Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Menu Changes

California Pizza Kitchen menu now calorie free

Diners at California Pizza Kitchen last week found some enticing new offerings, such as white chocolate strawberry cheesecake, Baja-style tacos with sautéed mahi-mahi, and a Moroccan-spiced chicken breast salad. But gone from the menu are those often-revealing calorie counts that the restaurant had listed for each item since July 1.

The Los Angeles-based pizza-and-pasta chain dropped that data when it printed new menus last week, in part because customers just didn't like it much.

"You have to look at the restaurant business as entertainment. Why make the customer feel guilty?" said Larry Flax, co-chief executive at CPK. "People kept getting mad,"  he said.

For more click here.

-- Jerry Hirsch

On Twitter @LATimesJerry

Photo: Rick Rosenfield, left, and Larry Flax are co-chief executives of California Pizza Kitchen. Their chain of pizza-and-pasta restaurants recently dropped calorie counts from their menus, although state law will require them in 2011. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Chef Remi Lauvand revamps menu at Cafe Pierre in Manhattan Beach

RemiLauvand150 Chef Remi Lauvand (Citrus at Social, Miró, Sevilla, Montrachet), who popped into Breadbar last month as part of the Hatchi Guest Chef series, recently overhauled the menu at Cafe Pierre. Longtime friends Lauvand and Guy Gabriele (Zazou), Cafe Pierre's founder and owner, have worked together before, most notably when Lauvand tweaked a few items on the menu for the restaurant's 30th anniversary.

This time around, Lauvand is executive chef, and he's made major changes. He's trimmed Cafe Pierre's long menu to retain only a handful of dishes and made several additions including house-made jars of foie parfait, duck rillette, pig trotters, head cheese and bavette cuts of beef tartare. The menu also features a nightly three-course, prixe fixe market-driven dinner for $35.

On the libations side, Gabriele has hired Tristan Price, who previously poured at Pastis, Milk & Honey and Balthazar in New York, to revamp the cocktail menu and serve as head bartender. Price's custom cocktails include the French Pearl (Plymouth gin, pernod, simple syrup, lime juice and fresh mint) and the Badminton Cup (Gordon's gin, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint and cucumber), among others.

Gabriele and Lauvand are already scouting locations for a joint restaurant, possibly in Pasadena but potentially anywhere in the greater L.A. area.

--Elina Shatkin

Photo: Remi Lauvand / Fran Collin

Bellying up to Kentucky Fried Chicken's double down


We were dubious when we first read that Kentucky Fried Chicken was coming out with a new sandwich that does away with the bread in favor of two fried fillets. And that the "sandwich" part of the sandwich involved was made of cheese, something called Colonel's sauce .. and bacon?

Could that possibly be true?

After all, this was the fast-food chain that seemed to be going all healthy on us, setting off stampedes for its new grilled chicken offerings.

We lobbed a call to a media representative. And the rest is a good news-bad news story. First, the good news. The sandwich does indeed exist, and it is called the double down. It is made of two Original Recipe fillets, bacon, Swiss and pepper jack cheese and something called the Colonel's sauce.

The bad news? The sandwich is only being tested in Providence, R.I., and Omaha, Neb. But if it does well  -- and really, why wouldn't this sandwich do well? -- it could head out West. 

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Kentucky Fried Chicken

All things Steven Arroyo: The original Cobras & Matadors gets a new menu and a facelift, Potato Chips stays open late, Umami burger nears completion


Now that Steven Arroyo's Cobras & Matadors on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Feliz has closed in order to transform into another outpost of Umami Burger (with a bar!), the flagship location on Beverly Boulevard is the only C&M left. However, Arroyo, one of L.A.'s most prolific and restless restaurateurs, wants to shake that up too. So he's teamed up with former Violet chef/owner Jared Simons ("They are like long-lost brothers," says a rep for Arroyo) to remake the menu and redesign the interior.

