By Any and Everywhere | June 9, 2016
There are a couple of new spots in town that you may not have heard of, and they’re worthy of discussion. The first is LUKE Bar & Restaurant in Woodland Hills. Yes, Woodland Hills. As someone who lives in the SFV, I recognize that neighborhoods past Sherman Oaks are widely regarded as “lands far, far away” by those who live in the central hubs of L.A., or goodness, Westside or South Bay. But every neighborhood is searching for a way to distinguish itself as a culinary destination, and it could be argued that LUKE wants to lead the way for its suburban enclave.
Executive Chef Nico Sy serves weekend brunch and daily lunch and dinner, as well as daily happy hour. Individually bagged salt and vinegar chicharrones, roasted heirloom carrots with cumin yogurt and a deconstructed baby gem lettuce Caesar are notable starters. If you’re there for dinner, go for the salted fish fried rice and grilled beef yakitori. Each one is uniquely flavored and accented–the former with earthy mushrooms and bright lemongrass, the latter with yuzu glaze and dried marash peppers. I’m never one to say no to dessert, and the caramel budino with chocolate crumbles and candied hazelnuts was a pleasant finish. My favorite bites of the night came from a plate of dry-aged meatballs in a creamy, butter-laden steak au poivre sauce with caramelized fennel. Cocktails are sophisticated, yet very approachable, and the wine menu features an array of mostly Californian bottles chosen by house sommelier Elizabeth Blankstein. Woodland Hills, you have LUKE to thank when it comes to stepping up your food game.
How can a spot in Hollywood be tucked away? Especially when it’s part of the Columbia Square multi-use space. Well, somehow I missed the arrival of Rubies + Diamonds, which finds itself tucked away between Paley and Sugarfish on Sunset Boulevard. The coffeeshop operates on the nitro tip, which, if you haven’t heard, involves pumping a little nitrogen into drinks thanks to their Bkon machine for a silkier, smoother texture. If you’re a coffee fiend, then you know what this means. But what about folks like me who prefer tea? Well, R+D has you covered. Nitrogen teas are available as well in a few flavors–ginger ale green tea, turmeric and matcha. I suggest mixing the ginger ale and turmeric as it’s just the right combination.
If you’re a traditional coffee and tea drinker, don’t worry. Leave the nitro-infusions to the kids, and enjoy drips, cold brews, hot and iced teas, and signature house drinks. Buy a house growler, take home your own batch of coffee or tea for a few days. Bring it back for a refill, and you’ll get a nice discount. Wine and beer are also on the beverage menu, along with pastries, sandwiches and snacks.