Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Jessica Gelt

The Vagrancy Project launches at Allston Yacht Club

Vagrant1A pop-up restaurant called the Vagrancy Project has taken up long-term residence at Allston Yacht Club in Echo Park every Monday and Tuesday night through Labor Day. The chef is Miles Thompson, a former executive sous chef at Son of a Gun. Joining him is mixologist Nathan Oliver, who mixed at Ink before decamping to Harvard & Stone.

Monday night was the first night so I swung by to check it out. Two seatings are offered each night, one at 6:30 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. The menu changes daily and is presented as a five-course prix-fixe with optional drink pairings. There is also a bar menu with a separate list of large and small plates.

Last night's menu consisted of oysters; smoked trout with cherry, cress and lettuce; octopus with hibiscus, cucumber and honey; loup de mer with boba, miso and shitake; and cheesecake with walnut, maple and sour cream.

On offer at the bar: Chorizo with grapefruit and Robiola on toast (kind of like a bizarro Welsh rarebit and my favorite of the bunch); cuttlefish salad with flageolet, peppers and purslane; rillettes de porc with romaine, Caesar and pretzel; and quail with rhubarb, kuromitsu and lime.

Oliver's creative cocktail list included several home-bottled offerings including a classic Frisco-Rittenhouse 100, Benedictine that he encouraged patrons to pour and garnish themselves--a fun DIY approach to bartending. There was also a delicious cocktail of rum, coconut, lime Angostura bitters and almond that tasted toasted and summery.

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The Hermosillo brings craft beer and wine to Highland Park

Hermosillo
The team behind cozy Bar Covell in Los Feliz has opened a new craft beer-and-wine bar in Highland Park called the Hermosillo. The new addition to the neighborhood, which is located in the former Hermosillo Club and is just a stone's throw from York Boulevard's other trendy bars, the York and Johnny's, makes for a trifecta of gentrified cool in the area. (I know, I know ... it just keeps spreading.)

The new Hermosillo kept the old Hermosillo's sign, which features a smokin' hottie in minimal clothing. It's a canny decision that adds a bit of grit to the bar, which is otherwise pretty sleek with polished concrete floors; mustard-colored banquettes; a flat screen TV turned to sports; a sparse bar and a smattering of old Mexican movie posters.

The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable and happy to dole out a few tastes from the list of 18 red wines (mostly from Mexico, South America, Spain and California) and a comparable amount of white varieties.

The beer list is small but good (Eagle Rock, Stone and North Coast Brewing Co.'s are all represented) and projected behind the bar by a blurry old-school projector.

There's no food at this point, but when I was there (with my mom -- yes, you can!) the Grilled Cheese Truck was parked beside the wide-open windows out front and the bartenders circulated menus to every customer.

The Hermosillo, 5125 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 739-6459; www.facebook.com/thehermosillo.

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

The Hudson launches weekday brunch; the Raymond goes for breakfast

RaymondThe Hudson in West Hollywood is now serving weekday brunch while the Raymond in Pasadena is launching weekend breakfast.

At the Hudson, beginning at 11 a.m. daily, brunch lovers can linger over a menu of huevos rancheros; prosciutto benedict; steamed artichoke with arugula, lemon and capers; a "hangover" burger with bacon, avocado, charred jalapeno cheese sauce and a medium fried egg; fish tacos and more.

On the Eastside, the Raymond is bent on taking the late-morning stigma off weekend brunch by offering breakfast instead. The meal is served at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. But fear not, if you like the idea of eating breakfast at 1 p.m. you still can. In fact, the menu is served up until 2:30 p.m.

Offerings include traditional omelets, eggs benedict, croissant sandwiches and pecan and banana griddle cakes with whipped honey butter and warm maple syrup.

The Hudson, 1114 N Crescent Heights Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 654-6686; www.thehudsonla.com.

The Raymond, 1250 South Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena. (626) 441-3136; www.raymond.com.

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: The Raymond. Credit: The Raymond.

 

This week's recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Snickerdoodleskirkmckoy

This week, Jessica Gelt explores the shrub scene in Los Angeles. No, it's not what you're thinking:

Tart, acidic and weirdly, wonderfully refreshing, drinking vinegars known as "shrubs" are finding a savory home on a growing number of Los Angeles drink menus. Sometimes they're added to soda water as an alternative to mainstream sodas, and sometimes they're mixed with booze as a mouth-pleasing alternative to predictable acids such as lemons and limes. Either way, they're adding a welcome new dimension to the ever-evolving Los Angeles craft cocktail scene.

