Nothing cures a hangover like a Sunday Brunch

Posted in Black Book, LAX, Sustenance on November 23rd, 2010 by adallal

Sunday morning brunch is a special occasion.  It’s an opportunity to recover, rehydrate, reunite and recollect on the prior evening’s festivities – a great start to the homestretch of the weekend before the workweek.  To accomplish this you only need a few simple components: adult beverages, excellent food, and a great atmosphere.  La Grande Orange and 3 Square Cafe and Bakery have those bases covered.

La Grande Orange

If you’re in dire need of a bloody mary to cut your hangover (as I often do), La Grande Orange is a perfect spot to enjoy a Sunday brunch and recover.  Besides the fact they offer a full bar and serve a mean bloody, they also have great breakfast items that (along with the adult beverage) will have you contributing back to society in no time.  My favorites on the menu are the Commuter sandwich and the Acapulco Omelet (the raw jalapenos will fire you up).  Finally, as you’re gnawing on the raw jalapenos and sipping your bloody, you can catch the early football game on the TV inside the bar.  Food, beverages, football – I’m back baby!

3 Square Cafe and Bakery

Weisswurst and bratkartoffeln – it’s extremely rare to come across this German rendition of veal sausage and potatoes here in Los Angeles.  3 Square Cafe and Bakery on Abbot Kinney has perfected it.  If it is food that you need to revive during your Sunday brunch, this is the place to go.  In addition to the grilled veal sausage, 3 Square also features huevos rancheros, German pancakes, and french toast.  You will undoubtedly find yourself eating embarrassing quantities of food.  Need to wait for a table?  No problem – head to the bakery next door for some java, pastries (one of the best chocolate chip cookies you’ll have), or maybe their famed pretzel roll.  Finally, if you do need a little liquid to help cure the hangover, 3 Square offers mimosas, bellinis, and a selection of wine.  Admittedly, none of those can cure a hangover like a bloody, but they’re a nice addition to the food at 3 Square.

Cocktails at the Tar Pit

Posted in Sustenance, Vices on October 11th, 2010 by adallal

Tar Pit Bar and Restaurant La Brea

Simply put, I would have rated the Tar Pit an em-phatic 5 stars had the food been better.

The cocktails/ambience are amazing.  The Warsaw Mule and Dark n’ Stormy leverage their tasty   home-made ginger beer and go down a little too easily.

As for the food, they offer some eclectic options (steak diane, wild boar meatballs) that are a bit uncharacteristic for local bars/restaurants here in LA and did not satisfy my basic expectations.  To be clear, I went to the Tar Pit as a result of hearing about their Mule and was not expecting much out of the food, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the options they provided.

Overall, I highly recommend the place for cocktails – I get the feeling that they will sort out their food menu and, when they do, it’ll be a great place to grab a bite and some drinks after work.

609 North La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 965-1300

Santa Monica Spanish Tapas

Posted in Black Book, LAX, Sustenance on October 9th, 2010 by adallal

Absolutely unstoppable.

I have been to Manchego a handful of times and the experience has been consistently amazing.  The restaurant does not take reservations and does not have a liquor license (no corkage fee), so come with a bit of patience and bring your own booz (there’s a liquor store that sells wine a few doors down in case you forget).  If there is a wait to be seated, I recommend putting your name/cell number down and heading to Salute (another great restaurant/wine bar) across the street for a glass of wine – someone from Manchego will call you when your table is ready.

As for the food, they feature a number of different tapas-style dishes that are Spanish and Mediterranean based.  If the menu feels a bit overwhelming, ask the waiter to bring out a bunch of his/her favorites.  I did this the last time I was there and it introduced me to a number of dishes that I hadn’t tried before.  To be clear, there isn’t a single dish that I’ve had there that wasn’t incredible.

Finally, the service is spot-on.  They’ll do anything they can to accommodate you with seating, they control the flow of items coming out perfectly (including the sequencing), and they are extremely attentive.

It is currently high on my list of restaurants in Santa Monica, so I couldn’t recommend more.

2510 Main St # B
Santa Monica, CA 90405-3583
(310) 450-3900

Texas Beef Rib

Posted in Black Book, LAX, Sustenance on September 22nd, 2010 by adallal

Los Angeles’ culinary talents spread far and wide – from classic chefs like Wolfgang Puck to the talented Thomas Keller to the unsung “chefs” working the food trucks.  Among all that is often lost places like Baby Blues BBQ, who have achieved notoriety not by staffing Iron Chefs but by winning over crowds with incredible food.  Tucked away on a stretch of Lincoln Blvd. that includes a cornucopia of various shops, Baby Blues brings North Carolina-style BBQ to Santa Monica.  While they may not have the so-called Iron Chefs grilling the meat, the Food Network did in fact recognize them for their incredible BBQ:

Their menu is quite simple – all things BBQ.  Their pulled pork, beef brisket, Memphis-style ribs, and baby back ribs are all amazing, but their secret weapon is the Texas Beef Rib.  Easily the length and width of my forearm, the beef rib is unlike anything I have seen anywhere else.  At least 16 oz of lean, mean beef, Baby Blues slow cooks these babies for hours.  As a result, they have limited quantities each day, so if you’re planning on taking out and you want more than 2, you’ll have to call them in advance (this recently came up when I ordered 7 on a to-go order).

In addition to all the glorious meats (which you can mix and match in different combinations), Baby Blues also offers some incredible sides.  Baked beans, grilled corn, sweet mashed potatoes, and the mac n’ cheese are the highlights of the “fixins”, in addition to some incredible corn bread.  However, you won’t find a mixed greens salad or any type of green that doesn’t have butter lathered all over it.

As if the grilled meats and sides weren’t enough, Baby Blues offers a good selection of draft beer (including Shiner Bock for the local Texans) and some tasty dessert – making it an all-together complete dining experience.  Finally, southern comfort flows through the entire place – from the blues music to the cute girls with the southern accent to the guys who are sweating over the flame behind the bar.  Without a doubt, Baby Blues is the best BBQ in LA and a damn good local gem on top of that.

444 Lincoln Boulevard
Venice, California 90291
(310) 396-7675