Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Small Bites

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.

Small Bites: Southern Girl Desserts brings cupcakes to Lucy Florence; Frysmith truck officially launches today

Photo: Sweet potato cupcakes from Southern Girls Desserts. Credit: Rob Takata / For The Times. Cupcakes come to Lucy Florence: Southern Girl Desserts, whose sweet potato pie cupcakes placed third in the Best Original Cupcake category at last year's LA Cupcake Challenge, has opened its first storefront at Lucy Florence Image. In addition to cupcakes, owners Catarah Hampshire and Shonijeh Robison specialize in Southern favorites like pineapple obsession, banana pudding and cobbler. 5671 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. (310) 686-8916, www.southerngirldesserts.com.

[UPDATED: A previous version of this post listed the telephone number incorrectly.]

Gourmet fries on the move: The Frysmith truck that we first covered back in July officially launches today, bringing its rajas fries (roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese); kimchi fries (kimchi with Kurobuta pork belly, onions and cheddar cheese); vegan chili fries and chicken sweet potato fries to the hungry masses. Follow them on Twitter @frysmith, or keep up with all of L.A.'s food trucks.

--Elina Shatkin

Photo: Sweet potato cupcakes from Southern Girl Desserts. Credit: Rob Takata / For The Times

Small Bites: A mixology mix-off at Comme Ca; LeSpa's happy hour; Cameo Bar's new deals

Shaken and stirred:
Join some of the city's best bartenders for a spirited (pun intended, thank you) mix-off featuring three rounds of competition: best classic, freestyle and homemade cocktail (an established cocktail chosen by the bartender and made using the ingredients given). This is the second installment of the Raising the Bar event that started last month at Joe's in Venice. Mixologists from Joe's, Comme Ca, Church & State and Boa will compete using Elijah Craig bourbon, and four judges will choose the winner (who has to settle for the prize of "bragging rights"). Comme Ca's menu will be on offer during the event, which runs from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 782-1104, www.commecarestaurant.com.

The happiest massage ever: Thanks to LeSpa at the Sofitel Hotel, there is finally a fitting option for those of us who like to mix our relaxing massage with our relaxing after-work drink and nibble. Today the spa introduces its first happy hour, featuring bites from Simon L.A., a spa sampler menu (which offers 15-minute treatments for $15), and 30% off everything on the spa menu. This means deep-tissue massage, facials, detoxifying body scrubs and something called "liquid pearl bath service," which I am about to make a reservation for based on the name alone. Happy hour lasts from 5 to 9 p.m.  8555 Beverly Blvd., L.A. (310) 228-6777, www.lespala.com.

At the end of a dreary day: More happiness for you, thanks to the Cameo Bar at the Viceroy Hotel, which just announced a new happy hour called "5 to 9." It features $5-to-$9 specials from, yes, 5 to 9 p.m. On Thursday nights, the whole 5-to-9 premise flies out the window as the bar offers specials from 5 p.m. to close. Menu offerings include Key lime martinis, shrimp tempura with chile mayonnaise and citrus soy sauce, and beef sliders with cheddar cheese and tomato jam. 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 260-7500,  www.viceroysantamonica.com.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: The making of a classic gin martini at Comme Ca. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: 'Seafood for the Future' at Providence; Sona's 7th anniversary menu; Palmina wine dinner at Craft

For the love of seafood:
Providence is partnering with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach to host a "Seafood for the Future Dinner" on Nov. 18. The aquarium's Seafood for the Future program encourages people to make environmentally responsible choices when buying and preparing seafood. Dinner will feature six courses from Providence chef-owner Michael Cimarusti. On the menu: kona kampachi tartare, Alaskan king crab, a niçoise salad with grilled sardines, wild king salmon, wild local swordfish, and dessert. The cost is $115 per person, $160 with wine pairings. Seafood for the Future program manager Andrew Gruel and marine biologist Dave Anderson will be discussing the program with guests, and each guest will receive one complimentary pass to the aquarium. 5955 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (323) 460-4170.

Happy seventh birthday: Chef David Myers is celebrating Sona's seventh anniversary with a seven-course tasting menu that features guests'  favorite dishes throughout the years. On Tuesday through Thursday evenings through November, the following menu will be available for $77: hamachi with edamame puree, spicy grapefruit, preserved turmeric; Tahitian squash soup with chai foam, anago, pearl tapioca; Maine lobster risotto with kaffir lime leaf; roasted duck with celery root-shiso salad; red wine-braised short rib; baba with quince, pear, grains of paradise sabayon; and chocolate beignets. 401 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 659-7708.

