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Small Bites: Casa gets a new chef, chocolate (and cheese) is everywhere [UPDATE]

April 14, 2009 |  7:27 pm


Casa gets a new chef: It seems like just last week that we interviewed Kris Morningstar about the opening of Casa; and like only yesterday that he quickly left the modern Mexican restaurant for greener kitchens. Now, Casa is announcing the appointment of a shiny new chef -- Nick Albrecht. Albrecht hails from Seattle's Brasa Restaurant and will reportedly place a strong premium (along with seemingly every other chef in the city) on seasonal farmers market produce. This week, under Albrecht's guidance, Casa is introducing new dinner and cocktail menus for spring. Also, according to Eater L.A., the restaurant's outdoor bar and patio are now fully functional; to celebrate, Casa will host an "all day and night fiesta," on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. 350 S. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 621-2249.

'Tis the chocolate season: Two chocolate-errific options loom on the culinary horizon. Up first, Luna Park's new Sunday Chocolate Brunch menu. Served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., everything on the decadent menu is delivered to your table alongside a basket of chocolate banana bread. The options (which would overwhelm even Veruca Salt) include chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate maple syrup, chocolate banana French toast, chocolate strawberry crepes with chocolate sauce and dark chocolate mojitos. (OMG, I just got totally dizzy writing that, and weirdly sick and hungry and hot-flashy all at once.) 627 S. La Brea, L.A. (323) 934-2110.

Next up, the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa is serving a Chocolate Afternoon Tea on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The relaxed and decidedly classy experience includes a selection of savory sandwiches, scones, tarts, torts and crème brûlées, all sassed up with various chocolate essences. The center of the scene is dominated by a lavish chocolate fountain flanked by sculpted chocolate art. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena. (626) 568-3900.  [Update: A previous version of this post said that the Chocolate Afternoon tea begins at 1 p.m. It actually begins at noon.]

Monday is for cheese: Join cheese magnate Andrew Steiner of Andrew's Cheese Shop; everybody's favorite, sprightly pastry chef Zoe Nathan; and chef Evan Funke at Rustic Canyon for a very special evening of cheese worship. The Local Artisan Cheese Dinner features crispy, cheese-stuffed morels, roasted baby beets with sheep's milk ricotta, goat cheese ravioli, braised Niman Ranch short-rib gratin with blue cheese and brown sugar crème fraîche trifle. Monday. $55. 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-7050.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: David Sprague / For The Times