Showing posts with label studio city. Show all posts
Showing posts with label studio city. Show all posts

Friday, March 24, 2017

Brunch at Firefly's Romantic Patio (Studio City, Los Angeles, CA)

by Bryan Tsunoda (discovering-la.com)

Firefly has consistently been on the list of Top Romantic Restaurants in LA. I guess I haven’t romanced my wife enough lately because we haven’t been there. I recently attended a media tasting to sample their Sunday brunch offerings.

Customers enter into what appears to be a library lounge setting with couches and a classic bar from the past. Walking past the bar, you enter the bright patio which appears to be outdoors, but is protected from the elements by a translucent covering. 
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Along the wall are Moroccan-style cabanas that can close for privacy.
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Food Network and Cutthroat Kitchen star, chef Perry Pollaci, took over the kitchen last November. He’s a C.I.A. alum and has used his talents in New York City, Paris and Madrid restaurants. More recently he’s worked at Church and State and Kendall’s Brasserie, and has transformed The Royce into a cutting edge wood-fired steakhouse. He also volunteers his time at Slideluck LA which is dedicated to building and strengthening community through food and art. 

If you are the type that enjoys a continental breakfast, you’ll appreciate the variety of fresh baked pastries. Despite how good everything looked, I only tried a couple of them. The raspberry tart was fruit filled, flakey and quite tasty. A few of us were impressed by the sticky bun because it had a crisp exterior and wasn’t overly sweet.
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I sampled both the lobster and veggie scrambles. The eggs had a nice buttery taste and were extremely light and fluffy. 
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Naturally I veered towards the lobster scramble because they were made with truffle butter, tarragon, and topped with caviar. I would definitely order that again.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mexican Brunch at Cocina Condesa (Studio City, CA)

by guest blogger @iam_robot

Los Angeles might be a beautiful melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, but its diverse residents all have one thing in common: we’re all suckers for good Mexican Food. Being a Los Angeles transplant the last 15 years of my life, I’d think I have tasted all the greatest Mexican food this world has to offer. But after trying out new places every week, I’m still constantly flabbergasted with the infinite variations, craftsmanship and dedication from all these great taqueros/ taqueras. Sure I have my favorite joints for certain Mexican food but when I discovered a new place with less predictable menu, I can’t help but thinking how many more bewildered moments like this I’d encounter living in this city.
Just for good measure, I’d like to share my brunch experience at Cocina Condesa in Studio City. 
Exterior
Situated strategically on Ventura Blvd, this bright yellow Restaurant features hearty Mexican street food and modern libations crafted by David Rubin..

No, this place is not your typical Mexican Food – you won’t see tacos-bean combos or brick size burritos with enchilada sauce. Instead, Executive Chef Eddie Garcia features finer specialties we rarely get enough of – ceviches, aqua-chiles, sopes, street corn, machaca, questo fundido, and braised chicken mole.  But Brunch is the way to go! I can’t specify a genre but the lineup leans towards a Cal-Mexican cuisine with some emphasis on healthier eating.
Interior
The vibe inside Cocina Condesa is festive and vibrant.  Huge red-framed windows are featured in the dining room to circulate the evening breeze while the wooden table and high-chair suggests a significant landmark (bar or saloon) you’d see in Mexico or other South American countries. Love how eclectic and kitschy the wall d├ęcor is – so many random things to look at: old Mexican hero sepia pictures, bullhead skeleton, antique guitar, Day of the Dead dolls, wooden Mexico map, sombrero, etc – you’ll always have a topic for conversation.  

Back to the brunch menu. My absolute favorite item is the Mayan Chocolate Pancakes. Three hearty warm fluffy pancakes topped with seared plantains and crushed Mayan Chocolates and Sugar.    
Mayan Choc Pancakes
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And instead of drizzling the pancakes with ordinary maple syrup, you’re given Piloncillo Syrup, a homemade maple syrup made with brown / white sugar, cinnamon, and water. Definitely lower in calories!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spread PB Reinvents an American Staple

