Thursday, October 19, 2006

El Coyote
Beverly Blvd.

By the way, yes, I've been lagging! I know, I know, I gotta gear up again for some major foodblogging, I've been plagued with stress and illness. No matter, Let's get to it!

Mmm, Mexican food. Why is it so good, the combination of meat in a tortilla, and some rice and beans? It's satisfying and substancial, especially when executed by a decent restaurant. I've been to plenty of Mexican food restaurants, and I have to admit, this is one of the superstars.

We were seated at a cozy table near the back, which suited me fine. Their drinks were superb...I got an Arnold Palmer as usual...

Oooo, a beautiful Arnold palmer! And it was a very good one too, the best combination of sweet, tart and refreshing. Owen had a few margaritas, and they did not hold back on the tequilla, to his delight, so thumbs up on that.
I got a simple combo - 2 tacos, one beef and one chicken, hard shell, with rice and beans. So pretty! The rice and beans were just right, not TOO salty as sometimes the rice and beans can get.
Here's a delicious close up of a chicken taco. Oooo, hard shell taco goodness. One of these did me in, and was very substancially delicious. Here was Jamie's mom's chicken taco salad. This thing was huge! I had to take a picture...the size of the tortilla shell that is encasing this monster salad...was about the size of a baby. A big baby. A big deformed baby that would eat this and become twice its' own size baby.

My verdict? This was a good place to go, despite my dislike for valet parking and really really tacky Halloween decorations. There's a lot of mexican food out there, and even though I wouldn't say it's as good as Tacomiendo (food wise), they got the booze and tasty drinks going for it, and a lot of clientele that swear by it. A very decent LA institution.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

C&O Cucina
Washington Blvd and almost to Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Italian food is always iffy to me as a choice when wanting to go out to eat, because I almost always feel jipped. Why? Because spaghetti and meatballs are the easiest thing to cook at home, and paying 15 dollars and up for a meal that sometimes equally tastes as good as frozen meatballs and dried pasta noodles from TJ's (so good, so cheap) is a travesty. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. One of these exceptions is C&O's Cucina/Trattoria.

C&O's Trattoria is actually better than C&O's Cucina, for the ambience, waitstaff and location (closer to the water.) However, they're always more crowded, the wait-time is longer and the valet is more expensive. Cucina is really almost as good, considering the tradeoff.

First off...the Killer garlic rolls...
They come around with a big fresh batch of these little morsels of deliciousness every 15 minutes or so, and fill a white oval plate - carefully transferring them with a pair of tongs. These cute rolly bites of carby goodness are covered in real chopped garlic and parsley bits, and are usually gone in a second with a hungry group. However, I warn you - these are so good that you might not be able to stop - and there's much more delicious food to go, so keep in mind: they are KILLER!
Owen loves himself some caesar salad, and here was one order of it. Nothing outstanding, but not disappointing. The cheese is great in this - real grated parmesan, like it always should be (unfortunately, not always the case.)
Yes, even more food. Worth the wait though - this was the gargantuan order of The Special - Wide, flat noodles with shiitake mushrooms, apple chicken sausage in a tomato cream sauce. This was amazing good! The mushrooms this pasta dish an AMAZING flavor, and the wide noodles made this dish super special to me - I just like wide noodles alright? The creme sauce was great - not too creamy and not too tomato-y. The apple chicken sausage had good bite and flavor. This is my new thing to love here!!
Ish got the C & O Classic Cioppino - "A famous Italian Fisherman's Stew featuring shrimp, clams, mussels, salmon, swordfish and scallops in a deliciously light tomato and Pinot Grigio broth.". Dang. This was a seafood orgy in a soup. He seemed to like it a lot and who wouldn't with all those different kinds of seafood swimming in his delicious thick soup.
Bryan got a classic Spaghettini with meatballs. Huge meatballs (the size of a fist!) nestled above delicious spaghetti noodles and homemade sauce, what's not to like? Bryan managed to finish this whole plate himself so I'm assuming it was edible :D

Dean and Ryan shared a Linguini & Clams - in a Garlic Butter White Wine Lemon Sauce. Hearty and so full of clams...

C&O's motto is "People generally don't leave here hungry." I can attest to that statement...I was full to bursting when leaving, full of carby carbs and holding enough leftovers to feed me and Owen for the next few days. C&O's rules!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gai Ling Way in Chinatown

Stopping to eat during a busy day can be a chore sometimes, 'cuz there's too much to do during the day and not enough hours to do it in. Taking a break from the busy organization of the upcoming art show (can I plug this art show any more??) we went around the corner to Via Cafe for a bite to eat.

