Showing posts with label wine bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine bar. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bacchus Bar and Bistro (Irvine, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda

I recently visited Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. It is an upscale wine and craft beer bar. They also have a small kitchen where prepare a selection of appetizers, burgers and entrees. The exterior of Bacchus is deceiving because it sits in a shopping center but once you step inside, you are in an inviting and spacious area with a wine bar on one side and a retail space on the other.
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Bacchus offers over 350 bottles from around the world and has a wine bar where they can pour up to 60 different wines by the glass.
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I learned that they received the Wine Spectator award in 2014. Bacchus also offers 6 craft beers on a rotating tap along with 20 bottled craft beers. Glancing at the list of twenty, only five were from California. Belgian beers were prominently featured; there was a selection from Iceland and one from Italy.

Like their wines and craft beers, geographic diversity seems to be the desire for the focus of their cheese offerings. France topped the list with five different varieties. Holland was second with two and the US only had a single offering: Barely Buzzed from Utah. Fans of cheese from California, Oregon and Wisconsin may feel snubbed to not make the cut. Nuts, olives and various crackers and breads were also available. I was intrigued with the yuzu marmalade and the fig jam offerings as they probably go well with the crackers and breads. Some items are gluten free.

I repeated what my server said, “lobster grilled cheese” several times thinking that he had it mistaken for lobster mac & cheese. Brie and cheddar were melted with pieces of fresh lobster and served on toasted sourdough. Brie cheese added to the ‘gooey’ factor making each bite a multisensory and delicious experience.
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Bacari PDR (Playa Del Rey, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda

I was delighted to see Bacari PDR take the place of what used to be Bistro Du Soleil in Playa del Rey. Even prior their occupancy, the location was pretty much known for its casual Sunday brunches. Bacari PDR was started by the team of Bobby Kronfli, Daniel Kronfli and executive chef Lior Hillel. The Kronfli brothers and Hillel also collaborated on Bacaro LA as well as Nature’s Brew. Both are located on Union Avenue near the University of Southern California. DSCF4775
 After occupying their Playa del Rey location, they decided to gut out the interior and add a rich dark wood look. The effective use of windows gave the interior a lot of natural light which gave the restaurant a classy casual feel. Actual wine bottles from their customers line the top of the ceiling of the restaurant.
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Executive chef Lior Hillel, who also crafted the Bacaro L.A. menu, brings to Bacari PDR his takes on Mediterranean-inspired cicchetti, or small plates. After I had a chance to speak with him, I discovered that he takes feedback quite seriously and he blends his vision with the tastes of his local clientele. After seeing the small size of the kitchen, I was truly amazed to see the number of items on their menu. Our group had quite a bit to taste that evening:

The rainbow beet salad was full of color: red and yellow beets mixed with chevre goat cheese and freshly chopped tarragon with a roasted black peppercorn vinegar salad dressing. This was both tangy and sweet.
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Crab crostini consisted of crab claw meat and charred poblano peppers with Chef Hillel’s dressing.
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The crostini had plenty of fresh crab meat mixed in a creamy pepper dressing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calivino Wine Pub (Anaheim, CA)

by: guest blogger @btsunoda

Sporting events and concert venues don’t typically serve cutting edge food and so I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that are situated near these types of establishments. Calivino Wine Pub opened its doors in May 2014; located on Katella Ave in Anaheim, they are ideally situated between the Honda Center and Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
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The interior of Calivino Wine Pub resembled a modern cafe: stylish chairs and tables, spot lights from ceiling and single seating by the bar. Colorful wine bottles adorned the wall of the bar area.