by guest blogger @iam_robot

If you’re like me, I think Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich is the most perfect sandwich. It’s simple, convenient, and it pleases all the taste palate. Now comes the good news. What if I tell you there’s a place who’s willing to listen & personally make your fantasy-fueled bigger-than-life ambition PB sandwich? Yup, it’s time to put on the big boy pants! We’re moving on from your Mom’s stingy swipe of Skippy and Smuckers on white. Instead, we’re going to pile the condiments high enough that you’ll be eating a sloppy (ridiculously good) mess & smiling ear to ear (or seeing double rainbows) by the end of the meal…A little nutty?
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While I serenely believe two pieces of bread topped with peanut butter and jelly is always good enough, I think some moderate tweaks could elevate its status to Super PB. Think of honey, banana, bacon, curry or chocolate sauce to complement the perfect duo, and I think I just had my “Whiplash” moment – yes, my mind is all over the f-king Happy Meal and not on pitch. Anyways, Spread PB, the humble concept by Katie Kerr & Dustin Alpert, is not some swanky PB Jelly place. There’s no artisan bread or jelly made up from seaweed, instead, you get all the flavors you’re accustomed to. Anyone from a 3 year old to a 93 year old would really appreciate this!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Preview: New Year's Eve Menu at Bow and Truss

For New Year's Eve, Bow and Truss in North Hollywood is offering up a 4-course menu for $50. With 2-4 choices for each course and plenty of vegan options, there's something for everyone.

Start with a choice of pastel de choclo (corn and meat pie), patatas bravas (salt-cured potatoes, that's your vegan option) or Tuna Tartare (olives, garlic, shallots, served on house made cracker)

Bow and Truss

The next course is a soup or salad. There's s lentil salad with serrano ham and chorizo, or two vegan options:
Tomatican Soup (corn and tomato soup)
Bow and Truss

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Famed San Fernando Valley hangout Sportsmen’s Lodge gets a major facelift

by guest blogger @iam_robot

2014-05-14
17.55.27Sportsmen’s Lodge, once known as San Fernando Valley’s fixture for fine dining and celebrity scene, is banking on high-priced makeovers to boost more visitors and to compete with newer, much more contemporary venues opening up blocks away.

The hotel – located strategically on Ventura Blvd and Coldwater Canyon Avenue - opened 52 years ago and was a popular hangout spot for movie writers, stars, producers – Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Humphrey Bogart are frequent guests.  Rumor has it, these celebrities were very fond of the trout-fishing lake. They were given rods and bait to catch their fish and make dinner, courtesy of the lodge’s restaurant. However, in 1971, fishing activity at the lodge was shut down by the Department of Public Health due to the San Fernando earthquake.
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18.05.07

Saturday, September 7, 2013

San Fernando Valley Reviews


**** SAN FERNANDO VALLEY ****


BLVD Bar (Studio City)
Bow and Truss (North Hollywood)
Casa Vega (Sherman Oaks)
Firenze Osteria (Toluca Lake)
Idle Hour (North Hollywood)
Mac-O-Licious (Valley Village)
Mariscos El Teto's (Sun Valley)
Ombra Ristorante (Studio City)
Pedalers Fork (Calabasas)
PizzaRev (Studio City)
Public School 818 (Sherman Oaks)
Saddle Peak Lodge (Calabasas) *
Sushi Katsu-ya (Encino)
The Tasting Room and Lobby Lounge at Four Seasons Hotel (Westlake Village)
Tipple and Brine (Sherman Oaks)
Tee's on the Green (Tujunga)
Vitello's (Studio City)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Build Your Own Pizza at PizzaRev (Studio City, CA)

If you're particular about the toppings you want on your pizza, try Pizza Rev in Studio City where you can select the cheese, toppings, and sauce for your individual, customized pizza.

It's similar to 800 Degrees in Westwood but cheaper. In fact, at Pizza Rev your very own crafted pizza will cost $7.95 despite how many toppings you put on, although there are some premium options that cost extra like gluten free crust or burrata (or vegan "cheese").

You go down the line and ask for or point to the toppings you want. It's hard not to go overboard when everything is in front of you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sneak Preview: Loteria Grill's DineLA Menu

DineLA Restaurant Week is upon us once again, and Loteria Grill had invited the media to preview their DineLA menu so that we can tell you what's in store and what to order.