The atmosphere is pleasant, playing trendy music and art on the vaulted celings. The restaurant is a narrow format but it doesn't feel too crowded. Choosing whereever we wanted to sit, glasses of water with lime in it were immediately served to us. Awesome. The waitress was friendly and took our orders promptly.
After we placed our order, the waitress came back and placed this on our and sprouts. I'm ready to eat...This was our order of Spring Rolls W/ shrimp, lettuce, cucumber, noodle, basils & sprouts. I loved the peanut buttery tangy dipping sauce that accompanied this appetizer. All the veggies in this were fresh and crunchy, and the shrimp was good. A major plus in my book. This was gone in like 2 seconds.
This was my dish, the #24 - Grilled Lemongrass Steak, Egg Rolls, Shrimp W/ rice vermicelli. I liked this dish a lot, although I haven't had enough Vietnamese food in my life to make the distinction between really good Vietnamese food and not so good Vietnamese food. Regardless, I took no prisoners as I plowed through this bowl of hearty, slightly chewy dry noodles, slightly lubricated by the spicy soupy stuff they included with my meal. I threw a bunch of spicy red hot sauce on here, which made my tongue dance with happiness (I love me some hot sauce). Everything in this bowl was good and felt freshly prepared. I loved the thin slices of beef, finding a few chopped green onion pieces in the mix. The shrimp was plain but the trusty hot sauce did the trick. The egg roll was, well, an egg roll.This is Owen's Chicken Rice Noodle soup, which I later found out was boiling hot when served to him, so when he took the first bite he burned his tongue (this happens too much!) When it cooled down enough it was a great bowl of noodles, good pieces of chicken freshly torn, and the soup was richly chicken flavored.
Ryan got the Beef Ball Soup, probably very similar to Owen's dish except sans chicken - substitute beef meatballs, vietnamese style.
Dean got the Rare beef and beef ball bowl. I think this is really interesting, as the rare beef that is placed in the soup keeps cooking in the boiling broth, so it's perfectly cooked as you carefully lift it to your mouth to eat.

I know this place isn't as cheap as other, more authentic Vietnamese places, but they're still very reasonably priced and the atmosphere is cool (I love the artwork on the walls.)

Lincoln Blvd and Rose

I must have passed by this place a million times and never went in. This was my chance! We went to Casablanca as a big group, because we were celebrating Owen and Owen's grandma's birthday. Parking was easy enough, as we had gotten there early. Inside was a huge collection of memorabilia, dusty fading posters and pictures, and all kinds of things in the state of molding all over the walls. Angry hostess at the front gave us all the weary eye, and indifferently let us stand awkardly next to the entrance/bar until enough people showed up. I was seated next to a creepy almost too real lifesize statue of Humphrey Bogart dressed as Sam from the movie, and he hauntingly glared at me all night.

The fresh tortillas were piping hot as we put them on our plates. They were very good, with a douse of their salsa verde embedded with feta cheese cubes. I was almost full to bursting just eating these. They were very similar to Pacos Taco's homemade tortillas - actually almost identical.

The waiters were, for the most part, were very on the ball and polite. Owen got a few margaritas before dinner and was sorry to find them to be super watered down. Our entrees came after a bit of wait, because of the magnitude of our party.
This was my Shrimp Fajitas Plate. It was...just okay. I expected one of those sizzling platters like I've seen at most places, but was surprised to see my veggies and shrimp - in a not so good -almost florescent orange colored oily substance - mingling with my rice and beans and guacamole. The shrimps were a good size, but the oily yuck sauce killed it. The veggies were way overcooked, but still edible had it not been for the oil. The rice was good, flavored slightly by butter I think. It was my favorite thing on the plate. Black beans were okay. Guacamole was decent.

I didn't HATE (hate is reserved for places like Dussini) this place but I didn't love it either. I think for a more intimate group, it would have been perfect, but for a big group of 20, it was not right. I didn't eat my leftovers, if that's any indication of something that's worth reheating and eating again. You know what I mean...when you're looking in the fridge, glancing at a styrofoam take out container, with the contents of the uneaten parts of last night's dinner, and don't think I want this...that was the feeling.
Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice

The contination of the crazy weekend of food when Brian came into contined with our trip to Jin Patisserie on Abbot Kinney. We were looking for somewhere different, somewhere to sit and take a time out from all the crazy stuff happening in our lives. This place fit the bill - with its' outdoor seating and calming little water fountain in the middle of their courtyard, it was a great place to unwind. We all decided to get their Afternoon Tea Set. It came with one choice of tea in a little teapot...unfortunately no refills (I mean, come on, just add hot water?)
My tea was the "Des Sables" - "Flavoured with the famous Damas rose, grown on the slopes of the Atlas mountains, and exotic fruits - mango, yellow peach and citrus fruits - giving the unique flavor of a petal jelly. Both fresh and sensual, a beautiful drink whether served boiling hot or ice cold." Our server expertly sniffed each teapot cover, and from the smell could tell each tea that we had ordered. Something a little extra special, I suppose.
Now to the GOODS. Starting from the left corner going clockwise:
Scones (2) - Light and flaky as scones could be, these were deceptively small and after eating one and a bite, I couldn't eat any more of them. They were super delicious slathered with clotted cream (so evil and so good, the clotting of the cream reminded me of the clotting of my arteries) and orange marmalade (so good - had to be homemade or locally made, it was very good quality and fresh.)
Finger sandwiches (2)- filled with egg salad, I love my savory foods. The egg salad was creamy and thick, not too chopped or gloppy. The bread was nothing special though.
Mini quiche (1) - Mini ham and cheese quiche tartlet was my favorite. Buttery flaky crust, filled to the brim with ham and rich cheese. Not too much egg, it was enough to bind everything together but not overwhelmingly eggy like some other quiches I've had. Perfect size for a taste.
Small slice of pound cake (1) - Pound cake was good but not amazing. I can't say it was anything special.
Small wedge of madeline (1) - this was a good texture for a madeline.
Little assorted cakes (4) - I don't know what exactly everything was called but it was all delicious and of the best quality. For instance, the creme on the top of each was super rich, decadent and most likely made earlier that day. I think there was a mini tiramisu in there, which was my favorite out of the little cakes.
Little chocolate (1)- Yum. Perfect ending to everything.

This was a good, "different" kind of high tea, definitely not what I was used to (like the amazing high tea I had at Harrods in London) but everything was top notch quality. I might just try their proper lunch next time and get their cakes/desserts to go to enjoy at home. This was a good place to go to with a small group of friends, I don't think they could have accomidated more than the 5 of us at one table.