Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Roof on Wilshire

Sometimes it pays to subscribe to various emails for deals especially when it comes to restaurants. I get the "Blackboard Eats/LA".  They offer discounts on restaurants; some familiar to me and others I have never heard of. If this is the case, I immediately look at the menu and the ambiance.

Sandi and I had an appointment in Beverly Hills at 10:30 a.m. last Tuesday, so rather than have lunch after, I decided to try their breakfast. The Roof on Wilshire is located on the roof of the Hotel Wilshire, not to be confused with the Beverly Wilshire. It's a small boutique hotel that has a wonderful view from it's roof. It was a beautiful day with the California sun shining at 8:45 a.m. and a constant temperature of 73 degrees. On the background were songs of Norah Jones, Astrud Gilberto and guitar music. It was a perfect setting. I could also imagine the ambiance at night!

Two things stood out on their menu. This was perfect since 90% of the time, Sandi and I split 2 entrees to get the best of both worlds. The first entree was called Pancake Lasagna. We were both intrigued with the name and I couldn't contain my excitement when I read the description. It had bacon, sausage, cheddar and a maple Bechamel. What's there not to like? The other other entree was a Brioche French Toast; orange compote and dulce de leche. I loved how they served it on the dark side (can't stand pale French Toasts) and the orange compote was perfect. The dulce the leche was not overwhelmingly sweet. After we placed our order, we realized that this was not going to be a dietetic breakfast. Both were excellent choices. It would be too rich and too much for 1 person so half of both was truly perfect for me. Sandi didn't even finish hers as she was too full.

I was really fascinated with the Pancake Lasagna that I had to call and speak to the Chef the following day. Chef Chris Mendoza explained how the lasagna was made. They make a big sheet of pancake and they layer the ground sausage, aerated scrambled eggs, chopped bacon with the fat and incorporate it with the Bechamel sauce. I normally do not like breakfast sausage but this was different. All the ingredients came together like a beautiful symphony. Who would have known? Just make sure you take an extra dose of Lipitor to keep your cholesterol from spiking up.

The Roof on Wilshire is located at 6317 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Corned Beef Hash

Not all breakfast places serve Corned Beef Hash and if they do, you sometimes don't get very good meat or it may be to greasy. The Corned Beef Hash at the Original Pancake House is something you should try.

It consists of homemade hash and a blend of Kosher beef, potatoes, onions and cream. It is served with 2 eggs, any style you want though in my opinion it should only be served with fried eggs, and the best side you could possibly want......potato pancakes. These are not your ordinary potato pancakes you might have had elsewhere. These are truly the best as they are thin and light. They usually serve them with apple sauce and sour cream. When you get them with the corned beef hash, they don't come with anything so DO NO FORGET to ask for some apple sauce.

I have to inform you that one order of this is good for 2 very hungry people. I gave some of mine to 2 people to try and I still had enough left over for another breakfast!

My friend Nako had the pancakes. In my opinion, they have the best pancakes compared to IHOP, Denny's or Norm's. I am excluding gourmet pancakes from fancy places. This is strictly comparing apples with apples or should I say pancakes with pancakes.

The Original Pancake House has numerous locations from coast to coast. There are over 100 franchises, some with a different name; the one in Chicago is called Walker Brothers.  Fortunately there's one close to me at 1756 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach California.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trader Joe's Lasagna

It's a good idea to have some frozen dinners in your freezer in case you're not in the mood to cook or go out for dinner. I tried Trader Joe's Lasagna the other night and was very surprised.

It serves 2-3 people. In my case, I divided it into three. I baked is as instructed, let it rest and sliced them up. I served it with French bread. I should have had a salad to balance all that carbohydrates but I got lazy and thought I would dispense of the extra calories from the salad.

The lasagna was quite good that I really enjoyed it. The pasta was not as thin and aldente as you would get in a real Italian restaurant but it was not bad. It was salty enough that I didn't even think of Parmesan cheese.

Not all frozen dinners are created equal. This one is good especially on a cold night; it is perfect served with a salad and your favorite red wine.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Maccheroni Republic

We had tickets to see the play "An Act of God" with Sean Hayes the other night at the Ahmanson Theater. The question was where to eat around the vicinity.  Maccheroni Republic's menu looked good. I asked my brother if he had been there before and the answer was yes and he further told me he has been there twice. I called to make a reservation. They do not take reservations so we planned to be there when they opened at 5:30 p.m. There were 3 parties of two already waiting!