And Food editor Russ Parsons shares a couple of his favorite cookies that go with all the great fruit you're finding in the markets right now:

Just as we're heading into the heart of the fruit season, a simple cookie can be a cook's best friend. Right now we've got late-season citrus like those mandarins, terrific sweet strawberries, and the first apricots and cherries, then before you know it, peaches and nectarines. There's nothing that complements a great piece of fruit like a cookie.

This week's recipes include:

When you try one of this week's recipes or any L.A. Times recipe, let us know! Upload a photo onto the "Our recipes, your kitchen" gallery to share your take on the recipe and tell us about yourself. Your photo will be posted online and may be selected to run in print with our weekly section.

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-- Noelle Carter
You can find me on Google+ and Twitter

Photo: Snickerdoodles. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Eat.Drink.Americano debuts downtown

EatDrink2
The former Cafe Metropole on 3rd Street in downtown L.A.'s increasingly bustling Arts District has received a new lease on life in the form of a new gastropub named Eat.Drink.Americano. (The periods are theirs, not ours.)

The place is decked out downtown-industrial style with lots of exposed brick, rustic wooden chairs and tables, candles in Mason jars, a chandelier made of wine bottles, and a giant chalkboard wall with all kinds of tasty foodie things written on it including, "Duck & Pickles."

Speaking of duck and pickles, that savory duo is on the menu. Duck terrine comes in a jar, coated with a satisfying layer of fat and accompanied by chunks of housemade pickled cucumbers, carrots and onions alongside small rounds of toasted bread.

EatDrink3Other menu items include tomato and albacore tartare; black cod tempura and classic tomato sauce; king crab cannelloni and cauliflower foam; oxtail burgers; red Alaskan salmon cream cheese and poached egg flatbread; and steak tartare served with mustard ice cream.

Chef Juan Pablo Torre has also put together a nice list of charcuterie and cheese, and is devoted to locally sourcing everything that he can.

Booze is beer-and-wine only, with craft brews and small-batch reds and whites leading the list.

Next time you're in a forever line at the supernaturally busy Wurstkuche down the street, you now have a nice new option to retreat to for the holy duo of meat and beer.

Eat.Drink.Americano, 923 E. 3rd St., L.A.

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Photos: Bar area, top, duck and pickles, bottom. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

What's up with the new Señor Fish in Echo Park?

SenorFishWhat's up with the new Señor Fish in Echo Park? Seriously. Have you walked or driven by it? (It's located on the corner of Logan and Sunset Boulevard in what was once a depressing fluorescent-lighted Pescado Mojado.) Anyway, the restaurant looks like it was opened in the middle of the night by two rambunctious 9-year-olds equipped with poster board and crayons.

Don't get me wrong, most people are thrilled to have a Señor Fish on the block. In fact, many people I know have a devotion to Señor Fish that borders on fanatical. My best friend swears by the shrimp and scallop burrito and has a musician friend who will meet her only at a Señor Fish when they decide to go out to lunch.

It's just that I keep hearing people make jokes about how the restaurant looks -- kind of like a half-finished set piece in a post-modern high school theater production of "Waiting for Godot." (That's the outside, the inside looks substantially better, but still unfinished, as you can see in this post about it by the Eastsider.)

"Did they just forget to finish building it?" one friend asked.

"Is it really open?" asked another.

The concerns about aesthetics immediately become drowned in lip-smacking as these same people wolf down juicy fish tacos and gargantuan burritos. But still, a little TLC wouldn't hurt.

1701 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Emily Wilder

SHOREbar soft-opening Saturday in Santa Monica

SHOREbar
Consummate cool guy John Terzian (of the buzzy nightlife-producing h.wood group) will soft-open a new lounge in Santa Monica on Saturday called SHOREbar.

Located on Channel Road, between the Hungry Cat and Giorgio Di Baldi, in the former Hideout bar space, SHOREbar touts a cocktail list by mixologist Vincenzo Marianella of the esteemed craft cocktail haven Copa D' Oro.

The redesign, featuring a nautical theme and an ivory-and-brass color scheme, was done by Rosetta Getty and is being referred to as "Nantucket chic," which immediately conjures images of Vampire Weekend. I like the idea of a bunch of sun-soaked preppies in pastel Lacoste shirts and boat shoes reclining in this beach-adjacent hang. It's very summer-like.

