Grab & Go, Go, Go

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Photo by The Drip Group

Westside powerhouse chefs D. Brandon Walker and Jill Davie set out to elevate Mar Vista’s dining scene with The Mar Vista, the elegant and airy farm-to-table eatery that replaced The Good Hurt on Venice Boulevard.

In just five months, the concept has been so successful they’re now splitting their time between that collaboration and a sister restaurant — The MV Grab & Go — directly across the street (between the Venice Grind coffee shop and Soaptopia).

“We’ve been doing a lot of jaywalking,” Chef D., formerly of Bread & Roses Café, says with a smile.

“… Even though there’s a brand-new crosswalk in front of us on Venice Boulevard,” Davie (Venice Beach Wines, Josie) is quick to add with a laugh.

While The Mar Vista has established itself as a hot dinner spot on the block, Grab & Go is more casual and quick. The idea for the concept came to the two when they were building out The Mar Vista. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Top 10 Summer Treats

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

Summer is all about fun under the sun, which makes it equally important to cool off. Restaurants in and around Playa Vista are there to help with lighter fare, thirst-quenching cocktails and, of course, frozen concoctions that will bring out the kid in everyone.

Authentic Shave Ice @ Da Kikokiko

Not to be confused with shaved ice (aka snow cones, usually made from crushed ice), the shave ice at Da Kikokiko is the real Hawaiian deal. The ice is shaved right behind the counter while you watch, then it’s your job to choose the syrup (such as lemon-lime and blackberry), toppings (such as sour spray and dried plum powder), and fillings (like mocha and fresh lychee). Add small-batch ice cream on the bottom if you like. dakikokiko.com

Sunshine Smoothie @ Hal’s Bar & Grill

Hal’s has been born again in Runway at Playa Vista, and this time there’s a juice and smoothie bar. With a name like Sunshine, it’s hard to imagine ordering a more perfect drink with summer brunch. The kale, fresh apple juice, banana and lime combo can be an energizing appetizer before diving into the delicious eggs benedict or popular turkey burger. halsplayavista.com

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

5 New Eateries in the Santa Ynez Valley That Make It an Ever Better Weekend Destination

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Photo by @eatwithxjenn3

The Santa Ynez Valley’s bread and butter is food and wine. Tourists flock to the area just north of Santa Barbara to indulge in fine vintages and a bonanza of locally sourced products, from vegetables to poultry. With dozens of restaurants across six towns, visitors might have a hard time picking where to eat — but as it happens, there a number of brand-new restaurants here that are quite good, each adding something unique to the food scenes in the valley’s main clusters: Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Buellton and Solvang.

First & Oak
When it comes to food, Solvang may be best known for its aebleskiver and other Danish delights. But First & Oak — a few blocks from Solvang’s main drag, Copenhagen Drive — is quickly changing the culinary landscape. This quaint restaurant on the first floor of the Mirabelle Inn is probably the fanciest place in town. Jonathan Rosenson and his family bought the inn on the corner of First and Oak in 2015. The following year, they opened the dining room for business, adding un peu de France to this touristy Danish-themed village. The aesthetic may be French, but the chef is British: Steven Snook, who worked with Gordon Ramsay for six years. The menu includes crispy duck wings and lobster bisque speckled with Dungeness crab beignets. The truffle-roasted cauliflower with crisp quinoa (and scoops of whipped cauliflower) is a standout. …

Read the full article at LA Weekly.

Afternoon Delight

Why should tourists have all the fun? Santa Monica hotels have mastered the art of fine dining in settings that’ll make you fall in love with Southern California all over again. By sea, sky or pool, here are four great places to sit back, relax and feel like a sightseer in your own backyard — all without breaking the bank.

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FIG at Five’s charred octopus. Photo by Matthew Christopher Miller

FIG at Five at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel

FIG Restaurant, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | (310) 319-3111 | figsantamonica.com

FIG at Five is one of the more happening happy hours in Santa Monica. There might be a wait for a seat, but it’s worth it. And not just for the relaxing view of the pool and palm trees. From 5 to 6 p.m. seven days a week, most of the food and drinks on the menu are half-off — except the pizzas, bread balloon and last six items on the menu. Since the dishes are from the dinner menu, the selection is rather fancy: charred octopus served with butter beans, pickled onions and Fresno chilies ($8.50); albacore tuna crudo with fennel rub ($6.50); tomato and radish salad with mint, French feta and zinfandel vinaigrette ($8.50); and wood-smoked manila clams with fresh thyme and pepper relish ($8.50). Choose indoor or outdoor patio seating — most seats have a view of the rustling trees. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

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A Kitchen with a Mission

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

Yellow Fever: The phrase has some pretty negative connotations attached to it. But Chef Kelly Kim has plans to change that, one Asian bowl at a time.

After years of working in corporate sales and marketing research, Kim decided to turn her after-hours passion of cooking and catering into a career. After all, she had watched her Korean dad open and run three Texas BBQ restaurants in Houston.

“I was the oldest daughter of my family,” explains Kim. “My dad worked all of time, and I was in charge of feeding my two stepsisters. My dad would bring home leftover brisket and homemade sausage links.”

Kim is not a classically trained cook. But she’s very sure of what she likes to eat — and how to make it — and started her venture from an innovative idea: an Asian version of Chipotle.
Her Asian bowls top a base of rice, noodles or greens with recipes inspired by Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Hawaiian and Californian cuisine, each with its own artisanal sauce and various customizable toppings. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Dumplings of Desire

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Photo by Erica Allen

“Alot of people ask, ‘Are you going to get a sign?’” says James Kim, owner of ROC, a new Chinese restaurant in Runway at Playa Vista.

