Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Westside

Bon Appétit Grub Crawl is set for July 13-15

GrubCrawl_logo_black_final-After experiencing many a pub crawl abroad, the founders of Grub Crawl came back to the States with a business venture: to lead guided tours--not of bars--but restaurants. The company has been taking groups of foodies on a series of grub crawls around the Bay Area since 2009 and now brings the idea of food "crawling" to L.A.

The Los Angeles edition of the Bon Appétit Grub Crawl will be hitting up three delicious neighborhoods to dine July 13-15.

The tour starts on Friday in downtown L.A. with stops at Cole's, Umamicatessen, Las Perlas and Seven Grand. Next up on the tour, continued on Saturday, is Hollywood and West Hollywood with Mozza, Scuola Di Pizza, Pour Vous, Street, the Spare Room and Night + Market on the itinerary. Saturday's crawl will conclude with a live music performance by Vacationer at the Roxy. The final leg of the tour will include eateries on the Westside with visits to Father's Office, Sotto, Picca and Lukshon. Yum...

Attend the entire three-day event for $200 per person or pick one of the three-neighborhood food crawls for $80-$100. Tickets can be purchased online.



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-- Caitlin Keller

SHOREbar soft-opening Saturday in Santa Monica

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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--Jessica Gelt

Photo credit: SHOREbar

The perfect Saturday-afternoon pour at Chez Jay

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

Del Monte Speakeasy and the awesome history of Prohibition tunnels


Did you know that during Prohibition whiskey boats from Canada would anchor offshore of Venice and row their whiskey barrels to utility tunnels and catacombs under the Venice Pier that led to the tony hotels and bars that lined the boardwalk?

I didn't. But I love the idea. It's so very "Boardwalk Empire." Apparently the Del Monte Speakeasy below the nearly century-old bar the Townhouse was a major booze distribution hub, and rumor has it that a tunnel connected it to King Eddy's Saloon in downtown L.A. That may not be true, but if it is I'm going to find that tunnel and walk it myself (with a bottle of whiskey, of course).

Anyway, you can learn all about the history of Del Monte Speakeasy and more in this story from Friday's nightlife pages in Calendar.


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Photo: An Amaretto sour is served at the Del Monte Speakeasy. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

U-Mini, a new Umami Burger, is coming to Westwood

UCLA students rejoice, Umami Burger -- the juggernaut of a savory burger chain -- is barreling toward Westwood Village, with a targeted opening date of "summer 2012." That could mean August, but when Umami owner Adam Fleischman moves, he tends to move fast. So it could be sooner.

The new Umami location is being called U-Mini because it's a compact version of the chain's regular restaurants. The 1,200-square-foot restaurant will have 45 seats and no servers, and Fleischman says it will focus mainly on to-go business for the fast-moving neighborhood. As such, the Westwood location will also be a testing ground for Web and app ordering and tablet-only customer service.

Customers can also expect U-Mini to be a place to try out new specialty burgers. The menu itself will be an edited version of the regular Umami menu, with these new options rotating in and out.

U-Mini, 1131 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles.


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Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

The modernists are coming! The modernists are coming!

Rene Redzepi addresses his staff at Noma

Rene Redzepi, David Chang, Nathan Myhrvold, Bill Yosses, Sherry Yard, Jimmy Shaw ... some of the most talked-about and forward-thinking cooks and chefs in the world today are heading to UCLA this spring for the first "Science and Food" public lecture series.

Offered under the direction of Integrative Biology and Physiology professor Amy Rowat, who started the series at Harvard when she was doing her post-doctoral work there, the series features four nights of lectures, running from early April through early June. Tickets are $20 and will go on sale next week. The series is free for UCLA students.

Redzepi, the highly praised chef of Noma in Copenhagen, will kick off the series April 2, appearing with Lars Williams of the Nordic Food Lab. On April 25, Myhrvold, lead author of the landmark cookbook "Modernist Cuisine," will take the stage. David Chang of Momofuku and Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach magazine will speak May 24. And White House chef Yosses, Spago pastry chef Yard and Loteria Grill chef Shaw will wrap up the series June 9.

Registration begins March 20.


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--Russ Parsons

Photo: Rene Redzepi addresses his staff at Noma. Credit: Betty Hallock/Los Angeles Times

Plan Check opens today in West L.A.

West L.A.'s Plan Check

West L.A.'s Little Osaka neighborhood welcomes a new addition to Sawtelle Boulevard with Plan Check, which opened its doors to the public Wednesday.

The restaurant incorporates architectural elements to make for an industrial appeal -- kudos to the neighborhood's culture bustling with architects, developers and designers -- and features communal tables, booths and a large outdoor patio.

Chef Ernesto Uchimura of Umami Burger takes the reins at this new joint alongside barmen Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix of Harvard & Stone, La Descarga and Black Market Liquor Bar.