The new menu strays from the classic tapas offerings the restaurant built its reputation on, not because it was a failing formula but because Arroyo is looking to "evolve it, make it fresher, lighter, more value-oriented." To that end you'll find an array of small plates (some with Spanish influences), including a summer salad with cucumbers, tomato and feta; pan-roasted whitefish with white beans and watercress; and golden beets and watermelon with blue cheese.

Arroyo is redoing the interior and expects to be done with it in a couple of weeks. Changes include "a new subway-tiled bar that seats six around the wood-burning oven, which is being resurfaced with mosaic tile" as well as "new tables and banquettes in the dining room and white walls darkened with vintage textured wallpaper," says a rep for Arroyo.

In other Arroyo-related news, Potato Chips (located next door to Cobras & Matadors) is no longer closing at 6 p.m. It's staying open until 11 p.m. with a menu of tacos and burritos created by Simons.

Finally, the Umami Burger mentioned above (in which Arroyo has a 50-50 partnership with Umami owner Adam Fleischman) is tentatively scheduled for a Sept. 6 opening.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Steven Arroyo inside the now-closed Cobras & Matadors on Hollywood Blvd. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / Los Angeles Times

Update: Cafe Pinot's rotisserie menu gone the way of the land line

Rotisserie-chicken Several short days after it was introduced (and we blogged about it), chef Kevin Meehan's new rotisserie menu at Cafe Pinot is no more. It turns out that some customers did not enjoy the idea of lamb juices in communion with chicken juices, since one big rotisserie was being used for all the meats. Instead Meehan has switched things up to offer the same menu (lamb, squab, suckling pig, rabbit, sea bass) roasted in the oven (and far from the impressionable chicken flesh) and is calling it "Roti du Jour."

Mmmmm, that still sounds pretty darn good.

Cafe Pinot, 700 W. 5th St., (213) 239-6500.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Laura Mueller / KRT

Small Bites: Rotisserie bonanza, cachaca fever and menu change-ups


New rotisserie menu at Cafe Pinot: Since rotisserie chicken is one of the highlights of dining at Cafe Pinot next to the Central Library downtown, chef Kevin Meehan has decided to offer a variety of meats from the rotisserie. Monday: leg of lamb with rosemary essence. Tuesday: rabbit with honey-sage glaze. Wednesday: squab with apricot compote. Thursday: prime rib with potatoes. Friday: whole sea bass with fennel. Cafe Pinot, 700 W. 5th St., L.A. (213) 239-6500, www.patinagroup.com.

International Cachaça Day is here and will be celebrated at the Buffalo Club: Friday is reportedly International Cachaça Day. And although we are suspicious of the provenance of all such "official" days, we are happy that cachaça is having its day in the sun. The Brazilian spirit is distilled from sugar cane and is the basis for the miraculously wonderful cocktail known as the caipirinha, which is unfortunately a difficult drink to find made well in L.A. On Friday at the Buffalo Club you'll find a variety of drinks made with Cabana cachaça for $8 each, including a spicy caipirinha made with Serrano chiles and a mango and dill cachaça cooler. A DJ will spin sweet samba grooves. Buffalo Club, 1520 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 450-8600.

Summer menu announced at Boho: Chef Andre Guerrero at Boho has listened to his regulars and changed the newish Hollywood gastropub's menu. The new menu has done away with heavier, meatier options and added a variety of lighter, farmers market-driven options including heirloom tomato gazpacho, $8; white corn, red pepper, kabocha squash, shallots and rice vinegar, $8; asparagus pizza with leeks, mushrooms, goat cheese and truffle oil, $14; and a summer peach crisp with vanilla bean ice cream, $8. Sadly, the delicious onion soup in oxtail broth has been removed. Boho, 6372 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 465-8500, www.bohorestaurant.com.

