Author Archives: jessicakoslow

The Samsons stand out with a bright California osteria

Superfine Playa’s electric blue building and bright red letters near the roof boldly announce its arrival at Silicon Beach’s RUNWAY Playa Vista. The playful structure is energizing and eye-catching. What used to be The Bull and Butterfly Steakhouse transitioned to a casual California osteria on January 1 and officially opened its doors on March 22.

Photo by Emma Arends

It was a quick turnaround, explains owner Dina Samson, who shares that her team had to hit the ground running, repurposing and refinishing.

Although they kept much of the prior restaurant’s design, the place was given a chic makeover. They added wooden planters outside handmade by Victory Gardens and filled with native plants, many of which were transplanted from the nearby Ballona Wetlands.

The bespoke wallpaper in the bathrooms is beautifully illustrated with the same plants popping out of the outdoor boxes; it’s brightly colored in the women’s bathroom and more muted in the men’s. …

Read the entire article at Playa Vista Magazine.

Misael Villa has created a comfortable, quality eatery

Neighbors was the first word that popped into Misael Villa’s head when he looked at the space formerly occupied by Hal’s Bar & Grill.

Photo by: Arely Ruiz

The Venice institution once flourished on Abbot Kinney and opened its second location on Runway Playa Vista before closing in 2018.

“When the space was offered to us, as I walked around the neighborhood and ran things in my head, I realized that our clientele was going to be all those directly around us,” says Villa, who opened his restaurant’s doors in November 2022. “Our neighbors were who we wanted to cater to.”

That’s exactly who he’s catering to with Neighbors, a brunch and dinner spot in Playa Vista. In a few months, customers count among their favorites the crispy chicken sandwich; the Neighbors burger with Swiss, bacon, arugula, caramelized onion, and aioli on a brioche bun; pesto pasta; chicken piccata; and their breakfast items, which range from a breakfast burrito to French toast with seasonal berries, orange zest whipped cream, and hibiscus bourbon reduction. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Magazine.

A Lockdown Success Story

When Sean Martin received the keys to the former Spitfire Grill, he was nervous. It was a week before the first lockdown.

That uncertainty gave way to the dedication of reopening a spot where everyone felt welcome, and the landscape buzzed with activity from planes from Santa Monica Airport, a playground and dog park. The Cloverfield was born. 

“We took our time with renovations to ensure that we were meeting people where they were and their level of comfort and needs for safety,” said Martin, who follows the Spitfire Grill’s owner who tired after 30 years. 

The outdoor patio is accommodating. It’s expansive, with seating for almost 100, umbrellas for shade, and twinkling string lights for nighttime dining. 

The indoor dining area soon followed. 

“The location is just fantastic,” Martin said. …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

A Taste of New Orleans

Venice is now home to Willie Mae’s first brick-and-mortar location to offer a full-service dining experience outside of Louisiana. The iconic New Orleans eatery has been serving since 1957, thanks to a flurry of Angeleno tourists who convinced Kerry Seaton-Stewart, Willie Mae’s great-granddaughter, that they had to open a location in their hometown. 

(Eddie Sanchez/@hungryinLA)

“Over the years we have had a lot of visitors from Los Angeles asking us to open here,” Seaton-Stewart said. “So we kind of always knew that if we were to open outside of New Orleans, LA would be our first stop. Oh, and the weather is nice, too.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Fitness Recovery

About three and a half years ago, Ken Silver and Dr. Adam Sands began taking trips to the grocery store to buy 200 pounds of ice to fill up a big plastic garden tub in the parking lot of Sands’ office. When friends they invited to try the tub raved about the experience and wanted to do it all the time, the idea for RVIVL was born.

