Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Hungry Cat

I have been wanting to try The Hungry Cat ever since they opened a couple of years ago, and I finally made it out there for lunch a couple days ago. Nestled off the street in a courtyard on Sunset and Vine, it is a small, modern, and comfortable lunch spot. The relaxed atmosphere, combined with polite, unobtrusive service, was conducive to enjoying a leisurely afternoon with an old friend. We started off with a special of fried oysters. The thin, crunchy, airy tempura batter made for some of the best fried food I have had. My friend had the sandwich of the day: open-faced with halibut cheeks, shallot and parsley, served with onion rings in the same wonderful batter, fried to perfection.

I could not resist their “Pug” burger when I saw it on the next table. All my favorite burger components were there: thick bacon, blue cheese and avocado. But the burger was so tall, it was impossible to bite into it! Even without the top bun! I had no choice but to use a knife and fork – the most ridiculous looking way to eat a burger! And certainly the least enjoyable way! I wanted to experience all the flavors at once, not in sections. Oh well. Next time I will stick to the seafood dishes (including raw bar selections), which are really their specialty.

On our way out of the restaurant, we saw my favorite chef (who also happens to be married to the chef-owner of The Hungry Cat), Suzanne Goin, dining outside on the patio. While you are in the area, check out the new K&L Wine Merchants just down the street on Vine.

The Hungry Cat
1536 N Vine
Hollywood, CA

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

La Espanola

I went down to my favorite little Spanish import store (the only one I know), in Harbor City. They have several Spanish cheeses and chorizos (they make thier own chorizos here, in the US, under the Dona Juana brand), including my favorite, Fuet ( they sell many of these items to stores like Whole Foods and Surfas - they are much less expensive here!) They have wine, alioli, poquillo peppers, paella rice, saffron, Spanish wine and sherry... all the Spanish items you could ever want.

We were the only English speakers in the place (a good sign). They even sell whole Jamon Serrano! Imagine, having the whole piece on your kitchen counter, ready for you to cut off a slice for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner...also, on our way out I noticed a little covered side patio where patrons were enjoying thier sandwiches and wine.

Heather got this great Jamon Serrano, Manchego and poquillo pepper sandwich, just like the ones we had at the Champagnaria in Barcelona!

La Espanola Meats, Inc.
25020 Doble Ave.
Harbor City, Ca 90710

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fraiche - Opening Sometime

I strolled by the location for a new restaurant in downtown Culver City (where else?) called Fraiche, on Culver Blvd., just up the street from Ford's Filling Station and Tender Greens. Jason Trevi, who was the chef at Bottlerock around the corner, will lead the kitchen. A couple months before Christmas I chatted with Fraiche owner, Keith, and he was projecting a January opening. Well, I am waiting...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Joe's - The Greatest Lunch Deal in Town

Joe’s on Abbot Kinney has always had the greatest lunch deal in the Fine Dining World. Entrees run $12-16, and they include either a soup or salad. His soups are incredible. Always vegan, and always a fine, silky puree. This one is butternut squash. All I really need for lunch is a slightly bigger bowl of soup, and a couple slices their dill bread with sweet butter and tapenade.

I had the porcini-dusted salmon, with a porcini puree and pancetta gnocchi. The gnocchi were little fluffy pillows with a piece of pancetta inside, and the porcini puree was creamy with an acute porcini flavor. My only gripe was that the salmon came cooked on the rare side of medium rare, and just to raw for my taste. I should have specified.

My notoriously finicky friend (but I am working on that - to great success, by the way) had the steak, which she said was incredible. Also cooked on the rare side of medium, but she enjoyed it anyway.

For $17 they offer a prix fixe lunch, consisting of three courses, and a $5 wine selection. What a deal. Swift, friendly service, elegant yet casual atmosphere, I always look forward to my next visit.

1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

3 Square Cafe - Now Open

I had a pleasant lunch today at Hans Rockenwagner's new 3 Square Cafe, next to his new 3 Square Bakery on Abbot Kinney. Currently they are open for breakfast and lunch, and will open for dinner soon. The cafe is in a nice, clean, airy space with IKEA-Euro-Modern tables and benches, with a big 10 seat communal table. They would not give me a menu to take with me, so I photographed it instead!

I ordered a Hans Rockenwagner classic, the pretzel bruger. A decent burger, cooked beautifully medium rare, with deep dark caramelized onions, but undersalted. The fries were nice and crisp, but oversalted. The menu looks pretty interesting, especially breakfast. Braised pork belly with cheddar grits and root vegetables! The combo sounds fabulous, but I think one should be prepared for a mid-morning nap after that meal! They serve wine, right now only offering one red, a Cabernet Sauvingnon. The rest are whites, including 5 Chardonnays. Five? One red? They just opened, lets see what they serve in a couple of weeks. There is a lot of outdoor seating as well, with plenty of shade. I look forward to checking out their dinner soon.

3 Square Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291