Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Delicious Deals

Anniversaries galore! Katsuya Brentwood turns 4; Lola's is 15; and Sol Cocina lights one candle

Specials are in the air as three tasty restaurants mark another year gone by on their calendars.

Katsuya Brentwood: This eldest child of the venerable Japanese chain turns 4 on Monday. Diners can expect 15% off lunch and dinner if they mention the anniversary. There will also be drink specials, and a DJ will begin spinning at 7 p.m.

11777 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. (310) 207-8744; www.sbe.com/katsuya

Lola's: This house of all things shaken and stirred gets its learners permit (uh oh!) as it turns 15. And what better way to celebrate than by offering its signature Ketel One apple martinis for their original price of $7.50. The deal lasts through the end of July.

945 N. Fairfax Ave., (323) 654-5652; www.lolasla.com.

Sol Cocina: This spicy Newport Beach newbie turns 1 this week. Beginning on Sunday and going through Thursday it will offer daily $5 food specials as well as specialty margaritas. On Thursday Chef Deb will roll out her prized lobster taco entree and serve it with a Partida margarita for $15.

251 Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach. (949) 675-9800; www.solcocina.com.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Baked miso-marinated black cod at Katsuya. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Chefs discuss L.A.'s dining scene; Anisette does quickie lunch; $5 menu at M Cafe


Chefs of the roundtable: The DineLA Chef Roundtable is scheduled to take place June 8 at the REDCAT theater downtown. The forum will feature chefs Wolfgang Puck, Josiah Citrin, Susan Feniger, Karen Hatfield, Mark Peel and Joachim Splichal in a moderated panel discussion about the evolution and future of the L.A. dining scene. The panel will be followed by a reception hosted by downtown’s Starry Kitchen. 7 to 8 p.m. June 8, REDCAT theater, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles. Reservations required; go to dineLA.com/roundtable. Seating is limited.

Quickie lunch: Chef Alain Giraud at Anisette Brasserie in Santa Monica has created a l'Express lunch menu for the summer. The two-item menu includes soup of the day or salad and either the grilled steak sandwich or the grilled fish brochettes (three different cuts of skewered and grilled fish served with ratatouille), for $18. For $21, you get the dessert du jour. Anisette Brasserie, 225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 395-3200, anisettebrasserie.com.

$5 menu specials: To celebrate its fifth anniversary, M Cafe will offer specials next month, including a $5 menu on June 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. At all three M Cafe locations (the original is on Melrose Avenue, and the other two are in Culver City and Beverly Hills), everything on the menu will be just $5 (items that are less than $5 will be regular price). Yes, that means the Big Macro Burger, normally $9.75, and the M Chopped Salad, normally $11.45, will be five bucks. There also will be rotating $5 specials throughout June. Green tea roll cake made with green tea sponge cake and green tea tofu cream is $5 all month long. 9433 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills, (310) 838-8459; 9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-4300; 7119 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 525-0588; www.mcafedechaya.com

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Anisette Brasserie. Credit: Liz O. Bayley / Los Angeles Times.

Eating and drinking with verve on Oscar Sunday


The Academy Awards are to me what the Super Bowl was to my ex-boyfriend: an excuse to eat nonsensical amounts of food, swill unacceptable combinations of alcohol and become irate and ragingly hormonal over unjust judgment calls.

In short, I live for Oscar Sunday. This year's ceremony crept up on me, however, and this week finds me scrambling to see as many contenders for best picture as I possibly can. Last night I saw "An Education," and realized too late that I was sitting awkwardly close to a cute 16-year-old boy. And on Sunday night I went to see "Avatar" all alone, which was a really bad decision. The end made me weepy and I kept reaching out my hand to the stranger next to me, making him uncomfortable and his girlfriend mad.

I still have three more films left to see, and with my spotty track record the best I can do is look forward to Sunday and try to redeem my week of cramming by taking advantage of some of the great Oscar specials around town. Here are the ones that have come to my attention, in no particular order:

Hotel Casa del Mar: Get interactive on Sunday night at this historic hotel's Veranda Lounge. Side-by-side flat-screen TVs will be placed in four locations around the lobby and the bar. In each location, one TV will show the Oscars and one will display a live Twitter feed that guests are encouraged to contribute to. The bartenders will occasionally give free drinks to people who make the funniest comments. Ballots will also be passed out before the show, and the guest who comes the closest to guessing the night's winners will receive a prize at the end of the show. Finally, a regular bar menu will be offered alongside the following Oscar-themed cocktails, available for $9 a pop: the Avartini (blue curacao is used, of course); Up in the Air; Inglorious Punch; Sweet and Precious; and Red Carpet Stunner. Hotel Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica. 4 p.m. No cover. (310) 581-5533; www.hotelcasadelmar.com.

