Consume Part I: Food 

Forty-One Reasons to Live in LA

Wednesday, Sep 23 1998


Georgia. There’s no sign for Georgia, and the restaurant itself is tucked away within a relatively nondescript green concrete building at the La Brea end of Melrose. But you’ll have no trouble finding the joint. Just look for the swarm of activity out front — the line of sleek cars clogging up the corner, the hard-driven valets buzzing around like worker bees. Owned by Brad Johnson, Denzel Washington and Norm Nixon, this 4-year-old Southern-cookin’ joint is one hot ticket, and a refreshing blast of sophistication and character on a no-longer-hip street, a high-energy, star-sighting sort of place — so don’t plan on any sequestered, goo-goo-eyed dining experiences. Do, however, expect some of the best damn gourmet Southern food you’ve ever tasted, from grits to catfish and beyond. (That’s right, gourmet grits.) 7250 Melrose Ave.; (213) 933-8420. (Neal Weiss)



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Jerry’s Famous Deli. Jerry Lewis once observed that pastrami had killed more Jews than the Holocaust. Well, chopped liver probably came in second. But if you gotta have it, you gotta have it. So here’s the deal. You love chopped liver, right? You want the best, right? So go to Jerry’s, where it’s as good as your bubbe used to make it. But wait. Before you order that chopped-liver sandwich for $7.75 ("Highway robbery!" screams Bubbe), check out the chopped-liver appetizer — which comes with a boulder-size portion of chopped liver, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions and some rye bread thrown in — for (shhh!) $7.25. What’s the difference? The appetizer makes at least three sandwiches — for 50 cents less! You don’t gotta be an Einstein to figure out what to do next. Load up, take it home and get chopped-livered out for the next two days. 42 S. Delacey Ave., Pasadena, (626) 440-1177. 12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 980-4245. 8701 Beverly Blvd., W. Hollywood, (310) 289-1811. (Mary Beth Crain)





Ye Olde King’s Head Pub/Restaurant/ Tea Room and Gift Shop. Each Sunday, Northern Ireland expat Tom Sheehy puts 24 legs of graze-fed New Zealand lamb into the King’s Head ovens, at "about 350 to 400 degrees. They roast for three to three and a half hours — but remember, I’m cooking in bulk," he says. "When the wife roasts the Sunday lamb after church, the timing is different ’cause she’s only cooking for the family." Come 11:30-ish, homesick Brits, sleepy Irish and lovers of lamb from Ventura to San Diego flock to Santa Monica for that religion of sweet, tender meat topped with a dollop of fresh mint sauce, for crispy roasted potatoes bathing in lamb juices, for a carrot, parsnip and turnip purée that’s spiked with butter and nutmeg. They come regularly for Tom’s Sunday lamb special for $9.95, for the perfume of cumin, fresh garlic and thyme. The ritual: They sit down; they have a beer and await the slices of lamb that’ll be carved for them from the bone. After the meal, they’ll have another beer. Hot weather, cold — when the roast meets vegetable, it answers the longing for comfort and tradition, even though the wife didn’t do the cooking. Amen. 116 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 451-1402. (Pamela Klein)





El Cid Flamenco Restaurant. This particular stretch of Sunset (east of Fountain) seems dry and deserted, but take a few steps down El Cid’s winding stairway on any Sunday morn and you’ll enter a little brunch paradise — green gardens, Spanish egg specialties, champagne. But the best part’s the musical accompaniment: the Jazz au Femmes, a trio of gray-haired grannies, all decked out spiffily in matching outfits to perform their weekly set of "All of Me"–type standards. Their clarinet/sax player’s got a saucy Carol Channing ’do and a smooth perform- ing style, and the bun-wearing drummer–cum–lead singer (bet she was doing that before Phil Collins) always keeps one spiky black pump raised up onto her equipment (bet she was doing that before Courtney Love). Brunch is $11.95 every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (213) 668-0318. (Mara Schwartz)






Alegria. As the owner puts it, the Silver Lake storefront restaurant’s tacos à la crema are "as down-home as fried chicken and collard greens." Like those Southern staples, Nadine Trujillo’s tacos tap into a deep-down yearning for mama — rich and savory and satisfying. Traditionally served during Lent, when no meat is permitted, these vegetarian delights consist of mashed potatoes mixed with mounds and mounds of jack cheese, garlic salt and a bit of marjoram stuffed into corn tortillas, deep-fried and topped with three of Trujillo’s homemade salsas. During the day she might use a ranchera, a salsa verde and a salsa fresca. The best time to try this dish, however, is at night, when the more substantial toppings appear — a mole, a salsa verde, maybe a salsa roja. Then the whole thing is topped with queso fresco and crème fraîche and garnished with guacamole. Worth every calorie. 3510 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (213) 913-1422. (Sara Catania)

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