 I began with their bacon wrapped dates and a glass of Clayhouse Adobe White Blend.
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The saltiness of the goat cheese combined with the natural sweetness of the dates and honey paired quite nicely. The white blend was a good beginner’s wine.
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 The honey roasted brussel sprouts with pork belly had a crisp exterior and I thought that the sweetness of the honey combined with the salty and smoky nature of the pork belly was an effective way to serve an otherwise bland vegetable. I paired this with an Argentine Malbec: Elsa Bianchi. This soft wine is ideal for the person that isn’t fond of bold complex red wines and is well suited for appetizers.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Tasting Room at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

Considering how interest in all things food related has soared in recent years, many hotels have added chef-driven foods, French cooking class, wine tasting, botanical garden tour, and other culinary activities to entice younger epicureans. Surprisingly the Conejo Valley hasn’t caught on to this idea. If you’re like me, I’m sure you have noticed that Westlake Village is not exactly a hotbed for fine wines and farm to table cuisine. Having spent a chunk of my time there, I dreaded the days I can’t find good place where I can sip, nosh and disappear for a few hours. The Tasting Room Interior
A couple of weeks ago, I was very fortunate to attend the grand opening of The Tasting Room, located within the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Partnering with Malibu Family Wines, The Tasting Room will pour a variety of award-winning Semler and Saddlerock wines. Other notable Malibu Coast and California wineries will also be featured on a rotating basis. I thought the addition of The Tasting Room is brilliant not only because nearby hotels do not have high-end wine shops (let alone tasting space) in their lobby, but also because they have esteemed assortment and probably the best wine flight in the area, with surprisingly fair prices to boot. Wine flight ranges from $15 to $50.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Saint Martha: An Ode to the Patron Saint in Koreatown

An unexpected wine bar has opened in the heart of Koreatown with Tart's Chef Nick Erven (formerly Messhall) and sommelier Mary Thompson (formerly Rivera). The warm gougeres is just an amuse of the surprising and delectable dishes to come.

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The appetizer puts almost all that is good on one plate - and it worked with the steak and oyster tartare and champagne sabayon, served with hot bone marrow beignets ($13)
Steak Oyster Tartare
Steak and oyster tartare: the combination of these two raw delicacies  was one of those "why didn't I think of that before?" moment.

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Sommelier Mary Thompson has done a wonderful job with the wine list, and the servers know their stuff, too. I told my waitress what I liked and she recommended a lovely, crisp, 2012 Wagner Stempel Weissburgunder, Rheinhessen from Germany. This is one of the best new whites I've tried lately.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Zinque Cafe and Wine Bar in West Hollywood

The old Nishimura space across the street from Pacific Design Center was always closed off by a tall wooden gate. Now it has turned into Zinque Cafe and Wine Bar and the gate gave way to a charming outdoor dining area, complete with a fireplace.

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The food menu is small, but we tried some good things here, starting with the Cheese Plate ($16) which included comte, blue cheese, and epoisses
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Though you don't get to choose the cheeses, they're all good and come with fun accompaniments. Now, the server might tell you the one at the end is brie, but I was told Zinque is one of the few places in town that serves Epoisses. Instead of brie, we had a slice of the wonderfully stinky epoisses, even better with the honeycomb.
Epoisses

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Smoke, Oil, Salt: A New Spanish Wine Bar on Melrose

A new Spanish wine bar has taken over the old Angeli Caffe spot on Melrose, with a kitchen helmed by Perfecto Rocher (formerly of Lazy Ox Canteen).

We started dinner at Smoke, Oil, Salt with olives amb bitets (olives, toasted almonds, Manchego cheese, $6) - a great starter!

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Followed by a traditional pa amb tomaca il llangonisses (Catalan tomato toast, homemade red and white sausages $6)
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I like the fresh taste of the tomato on Catalan toast, compared to Italian tomato sauce, and the homemade sausages are quite flavorful.

Vegetarians can opt for the truita de carxofes (artichoke omelet, Meyer lemon aioli, $11)
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Vintage Enoteca, A Friendly Wine Bar With A Female Sommelier

Female chefs have gotten more attention lately, but it's still pretty rare to find a female sommelier. Well, you can meet one at the very approachable Vintage Enoteca in Hollywood: Danielle Francois. It's not a frou-frou wine bar, but a friendly, casual place where locals hang out or go on a date while trying some interesting wines. In fact, while Danielle is the in-house sommelier and part-owner, the other owner is also a woman.