Find the rest of the nominees after the jump:

Continue reading »

Free for all: Grab some free caffeine at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf today

From 4p.m. to 7 p.m. today Participating Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations will be handing out free 12-ounce "Heritage" drinks. On offer: Cafe mocha and Sunrise and Berry'd Treasure ice blended drinks.

Restaurant deals ahead: It's dineLA, the winter version; plus a 'family tree' of L.A. chefs and restaurants

When you dine at Beacon in Culver City, maybe you also get a little piece of the legendary restaurants Spago, Ma Maison and L’Ermitage – all places Beacon’s Kazuto Matsusaka has worked.

And that’s true at many restaurants, as newcomers make their way from entry-level positions to chefs and owners of their own spots. To mark its winter 2010 restaurant week promotion, dineLA is highlighting those relationships in a “family tree”.


“There is just so much inter-connectedness between the chefs and the restaurants of Los Angeles. We wanted to show how far back the lineage really goes,” said Carrie Kommers, director of dineLA.

Viewers can look by restaurant at which chefs cooked there, or by chef to see all the places a person worked. Take a look at Spago, for example, and you’ll see that its alumni include Mark Peel of Campanile, Neal Fraser of Grace, Matsusaka and Govind Armstrong of 8 oz. Burger Bar. Look at Fraser, and you’d find his resume includes not only Spago but Rox, Checkers and Pinot Bistro.


Patina, Kommers said, “lights up the whole tree,” with such alumni as Eric Greenspan of the Foundry on Melrose, Joe Miller of Joe’s Restaurant, Octavio Becerra of Palate Food + Wine, Josiah Citrin of Cache, Mark Gold of Eva and David Myers of Comme Ca.

Kommers said there are some anecdotes and biographical information, too, as well as photographs planned for the page, including some posted here.

DineLA has more than 200 restaurants offering specially priced three-course lunches and dinners Jan. 24 to 29 and Jan. 31 to Feb. 5 (two weeks minus Saturdays). Among them are Jar, Ortolan, Eva, the Foundry on Melrose and the Bazaar by Jose Andres.

With tiered price categories – from $16 to $44, depending on the meal and the place – restaurants hope to attract diners who might not otherwise show up,  especially in light of the economic woes many face. The participating restaurants are listed on dineLA’s website.
The family tree is a work in progress, Kommers said, and people and places will be added. Let us know if you find some missing links or some names that should be added.

-- Mary MacVean

Photos:  Top, chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken; middle (from left) Jonathan Waxman, Michael McCarty, Mark Peel and Ken Frank in 1979; bottom, Josie Le Balch. Credits: Center photo courtesy of Michael McCarty. Top and bottom photos courtesy of dineLA.


Small Bites: 50% off at the Smoke House; Pinkberry introduces chocolate yogurt; Stone Fire Pizza reborn as Oak Fire

Smoke House Burbank Half off at the Smoke House: If you're not utterly sick of food by the day after Thanksgiving, old-school steakhouse Smoke House will be offering 50% off its entire menu Friday from 3 to 11 p.m. Slip into a red leather booth, order a basket of its famous cheese bread and sip a martini while soaking up the ambiance of this classic restaurant, which celebrated its 63rd birthday in October. Reservations recommended. 4420 W. Lakeside Drive, Burbank. (818) 845-3731, www.smokehouse1946.com.

Pinkberry goes brown: The fro-yo purveyor will make its newest flavor, chocolate, available in California on Friday.

The name game: It didn't happen in summer as Greg Morris had planned, but Stone Fire Pizza has finally and officially rechristened itself as Oak Fire Pizzeria & Pub. Morris, the man behind the Spanish Kitchen, the Belmont, the upcoming Olive and most recently the Oaks gourmet market, made the change to eliminate any brand confusion with a similarly named L.A. chain (cough, cough, Pitfire Pizza). In addition to thin-crust and deep-dish Chicago-style pies, it boasts a full bar with artisanal liquors and a rotating selection of microbrews. 829 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-8848, www.oakfirepizza.com.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo credit: Jill Connelly / For The Times

Small Bites: Street's new seasonal menu, Kitchen 24's new cupcakes, Agura's new happy hour

Kitchen24hollywood Word on the Street: This Friday, Susan Feniger's Street officially debuts its new seasonal dinner menu, featuring: Argentinian/Italian ricotta dumplings simmered in brown butter and lemon with celery root puree; black-eyed pea fritters; lamb kafta meatballs; Moscow-style eggplant; toasted amaranth, chicken and spoon bread dumplings; beef tenderloin schnitzel; honey-glazed Peking quail; barbecued Hawaiian pork wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked over a marinade of sugar cane, pineapple and soy; and more. The new lunch menu, which debuts on Saturday, also has several additions: mini Kobe beef chili dogs; crispy lamb taquitos; Vietnamese pulled pork sandwiches; Andouille sausage and shrimp gumbo; Moroccan spiced winter squash with roasted chestnuts; Burmese lettuce wraps with lentils, toasted coconut, peanuts, fried onions and sesame ginger dressing; Hawaiian ono sashimi in spicy sesame mayo; and more. 742 N. Highland Ave., L.A. (323) 203-0500, www.eatatstreet.com.