The menu features American comfort food with dishes such as the blueprint burger ($11) with smoked blue cheese, pig candy bacon, fried onions and steak sauce; smoky fried chicken ($12) with gravy, yam preserves and spicy pickled okra; and short rib pot roast ($15) with red wine, bone marrow turnover pie and sweet n' sour mirepoix. The bar program includes cocktails like the godzilla ($10) and bento box ($10); craft beer, wine and a variety of Japanese whiskeys. The moonshine house soda, with flavors like yuzu and tangerine, is pretty good, too.

Plan Check is open 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

1800 Sawtelle Blvd., L.A., (310) 288-6500, plancheckbar.com.


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--Caitlin Keller

Photo: Plan Check. Credit: Howard Wise

Tar & Roses in Santa Monica to open Tuesday


Chef Andrew Kirschner has announced that he'll open the doors of Tar & Roses on TuesdayChef Andrew Kirschner has announced that he'll open the doors of Tar & Roses on Tuesday. The delayed Santa Monica restaurant from the former chef of Wilshire will feature a menu of wood-fired, modern rustic cuisine.  

The menu is divided into four categories: snacks, veggies, small and large. Snacks include charred octopus skewers with salsa verde and piquillo pepper aioli, and lamb belly with minted apple chutney. Chaterelle stuffing with chestnuts, cauliflower with white anchovy, and roasted beets with feta are on the veggies list. Small plates? There's beef tongue and tuna conserva, wood-fired duck egg and gigante beans, and ricotta gnochi and charred baby broccoli. The big plates feature bone-in ribeye for two and wood-roasted half chicken. 

There's also a chalkboard of mix-and-match seasonal bruschetta, charcuterie and cheese. "The Tar Suppers" for parties of four or more -- which must be ordered five days in advance -- include wood-fired goat, whole goose, standing rib roast and a shellfish pot.   

Tar & Roses initially will be open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 

602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 587-0700, www.tarandroses.com.


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-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: James & James Productions

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria set to open in January


The latest in a wave of pizzerias (including Milo & Olive and Stella Rossa in Santa Monica and Pizzeria Il Fico on Robertson), 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria is opening early next month in Westwood, from chef Anthony Carron, formerly of Michael Mina, along with Adam Fleischman (Umami Restaurant Group) and Allen Ravert (Mexicali Cocina Cantina). 

Expect Carron's interpretations of Naples-style pizza, thin-crusted, individually sized and traditionally topped with crushed tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. 800 Degrees "will serve customized personal pizzas prepared to each guest's liking, right before their eyes," according to a release. "During the time it takes to pay for it, the pizza will be baked to perfection in a proprietary wood-burning oven." 

Pizzas in said oven cook in about a minute and have a soft, chewy crust. Tomatoes are California-grown, and the fresh mozzarella is made exclusively for 800 Degrees by DiStefano Cheese. Also choose from charcuterie and local vegetables for toppings. There will be a small selection of wines, draft and bottled craft beers and gelato by L.A. Creamery

10889 Lindbrook Ave., Westwood.


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Champagne flutes with which to party

Groundwork wants to spice up your morning coffee

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: 800 Degrees

Mokichi Okada Assn. Wellness Center in West L.A.

MOAThe Mokichi Okada Assn., also known as MOA, was established in 1980 to continue the work and founding principles of Mokichi Okada. In the 1930s, Okada developed a healthcare system based on new medicine with the intention of nourishing the body, mind and spirit by creating a healthy civilization in harmony with nature.

Through the fields of medicine, agriculture and the arts, MOA aims to prevent illness and promote wellness. The organization also includes the Okada Health and Wellness Program, structured to incorporate the practices of the three major enterprises of MOA -- the Okada Purifying Therapy, Nature Farming and Arts and Culture Therapy -- into everyday life. Activities such as the Japanese tea ceremony and flower arranging are believed to act as therapies fostering physical and spiritual health. 

The organization, which has centers scattered throughout Japan, has branched out to international locations in Hawaii and, more recently, California. In 1999, retired farmers Tadashi and Yoko Mori donated five acres in Fresno to MOA. The farm promotes Okada's philosophy to respect the soil and not resort to artificial chemicals such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, in order to produce natural, chemical-free foods rich in vital energy and flavor for the community. The now 10-acre farm and orchard, called the Oasis Garden, offers certification programs, seasonal classes and CSA produce boxes, also available at the center in West L.A.

The MOA Wellness Center in Mar Vista opened in March 2010. Walk in and you've entered a quiet haven, a definite gem in the midst of the bustling city. In addition to offering Angelenos produce from the farm in Fresno, the center holds workshops on home gardening and raw food. On any visit, the tea ceremony is a must.

4533 S. Centinela Ave., L.A., (310) 574-9900, moawellness.org.

MOA 3 600


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Photos: The Oasis Farm in Fresno. Credit: Moa-fresno.org


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.