Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pho 79 + + + $

Who? Andrew, Howie
Where? Garfield and Main

A full service Vietnamese restaurant and not just Pho! Vermecelli with pork skin just as I remember it.

Monsieur Marcel + + + + $

Who? Andrew, Satsuki
Where? Farmer's Market @ The Grove

This is a fun little wine and cheese bar where you can kick back, enjoy good conversation, and people watch all at the same time. The wine selections by the bottle are vast, but unchartable for my feeble brain, and probably too much for two if one is driving. The selection by the glass is good and compliments the nice array of cheeses offered. I had a sweet Riesling dessert-type wine which worked well with the Gruyère Comté and the Brie. These great cheeses are served up on a wooden board with crackers, figs, walnuts, olives, sliced apples and pears. In short, I almost felt like a cultured snob, but not quite. This "snack" plate was very filling and it took quite some time before I was hungry for dinner.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ulysses Voyage * * * */ + + + + $$

Who? Themos, Alexandra
Where? The Grove
How much? $30
Zagat: * * *, $26

Anything that's located at the Grove gets an extra star just because of location. On top of that, Ulysses Voyage has great greek food - not the half-mexican half-persian mimics that fly around. We paid $30 each because we got on top of our entrees a salad, an appetizer, and an extra entree for sharing. I've never seen a girl eating so much actually (she also said that her stomach for the first time was popping out of her belly:-)

Who? Andrew, Satsuki
How much? $45 total

Split 3 appetizers with 2 glasses of wine - very satisfying. Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are excellent. Meatballs aren't the same homestyle that Dora makes but are delicious with their thin crispy shell and smothered in onions. Eggplant dip is likewise tasty. I am a fan of simple, fresh, light, clean cuisine. Agree with the extra star for the Grove. Great atmosphere - cozy, tavern-like, +energetic staff. Thumbs up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Carousel * * * * $$

Who? Themos, Frankie
Where? Hollywood
How much? $31
Zagat: 23, $24

This is the real deal on middle-eastern cuisine. It doesn't look much from the outside, and it doesn't have a great atmosphere, but the food here is top notch. The "Carousel" plate lets you choose from 3 of their kebabs - I got beef, chicken and pork, and it was really some of the best meat I have tried in LA so far. They offer a number of salad dips and pita breads along with the main dishes so there is no need for extras. Think of it as an more upscale version of Sunnin.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Arnie Morton's Steakhouse * * * * * $$$$$

Who? Themos, Dora
Where? Downtown
How much? $88
Zagat: 26, $59

This is the real deal. Instead of going to an opera, theater or another show, you can choose Morton's for an full experience and not just a place to fill your appetite. The food is superb and the freshness of every single item is unparalleled. The steaks and the side portions are huge and enough to fill any stomach. The introductory bread is huge and fresh-baked. We got a perfect tomato salad with a blue cheese toping straight from paradise. The meat was cooked just right while maintaining all the juices: tasty surface, meaty core. They offer only on fridays and saturdays prime rib of top-notch quality. They also have a signature rib-eye steak chicago style, aka with a bone that gives it an extra boost in taste. They have a range of souffles that are baked fresh and it takes about 30 minutes to do so, so you have to order them in advance along with the entrees if you want to have them after the main meal. The chocolate one was perfection with a mousse, foamy-like filling along with fresh whip cream. Maybe the best dessert I had in LA.

But the service is also to die for. When you order, the server brings a rolling table with two floors, where all the items they serve lie uncooked. So you can see the size and shape of the different meat cuts and decide for yourself which one looks better. Of course, the presentation also includes some of the seafood dishes, and that includes a (live!) lobster with its clamps tied together for security. The lobster is alive and it moves around while the server explains the details!

Mel's Drive In (Diner) * * * * / + + + $

Who? Howie, Fesh, Irka, Andrew
Where? Hollywood and Highland

Very cool diner atmosphere, best I've seen. Service was slow - we sat at our table for a full 15 minutes before someone took our order. Strawberry youghurt shake was sweet, thick and tasty. Mushroom burger was decent but did not really stand out. Air conditioner blows cold in some places. I will have to return to try more of the diner fare. Parking is valet (leave $3).

Who? Themos. Dimitri
Where? Hollywood
How much? $15
Zagat: 15, $16

I am very excited for this place! Very cheap, no lines to wait, fast service, and one of the most juicy burgers I have tried in LA. It is very close to Hollywood and Highland which makes it convenient for a quick bite before or after another main attraction. The cheese fries were also amazing (or I was really hungry).

Todai + $ $

Where? The Beverley Center
Who? Kung Fu people

I wanted to like this place. But I'm sorry to report that I have to agree with the CASA folk on this one. The sushi is mediocre at best. Sashimi is non-existent except for the discards of making the mediocre sushi. Short ribs are mainly ribs and fat and are too salty and messy. Everything else is just barely OK. However, there are two things I do like about this place: 1) the hordes of shelled creatures - I could pick at them for hours, and 2) the crepe bar. However, the crab legs and pastry goodness were not sufficient to justify the $35 you'll end up paying. Perhaps if it was $15. Thumbs down.