Monday, January 31, 2011

  • Anne Fishbein
  • RIP Beacon

For those of us who've kept our New Year's resolutions, bravo ... and for the other 99 percent, we hope our favorite food spots continue to serve the stuff we love. Sit-down restaurants are nice, but who has the time (or money) for three-martini lunches anymore? Good thing we've got sausage on wheels; Jersey Grub to cure hangovers; and Carmela Ice Cream to wash it down. Yes, there's porn scandals and violence in food truck land, but as long as they're serving their signature goods, we're waiting patiently in line. Still, it's nice to have a place to go during lunch breaks and for dinner dates.

On the horizon comes Panini Cafe in Westwood, SmithHouse Bar & Grill in Century City, Neapolitan Pizza Oven, Kachi Bistro, and Ink, to name a few.

Read on for a list of January openings and closures...

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  • L. Balla

If there's one thing Sang Yoon knows how to do, it's build anticipation. After months of preparation, rampant media speculation, publicist road blocks, and a few days of preview dinners last week, he finally debuts his new Culver City restaurant, Lukshon, tomorrow. It's safe to say, it was probably worth the wait.

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Red sauce Italian-American restaurant Miceli's is celebrating its 62nd year in business.

To mark the auspicious occasion, they're offering a juicy deal: Mondays through Thursdays during the month of January, buy one entree at regular price and you'll get a second entree for only $0.62. Bruschetta for less than a buck, clams for less than a clam.

A remnant of an earlier era, Miceli's is a fortress of old-school Italian-American fare. Heavy on the American, light on the Italian. Go for simple dishes: the 1/2 spaghetti and 1/2 ravioli combo with meatballs, the lasagna, the sausage, maybe an order of chicken marsala, if you're feeling adventurous.

For a triple-dose of classic Hollywood, try a movie at the American Cinematheque, a plate of pasta at Miceli's and a nightcap at Boardner's.

Today is the last day to take advantage of Miceli's anniversary special. So you might want to go now.

Animal (and Son of a Gun) chefs Jon Shook (right) and Vinny Dotolo - N. GALUTEN
  • N. Galuten
  • Animal (and Son of a Gun) chefs Jon Shook (right) and Vinny Dotolo
After much speculation and many rumors, Animal chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have released the name and concept of their new restaurant, opening at 8379 West Third Street. As the Animal team told Food & Wine Magazine, the restaurant will be called Son of a Gun, and will focus on a seafood-driven menu. The kitchen will be headed up by Animal alum Frank Anderson, and word is that they expect to open in three weeks, if all goes well. They will start with dinner service, eventually expanding it into lunch as well.

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Almonds, Honey And Apricots (Or Oranges) = The Marzipan Of Your Dreams - J. GARBEE
  • J. Garbee
  • Almonds, Honey And Apricots (Or Oranges) = The Marzipan Of Your Dreams

In today's world of health-touting food packaging, even hard alcohol is boastfully going organic (you would think 80+ proof would make anything pesticide free). And so there is an insidious pleasure in buying farmers' market fresh, and obviously healthy, chunky almond butter, sea salt-roasted almonds and almond flour from the small Wasco-based Fat Uncle Farms. They make no excuses about that chubby man lounging on their label -- or their stellar marzipan.

Fat Uncle Farms' marzipan is really what most would call almond paste in this country (a compliment). Nate Siemens, the farm's nut roaster and marzipan maker, simply grinds blanched almonds with a little (very little) sugar, water and almond extract to make a lightly sweetened paste (hence the reason we call this almond paste, not marzipan). Which means this is not the sort of overly sweet, processed egg-white and preservative-laden paste that you pull out for those Martha Stewart marzipan cherry modeling projects. Siemens' version is more akin to traditional German-style marzipan in that the almonds are more coarsely ground, with just enough sugar added to complement their flavor. It was the best marzipan almond paste we'd tasted stateside -- until Siemens pulled out the honey-sweetened version.

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First & Hope: Chicken & Vegetable Pot Pie

First & Hope is a counter-intuitive choice for lunch. This posh supper club awash in subdued decadence is known for its glamorously adorned waitstaff, its ambiance, its cocktails not its food.

With a $22 dineLA lunchtime deal and a new chef, Yuji Iwasa -- who took over from Joseph Panarello who took over for opening chef Shelly Cooper -- we wanted a chance to taste the new creations.

Perhaps a pot pie evokes memories of oven-warmed freezer pies swimming in gluey white sauce or that reliable, comforting standard-bearer from Marie Callender's.

At any rate, it probably evokes meat and/or vegetables encased in pie crust. To this traditionalist school of thinking, Iwasa's post-modern pot pie is the glamorous antidote.

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  • Santa Monica farmers market

Meat is more trendy than cupcakes these days, with all standard apologies to Morrissey. Consider the seemingly permanent bacon trend, the rising popularity of butchery, happy whole pig farm-to-table excursions, and local butchers who generate so much interest that they become minor rock stars even before they open a shop. To meet the need -- as well as, oh right, the need of a ballooning population -- scientists are now trying to make their own. Meat, that is.

Reuters reports that a South Carolina developmental biologist and tissue engineer has been working for a decade to make meat in a lab. Dr. Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering "cultured" meat.

"It will be functional, natural, designed food," Mironov told Reuters. "How do you want it to taste? You want a little bit of fat, you want pork, you want lamb? We design exactly what you want. We can design texture."

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Got a culinary question? Ask Jonathan Gold. You'd think he'd get an avalanche of esoteric, pithy or just downright necessary questions, now wouldn't you? Not as many as you'd think. Send an email to askmrgold@laweekly.com or tweet him your question @thejgold. Come on, pretend you're Dana Goodyear for a minute. Some of us do that all the time.

the invisible restaurant critic - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • the invisible restaurant critic

Food Truck Festival at Santa Anita Park

There's no surer bet these days than rounding out an event -- a street fair, a concert, a community festival -- with a few nouveau food trucks. Even the mediocre trucks, and there are plenty, are bound to be better than the grim array of vendors who usually populate these affairs. ($10 for a burnt and shriveled satay skewer with a cup of brown goo masquerading as peanut sauce? We can't wait!)

We have, however, finally met our match, seen our spirits broken, had our life forced nearly sapped from us. It happened on a gorgeous sunny day in Arcadia.

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