It’s unusual for a restaurant to forgo signage. But, according to Kim, this wasn’t a deliberate decision. His first location, which opened in 2012 on Sawtelle Boulevard, doesn’t have a sign either.

While the name ROC (pronounced R-O-C) doesn’t stand for anything in particular, Kim’s culinary concept is clear: He wants to serve all types of his favorite Chinese food under one roof.

“With Chinese food, you typically have to go to different restaurants to get certain dishes, like soup dumplings or scallion pancakes,” he says. “I wanted to bring everything I liked into one restaurant.”

Which means you can order soup dumplings, a scallion pancake, crab fried rice and a beef roll — all in one place. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Give It Up for Eggslut

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

One quick look at its Instagram account and you’ll know why Eggslut is the app’s fourth-most photographed restaurant in the nation: appetizing image after scrumptious picture of melted cheese, juicy sausage and chewy bacon. It’s enough to make anybody’s mouth water.

Now Eggslut has arrived in Venice, a once humble food truck occupying prime brick-and-mortar real estate a stone’s throw from Windward Circle.

When Chef Alvin Cailan saw a biker slam into a car door because he was trying to snap a photo of the truck, he thought to himself, “Yeah, this is going to work.” This was back in 2011, and Cailan and his cousin Jeff Vales, who were roommates at the time, had decided to revolutionize breakfast-on-the-go with a mobile sandwich food truck. They painted the name Eggslut on the side.

“I came up with the name on Friday, Jeff had the logo ready on Friday night, and we got the truck on Monday,” says Cailan, who’s now the co-owner of three Eggslut locations, with a fourth scheduled to open in Glendale later this year.

The original Eggslut was an old white truck with a griddle and grill, and they called it Old Bessie. They opened for business in front of the Intelligentsia in Silver Lake and then moved to Fairfax in Mid-City.

Then, according to food legend, in January 2012, Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine ordered the Slut …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Life is Just a Bowl of Poke

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Photo by Erica Allen

Top Chef” alum Brooke Williamson likes to keep things moving.

Whether it’s opening a new restaurant — Runway at Playa Vista newcomer Da Kikokiko is her and husband Nick Roberts’ fourth — or changing her hair color from her natural honey brown to purple and now to blonde, Williamson likes to find outlets for her creativity.

“We could continue to do the same kind of cuisine,” says Williamson, sitting beside Roberts on an outdoor bench of Da Kikokiko (which means “the spot” in Hawaiian), “but we wouldn’t fulfill everything we want to do. Having so many different concepts allows us to think of a dish and have a place to put it.”

Williamson is referring to the couple’s growing restaurant empire, called Company for Dinner, which also includes Hudson House in Redondo Beach and Playa Provisions, The Tripel and the culinary boutique Tripli-Kit in Playa del Rey.

Sandwiched between Hopdoddy Burger Bar and the local branch of Chase bank, Da Kikokiko opened in October and offers all three of the couple’s favorite Hawaiian foods: poke, shaved ice and musubi (grilled spam on top of rice, wrapped together with a piece of seaweed).

“We’ve always liked Hawaiian food,” says Roberts. “We have a favorite place on Washington Boulevard, Rutt’s Cafe. I’m a Spam fanatic. I love Spam. This is an awesome collaboration between all of those foods.”

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

5 New Reasons to Eat in Santa Barbara

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Photo Credit: Kris Zacharias

Sure, you might not think about driving to Santa Barbara for a meal every day, but these five new restaurants make a compelling case for it. Whether you’re headed to SB or further north, put these eateries on your road trip culinary radar.

 Convivo

“Convivo” means to come together. And the restaurant has the big plates — created by a local potter — to justify the name. Shareable portions of spit-roasted chicken and strip steak arrive at the table still smoldering from the wood-burning ovens, dressed in North African chili pepper paste (harissa) and marinade (chermoula). “We burn food properly,” says chef Peter McNee, who, after 16 years of San Francisco living, decided to join forces with Larry Mindel (Il Fornaio group) to reinvent this restaurant at the Santa Barbara Inn. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret as he looks out Convivo’s windows at the sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. The menu focuses on fresh; the menu is printed daily five minutes before the restaurant opens. Bread is not served before the meal, but the house-made focaccia – with basil oil, onion and caciocavallo – can, and should, be ordered for $2. For brunch, sample specks of heaven: maple bourbon bombolini (doughnut holes) with espresso, pistachios and pancetta.
901 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. (805) 845-6789, convivorestaurant.com.

Read the full article at LA Weekly.

Stories to Warm the Soul

matzoh-ball-diariesMost Jews have fond memories about food. Throw some funny stories in the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a great show: the latest Salon Theatre Series from Jewish Women’s Theatre, “The Matzo Ball Diaries.”

Sitting in the back office of The Braid, JWT’s home base in Santa Monica for the past 2½ years, artistic director Ronda Spinak spills some of her own Jewish humor: “I was home from college for my family Seder at our friends’ house. The daughter of my mother’s friend whose house it was brought home, for the first time, her Orange County, Southern-born WASP boyfriend. He never probably met Jews before. He definitely had never been to a Seder. The Gefilte fish got put down. He took a big bite and said, ‘Probably taste really good if it were barbecued.’ We just all laughed.”

Spinak explains that the aim of JWT’s show is to explore on stage stories that connect us to food. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.