Order this one!
I went to their Studio City location. There are still the cards adorning the top of the walls, but thanks to the distinct crowd this location is not as loud as the Hollywood one and seemed brighter.

The chef/owner Jimmy Shaw was there to explain to us his inspirations behind the menu while we sip tequila infused with kiwi and a hint of Chili.

 There are three options for each of the three courses. Unfortunately, I can't show you all of the three appetizers since our whole table went with the Tostadita de Salpican do Jaiba.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Completely Revamped Vitello's (Studio City)

Vitello's in Studio City was an old school Italian restaurant in Studio City famous for being a mafia hangout in the 50's and the site of the Robert Blake shooting incident. If you were to ask the current staff, even they will admit that the food back then was no bueno. All that changed recently. Major renovation of the interior, an entirely new menu under a new chef (who for once is actually Italian), and a wine and cocktail program.

Vitello's

Carrot Cocktails
The cocktail menu was pretty interesting. I ordered the Bad Lil' Wabbit made with whiskey, carrot juice, agave, lemon, mint, and ginger beer ($11). I was wary at first. Carrot juice? But this drink was good! The ginger beer complements it nicely.

The chef likes to put out special items and customers can pretty much request whatever they wanted, as long as they have the ingredients. My dinner ended consisting of dishes not on the regular menu (except for the dessert). Fresh salmon tartar was served with diced apples and cucumbers.
Salmon Tartar

A big mound of smooth, creamy burrata is served with sweet and crisp heirloom tomatoes. I welcomed every chance I got to eat heirloom tomatoes before the season ended.
Burrata and Tomatoes

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Hour at Casa Vega, a Restaurant with a History (Sherman Oaks)

How old on average are the restaurants you know of in Los Angeles? Chances are, not that old. Even what we consider to be old have probably been around for about ten years. Well, Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks has been in business for more than 50 years. There's something to be said about that!

I was invited there recently to check out their happy hour. There's no separate happy hour menu, just $4.95 house margaritas, 20% off other drinks, and 50% off appetizers. The happy hour also runs from 2:30-7pm daily (in case you want to get your drinking on early in the day).

Other than the house margarita, they have other variations such as the blood orange (with blood orange soda though) and some frozen blended ones like the coconut margarita - think pina colada with tequila (regular price $7.95).

Coconut margarita
The food menu is extensive since long time customers complain when the restaurant tries to take their "favorites" off the menu, so it just kept growing. Most of them are the "typical" Mexican food you encounter, but they have quite a few interesting items as well. We tried a few appetizers. For me, the highlights were these two:
Queso Fundido (regular price $8.75)
Queso Fundido
A bowl of hot melted Jack and Cotija cheese, what a perfect food for drinking.


Lobster Quesadilla (lemon garlic lobster, jack and cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream - regular price $14.95)
Lobster Quesadilla
They actually use chunks of lobster in the quesadilla. The quesadilla itself was pretty inexpensive for lobster, plus half off? Quite a deal.
Mexican coffee For desserts they have flan and churros, but you can get an after dinner boozy drinks like the Senior's Famous Mexican Coffee. What's in it? It's apparently a "secret recipe" but it's sweet and strong.

Checking out Casa Vega was fun for its history. The decor and the food is more of the mainstream/typical Mexican restaurants as opposed to some of the more regional specialists that are starting to emerge these days, but remember this place was opened more than 50 years ago! For the Sherman Oaks or Studio City locals, happy hour is a pretty good deal, especially when it goes on at 2:30!


Casa Vega
13301 Ventura Blvd
 Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-4868
 Casa Vega on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Taste of Piemonte: Vietti Wine Dinner at Ombra (Studio City)

What better wines to pair Italian food with than Italian wines? Recently, the newly opened Ombra in Studio City held a wine pairing dinner with an old winery from Piemonte, Vietti. Mario Vietti started making Vietti wines in 1919, although the history of the winery itself traces back to the 19th century.

Ombra is chef Michael Young's first venture as a chef/owner, but he has trained under some big Italian names in Los Angeles including Angelo Auriana at Valentino and Celestino Drago. Story has it that the lawyer working with French Laundry was impressed by his cooking at Domenico's in Silver Lake. He then suggested that Young open his own restaurant - and that was Ombra.

