle Rock brew on tap, a burger joint needs to salt the damn patty. Just salt, and maybe a bit of fresh cracked black pepper; do not read this as a request for an Umami marinade. Perhaps it was a mistake to order a rather plain jane burger for $8. All other diners bro’d up their burgers with canadian bacon, pastrami, fried chicken, sausage and sriracha seem rather happy. Despite the dire want to support a new non-Asian restaurant in WSGV, until G’eA fix the basic premise behind these burgers, the neighborhood shouldn’t force itself towards these unpatriotic failures.
On the flip side of the G’eA burger is Abricott’s burger. Abricott marinades any semblance of beef out of its burger by soy and sugar. According the Serious Eats’s glowing review, Abricott is apparently drowning their beef in a supposed sesame dressing. There was not a hint a sesame, just like a SE commenter mentioned, this thin meat loaf carried all the traits of an over-massaged Chinese dumpling filling. From the Korean perspective, it’s apaprently Abricott’s goal was to evoke the flavors of kalbi in this burger. When I want Korean BBQ, I will go find Korean BBQ. When I want a burger from now, I will go to the Pikey. Just recalling the burger at Abricott gets the blood boiling and brings an aneurysm or two.
DineLA thoughts: Gorge, Loteria Grill
Los Angeles Magazine has a write up on Gorge in next month’s issue titled “French Kiss”. LA Mag is still trying to sell rags, so they don’t publish their entire issue online — good on them — so there’s no link available to Patrick Kuh’s review. The other piece of critical “review” on Gorge is a three sentence blurb by S.I.V. to be found here.
Gorge deserves a bit more than that. Gorge deserves more patrons so sexy pastry chef (is there such a thing as an unsexy pastry chef?) Uyen Nguyen can expand the paltry dessert menu beyond St. Honores. Please, go visit Gorge, because there is no restaurant in Los Angeles currently being helmed by a ex-Robuchon sous-chef, offering a Basque inspired brandade special this delicious. None. Let’s not forget the flexible wine service offered by Master sommelier Darius Allyn, previously wine director at Montage Beverly Hills. On the flipside, for brunch on Saturday, a bottle of Normandie cidre is available for teens to go with a splendid club sandwich made of house sausage and a perfectly Frenchy poached egg. French wine at dinner, cidre at brunch, sausage all day, and funky poached mackerel that everyone should want to eat over raw bluefin.
The compact savory menu is dominated by charcuterie in every section save for the salads. The salads are balanced fares of acid, oil and sugar, and easily transition from brunch to dinner. There are Toulousse, duck, and German “beer” sausages under the mains, and if the correct one is chosen, a Robuchon potato puree will magically arrive as a carb side on the same plate. But the best thing of all may be the pig ear terrine and head cheese; the head cheese is chunky, not too fatty, reasonably spiced, and pairs perfectly with the pickled romanesco that arrives on the charcuterie plates. There is but only one slight quibble: the grilled bread service borders stingy, but is so pertinent to the wine & charcuterie menu center piece. One can only hope beyond the sausage and terrines, Gorge will continue to expand its entrees into all things warm and braised (but please, not more beef bourguignon).
No Pollacked food on a plate tagged with absurd synecdoches to be found here, just an unpublicized, undercapitalized, tin ceiled bistro with a menu full of French loveliness. You don’t even need a reservation, nor suffer a mysterious waitlist, nor endure an amalgam of random foodies at a communal table to eat at Gorge right now. Somehow, despite participating in the DineLA program, they’ve been completely glossed over for yet another rather ridiculous take on tea leaf salad.
They just ask you to be understanding concerning the name.
917 West Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA
Loteria is also running the DineLA program at all of its four branch. For $35, a soup/app, a main and a dessert are offered. The best seller from the main course has been the cast iron baked-in enchilada. It’s a fusiony Mexican mac and cheese served with generous huitlacoche, and will slaughter the appetite after five bites. The effect seems to be purposeful as everyone promptly pushes aside the
mac & cheese enchilada thus allowing room for dessert.