Owners Danielle Francois and Jennifer Moore worked in advertising in New York City. Tired of the of the advertising world, they moved to Los Angeles and opened Vintage Enoteca, wanting to create "a casual environment to explore and sip interesting vino and eat simple, yet delicious tapas that complements the wine." 

They opened Vintage on June 1st 2010 and Danielle went on to get her sommelier certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers. I took a look at the wine and beer list and was surprised at the number of unfamiliar names and varietals on both. I mean, I thought I've learned quite a bit about beer and wine over my blogging years, but still. There was Scheurebe from the Rheinhessen, a Grignolino from Piedmont or a Blaufrankish from Burgenland. The only word I recognize there was Piedmont!

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Anyway, I came in for a casual wine pairing dinner, starting off with a refreshing glass of Pascal Bellier "Reverie" Brut Rose from Loire Valley, France. This sparkling rose is 100% made of pinot noir grapes and going to be perfect in the summer months to come.

The food, as they claimed, is simple and affordable. The small bites are $6 and all the salads, flatbreads, and paninis are $10.

While it wasn't on the tasting menu, one of the other writers had heard a lot of their Crispy Duck Cracklings Salad ($10) and wanted to try it. The salad was composed of blue cheese, blistered baby tomatoes, arugula, creme fraiche dressing, and topped with duck cracklings.
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I'm glad we got to try this salad, tossed with the right amount of dressing. Of course, it's the duck cracklings that made it special.

Asparagus Salad (English pea, pickled fennel, chorizo chips, herb anchovy vinaigrette - $10)
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This was paired with Palomino: La Cigarrera Manzanilla NV, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain.
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Nope, not a white wine. This is a sherry! This dry sherry pairs very well with the anchovy vinaigrette, cutting the saltiness and fishiness. Danielle explains that the dry sherry pairs well in general with salty snacks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fun Pairings at Colonial Wine Bar (West Hollywood)

Colonial Wine Bar in West Hollywood is a new restaurant and wine bar co-owned by sommelier David Haskell, whose fun wine pairings I have always enjoyed in the past. The full experience here is not from just the individual food from chef de cuisine Ryan Otey (Patina, Tasting Kitchen) and drinks but having them paired for you.

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When we came in for dinner, Haskell brought out three dishes at once with a couple of wine, beer, or sake that would pair well with the three dishes.

The first round included: Deviled eggs, pickled jalapeno, smoked paprika, crispy bacon and greens ($5)
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This was my second visit to Colonial and these deviled eggs are becoming a favorite. I liked the deviled eggs paired with Hitachino White best, which is one of their beers on tap. Colonial is apparently one of about ten places in LA that has this beer on tap.

Burrata, heirloom tomatoes, sherry vinaigrette, balsamic gastrique ($12)
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The burrata was very creamy and the tomatoes sweet and fresh. The first three dishes were also paired with a wine called Kabaj from Slovenia, which is a pinot grigio but with the skin left on and thus unlike other pinot grigio. With this dish, the tomatoes are meant to lighten the Hitachino while with the wine it's meant to invoke sparkling tomato juice.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Munching Around Santa Monica with Six Taste Tours

What better way to explore one area's food than a walking tour with an expert, tasting 4-5 places all in one go? Six Taste Tours, started by two USC alums, aim to do just that with their tours in various regions in LA, including Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Arcadia, and more. Each area's tour is guided by an expert in that particular area/cuisine. I was invited to go on the Santa Monica tour recently with their guide, Therese.

Godmother Sandwich
Godmother sandwich, with on ocean view.
I don't want to spoil all the fun of the tour for you, so I will just go through some of the things we ate and leave you with some surprises if you ever take the tour!