As with any meal at Ombra, our wine dinner started with arancini (fried risotto) and bread with eggplant caponata.

Amuse


Vitello Tonnato (roast veal with tuna sauce)
Vitello Tonnato
Apparently this is a traditional dish from Piedmont. Why have I not had this before? All the garnishes that normally come on smoked fish is here, but with veal! I will have to keep an eye out for this dish in the future.

This was paired with a 2010 Vietti Arneis
arneis

A very clear white, with hints of stone fruit and light acidity - refreshing but does not overpower the dish. The wine takes away the sharpness of the onion and the fishiness a bit, while the creamy tuna sauce cuts the acidity.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italian Wines and Lunch at Firenze Osteria with Fabio Viviani

Escolar with Puttanesca Sauce
I confess, I actually don't really watch much TV, including Iron Chef, Top Chef and all that, but I do hear about the contestants and winners. Most Angelenos probably know of Fabio Viviani, a Top Chef contestant and now cookbook author and celebrity chef, who then opened up Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake and Cafe Firenze in Moorpark. I went for the first time for a hosted wine paired lunch with Santa Margherita wines. Fabio was there to prepare our lunch and talk to us, and with his travel schedule, this was a chance hard to pass up.

The reviews seemed mixed. LA Times' SIV went in 2009 and didn't like it, but my friend Weezer Monkey went recently and loved it. My Last Bite also says it's one of her favorites in the area. It turns out based on this lunch I'm loving it too. Now, I can't tell you if S Virbila's dislike of this place came from the fact that she went when they had just opened, or because Fabio is actually here taking care of our meals, or because I rarely agree with her in the first place. All I can tell you is that we had a great lunch and that this is what this restaurant can be.
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Fabio Viviani at his restaurant.
Now, a bit of background on how this lunch came to be. Antonio Terlato, founder of Terlato Wines, was the first one to introduce Pinot Grigio to the US. Fabio Viviani's partnership with Terlato (and thus Santa Margherita) began when he won a trip to Napa in one of the Top Chef challenges. He did a tasting with Terlato and they fell in love with him. He says he grew up drinking Chianti and enjoy cooking with them.


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The main dining room.
Unexpectedly, this was to be a seven course lunch! And Fabio warned us that the portions will not be small, either. He's Italian, he exclaims. He also says in an Italian home, if a guest doesn't finish his/her food, s/he won't be invited back. Uh oh.

Bracing for the courses ahead, we started with some Crostino di Pancetta (toasted bread, burrata, grilled pancetta, crispy sage, brown butter)
Burrata

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finding the ROOT at BLVD Bar (Studio City)

The BLVD Hotel in Studio City recently opened up their intimate lobby into a bar called BLVD Bar.

I was invited to their launch party and tasted the drinks they offered. It's a small place so the bar itself is not big, but enough to offer an eclectic menu.
All the drinks are named after boulevards in Los Angeles. Many of them are vodka-based 'tinis, which are appropriate for the target audience. There's even one with layered colors called Santa Monica Blvd, undeniably pretty, but for those who have gotten bored of those, there is still something here for you. The La Cienega Blvd drink is one of the best margaritas I've had in town, made with Don Julio tequila, agave syrup, and lime.

An unusual bottle of spirit caught my eye during the party: ROOT. The label says this 80-proof spirit was a "certified organic neutral spirits with North American herbs and pure cane sugar."
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The ingredients listed included birch bark, wintergreen, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and more. They use this in a drink called Ventura Blvd made with Root , Canton ginger liqueur, black rum, grenadine and mango syrup. It was a sweet and balanced drink with an unusual herbal undertone.
I wanted to try the Root by itself so they gave me a shot of it. Upon the first whiff my brain said "root beer." Unmistakably root beer. With the first taste, though, it was most certainly not. It was potent, fairly thick, with strong herbal notes.
I was very happy with this particular spirit discovery, and pleasantly surprised that I found this at BLVD Bar!

BLVD Bar
10730 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
http://www.theblvdhotel.com/cafe-bar-lounge/

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