Micky's in West Hollywood celebrates its official grand re-opening: Nearly two years after it was destroyed by fire, Micky's, one of WeHo's most loved bars, celebrated its grand re-opening Wednesday night with a ribbon cutting, party and presentation of a plaque to the West Hollywood Fire Department for its efforts to save the club. Micky's, 8857 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-1176.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: The Bianca-Verde pizza at Boho in Hollywood. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: Free cocktail flights, supper clubs and wine for charity


Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar is launching a new happy hour with charitable purposes called Angel Shares. Beginning this month and continuing into the foreseeable future the bar will donate a portion of all Enomatic wine sold between 4 and 6 p.m. on weekdays to a local charity or nonprofit organization. This month funds will benefit Heal the Bay, next month Edible Schoolyard. Fun fact: The small amount of wine that evaporates from the barrel as wine ages is called "angel's share." Pourtal, 104 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-7693

The Park in Echo Park has created two new weekly events called "Supper Club Fridays" and "Speakeasy Tuesdays," for which you can BYOB. Since the Park is still working on getting its beer and wine license, both events are private and you must buy tickets for them in advance. This Friday $20 buys three courses, on Tuesdays the price tag for the same is just $15. RSVP to thepark1400sunset@gmail to receive the secret password, or call (213) 482-9209. The Park, 1400 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

The Foundry on Melrose has introduced a new summer happy hour featuring free themed cocktail flights from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays (one per patron).  Also chef Eric Greenspan is launching an expanded menu with summer-centric dishes including a half-pound $12 "patio burger" with tempura onion rings and pineapple-bacon relish. There will also be a three-course market tasting menu for $39. All of which can be consumed on the Foundry's lovely renovated patio. The Foundry on Melrose, 7465 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 651-0915

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Sichuan-style fried calamari at the Park. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: Summer is for (extended) happy hours


Nobu West Hollywood has revamped its happy hour menu for the summer, and it's now available seven days a week in the bar and lounge, from 6 to 9 p.m. Most tapas are under $10 and mixed drinks are $6, with wines by the glass for $7. Nobu's tapas include panko-encrusted scallops, foie gras on crispy soba and miso-marinated grilled Pacific white shrimp. 903 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-5711.

Locanda del Lago in Santa Monica also has expanded its happy hour to seven days a week (4 to 7 p.m.) and all evening on Tuesdays ($3 beers and $4 house wines). They’re also taking advantage of their location near the Santa Monica Farmers' Market to mix drinks using market produce, including a “Market Margarita” with oro blanco grapefruit, tangelo and lime. (Lago’s “recession relief” offers also include no corkage fees on Mondays and “Stimulus Package” menus with three courses for $29 for dinner, and two for $15 for lunch.) 231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 451-3525.

Wilshire Restaurant has also extended its weekend happy hour. It's now Monday to Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. Wines by the glass are $6, well drinks are $7 and beers are $5. Happy hour menu items include pizza burrata and green curry shrimp skewers for $8. In addition, Monday is half-price wine night for every bottle on the wine list. 2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 586-1707.

-- Betty Hallock and Mary MacVean

Photo of Nobu by Christine House / For The Times

Click here for more Recession Busters and Delicious Deals

Nutrition labels at independent L.A. restaurants


Raul Morales, owner of Taqueria Vista Hermosa, shows off his new menu board, which lists calories for every menu item.

Seven independent restaurants -- including the popular Chichen Itza -- are letting customers know the nutritional content of their standard menu items in a project aimed at curbing obesity in South Los Angeles.

The restaurant owners, along with some politicians and health officials, celebrated that effort Thursday at Mercado La Palmona near downtown. It's called the "smart menu" program,

The menu labeling project was organized by South Los Angeles Healthy Eating, Active Communities, part of a statewide initiative sponsored by the California Endowment to prevent obesity in young people. HEAC provided the recipe analysis and menu signs.

The other restaurants taking part in the labeling program are Burger Plaza Grill, La Maison de la Creme, Mo Chica, Oaxacalifornia, Taqueria Vista Hermosa and Thai Corner. They're all housed at Mercado La Palmoma.

Continue reading »

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


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


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.