Daily Dish

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Category: Silver Lake & Echo Park

Bar Stella opens at Sunset Junction in Silver Lake

Bar stella 1

Bar Stella, the bar attached to Silver Lake's Cafe Stella at Sunset Junction, has opened. Cafe Stella owner Gareth Kantner has created a Moroccan-inspired boite that channels "Casablanca," a respite from the bustle of Sunset Boulevard. A marble-topped bar is manned by white-jacketed bartenders, and the space is decorated with Moroccan poufs, brass lamps, African statuary, tall vases filled with hydrangeas and camellias, and a transporting painting of tropical birds. A small patio beyond the brass-framed windows is lined with a checkered floor and pillow-topped benches. 

As for the drinks: The $15 cocktail has arrived in Silver Lake. No cans of PBR here; the beers on tap include Stella Artois, Chimay Triple, Three Philosophers Quadrupel and Hitachino White Nest Ale ($8 to $14). An extensive collection of spirits   The cocktail menu lists the classic martini, Manhattan and old-fashioned as well as a mojito, Moscow Mule and a cocktail called Le Perou (Encanto single-vineyard pisco with fresh pineapple and lime (for $14 to $16).

It's pretty swank and is open on the weekend throughout the day, a swell Eastside spot for a few Sunday-afternoon expertly made margaritas. Especially if somebody else is buying. 

3932 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 666-0265. 

Bar stella 2

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Photo credit: Betty Hallock

Oyster night is Thursday at Cliff's Edge

Oyster night at Cliff's Edge
Designer extraordinaire Dana Hollister has built a marble-topped oyster bar in a shady nook of the already lovely back patio at her Silver Lake restaurant, Cliff's Edge. Right now it comes alive only on Thursday nights when the restaurant begins shucking mollusks at 6 p.m. and doesn't stop until they're all gone. 

Get there early, though, because happy hour lasts until 7 p.m. and during that time all oysters go for $1. After that a half-dozen costs $12 and a dozen costs $20. A 19th century French Empire chandelier hangs over the oyster bar and behind it a mirror serves as a menu for Champagne and white wine by the glass as well as whatever oyster-related cocktail the bar has dreamed up.

Cliff's Edge has been busier than ever since chef Ben Bailly took over the kitchen, and oyster night already has a great draw. Eventually Hollister would like to offer oysters at least four nights a week and maybe even put some stools at the bar, which would seat diners on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cliff's Edge, 3626 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 666-6116; www.cliffsedgecafe.com.

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Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

 

 

Architectural cake-off at M&A in Silver Lake

M&AcakeoffExperimental architectural center Materials & Applications in Silver Lake is celebrating its 10th birthday with a cake-off. Fifteen Los Angeles-based architects and designers have been invited to create architectural birthday cakes. These will be raffled off at M&A's birthday party on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m.

The designers contributing architectural cakes are: 

Predock Frane (Hadrian Predock); Chu + Gooding (Annie Chu); Escher GuneWardena Architecture (Frank Escher); Gensler (Ian McDuff); Deegan Day (Yo Oshima); Deutsch (Chris Becker); Patterns (Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich); Noah Riley Design; Warren Techenin; Barbara Bestor; MASS (Ana Henton with Sugarbird Sweets & Teas); Osborn (Michael Pinto); Modal Design (Daniel Monti); Taalman Koch; and Andy Goldman.


"It's our 10th birthday, we have to have cake at the party," says M&A founding director Jenna Didier. "One of our board of directors said, 'Let's have architects create cakes.' 

We just asked them to make sure the cake was a minimum of 10 inches by 10 inches and at maximum would still fit on the shelf of a refrigerator. People have taken liberties...."

The cake-off gala is an official event of Los Angeles Design Week and is a fund-raiser for M&A, a nonprofit organization that produces full-scale architectural installations. A bike tour of architectural gems around Silver Lake kicks off the days' festivities (register here: 10-year-bike-tour.eventbrite.com).

Funds raised by the raffle and bike tour will go to support future M&A projects in its open-to-the-public courtyard and in blighted urban sites targeted for the coming year. Admission is $10 and includes a raffle ticket to win a cake and gift certificates and gift baskets from local businesses.

The raffle will be emcee'd by musician and TV's "Lie To Me" star Brendan Hines. The CoolHaus ice cream truck will be selling its architectural-themed frozen sundries; 10% of proceeds will go to benefit M&A. 

1619 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 913-0915, www.emanate.org. 

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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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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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Photo: Emily Wilder

Ceviche Project pops up at L&E Oyster Bar

Ceviche projectThe pop-up series Ceviche Project, featuring, well, ceviche (and other seafood dishes), is showing up at L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake on Easter Sunday, offering a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. 

"The majority of dishes are composed of fresh seafood marinated in citrus, accompanied by vegetables, fruits, seeds, spices and chiles....," says an announcement.  

The brunch is at 1 p.m. Tickets, which are $60, must be purchased in advance. For tickets and more information, go to the Ceviche Project website. 

Meanwhile, look for S. Irene Virbila's review of L&E Oyster Bar in this week's Saturday section or online. 

L&E Oyster Bar, 1637 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, www.leoysterbar.com.

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Project Ivanhoe at Local in Silver Lake is part of area foodie renaissance

PorkBelly
Silver Lake, a neighborhood known for its booming brunch corridor and fancy coffee houses filled with faux-tousled musicians in designer jeans and tattooed yoga moms, has long suffered from a lack of destination dining (that's not to discount the welcome presence of favorite neighborhood restaurants including Blair's, Michelangelo, Bar Brix and Cafe Stella). Still, the absence of more contenders for the love of crosstown palates is a surprising state of affairs for a trendy, increasingly upscale neighborhood with an annual median household income of more than $54,000.

