Celebrate today, Friday, with your sweet and savory doughnut-loving friends. It’s National Donut Day! Cupcakes had their reign of sugar a few years ago, now we’re on to doughnuts. L.A.’s dotted with shops in every neighborhood, including a few of the newer locations serving chef-driven, artisan, and even vegan or gluten-free, specialties for hungry customers. Chef Jason Harley from DTLA’s Birdies is on a roll right now with his fried chicken and doughnut combo shop. You’re invited to Birdies for two menu additions that are great for summer, along with the house’s regular line-up. Home cooks, Chef J is also sharing recipes on CBSLA.com today. For the full article, click HERE.
When Rambutan Thai shuttered, a new wine bar quickly filled the space–Same Same. It’s a wine bar that serves food. Thai food. The original owners of Rambutan paired up with Last Word Hospitality to conceptualize a brand new project, and the result was Same Same’s unique wine menu with numerous Thai dishes that span from snacks, soups and noodles to curries, grilled meats and house specialties. When I sit down to eat spicy, Southeast Asian food, my first drink of choice is often beer. Same Same is set up to challenge the norm, although I can’t say I’m a convert just yet. I did enjoy a glass of 2015 Txakolina from Spain with our fresh spring rolls (prawns, pork, tofu, sprouts, chive, cucumber, tamarind sauce), Nua Kem (crispy marinated beef, spicy dipping sauce), and Somtum Thai (shredded green papaya salad, bird eye chilies, dried shrimp, snake beans, cherry tomatoes, peanuts). The latter is marked with two blazing fire icons, which is a sign that you’re headed into spicy territory.
To be honest, I switched to beer after the first two dishes, although I did sip a bit of a friend’s German riesling. Call me a creature of habit, if you will, but without specific pairing guidance, it was difficult to know where the match would be best. I focused on the food, including our last two main dishes. We chose the popular Kuaytiaw Moo Dang (bbq pork, jade noodles, yau choy, scallions, cilantro, roasted garlic oil) and Khao Mu Grob (crispy pork belly, snake beans, garlic, chili, Thai basil). Dessert was mango sticky rice with coconut cream–perfectly sweet and classically executed. Same Same’s open for dinner every night.
Late last year, Chef Stephen Kalt opened Spartina on Melrose Avenue, a restaurant he once owned and operated in New York in the 90s. This East meets West coast version delivers seasonal, market-driven, modern Italian fare to the West Hollywood neighborhood. The restaurant’s roomy, umbrella-covered patio is a plus you’ll keep in mind with summer on the way. Step into the restaurant, and note the open kitchen facing a fairly spacious dining room designed by Kalt himself. Once you’re at the table, you’ll peruse a somewhat lengthy menu with a focus on small plates, vegetables, pizza and pasta, as well as a handful of entrees.
Although we’re talking Italian food, there are dishes inspired by the vibe and influences of this city. Grilled avocado with tomatillos, Calabrian chili oil and ricotta salt. Endive “kimchi” seasoned with anchovies, garlic, Calabrian chilies and scallions. Grilled cauliflower with raisins and pine nuts. The tender fried calamari tops little gem lettuce and kale with pine nuts and a bright vinegar-based dressing. One of the popular pizza biancas features clams, whipped ricotta, and garlic confit. If you prefer a pizza rosso, try the more traditional pepperoni and calabrian chili that’s drizzled with a bit of honey. Larger platters include a half roasted chicken with dates and potatoes, braised duck legs with rhubarb and aged balsamic vinegar, and a sirloin steak with asparagus, beef bacon and a fried egg.
What’s for dessert? There are a few selections on the post-dinner menu. One of the most interesting is the brick pastry reminiscent of the North African flakey pastry. This one differs slightly in its presentation, but it arrives at the table studded with toasted pistachios, and an orange-flavored creme anglaise is poured tableside over the crisp layers. Once it’s cut into pieces, eat quickly before you loose the crunch. The walnut pie, served chilled, is a compact, nut-packed slice that crumbles in your mouth like a cookie. It’s like eating an oversized nutty, mapley, oatmeal-like cookie. In addition to nightly dinner, Spartina also serves lunch on Friday and weekend brunch.
Disclaimer: Both restaurants provided comp’d media previews. All opinions are my own.
The first holiday weekend of the summer is here, and you may have everything plotted out like a pro. Or maybe you’ve just realized that you have no plan and really need one. Fret no more about where you will spend your holiday weekend. Give thanks to this nation’s servicemen, and enjoy some of the best food and drink menu items and specials around town. You can view the full roundups for great eats and cocktails on CBSLA.com.
The Expo line’s extension past Culver City finally opened this past Friday after a few years of construction and weeks of anticipation. Now, folks can travel from Downtown to Santa Monica in about 45 minutes. I can’t say that’s a breeze, but hey, we’re making transportation strides, right? Make it a day trip, and explore the eats and drinks you can enjoy near the stops between Culver City and Downtown Santa Monica. For a list of suggestions, check out my article on CBSLA.com.