Sunday, January 28, 2007

X'otik Kitchen

X'otik Kitchen is a cute little take-out cafe on newly gentrified Washington Blvd., near La Cienega in Culver City, sharing the neighborhood with uber-cool art galleries and architectural offices. The spelling of X'otik isn't the only exotic thing about this place. Their menu of chicken, fish and meat dishes is peppered with ingredients like kafir lime, tumeric, coconut, coriander and kecap manis (whatever that is!). They offer a few of different free-range half chicken dishes, all available with a choice of sides and pita bread. I had the Sumatran Coconut Chicken made with tumeric, garlic, kafir lime and coconut (a pleasantly mild combination), with Indonesian rice, and garlic sauteed mixed vegetables, for $9.95. The chicken was moist, the vegetables al dente, and the rice fluffly. I thought the portions were perfect. The chicken was on the smaller side, which was just right for me, and not too much rice. Do not expect to see steroided-pumped-up chicken like at Versailles. X'otik Kitchen's emphasis is on organic, fesh and natural ingredients. They also offer salads ($7.25-8.95), fish of the day, lemongrass shrimp, Nebraskan skirt steak, and a couple of (out of place on this menu) pastas like ravioli ($8.95) and penne with grilled vegetables ($8.45). They have a couple of tables outside, and a tiny counter inside. Expect to take your order to-go.

X'otik Kitchen
6121 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, Ca 90232

Father's Office in Culver City - Still Coming Soon

No ground broken yet,
but I saw this posted:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rustic Canyon *yawn*

It is generally not a good sign when I look over a menu and cannot find anything I really want to eat. Luckily, my party decided to share everything, so the decision was not entirely up to me. Rustic Canyon, the new Santa Monica "wine bar and seasonal kitchen," makes a noble effort to provide a comfortable, yet hip atmosphere, and fine food. The truth is, most everything we ate was perfectly good, just not very memorable (and it is not really a wine bar - there is a small bar and waiting area, but until this initial buzz wears off, do not expect to find a seat). Nothing on the menu sounded very original or interesting. Do we need another restaurant serving their version of The Office Burger? Their Rustic Canyon Burger comes with (what else?) Applewood smoked bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, and wild greens, blah, blah, blah ($14). As an appetizer they serve Fra Mani Salumi (who doesn't these days?) with Humbolt Fog cheese. The mains complete the basic restaurant menu checklist; 1 vegetarian dish, a burger, a fish, lamb, steak and chicken.

After a nice plate of Spago-esque flatbread with tapenade and butter, we started off by sharing sauteed wild mushrooms over crispy polenta ($12). This was the highlight of the evening. The polenta was ground fine, formed into thin patties, pan fried to a crisp, topped with sauteed mushrooms, including chanterelles, and topped with a little spring of thyme, sticking out of the mushroom pile like a surrender flag. Great combo, nicely executed, just a little too small. Then we shared their wild salmon croquettes with spicy cress and saffron aioli ($12). These were not our favorite. Very fishy tasting, a little dry and too dense.

For the main, we shared pan roasted lamb chops with white beans, watercress and lamb jus ($30). The lamb was ordered med.-rare, and came out slightly underdone (luckily, that is ok with us), and undersalted. The beans had an lovely undertone of smokey pork, reminiscient of many a Lucques dish. The grilled NY steak with sauteed pea tendrills and hand cut (shoestring) fries was boring ($28). Too salty, and a little past med.-rare, and too lean and chewy. The fries were not as crisp as they should have been.

Three glasses of an Italian white wine at $11 each, and a bottle of Box Car Syrah for $40 (the wine list was varied and interesting), the total came to $176.45. For these prices one could dine at Joe's or Lucques and have a far more creative and superior meal. Don't get me wrong, the food was not bad, just underwhelming. And the space is very loud, but that never seems to keep anyone away.