Still, the area has been experiencing a mini-foodie boom over the past few months, including the arrival of chef Ben Bailly (Fraiche, Petrossian) at Cliff's Edge; the recent Silverlake Lounge-adjacent opening of Black Hogg by Eric Park of Spotted Pig and Eleven Madison Park; the opening of L&E Oyster Bar near the Satellite rock club; chef Ari Taymor’s relocation of his Venice-based pop-up, Alma, to Millie’s Coffeeshop for six weeks starting this week (he’ll be joined by a former Bouchon Napa chef for some dinners); and chef Kevin Lee's (Lazy Ox) evening takeover of Jason Michaud's kitchen at Local for an innovative small-plates program that the two are dubbing "Project Ivanhoe."

The latter is so dubbed in homage to the history of the neighborhood, which reminded 19th century Scottish adventurer Hugo Reid of his homeland, so much so that he called the area Ivanhoe. In 1906, when the 127-acre reservoir was being built, the city named it for early L.A. Water Commissioner Herman Silver.

I had the opportunity to taste a variety of rotating options from Lee's Project Ivanhoe about a week ago and took note of the range and variety of dishes that the Korean-born chef is cooking up. And although you may be fatigued by the ubiquity of pork belly on the city's menus, Lee's pork belly skewers with Korean chile aioli are soft with equal amounts of crunch and heat, and not too fatty.

Continue reading »

Cliff's Edge brings in chef Benjamin Bailly for a fresh direction

BenBailey-web-1Cliff's Edge, the popular Silver Lake restaurant with one of the most attractive outdoor dining patios on the eastside, is switching gears. It has quietly brought in James Beard-nominated chef Benjamin Bailly to revamp the menu and give new direction to the kitchen.

Bailly, who was nominated as Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2010 after working as chef de partie for Joel Robuchon in Paris and assisting him in opening six restaurants worldwide, has most recently served as executive chef at both Fraiche and Petrossian in West Hollywood. He was pursuing a career as a private chef when Cliff's Edge plucked him up.

Since Jan. 3, Bailly, 29, has worked diligently toward creating a menu that Cliff's Edge owners Dana Hollister, Keith Greco and Pierre Casanova hope will make the restaurant a culinary destination for diners across the city.

In its more than seven years in operation, Cliff's Edge has cultivated a devoted neighborhood following, but its food has never been singled out as particularly noteworthy. A destination restaurant in Silver Lake would be a welcome -- and long overdue -- addition to the neighborhood.

Bailly has divided the new menu, which is still Mediterranean in flavor, into four parts: to share, to start, to follow and desserts. The first is a series of small plates meant to be shared with cocktails from the recently revamped bar. These include chickpea fritters with rosemary and lemon aioli; eggplant caviar with cumin, pine nuts and cilantro; salt cod brandade with lemon, parsley and garlic crostini; pickled cauliflower with Castelvetrano olives and Marcona almonds.

Continue reading »

Gift for Asian Cooks: Red Boat Fish Sauce

RED BOAT (1 of 1)When Diep Tran, owner of Good Girl Dinette, mentioned her obsession with Red Boat Fish Sauce in a question and answer session, I remembered that I’d meant to search out the first-ever first-press fish sauce months ago.

When I went onto Red Boat’s website, I found the only place selling it in L.A. is Broome St. General Store in Silver Lake. And I never pass up an excuse to head over there for a coffee (from Gimme! Coffee  in New York) and a pastry from CakeMonkey Bakery or Valerie Confections

Sure enough, I found the Red Boat Fish Sauce, on a shelf with a handful of other Asian basics. Wow, what a difference from conventional fish sauce. Not exactly subtle, it packs a wallop of anchovy. It tastes alive.

The nước mắm nhi is produced at a small family factory on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam. Made from fresh, wild-caught anchovy caught off the coast, the fish is salted and then slowly fermented in wood barrels. Only the first press is bottled. The only ingredients: anchovy and sea salt. No added water, MSG or preservatives.

I’m giving a bottle to all my friends who cook Asian. But its use isn’t just limited to Asian dishes. I can see adding a splash to a Caesar dressing, or making a dipping sauce for Dungeness crab. Maybe even using it to flavor meatballs or to rev up a braised meat dish.

Red Boat Fish Sauce, available at Broome St. General Store, 2912 Rowena Avenue, Los Angeles (Silver Lake); (323) 570-0405.

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Photos: Red Boat Fish Sauce. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times

Gifts for the cocktail set

1348_0.pngA vintage or contemporary cocktail shaker or decanter should delight just about anybody with a fondness for wine or spirits. And even if the recipient already owns one, no problem: your gift makes the beginnings of a collection. The following two Los Angeles shops stock an inspired selection of barware:

In Silver Lake, the quirky Bar Keeper is filled with new and vintage cocktail paraphenalia. Cocktail shakers run $16 to $60, decanters, $40 to $140. Small bottles of bitters (you can taste them at the bar) make perfect stocking stuffers for the drink-obsessed ($6 to $20). They have plenty of vintage and new cocktail glasses in various shapes and sizes, too, plus accoutrements for serving absinthe. And now that owner Joe Keeper finally has a liquor license you can also pick up a bottle of absinthe or other spirits. 

Empiric on Beverly Boulevard in Beverly Grove sells a line of handsome bulbous glass decanters with polished brass or nickel stoppers in three different shapes, $145. And if you’re looking for a very big gift, consider one of their raw steel bar carts ($750) or the incredibly stylish polished aluminum one that looks like a kissing cousin to an Airstream, $1,175.

Bar Keeper, Silver Lake, 3910 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 669-1675 www.barkeepersilverlake.com.

Empiric, 7916 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 634-7323, www.empiricstudio.com.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo: Brass-cube-stopped decanter from Empiric. Credit: Empiric

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.