Photo by: Chris Mortenson

“This was a clean, natural way to help people feel great, look great, and to meet like-minded individuals,” said Silver, an avid hiker, runner, skier, weightlifter, tennis player and co-founder of RVIVL, a fitness recovery studio in Playa Vista that opened in November 2022. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

COVID carbs

The meaning of the Treat Collective, a virtual bake shop launched by three Los Angeles–based besties in December 2020, has layers. First, as in, “It is a total treat to work together!” says cofounder Ari Vena ’94, who was freshman roommates with Betsy Seder ’94, and in the band Sidemouse freshman year with Diana Hyman Winters ’94. Then there are the actual treats, like delicious and inventive shortbread, Seder’s specialty, and tender Japanese milk bread from Winters. . . .

Betsy Seder, Ari Vena, and Diana Hyman Winters, all ’94

Read the full article at Brown Alumni Magazine.

Café Gratitude Unveils New Wine/Beverage Program

Since opening the doors to its second location 10 years ago on Rose Avenue in Venice, Café Gratitude has been a consistent favorite for diners—and judging by its success, it’s not just vegans who enjoy the plant-based bites. 

Among the highlights are the eye-catching names given to every dish, such as I Am Bountiful or I Am Humble for mains and bowls, and I Am Illuminated or I Am Infinite for smoothies. Another is the huge variety of organic dishes, from sandwiches and salads and starters to smoothies and sweets. 

Fortunately, Café Gratitude pushed through the pandemic while plotting some impressive changes, the most recent being a new wine and beverage program courtesy of Los Angeles sommelier Taylor Grant, who is also the founder of Salutay Wine Club, leader of operations for TRESOMM Winery, and plays guitar in jam sessions with her friends, The Champagne Supernovas. …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

Vegan Delights

One of the first things that diners will notice at Herbie Burger is that the vegan takeout joint’s picturesque burgers are made with mushrooms and black beans, a special recipe from founder Peter Williams.

Photo courtesy of Marcelo Cruz

“My wife [Erin Harnisch] and I noticed vegan menu items trending toward factory-produced meat replacements and away from house-made items,” said Williams of the inspiration to open his concept in a ghost kitchen in Culver City.

“While we have nothing against products like Impossible and Beyond, and we consume them from time to time, we found ourselves craving veggie burgers and plant-based ‘chicken’ products with fewer, less processed ingredients.”

Williams’ mini cooking space is at the very end of Selmaraine Drive, where a never-ending rotation of Grubhub, UberEats and DoorDash drivers saunter up to the window to grab their deliveries. Customers can also order at the window from a tablet, and Williams has seen his walk-up orders grow from one  when he opened on Aug. 1 to 10 orders in recent days.  …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

Sustainable Sushi

Most nights, Platform in Culver City is packed with diners, shoppers and people watchers. The community shopping center on Washington Boulevard buzzes with the pulsing energy of a college campus or popular mall food court. After a three-month stint as Little Fiish in a pop-up space, Fiish has expanded and joined the swarm of eateries that makes Platform so appealing.  

Photo Credit: Julian Martin/Fiish

“We were also lucky that there is a lack of sushi restaurants in the area so it was a well-received concept,” said Chef Colin Whitbread, a professional-surfer-turned-chef who previously ran a catering business in Los Angeles and San Diego for more than 15 years.

“The local community has been so supportive of the new space,” Whitbread said. …

Read the full article in The Argonaut.

Modern Creamery

In 2017, N’ice Cream fell into Omid Torkian’s lap, metaphorically.

As his wife Elaheh (or Ellie as people call her) tells it, they had been looking to jump into the restaurant business. More specifically, Omid was looking for a business for her to nurture — and she just happened to be pregnant with their third child.

N’ice Cream’s previous owner was looking to sell the Playa Vista location, and the Torkians saw the perfect opportunity to “start small and get the ball rolling,” Ellie says.

After opening in February 2017, Ellie conducted what would be the first revamp of the shop. She upgraded the vibe to a bright and pastel interior, added a refrigerated section with fresh fruit, and put her skills as a former art teacher to work by designing their mascot, Mrs. N’ice Cream, who is painted on the wall and smiles at customers.

They also expanded the types of soft serve they offered beyond strictly gelato or frozen yogurt. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.