There is a second, smaller upstairs bar that is reserved for members only. There you can keep a house expense account, order food from local restaurants, throw wild parties and have access to your very own locker to keep, well, whatever it is that you keep in a locker at a bar.

Although unlikely, it's my personal hope that SHOREbar can help usher a new spirit of artsy revelry into the Santa Monica Canyon neighborhood, which has a rich history of just that.

In 1948, the writer Christopher Isherwood, whose short stories about Berlin inspired "Cabaret," rented Lee Strasberg's house at 333 E. Rustic Road -- a short walk from SHOREbar -- and came to believe it was haunted. He wrote in "Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951" about "the intensity of the unpleasant psychic atmosphere." Isherwood, who lived in Santa Monica Canyon until his death at age 81 in 1986, called it "our western Greenwich Village."

But hey, I'll take our western Nantucket.

SHOREbar, 112 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica. (310) 429-1851.

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Photo credit: SHOREbar

The perfect Saturday-afternoon pour at Chez Jay

ChezJay
This is going to be hard to believe, but before Saturday afternoon I had never been to Chez Jay, the famous little sea-side steakhouse with a 53-year history of serving the stars.

I had heard about it, of course, but I don't think I'd ever noticed it in all the years I rolled around the Westside. That changed Saturday when my friend Emily and I went to pick up an out-of-town friend at the Viceroy in Santa Monica.

We were looking for a place to stop for a cocktail when we drove by it. It's a little shack of a building with a vintage cocktail sign. As soon as I saw it I made an elaborate U-turn to enter its lot. I'm a sucker for classic bars -- I love the Prince, Musso & Frank, the H.M.S. Bounty and Dan Tana's --  so when we entered Chez Jay and saw its tiny, well-worn interior with old-school checked tablecloths, scratched bar and cast of colorful regulars, I fell in love.

It was mid-afternoon and a relaxed vibe prevailed. People ordered the omelet special and read the paper, sipping on bloody marys and beer. The top of the front door was open and warm sunlight filtered in. As Malcolm Lowry (a notorious drunk) once noted in his book "Under the Volcano," there is something sad and lovely about watching specks of dust drift through the sunlight under the crack of a bar door when you're day drinking.

And so it was at Chez Jay as Emily and I drank a tequila gimlet and enjoyed the sense of discovery that came with stumbling across this priceless piece of L.A. history.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Chez Jay. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

Slingr: The social networking tool for drinkers

CharlieSlingr
It was like a dream come true. The day was Sunday and my band mates Charlie, Emily and I had retired to the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake for a beer and burger after a hard day of lying by the pool. When we sat down at a table on the patio we spied a placard for a new mobile app called Slingr that described itself as "a hot new technology that allows your friends to remotely send drinks and food directly to your table through Facebook and Twitter."

What? We could check in to the Red Lion on Facebook via Slingr and request a drink, and our friends could buy it for us on their phones or computers and have it delivered to our table, tip included? Score! We would never work again. We would just go wherever Slingr was, check in and drink up.

Who wouldn't want to buy us a drink?

"If I saw that my buddy Manny in Portland had posted with this, I'd totally buy him a drink," said Charlie, texting our table number to Slingr. Emily and I followed suit.

"It's Sunday!" I wrote as my reason for asking for shots in what suddenly felt like a Kickstarter campaign for my late-afternoon drinking habit. (You can also request a beer, a mixed drink, a martini, food and more.)

Ten minutes later our server, Greta, appeared at our table and put a shot of Patron with lime down in front of Charlie.

"This is from Manny," she said, as we stared at the shot, dumbstruck. Apparently Manny in Portland felt the same way Charlie did. It was a very dudely show of support, and serendipitous, too, since Charlie had just been talking about Manny.

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Spotlight on clear spirits at the Wine House

ClearSpirits

When craft cocktails became all the rage several years ago, whiskey figured prominently in most menus. Today that's still the case. However, as bartenders vie to keep up with the next trending drink wave, eyes are turning toward clear spirits.

Vodka, gin, rum, cachaca and pisco are increasingly finding their way to the tops of menus as mixologists discover more about them and how to play up their more subtle flavor profiles in tasty drinks.

Learn more about clear spirits on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Wine House as a group of professional L.A.-area mixologists including Alex Straus, Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello pour tastes of these underrated liquors and explain their oft-overlooked qualities.

A live band will play and food will be served. Tickets cost $59 and can be purchased online.

The Wine House, 2311 Cotner Ave., Los Angeles (310) 479-3731.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.