From Fraiche Vietnamese in Culver City to fifth generation family owned Whiskey Reds in Marina Del Rey. We sampled top gourmet food. Here are our reviews.
EAST BOROUGH~FRAICHE VIETNAMESE
Chef Cloe from Culver Cities EAST BOROUGH had a fantastic prix fixed menu for dineLA 2015. I think its the best dinner that we’ve had this year. The menu was $30.00 which included starters, an entree and dessert.
East Borough is located in the super trendy Culver City area on Washington Boulevard. The restaurant is very popular and had a nice crowd of Los Angelenos when we arrived. The restaurant is very modern and sleek looking. There’s a bar near the main dining area and the kitchen. The atmosphere is very Los Angeles. People having cocktails and chatting after a long day of work. I had a Spice Trade cocktail from Cocktails list. Served in a stem cocktail glass, this drink had gin, lemon, ginger, pink peppercorn and thai basil. Great drink. Very smooth.
The staff at East Borough were all very helpful and knowledgable. They are all very young but very capable. East Borough is the next generation of restauranteurs and chefs in Los Angeles.
For the dineLA menu, the starters are a choice of Sweet and Sour Soup or Imperial Rolls. I tried both items. Our server, Johnny, described the Sweet and Sour Soup and made it sound delicious! It featured tiger prawns, roasted okra, cherry tomatoes, celery, garlic chips and jasmine rice. It was a California take on a famous Vietnamese soup. We were encouraged to spoon the rice into the soup. It was simply amazing. Subtle spices and perfectly balanced. There were wine pairing recommendations with each item. In the case of the Sweet an Sour Soup, the wine pairing was 2012 Torrontes from Argentina.
The Imperial Rolls were just delicious. A very California take on the fried pork and taro with lettuce cups. The handmade dipping sauce is sweet and well balanced. The taste of the lettuce, basil and fried taro is llight and delicious. Such a unique taste. Its hard to describe how good this was. A real treat.
The main course was just incredible. The presentation was awesome. Its obviously Vietnamese but, Chef Chloe seems to bring out a gourmet aspect of the cuisine. I tied two items from the dineLA menu Course 2. The Curry Tiger Prawns were subtle and full of flavor. A lemongrass yellow curry that was a real delight. A hint of cilantro set this dish firmly in Culver City. It was savory and light. The Belly and Egg was a real surprise. Any recipe with poached egg is just begging me to try it. although the red chili paste was a little hot for me, i really appreciated Chef Chloe’s balance of all of the tastes. The more I mixed together the flavors, the better it tested. There were flavors to explore just by eating from different parts of the bowl. This entree was so tasty. It was the biggest taste surprise of dineLA 2015. I was just so pleasantly surprised at how flavorful this gourmet dish was!
Finally, for Course 3, we tried the Coconut Milk Pana Cotta. Chef Chloe described this as a take on a famous South East Asian dessert. A sort of cream filled pastry. In Chef Chloe’s take, the pastry is replaced with guava puree. There were bruised blackberries and toasted sesame seeds. The taste was incredible.
I thoroughly enjoyed dining at East Borough for dineLA.
I just had lunch at Upper West on the Westside of LA. It was delicious. The dineLA menu was a nice sampling of the regular menu. Chef Nick Ship has put together a lunch and a dinner menu for dineLA 2015. The Experieince was lucky enough to sit down with Chef Nick and try the dineLA lunch menu. We started with the appetizers. I loved the Roasted Corn Soup. It featured a black bean falafel and sumac oil. The presentation was brilliant. It looked like a volcano. We also tried the Burrata. The spice on the Buratta was incredible. The fresh basil had a subtle California taste. The dill-mustard vinaigrette also stood out. Great taste!
For the Main Course we tried the Chicken Schnitzel first. It had a tomato-augula salad with it and both were light and tatsey. It was a very simple schnitzel. some lemmon and cracked pepper and reduced balsamic. It’s unusual to see schnitzel on the menu in Los Angeles. The dineLA Restaurant Week really allows you to try things you wouldn’t normally try.
We also tried the Roasted Veggie Burger. Chef Nick said he wanted to have a vegetarian option on the lunch menu and this was offering. Again, the presentation was awesome. There was a homemade veggie patty on a toasted brioche bun. The taste was great. The sweet potato french fries were also delicious.
