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Where to Eat Now 

Thirty-five new entires to the list

Tuesday, Feb 6 2007
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Baran Does every big restaurant in the kebab-intensive blocks of Westwood’s “Tehrangeles” have the same menu? Is there a zoning ordinance that mandates barg kebabs and the insanely sour pickles called torshi, skewered chicken and the thick soup ash, alps of basmati rice and arm-long cylinders of the grilled ground-beef koobideh? Baran, perhaps the sleekest of the neighborhood’s palaces, may be tricked out like the swankiest restaurant in Qom, all burnished copper and gleaming varnish and spotlight examples of Persian calligraphy, but it too is a redoubt of lamb kebabs and beef kebabs and chicken kebabs; grilled lamb chops that rank with the sweetest, tenderest lamb in town; and tah dig, toasted rice crusts, topped with seriously tart stewed greens. If you are a fan of polos, like the gigantic, elaborate, saffron-gilded rice dishes associated with Iranian holidays, or the zereshk polo, made with barberries, which is formidable, and the polo made with sour cherries like a scoop of Baskin-Robbins cherry vanilla ice cream brought to screaming, savory life, then you will be very happy with the standard. 1916 Westwood Blvd., Wstwd., (310) 475-4500. Open daily 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Beer, wine. Parking lot. AE, D, MC, V. Entrees $12–$19. Iranian. JG$$b?

Bella Cucina Italiana Spaghetti and meatballs? Check. Black-and-white Rat Pack pix? Check. Exposed brick? Columbia-era Frank on the stereo? Around the corner from a club? Check, check and check again. At Bella, a chicly appointed place within staggering distance of Rokbar and Geisha House, there are plenty of mirrors to gaze into, a passable beef carpaccio with well-dressed arugula salad and a substantial martini list, which occupies the regulars somewhat more reliably than the cookie-cutter Italian cuisine. 1708 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd., (323) 468-8815 or bellahollywood.com. Mon.–Wed. 6–11 p.m., Thurs. 6 p.m.–mid., Fri.–Sat. 6 p.m.–1 a.m., Sun. 6–10 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking (complimentary from noon to 3 p.m.). AE, JBC, MC, V. Italian. JG$$bÂ?

 

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Bin 8945 We have all become familiar with the idea of the Italianate wine bar in the past year or so, intimate, themed places with a few dozen inexpensive wines, nibbles of meat and cheese, and a cheery, relaxed vibe. Bin 8945, which just opened in the raging heart of Boystown, is the other kind of wine bar, a showcase for wine more than a center of conviviality, with a serious Asian/Caribbean menu and a wine list that is expensive but dotted with values for those few of you willing to pop $120 or more for a bottle of rare or antique wine to go with your fried green tomatoes. Chef Matt Carpenter has a Bahamian background, and there are twists in the cooking you might not expect from a restaurant where the food is supposed to be incidental to the wine: grilled steak with duck-fat fries, spicy Barbados-style catfish, a rather too-elegant take on jerk chicken, and what must be L.A.’s only example of duff, a steamed Bahamian cake studded with raisins, which Carpenter has his grandmother send in from the islands. Bin 8945, 8945 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd., (310) 550-8945. Open nightly, 5 p.m.–2 a.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Entrees $26–$29. Asian/Caribbean. JG$$[Â?

BLD This bustling café from Grace’s Neal Fraser may be the most useful restaurant of our time, open for quick breakfasts of croissants and cappuccino, for sybaritic brunches of fluffy ricotta pancakes and eggs Benedict, for salady lunches and meaty feasts, for serious date-night dinners and after-movie snacks of burgers and beer and butterscotch pudding. When the bouncers at Simon won’t let you within 50 yards of the restaurant, the wait at BLD, a high-turnover place that takes no reservations, is probably about 15 minutes. Neal Fraser has long been a bwana of complexity in fourth-stage Los Angeles restaurants, rarely content to settle for one garnish where three will do. But you don’t go to BLD for an aesthetic experience — you go to eat supper. And freed of the formal requirements of the destination-restaurant menu, Fraser turns out to be a genius as a short-order cook, churning out exemplary, drippy hamburgers made with ultraprime Wagyu beef, moistening sandwiches with aioli, using smoky house-made ketchup where he can and Heinz 57 where he must, greasing home fries with La Española’s chorizo, and dropping coleslaw bombs like a 40-year fry cook with canola oil in his veins. 7450 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 930-9744. Open Open daily 8 a.m.–11 p.m. (bar food till mid.) Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $26–$66. American. JG$$ b[Â?

Bottle Rock The tables at Bottle Rock are the size of phonograph records, and the wobbly metal stools seem perpetually on the verge of collapse. The location, tucked behind a parking structure, is obscure, even if it is just a step or two from Culver City’s new restaurant row. But Bottle Rock, which doubles as a shop, is among the most appealing of the wine bars that have opened on the Westside over the past year — because of the house-made pâtés, because of the tomato bread and the pressed sandwiches, because of the cheese board, but mostly because of the wine, which tends to be obscure, well chosen and reasonably priced. The proprietors will open any bottle in the shop, from simple California wines to aged Barolos, if you commit to two glasses of the stuff, and the chalkboard list of available wines can change 20 times a night. The little grilled chorizos are delicious. And there is always something good to drink for $5 a glass. After a screening at Sony or a show at one of the local theaters, Bottle Rock is the perfect place to kick it. 3847 Main St., Culver City, (310) 836-WINE. Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–mid. Beer, wine. Lot parking. All major CC. American/French.JG$$bÂ?

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