Wine with everything: Craft chef de cuisine Anthony Zappola and pastry chef Shannon Swindle are planning a California-meets-Italy five-course dinner to pair with wines from Palmina winery on Nov. 11. Winemaker Chrystal Clifton will attend to talk with guests and answer any questions. It's $125 per person including wine pairings. Here's the menu: hors d'oeuvres; fluke crudo with citrus and wild fennel; braised Maine lobster with smoked bacon and porcini; roasted California squab with leg ravioli; venison saddle; and almond praline panna cotta with roasted Warren pear. A few wine examples: 2008 Honea Vineyard Tocai Friulano Santa Ynez Valley, 2007 Barbera Santa Barbara County and the 2006 Undici. 10100 Constellation Blvd., Century City, call Tobie Cancino at (424) 204-7485 for reservations or e-mail tcancino@craftlosangeles.com. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Aquarium of the Pacific

Small Bites: Build Your Own BBQ at Zeke's, Mr. Cecil's bottles barbecue sauce

Mr. Cecil's Ribs Multi-Meat Meal Deal: Because sometimes you like mixed grill, Zeke’s Smokehouse (with locations in West Hollywood and Montrose) has begun offering a “Build Your Own BBQ Special” (3-10 p.m., Mon. - Thu. & 11 a.m-4 p.m., Sat. - Sun.) that lets diners choose two meats (pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked ham, 1/4 dark meat chicken, hot link) and two sides (baked beans, collard greens, mashed potatoes, green beans, potato salad, cole slaw, apple sauce, kettle chips or fries) for $9.95. 7100 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 850-9353. 2209 Honolulu Ave., Montrose. (818) 957-7045l, www.zekessmokehouse.com.

Barbecue in a Bottle: Mr. Cecil's California Ribs has bottled their signature barbecue sauce and is selling it at all their locations ($8.25) as well as at Cost Plus ($6.99) and a few gourmet markets including Monsieur Marcel and Bel-Air Foods. 1224 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. (310) 442-1550. 13625 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 905-8400. 1209 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 546-5400. www.mrcecilscaliforniaribs.com.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times

[UPDATED] Small Bites: Playboy Playmates at Pourtal; Flight Club at Rustic Canyon; four flavors at Checkers Downtown


Wine and women: File this under weird: Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar has teamed up with Playboy.com nightlife columnist Dan Dunn (fondly referred to as "the Imbiber") to present a navel, I mean novel, wine-tasting tour called "the Imbiber's Ultimate Playmate Fantasy Wine Tour." The tour (which feels more tacky than sexy to me, but who am I to judge? I have very little testosterone.) features eight wines picked because they prompted Dunn to dream of a particular Playmate when the glass touched his lips. A 2006 Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon? Marilyn Monroe, of course. Jenny McCarthy? Only a 2006 Maverick from Four Vines will do. The list goes on, but you get the idea. And maybe it is just good clean fun, but having been in the Playboy Mansion grotto at least twice in my life, I seriously doubt it. The program debuted Tuesday and lasts through the end of the month. Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar, 104 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-7693. www.pourtal.com.    

Flight Club: The first rule of Flight Club is, well, stop making bad jokes about Flight Club. Sorry, I can't help it. Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen just launched a regular Monday night program called Flight Club. On offer: a flight of wines selected from various regions around the world paired with a dish created by chef Evan Funke to complement whatever region the wine hails from. This Monday's Flight Club (I just can't stop writing Flight Club. Flight Club. Argh.) featured Old versus  New World Chardonnay paired with apple risotto. Flight Club! Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen, 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. 5:30 to 10 p.m. Mondays. (310) 393-7050. www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com.

I've got four on it: The Checkers Hotel downtown is in the process of reinventing itself. It's going for a bit younger, a bit hipper, but still classy. (Funny, that's what I'm going for these days too.) Anyway, every Thursday night through November it's hosting a pairing event called "Four." Here's how it works: The kitchen whips up four special-recipe cocktails and four small plates that complement them, then you chose which pairings you'd like to sample. Try one or try them all. Cocktails go for $4 each and tapas for $4 to $6 each. Checkers Downtown, 535 S. Grand Ave., L.A. 4 to 8 p.m., Thursdays. (213) 624-0000. www.hiltoncheckers.com.

UPDATE: A previous version of this post said reservations are required for the Hilton Checkers pairing event called "Four." In fact, reservations are not required.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Playboy. Credit: Chronicle Books

Small Bites: Brunch at Allston Yacht Club, free dessert at Shin, free drinks tonight at Magnolia for Britney Spears' ticket holders


Sunday brunch in the neighborhood: Allston Yacht Club, the friendly Echo Park neighborhood restaurant, has begun serving Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant, known best for its  eclectic small-plates dinner menu and creative cocktails, will serve up tasty dishes including duck confit and sweet potato hash, biscuits and gravy, gravlax, organic house-made granola and yogurt and more. Need some hair of the dog? Try the AYC Ship to Shore bloody Mary, a classic Sazerac or mimosa. This new development should keep Echo Park locals from rushing to Silver Lake for their weekend-morning food fix. Allston Yacht Club, 1320 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 481-0454. www.allstonyachtclub.com.

Let them eat free cake! Simon Shin's hip Hollywood Korean barbecue restaurant, Shin, is celebrating its one year anniversary this month. To honor customers and generally make diners happy, the restaurant will be giving free "Shin Cake" to parties of four or more who have ordered the all-you-can-eat barbecue menu. (I recommend this option. At $25, it's a steal, and Shin's barbecue is particularly yummy, especially the beef short ribs.) "Shin Cake" is basically a green tea powder-infused rice flour pancake stuffed with cinnamon and brown sugar and topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Shin, 1600 Wilcox Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 465-4100. www.shinbbq.com.