It ws nice to visit with Chef Nick at Upper West. Its such a cool spot. Located right on Pico Boulevard. This is really the heart of Santa Monica. Chef Nick is a well known Los Angeles Chef. Like a lot of Los Angeleno’s, he was born in the midwest and migrated to Los Angeles years ago. In Nick’s case, he was born in Texas, but seems like a celebrity chef from Los Angeles for sure. He’s taken part of the legendary LA Food and Wine event for three years now. He even prepared food for the super exclusive Sunday tasting on the lot at Sony. Chef Nick seems to be a creative chef. Trying items that are “outside of his wheelhouse”. At the urging of the owners at Upper West, Nick continues to experiment with new tastes and flavors while remaining distinctly Californian.
I love stopping by Blue Stove on the third floor of Nordstrom at Santa Monica Place. Chef Jason Abo is over seeing the fresh creations in the kitchen while General Manager Christine Mendoza runs the staff. I like the interior at this location. It’s a popular spot for shoppers or anyone in Santa Monica who knows about it.
The dineLA menu was a three course meal, we started with the beet salad and the brussel sprouts which were both so fresh and delicious. For the main course we had the mushroom polenta which was just so good! The best polenta I’ve had all year. I could’ve eaten another serving. Finally for dessert, we had the berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I was so full! I love going to Blue Plate in Santa Monica whenever i get the chance. Its a cool spot that a lot of people don’t know about and the staff is helpful and friendly.
Mon-Thu 10 am – 8:30 pm
Fri-Sat 10 am – 9 pm
PONO BURGER I finally got a chance to stop by Chef Makani’s Pono Burger in Santa Monica. Its located on Broadway and Lincoln in downtown Santa Monica. It’s s a certified organic, sustainable gourmet burger restaurant that serves vegetarian burgers, grass fed burgers and top notch sweet potato french fries. The dineLA menu, consisted of a simple choice. You could try a salad, a burger and a hand crafted milkshake for $30.00. We started with the arugula beets salad. It was really good. prepared by a chef. The light vinaigrette was delicious. The burger itself was so good! The caramelized onions, the bun, everything was fresh and delicious. Finally, the milkshake came for dessert. Its also organic milk. Super creamy and smooth. I couldn’t believe how delicious this was. I wads really surprised at how modern and sophisticated this resort was. From the street, you see the old roof and think that the Pono Burger is just in this building. In fact, its just one dinning room ion this interior designed space. If you visit Santa Monica, you simply must stop by!
Just had a great dinner at Whiskey Reds. They are located at the Fisheman’s Village in Marina Del Rey. Somewhat famous for having the largest selection of whiskey in the marina, the patio looks out onto the marina where boats s=are coming in and out. The dineLA menu for 2015 was quite extensive. It featured three courses for $30. For starters, we had the New England Clam Chowder. It was hearty and tasty. It went well with the fried mac and cheese balls. These were great items to start off our lunch. For the Second Course, we tried the lobster rolls and the Jidori Chicken Breast. The lobster roll had a New England Lobster, lemon and light dressing on a brioche. Whiskey Reds is known for their lobster roll. The Jidori chicken breast featured thyme and garlic pan gravy, whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus. Chef Polo Camacho sat down with us and explained his menu. He is using gluten free, organic pasta in the primivera. The taste was awesome. Chef Polo invited us back for the Sunday Brunch
. I was lucky enough to stop by this last Sunday, and the place was packed. people wee lounging around the fire pits and watching there boats sail by. On Sundays, the brunch features sushi, omlettes, all kinds of breakfast and brunch foods. They serve Fresh Oysters, Black Cod, Lobster Rolls, Crab Louie, Salad, Fried Calamari, and a craft cocktail bar. The presentation was nice. The service was good as well.
BARBIANCABarbianca Local Kitchen
Located inside the Marina Del Rey Hilton, Barbianca is Chef Larry Monaco’s latest offering. Wow! The food here is incredible! If you’ve ever wondered what its like to eat food prepared by an up and coming celebrity chef, this is the place to go. The atmosphere is causal and open. Locals dine here with their dogs at there side as well as Hollywood Indusrty people who meet up for a happy hour drink in the bar. The food is Northern Italian with a California flair.