This hip restaurant is not big; you have a choice of sitting inside or on the patio. We chose to be inside.  We already decided to get the Fried Calamari for our appetizer.  It was a Friday (Lent) so we could not order any meat. The question was which pasta to order so we asked our cute Italian girl who waited on us which Rigatoni to order since there were several on the menu. She suggested the Rigatoni Pom' Amore which had a creamy tomato sauce topped with Burrata. The other dish we were to split was the  Linguine con Polpo e Gamberoni which was pasta with octopus, jumbo shrimps, garlic, asparagus in a typical Mediterranean flavor. Meantime, we enjoyed the French bread which was a good start with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Calamari was disappointing. It had no flavor. Even the sauce which they call vegetable dipping was very bland. I had to sprinkle quite a bit of salt on the calamari and the sauce. It was nice and light but absolutely tasteless. We were afraid of the the following dishes being tasteless as well.

The Rigatoni arrived with a big scoop of Burrata and the Linguine came with beautiful jumbo shrimps. We both got excited. The Rigatoni was cooked aldente and the sauce, when mixed with the Burrata was very good. The Linguine was just as delicious. Sandi didn't eat the octopus. It's funny because I forgot it had octopus. It looked like little scallops to me and told her they were scallops. She thought they tasted "fishy". I loved them!

We still had time to have dessert as we ate fast. We decided to split Luisa's Olive Cake. The cake was orange blueberry served with whipped cream. We both inhaled that rather large piece of cake. It was good.

Maccheroni Republic is located at 332 S. Broadway in Los Angeles. It is opposite the Grand Central Market.

BTW, the play "Act of God" is sinfully funny. It's a one man show aside from the 2 angels. It always amazes me how someone can memorize lines and talk for 90 minutes! Sean Hayes was delightfully funny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Birthday at Chez Melange

Our friend Mertz invited 6 of us for her birthday celebration at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach. Only 3 of us were able to make it as one was back in the Philippines, one had previous plans and the other one had to babysit. It was their loss as we had a good time. We even had the balloon we gave her last year which we decided would be passed on each time one of us celebrated her birthday. She was also celebrating her retirement from being a flight attendant at American Airlines. Her retirement meaning she actually "Fired" American Airlines as her employer. She was so tired of seeing unfair treatment of their employees that she fired them and said so in her letter. Interesting fact is when her letter was posted on the American Airlines facebook page, about 500 (and counting) employees commended her for doing this. There was not one single negative comment. Hurray for Mertzie!!!

The celebration started with Champagne and numerous appetizers. We had to have the Truffle fries which we've all had in the past. The birthday celebrant, Cindy and Sandi thought the Roasted Cauliflower with sweet corn would be good.  Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts with bell peppers, onions, chile, garlic, peanuts and sweet soy sounded good to everyone. These vegetables were surprisingly delicious that it was unbelievable to me.

As we enjoyed the appetizers and bread, we were not sure if we could eat our entrees but as Mertz pointed out; finish the appetizers and just take home what you can't eat. With that in mind, we did eat everything. Three of us ordered the Steak Diane with caramelized mashed potatoes. Mertz had to be different and that was o.k. since it was her birthday. She had the Pork Loin with mushrooms, onions, fingerling potatoes and broccolini. No one complained about anything which is always a good thing. As expected, we could not finish our food. We were all glad that our mothers were not there to instill the rule that we had to finish our food to get dessert.

There was a chocolate birthday cake that was presented to dear Mertz which she happily shared. She practically forced us all to order our own dessert. She did not want us to feel guilty so she ordered another dessert for herself. She got a Pumpkin Cheesecake. I had the Apple Cobbler and Cindy and Sandi split an order of Blueberry pound cake; that way they only gained 1/2 lb each!

The evening was fun celebrating Mertz's birthday and retirement from the airlines.  Amy, Sujata and Ana: you were missed. We all wished you could have been there.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mishi's Strudel Bakery and Cafe

I have to remind myself occasionally of this bakery/cafe close to home. Their specialty is the many flavors of crispy strudels. I doubt you could find one better than theirs. See previous blog:

I have always wanted to try some of the traditional Hungarian dishes but never had the time since they close at very early time (4 p.m.). Sandi and I went a few days ago and got there shortly before  4 p.m. I asked the lady if they would still serve us dinner and she happily informed us that they close at 5 p.m. that day. Hallelujah! There were no customers when we walked in so we had the cafe all to ourselves.

We decided to try the Hungarian Goulash Stew with beef, bacon, green peppers, caraway, garlic and onions. This was served with French Bread. She asked us how we wanted it prepared. Mild, spicy or hot. We both said spicy. Since we eat at Indian restaurants and could handle a bit spicy, we figured we could handle this. It was good but too spicy for both of us. Thank God for the diet coke that temporarily cooled our mouths. We also ordered the Turos Csusza which is a traditional Hungarian pasta with cottage cheese and bacon.  We absolutely loved this dish. It would be too rich to eat a whole serving so splitting one was perfect. It was also nice having that after the spicy goulash.

We were both pleasantly full and it would have been a mortal sin if we left without ordering a slice of strudel. We settled for the Apricot Cheese which I have had before and loved. Our favorite is the Chocolate Cherry which they didn't have at the time. It was served warm and though I prefer my desserts cold, I still enjoyed it. At home I would serve this with a scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.