They said they consider the Santa Monica tour to be their international tour, and you will see why. Our first stop was Rockenwagner Bakery.
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Rockenwagner Bakery
12835 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 578-8171
www.rockenwagner.com
Röckenwagner Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Our guide, Therese

PhotobucketOther than the baked goods, Therese told us that Rockenwagner has a great Austrian coffee. We tasted some and it was indeed pretty smooth.

Apparently Hans Rockenwagner and his pastry chef invented the pretzel croissant by dipping a croissant in caustic acid, so of course we had to try some! Because of the pretzel-like crust, the croissant doesn't leave as much of a buttery mess on your fingers. 
Pretzel Croissant

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Corkbar: Test Kitchen Tuesdays, Gougeres, and Pork Sliders

This warm and spacious downtown wine bar is designed by Ana Henton (who also designed Intelligentsia Venice), with nice touches like the hanging shelves of empty wine bottles.

Corkbar, Downtown Los Angeles

Corkbar's wine list is dedicated to California wines, and so is their beer list for the most part. The food menu changes seasonally with some mainstay items. I was invited by their PR to taste their new Fall menu, although since I have never been, I tried a lot of their somewhat permanent items.

Every Tuesday, Corkbar holds what's called TKT or Test Kitchen Tuesdays, where Chef Albert Aviles will try out and serve a new dish for just $2. Last week it was a bowl of Chile Verde, for which chef Aviles even called his mother for her recipe.
Chile Verde
Chili meets chile verde for a hearty, spicy bowl. For $2, they gave very generous portions.

One don't-miss appetizer is the Cheddar Cheese Gougeres ($7)
Cheddar Gougeres

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasadena Wine Bar Renaissance? Part 2: Wine Detective

I passed by Wine Detective while they were still undergoing construction on one of my walks around Pasadena months ago. I didn't know when they would open but then I recently received an invitation from one of the co-owners, Lev, to check the place out.

Since this wine bar is just a few blocks away from Caltech (and my apartment) and thus an easy walk, I was more than happy to try it out for myself. A wine bar opening up within a stone's throw from Caltech can only be a good thing!

Wine Detective employs the Enomatic wine dispenser system, where the customer inserts a smartcard into the machine, chooses the wine they want, presses a button and receives a 1 oz pour.
The 1 oz pours (usually priced between $2-4) let you try a lot more wines than you would normally have, but it is cheaper if you opt for a glass. You can also get a bottle here and pay retail price + corkage fee.

The white wines are of course chilled and each pour is precisely controlled.
The wines here are all chosen by the four owners - and the four of them have to agree on the wines, which is probably quite an ordeal given people's differing palate. But, hey, I won't complain if I have to taste wine for work :P

Here you can also find some wines that you can't get at retail stores or are harder to find including Turley Howell Mountain Zinfandel and a selection of Charles Smith's wines.

While Wine Detective is not a restaurant, they do serve cheese plates, charcuterie, and some pintxos.

We got a cheese plate to share. A selection of three cheeses run $11.00.
Each cheese was served with the appropriate condiments. we got the verdecapra (a blue cheese from Italy), Roccolo (Cow’s Cheese from Italy), and a goat cheese that I can't remember. The blue cheese was pretty amazing, do try it sometime.

Duck Trio (duck pate, duck prosciutto, duck salami) - $17

Photo courtesy of Mattatouille

A plate worth getting, we loved all three but I loved the pate most of all, it was smooth and rich in flavor. I probably ate more than my share that night. I should also note that the bread that came with this and the cheese plate was quite good and went well with the cheese and charcuterie.

To soak up all that wine, LA&OC Foodie and I also decided to get some pintxos to share. A selection of 3 pintxos is also $11 and we chose: Pate (Duck Pate, Cucumber, Piquillo Pepper), Mozzarella
(Buffalo Mozzarella, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Basil), and Serrano (Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomatoes).
These are pretty basic bites that work well with wines. I thought the Serrano could've used something extra since it was a bit dry for my taste, but again, I loved the pate.