The dineLA was very simple for $40.00, you get an arugula salad and a choice of entree. The salad consisted of anjou pear, wild arugula, and a white balsamic dressing. The pears were perfectly ripe and sliced thinly.
For the entree, the choice was sautéed arctic char or chickpea gnocchi. I tried a little of both. The wild salmon was delicious and cooked perfectly. The flavors were amazing. The wild dill really set off the creamy sauce. But, I have to say the real surprise was the Chickpea Gnocchi. It was the best Gnocchi I’ve ever had. It was balanced perfectly. There was a hint of sage that was balanced perfectly. The food was very good. I dint expect it to be that good.
Chef Larry came out and talked to us about the dineLA menu. He told us it was good. He spends a lot of time researching his ingredients. He said he starts everyday at 6:00am
. He says his Gnocci is so good because of the flour he uses. He talked about his wife being gluten free so he started checking out chickpea flour and other gluten free flour. It certainly is delicious.
BLUE PLATE TACO Located on Ocean Avenue near the ocean in Santa Monica, Blue Plate Taco is a destination restaurant with a world class bar. There is a mix of business people, tourists and locals. We tried the dineLA menu, and it was a great sampling of what they have to offer. The dineLA lunch consisted of two cousres for $25. The Mexican Chopped Salad had a ton of good stuff. Kale, arugula, radish, roasted corn, green beans, cucumber, cauliflower, carrot ribbons, cotija and quinoa. It was a great salad. Farm fresh healthy Mexican cuisine. For the entree, we tried the seafood enchiladas which were very tasty. These had lobster, scallops, shrimp, with mole cheese enchiladas, green onion jalapeno, guacamole, rice and black beans. It was so nice to sit on the large patio and soak in the ocean breeze. If you get a chance to stop by and have a bite to eat, you’ll love the menu of gourmet food and cocktails.
BLUE PLATE OYSTERETTE Located at 1355 Ocean avenue in Santa Monica
, the Blue Plate Oysterette is on Ocean just north of Santa Monica boulevard. For dineLA, we tried the New England Clam Chowder that had cherrystone clams and a light cream broth. This was a great chowder! I ate every bit of it. Next, I had The Salmon Greek Wrap. This was grilled salmon, red peppers, olives, feta, spinach with a sherry vinaigrette. The salmon was out of this world. I really enjoyed the dineLA lunch here. The location is just incredible. The ocean is right across the street. The restaurant was packed for lunch. Its a very popular lunch and dinner spot.
Parking here can be tricky depending on the time of day that you go. The City of Santa Monica Parking Structure at 4th and Arizona is free for the first 90 minutes.
Blue Plate Oysterette
Cafe Gratitude in Venice is located on Rose street in Santa Monica. Known for its organic vegan food. This restaurant is packed with people eating healthy. When we sat down, our waitress told us that the saying for the day was,”what are you grateful for.” This saying also appeared on each plate. It was very thought provoking. The dineLA menu was a nice way to see what Cafe Gratitude offered. We started with the Spring Rolls. This item was referred to as Awakening on the menu. When I ordered it, the waitress said, “Oh you want the Awakening!” When the food was delivered, the server said, “Here is your Awakening. The taste was fresh with a lot of flavor. The Pad Thai was called the Warm Hearted. Homeade noodles with crushed peanuts.
The three course prix-fixe dinner was $30.00. It started with the Be Love Farm Arugala salad. The main course was Warm Hearted. Grilled pesto polenta with mushroom ragu, spinach, cashew ricotta, brazil nut parmesan and fresh basil. The flavor was subtle but every bite was delicious. We also tried the “Present” this was really delicious. Be Love Frams bruchetta, marinated butternut squash, red onion, raisins, arugula, golden balsamic reduction on a gluten-free buckwheat cracker. It was so good! I wish there had been more to eat. I could’ve eaten another serving!
Finally for dessert, we tried the Awakening. This was Key Lime Pie and boy was it good. Creamy avocado-lime custard, cashew coconut meringue on a pecan-macadamian date crust. This was sublime! Awesome tastes!