Drink it up for Britney: Tonight only, if you are one of the lucky fans going to the Britney Spears concert at Staples Center, show your ticket to the folks at Magnolia downtown and get a free VeeV cocktail. Magnolia, 825 W. James Wood Blvd., L.A. (213) 362-0880.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Gravlax at Allston Yacht Club. It's what's for brunch. Credit: Allston Yacht Club.

Small Bites: Steven Arroyo sells Church & State, Mr. Cecil’s opens today in Manhattan Beach, Lemonade opens Thursday at MOCA


Beachy barbecue: California-style barbecue joint Mr. Cecil's California Ribs, which already has locations in West L.A. and Sherman Oaks, today opened its newest spot. Formerly Le Creperie Café, the downtown Manhattan Beach outpost features a bar and a new 60-seat dining room that dishes out beef ribs, St. Louis-style ribs, smoked tri-tip, catfish and more. 1209 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 546-5400, www.mrcecilscaliforniaribs.com.

Church & State changes hands: Yassmin Sarmadi has negotiated a purchase of ownership from Steven Arroyo, co-owner, of Church & State. Thankfully, Walter Manzke is still the chef. 1850 Industrial St., L.A. (213) 405-1434, www.churchandstatebistro.com.

New museum cafe: Lemonade's newest location opens Thursday at 11 a.m. when it becomes the official cafe of MOCA in downtown L.A. 250 S. Grand Ave. L.A. (213) 628-0200, www.lemonadela.com.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Chef Walter Manzke (third from right) looks over a dish before it goes out at Church & State. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: Lounge debuts at Akasha, more Hatchi series at Breadbar, the Mountain debuts in Idyllwild

Akasha Richmond, chef and owner of Akasha in Culver City

The Lounge at Akasha: Starting this weekend, Akasha will transform its bakery into a lounge on Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The expanded bar menu includes fried chicken sliders with jalapeno coleslaw ($8), merguez sausage pizza ($14), Let's Be Frank hot dogs ($7) and more. The snacks are accompanied by a larger beer list that features Angel City Abbey Ale, Sam Smith Organic Lager and Allagash Curieux in a large bottle meant to be shared. Or not. And … for the month of September, happy hour pricing will apply on lounge nights. That means 50% off all cocktails, beers and wines by the glass. Akasha, 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City. (310) 845-1700, www.akasharestaurant.com.

Hatchi Series: Chef Remi Lauvand (Citrus at Social, Miró, Sevilla, Montrachet) pops into Breadbar this Thursday as part of the Hatchi Guest Chef series. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. he'll present his Endless Summer menu: eight seasonally-inspired dishes, each priced at $8. Options include house-cured Tasmanian trout with a tarragon and lemon hatch pepper relish; foie "parfait" pain d’épices with mission figs; handmade farfalle with octopus, chicken oysters and tomatoes; a crisp pork belly salad with parsnips and a jalapeno sauce; a goat cheese and pear crepe; and more. Minimum order, three dishes. Breadbar Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (310) 277-3770, www.breadbar.net.

Slow Food for a Slow Town: With the slogan "No can openers, microwaves or deep fryers in our kitchen," slow-food restaurant the Mountain turned 1 month old Sunday. Chef Brian Ayers' menu of market- and farm-fresh dishes includes truffled artichoke soup, brown butter roasted veal sweetbreads with bacon, shave celeriac, house made pâté seasoned with cognac, spicy lamb loin and more. On Sept. 30, Mountain will be open for a special winemakers' dinner featuring five courses of small plates paired with five Chilean wines from Koyle Vineyards. $65 per person; reservations required. The Mountain, 26290 Idyllwild Road (Hwy 243), Idyllwild. (951) 659-1974, www.themountainrestaurant.com.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Akasha Richmond, chef and owner of Akasha. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Small Bites: Weeklong Mexican Independence Day at Rosa Mexicano; Monday night football at Riva


Viva Mexico: To celebrate Mexican Independence Day (Wednesday) Rosa Mexicano at L.A. Live is offering $37 three-course prix-fixe dinner menus all week long (Monday to Sunday). The menu will feature traditional dishes such as chiles en nogada, which are poblano chiles stuffed with pork picadillo and topped with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds (a dish that's red, white and green, like the colors of the Mexican flag). See the full menu after the jump. Part of the proceeds will benefit Feeding America, a hunger-relief charity. L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 746-0001, www.rosamexicano.com.

"Football for Foodies": Riva kicks off football season by offering happy hour all night long on Mondays. Watch the game, eat and drink from the bar menu, which instead of Buffalo wings features lamb ribs, a trio of crudo, squash blossoms with feta, and warm cerignola and gaeta olives marinated with orange zest and garlic. Cocktails are $4 and draft beers (Scrimshaw, Allagash, Stone Smoked Porter and Paulaner) are $3. 312 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-7482, www.rivarestaurantla.com.

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.