Rustic Canyon
1119 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

3 Square Bakery - Now Open

I had a fairly disappointing experience today at 3 Square Bakery, the new Bakery (and soon to open cafe) from Hans Rockenwagner. It is basically a bigger, and professionally designed version of his R Bakery on Washington Blvd, with all the same oversized (and tasty) pastries, panini sandwiches, and European imports like Meinl coffee and plenty of Ritter Sport chocolate bars. I ordered the Nougat Ring, a flaky cookie with hazelnut nougat covered in choclate. It was very good, just way too big. It is a gourmet Mallowmar.

For lunch I ordered my favorite panini that I have gotten at R Bakery several times, the Black Forest Ham, caramelized onion and cheese panini. It was lightly crisp on top, and soft on the bottom. It really needed a couple more minutes on the grill. After a couple bites, I felt the burning fumes from the mustard shoot through my nasal passage, as if I had taken a whole ball of wasabi into my mouth. At R, the sandwich has mustard, but nothing like this. After a couple more tentative bites, while crying into my napkin, I gave up.

Hans was there, working the room, greeting his friends (this is their first day open). if I had any nerve I would have: 1. Asked him to pose with me for a picture to put in this post, 2. Should have complained my sandwich was inedible, and requested my money back. I did not want to do that, because I was initially overcharged for the sandwich by $5, which took some time to void my credit card ,re-ring it up, produce receipts, etc (which I will blame fist day jitters for this). I am sure after a couple weeks open, everyone will get the hang of things, and mistakes like that won't be made. But think I will just continue to get my favorite panini at R.

3 Square
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jamaica's Cakes

Jamaica'a Cakes is a charming bakery just a couple doors down from The San Francisco Saloon. I have been there twice now, the only thing holding me back from returning is the threat of gaining weight! Even after the polishing off the Cable Car Burger, we enjoyed a wonderful chocolate cupake, a Black Bottom muffin, and an excellent eclair, filled with Bavarian Cream ($1.75-2.25).

Jamaica's husband urged me to try try thier cakes, which is, of course, their specialty. They offer many flavors, fillings and frostings, including several vegan options as well. Their pastry case is always filled with cupcakes, cookies, bars (like this raspberry bar - as good as my favorite one from La Brea Bakery), brownies and more.

Jamaica's Cakes
11511 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sprinkles Cupcake Mix

For Christmas, I bought my aunt Adri one of Sprinkles' new (and obscenely overpriced at $14) cupcake mixes (and one for myself!). They are sold only at the Sprinkles store and Williams Sonoma. One canister makes only 12 cupcakes. They supply the dry ingredients and "modern dots," you supply the eggs, butter and milk. She has yet to make them, so I cannot report on the cake, but I did make the cream cheese frosting printed on the canister, and it was quite good. Not too sweet at all. So here it is:

8 oz cream cheese
4 oz butter
3 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 tea. vanilla extract
1/8 tea. salt

Cream the butter, cheese and salt in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated, then add the vanilla.

Today I made the chocolate cupcakes. They were very good, and easy to make,but certainly not worth $14, and certainly not any better than other chocolate cake recipes I have tried! But they sure did turn out cute with those little dots...

Sprinkles chocolate frosting:
6 oz. butter
pinch of salt
2 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 tea. vanilla extract
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Beat butter and salt in stand mixer until light and fluffly, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed, gradually add the sugar, until incorporated, stopping the mixer to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and chocolate, mix until combined, careful not to overmix and incorporate too much air.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


After dropping $125 at The Cheese Store in Beverly Hills, I decided to go around the block and check out the new Frittelli's doughnut store on Canon, next to the Too-Cool-for-School hair salon, Guiseppe Franco. The doughnuts are good, but really just slightly better than your standard Winchells or Yum Yum. Their only edge is that they offer a couple of unusual flavors like lemon poppy seed, cranberry, peppermint and mocha.

The only one I enthusiastically finished was the crumb. Packed in a cute, sturdy, Tiffanyesque blue box, they would make a nice overpriced gift, like a box of Sprinkles cupcakes. If I lived in the area, and wouldn't mind packing on the pounds, I would go back. But I don't, so I won't. Good doughnuts, fast, friendly service, but nothing terribly special.

350 N Canon Dr. Suite 6
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pinkberry Marina Del Rey - Opening Soon

Right next door to Starbucks on Lincoln and Maxella!