Page 3 of 5
Beverly Hills and vicinity
Talesai. The owners of Talesai on Sunset Boulevard brought all their experience and many of their best dishes to this chic, glassed-in fishbowl of a café situated at one end of a Beverly Hills mini-mall. Friendly service and beautiful Asian statuary mitigate the industrial spareness of the room, but nothing tempers the boomeranging noise during dinner. Through it all, the refined Thai cooking sings with freshness, quality and flavor — try crisp corncakes, chicken curry, rib-eye salad, all the desserts. 9198 Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 271-9345. Lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; dinner seven days 5–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.95–$12.95. Thai. MH $
Bay Cities. The Italian deli Bay Cities makes a decent turkey sandwich, a loud, greasy meatball sandwich and a very respectable hero, but the sandwich of choice here is a monster sub, straight outta Brooklyn, called “The Godmother,” which includes a slice of every Italian cold cut on Earth. Fully dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard and a few squirts of a garlicky vinaigrette, a Godmother feeds a couple of people at least; the guys behind the counter will look at you quizzically if they suspect you’re planning to eat a whole one yourself. 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 395-8279. Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. till 6 p.m. Beer, wine and liquor for takeout only. Lot parking. MC, V. Italian Deli. JG ¢b
LA99 Josie. Josie LeBalch, who spent her 20s as the chef of an Italian restaurant but cooks with a French accent, is most famous for game dishes but may be as deft with a dish like baby squid and lentils as she is with all-American preparations of duck, wild boar and elk — although her guinea fowl with wild rice is pretty special. She is large. She contains multitudes. And there’s chocolate bread pudding for dessert. 2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 581-9888. Dinner Mon.–Thurs. 6–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6-11 p.m., Sun. 5:30–9 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Progressive American with French and Italian. JG $$
Culver City/Venice/Marina Del Rey/?Westchester and vicinity
Hal’s Bar & Grill. Since the primordial days of the Los Angeles art scene, there has always been an artists’ hangout in Venice, a place where veterans of exotic Kassel and Frankfurt could indulge newfound fondnesses for rare wines and old Calvados, a place where art stars had the clout of the kind that springs out of Hollywood. For a lot of that time, that place has been Hal’s, a bastion of decent cheeseburgers and blue-chip paintings, caesar salads and canteloupe martinis, bread pudding and pretty women at the bar. Hal’s may have been more comfortable before they replaced the loungelike sofas in the front with a zillion bar tables, but it’s still a good place to listen to live jazz on Fridays and Sundays, hang out with a diverse crowd, and sip a mean Bloody Mary or three. 1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 396-3105. Lunch and dinner Mon. & Fri. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Tues.–Wed. & Thurs. 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Full bar open daily until 2 a.m. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. American. JG $$bÂ?
Wabi Sabi. In a neighborhood where artists once rented studios for pittances, a sleek new commercial district of antique stores, design offices and high-end restaurants has evolved — including Wabi Sabi, a skinny storefront refashioned into a Matsuhisa-derived sushi bar/Pacific Rim dinner house. Drop in for a big bowl of Cal-Asian style “bouillabaisse,” or linger through a multicourse meal of small plates (including standbys like miso-marinated bass or eggplant). But sushi, here, is the real stunner — which, given the prices, it should be. Don’t miss the lobster roll. 1635 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 314-2229. Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–10:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m. Sun. 5:30–10 p.m. Full bar. Street parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V.California Japanese/Pacific Rim. MH $$
San Fernando Valley
LA99 Max. Fusion chefs, even the best of them, tend to fall on one side of the spectrum or the other, either dressing up essentially Western techniques with Asian flavors and exotic ingredients or supercharging existing Asian dishes with professional French technique. Chef Andre Guerrero, who is Filipino-American, seems to split the difference about as adroitly as anyone in town. So where his “ahi towers” are nothing like traditional sushi, for example, the perfectly engineered cylinders of fried sticky-rice cake, seaweed, pickled ginger, wasabi-flavored flying-fish roe and raw fish have all the sensations of a great, trashy tuna roll. This is a midlevel restaurant, not a temple of cuisine. But Guerrero’s formidable chicken adobo is a remarkable, remarkable dish. 13355 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 784-2915. Sun.–Thurs. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. All major credit cards. California Asian. JG $$.b[?