Cocktails and cupcakes: Kitchen 24's pastry chef, Daisy Roman, recently launched a featured daily cupcake at the 24-hour Cahuenga corridor diner. Flavors include: chocolate (Monday), carrot (Tuesday), vanilla (Wednesday), pumpkin (Thursday), winter mint chocolate (Friday), buttered pecan (Saturday) and red velvet (Sunday). Kitchen 24 also debuted four seasonal cocktails, including the Sweet-Tartini with muddled cranberries, Tanqueray, elderflower liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice; and the Hot Spiced Cider with unfiltered apple juice, Jim Beam, orange liqueur and a secret spice syrup. 1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A. (323) 465-2424, www.kitchen24.info.

C'mon, get happy: Sushi and Japanese fusion restaurant Agura, the latest addition to La Cienega's restaurant row, recently launched a happy hour that features 50% off drinks and $3 to $5 small plates of salmon nachos, fried popcorn shrimp, spicy tuna and yellowtail rolls, shrimp-wrapped spring rolls, unagi avocado rolls, takoyaki and more. (10 p.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday and 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday). 514 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 289-1940, www.aguradining.com.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: The interior of Kitchen 24 in Hollywood. Credit: From Kitchen 24.

Today only: Free flatbread lunch at Jamba Juice (and some fine print)

Today, your meal could be on Jamba Juice. The chain's giving away free food as part of a promotion for its California Flatbreads, which come in four flavors: Tomo Artichoko, Smokehouse Chicken, MediterraneYum and Four Cheesy.

So what's the catch? First, not all outlets are participating -- just the ones that offer flatbreads -- so you might want to look up your local Jamba Juice here and check before you head out. Second: Only the first 150 people will get the freebie. Third: The giveaway won't start until 2 p.m. and runs until 5.

But still ... it's hard to beat the price tag: Free.

Another highlight: The flatbreads are all less than 330 calories, with no preservatives, no artificial flavors, no trans fats and, if you care about such things, no high fructose corn syrup.

Have you tried the flatbreads? Which flavor do you suggest? I think I need to round up three friends and try them all.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Smokehouse Chicken flatbread. Credit: Jamba Juice

DineLA Restaurant Week extended

DineLA The first fall edition of dineLA Restaurant Week has been such a success that it has been extended for an extra week. This season saw the participation of 260 restaurants, and now more than 200 have decided to continue offering the prix-fixe specials that define the program (which is poised to enter its third year).

The three price tiers remain the same. Deluxe Dining: $16 lunch, $26 dinner; Premier Dining: $22 lunch, $34 dinner; and Fine Dining $28 lunch, $44 dinner.

Now is your chance to eat at that ritzy place you've always wanted to try. See the dineLA website for participating restaurants.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Chefs, from left: John England of Rosa Mexicano, Walter Eckstein of Lawry's the Prime Rib, Alain Giraud of Anisette Brasserie, Jason Johnston of Dakota Steakhouse and Eric Greenspan of the Foundry on Melrose, with the dineLA food truck at Road Stoves. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Delicious Deals: It's Thai Hometaurant

It's-thai If you're among the many people this season who are cutting back on dining out, then you'll be happy to learn about a little-known strip mall gem in Echo Park called It's Thai Hometaurant. Open for a just under a year, the diminutive restaurant is sandwiched between a Burger King and a WIC office, just down the street from the Echoplex.

It's got a gorgeous little outdoor patio filled with lush green potted plants and chic tables and chairs. The back walls of the patio are made of corrugated steel, which is painted with funky colors. The inside is all low light and deep orange hues, with pleasant table settings and satisfyingly heavy cast iron teapots.

Best of all, though, are the incredibly reasonable dinner specials on offer. For $8 you get soup (a tasty miso broth with tofu), salad (with deep-green greens) and your choice of entree (pork, chicken, tofu or vegetable). Add $1 for beef or $2 for scallops or shrimp. Entrees include spicy eggplant, spicy garlic, cashew nuts and red chile paste, panang curry, asparagus and shiitake mushroom and more. 

This isn't greasy, MSG-laden food either. It's nuanced and flavorful and presented on square porcelain plates and in fragile bowls, with light sauces and purple-colored brown rice. That's in large part due to the care of chef Danny Suptong, who once worked at Pimai restaurant on Franklin Avenue. 

There's nothing quite like dining on a quiet, satisfying meal with friends at It's Thai to make you wonder why on Earth all those people just across the way are spending almost as much money for their Burger King value meals.

-- Jessica Gelt  

Photo: Charlie Amter


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.