We both left the place with a big 16" box of frozen strudel to take home. They freeze and bake beautifully and looks very impressive when served to your guests. Mishi's is located at 309 West 7th St. in San Pedro, California. Check their website for hours of operation and to view their many strudels.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Providence; Still #1

This is still number 1 on my list of restaurants.  You just can't beat the food (everything is super delicious), service and ambiance. I was invited last weekend to an elegant feast on a 7 course meal with premium wine pairing for each course. Aside from that, we ordered from the "Should You Be In The Mood" menu. We got the Tsar Imperial Kaluga caviar, the Uni Egg, the special, which was Italian White Truffles which we elected to have with pasta. The mini Brioche rolls were too good to pass with the warm rolls and lots of butter.

Before anything else we had an array of amuse-bouches. The first presentation was a Mojito cocktail bubble that just slid from mouth to esophagus to our tummies. This was followed by a Scallop Tartar with nasturtium (leaf) & Sushi Rice. Then there was Cured Saba followed by Smoked Halibut Fumet (reduced and seasoned fish stock) with mushrooms at the bottom. Next we had the Potato with Smoked salmon egg & dill powder. It was presented in a big ceramic egg container which looked like a dinosaur egg and inside were the delicate potatoes. The next amuse bouche was my favorite. A cigar box was laid on our table. Our server opened it and inside were 4 Wagyu cigars with a plum mayonnaise. After eating our cigars, we had Foie Gras Ravioli with a 50 year aged balsamic. That was delicious as well. I have to remind you that at this point, we have not started on our first course.

The Kaluga Caviar was wonderful but I have to tell you that the blinis they served was the best I have ever had. My only regret was that I forgot to ask for the left overs. It must have had a ton of butter. It enhanced the whole caviar experience with the creme fraiche and all the trimmings. The only way this could have been better is if someone prepared each serving for me as it was time consuming preparing each one without everything falling off the blinis. When we finished the whole 30 grams of caviar, they presented the Uni Egg; Santa Barbara Uni with champagne butter in a poached egg yolk with brioche croutons. I think I could have drank a good 8 ounces of this!

The first dish was a Fluke Sashimi with blood orange, pearl onion followed by Sea Scallop with cauliflower, vadouvan (Indian curry blend spices). The third dish was the Maine Lobster with eggplant and smoked sesame, miso. The fourth was a Wild Striped Bass with squash, nasturtium and shitake. We almost forgot one other thing we ordered which came just before the entree. The Pasta alla chitarra with Italian White Truffles. Another treasure box was set on the table. When opened, there was the truffle on white linen. The server very carefully picked it up and started shaving it onto the pasta.  The portions were not big but we all could not finish the serving even if it was way too good! The Moscato, pomegranate and grapefruit came just in time to cleanse our palate just before the main entree.For the main entree, we had a choice of the Wild King Salmon with  pancetta and black truffles. The Liberty Farm Duck with Japanese turnip and tangerine or the A5 Wagyu with sweet potato, aged vinegar and parmesan. One of us had the Wagyu Beef. We were informed and educated on the grading of Wagyu beef. Apparently the highest score is A5-12 which can only be found in Japan. Outside Japan, the highest is A5-11 which is what they serve. They even brought a piece of the Wagyu to show us the beautiful marbling of the beef. By the way, the wagyu was an extra $25-$50 depending on how many ounces you want. Three of us had the duck but by the time we got the entree, we were all too full. I had one bite of my wonderful duck and had to take the rest home.

The finale was our dessert. It was Sonora Wheat Feuilletage with hazelnut and an orange sauce. We didn't have any difficulty consuming that. Because we finished our desserts, they came with more desserts of macarons, and something with chocolate and marshmallows and jellied candies. Before we left they handed us something that resembled a coffee cake/muffin wrapped and bagged beautifully ....that's in case we get hungry on the way home.

The Premium drinks served with each course were served by Josh, the sommelier. They were well picked. We particularly enjoyed the German Riesling and Gewurztraminer. We made note of all the wines but if I listed them all, you would probably fall asleep. Our server, Katherine took very good care of us answering our numerous questions and patiently repeating things we asked her to explain. It is possible not to do the wine pairing if you do not drink alcohol. They have a non-alcoholic drink pairings. There were numerous virgin cocktails and fruit drinks. It was a bit overwhelming. The best one was the Calamansi which we were all familiar with as it originated in the Philippines.

We were all very happy and stuffed after this feast. It would have been nice to be able to move to another room to relax and maybe even take a nap. I always thought this to be a great idea because who wants to get in a car and drive after all that?

Providence is not the type of restaurant you would go every week unless you have unlimited funds or you just received your tax refund but definitely for a special occasion. They are located at 5955 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.