Not only could I walk home after drinking wine, they also offer a 10% discount for those with Caltech or JPL id!
Also, for happy hour (M-F, 4-7pm) they are offering $5 glass of house wine and 25% off all food items.


Wine Detective
146 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 792-9936
www.winedetective.com
Wine Detective on Urbanspoon


Other wine bars in Pasadena:
Noir Food and Wine
Vertical Wine Bistro

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pasadena Wine Bar Renaissance? Part 1: Vertical Wine Bistro

I admit, I never paid much attention to wine bars in Pasadena before because, well, what's in Pasadena? At least that was my thought.

With the exception of Noir that I checked out a couple of months ago, I haven't gone to the others, but a recent visit with Mattatouille to Vertical Wine Bistro in Old Town changed my perception of the Pasadena scene. We were there for their $5 champagne special that they for the 12 days of Christmas (and also to celebrate our birthdays a few days apart).

Vertical Wine Bistro recently recruited "wine dude" David Haskell (BIN 8945, 2006 Sommelier of the Year award from Angeleno Magazine) to revamp their wine program, and his touch is showing. Lucky me, Mattatouille knows the dude and knows just to take his recommendations on wine instead of ordering on our own.

Vertical's impressive wine list of more than 400 wines spans 10-some pages and ranges from bottles in the $20's to the $100's, including some unique and rare varietals. How are you supposed to pick? Well, we just ask. Otherwise, you can always choose one of the 7 flights they have available on the menu.

It's a bistro after all, so a review of the food is warranted. We decided to get some small plates to share at the bar, and I just went along with Matt's recommendations here.

First up: Corn Fritter (cured salmon, creme fraiche) - $12
Unlike what I expected, the crispy corn fritters were topped with a thick slice of smoked salmon. Lovely texture contrast, lots of flavors. These are some great bites.

Shoestring fries (truffle oil/ketchup) - $8
These thin fries were not overdone and had great texture. Not to mention the generous dousing of truffle oil made me unable to stop popping them into my mouth.

Chorizo Pizza (tomato, mozzarella, basil) - $10
Quite a well prepared rendition of flatbread and always a crowd pleaser, this pizza gets a flavor kick from the spicy chorizo.

So here's where David Haskell comes out and greets Mattatouille. He decided that we didn't have enough to eat though, so soon after he brought out the tour de force:
Roasted Jidori Chicken for 2, roasted tableside - $48
David himself prepared our chicken tableside for us.
I don't normally order chicken at restaurants since it tends to be dry and overcookedy. Of course, I went straight for the chicken leg myself, but I did try the white meat pieces to see how they were and found them to be moist and juicy as well.

David paired our chicken with a 1990 Chapoutier Hermitage.
Smooth tannins and full bodied, pretty rich and complex. This was a beautiful wine and it paired wonderfully with the roasted chicken. We wouldn't have made this pairing on our own, but that's why David Haskell is there.

We also tried a couple of cocktails made by Nikki the bartender.
Her new concoction made with blueberries is light, sweet, and refreshing. We liked it better with bitters and I promised her I'd bring some rhubarb bitters next time I come ( I still haven't yet, but I will, I promise!).

She also claims to make one of the best Margaritas in town, so of course we had to try that.
It was indeed one of the best margaritas I've ever had, a simple but balanced drink.

I've heard of Vertical Wine Bistro before, of course, but now it baffled me why I haven't thought about checking it out. With more than solid food, great wine list, and good (albeit still small) cocktail list, this place should be a go-to place for Old Town Pasadena.


Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N Raymond Ave (upstairs)
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 795-3999
http://www.verticalwinebistro.com/

Vertical Wine Bistro on Urbanspoon
Vertical Wine Bistro in Los Angeles

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