Friday, February 26, 2010

NomNoms: Ben's Chili Bowl (DC Metro)

Ben's Chili Bowl is one DC landmark that I don't need to revisit. After a 45 minute line, I finally got the messiest chili cheese burger known to man and shared an order of chili cheese fries.While the food was actually really good, the whole ordeal of waiting and waiting was too much for me. Even Pink's is more efficient and organized and has more menu options.


Chili Cheese Burger,
which I had to eat holding it in the waxed paper

Chili half-smoke

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street
Washington, DC 20009

Friday, February 19, 2010

NomNoms: New Place for the Week #3 - Spago (Los Angeles)

Being one to take advantage of most opportunities, I took the opportunity to experience what is arguably the most famous restaurant in Los Angeles for my final DineLA meal: Spago.

For me, Spago did not disappoint. The wait staff was phenomenal and made diners feel comfortable. The food was plentiful. Our orders was huge and if that's not enough, the bread guy came back to offer more and more and more bread of varying varieties. The lavash and walnut bread were amazing. I'm also a sucker for any sourdough or olive bread. 

My dining companion shared each dish even though that might be a little bit of a faux pas. I'm a foodie blogger, so I have to try everything. The raviolini was rich and smooth. The pork terrine was just okay.

 Wild Mushroom Raviolini With Mascarpone And Reggiano

 Pork Terrine

Aren't your portions supposed to be the size of your fist? The rack of pork was the size of my head but it was also quite tasty. The short ribs on the other hand had a delicious sauce that I kept on eating and eating. 

 Roasted Rack of Kurobuta Pork 

Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs

I felt bad that I ordered the date cake because it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It had the consistency of a bread pudding but that wasn't what it was. By then, I was so full that I barely had any of the apple tart. The pastry was flaky and buttery but definitely didn't hold a candle to the date cake. 

Medjool Date Cake
Apple Vol au Vent 

176 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 

Monday, February 08, 2010

NomNoms: Beacon (Los Angeles)

I've been definitely making the most of restaurant week this year. I went to Beacon in Culver City last week for dinner. The restaurant was surprisingly uncrowded but for some reason, the kitchen and wait staff was extremely slow.

I was very happy with my appetizer and entree though. To me, it seems like the more affordable restaurant week restaurants are more able to present their best dishes for the prix fixe menu as opposed to the more expensive restaurants that just have to present non-signature dishes. 

I ordered the pulled pork tacos. I thought they could have been warmer but other than that, I enjoyed the dish. The pork was sweet and the appetizer was just the right size.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Asian slaw and Hoisin sauce

 Roasted Beet and Apple Salad

Duck Confit with fingerling potatoes, frisee, grapes and plum ginger glaze

For my main, I had the miso cod. The fish was absolutely delicious as were the green beans. The fish was so soft and tender. I could have eaten another piece.

Miso Marinated Black Cod with sesame green beans

Rice Krispy Sundae with chocolate and caramel sauces

Dessert was the most disappointing point of the meal. The apple tart had way too much granola on top and the rice krispy was too chewy and soft. 
Warm Apple Tart with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce
3280 Helm Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NomNoms: 26 Beach (Los Angeles)

Matt's flight to Washington, DC (the flight that made it official. He wasn't living in LA no mo's) didn't leave until 1 p.m., so I wanted to make our final living-in- LA-together meal something special. I found 26 Beach with the help of Yelp. It sounded ridiculously cute and they had a whole entire section of the menu dedicated to FRENCH TOAST.

As we arrived, my eye caught the shabby chic outdoor/indoor patio and I had to be seated there. All around were adorable knick-knacks, miss matched chairs, plates adorning the walls. One wall was exposed brick with a mural painted over it! There was also a shrubbery-covered fire place. It was like a cool girl's collection of stuff. 

Outdoor patio
The patio's fireplace

It was too bad that my expectations were way too high. I was extremely disappointed by the quality of the food. I ordered the lemon ricotta french toast with raspberry drizzle and blueberries. The bread was way too dense and there was too much ricotta. It was an ice cream scoop of ricotta.

Lemon ricotta French toast

Matt ordered the crab royale, which I also found to be unappealing. I didn't even want to take more than a couple of bites of it. Their bloody mary was very tasty, on the other hand. 


It's too bad because I really thought 26 Beach had the makings of a place I could regular. I really wanted to fall in love with it. The place was amazing and the food had eye appeal, but it just wasn't good food.

26 Beach 
3100 Washington Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

Monday, February 01, 2010

NomNoms: New Place for the Week #2 - Craft (Los Angeles)

Another restaurant I've been itching to try ever since it opened is Craft in Century City. Unfortunately or fortunately, as a long-time viewer of Food Network and Top Chef, I've been sucked into the whole "celebrity chef" culture. DineLA gave me the perfect opportunity to try teddy bear Tom Colicchio's creations.

Craft prides itself on serving seasonal market fare. The menu is laid out so that diners can "craft" their own meal and share it amongst the table. For the prix fixe menu, we had a choice of entree. The appetizers and desserts were predetermined.

Our appetizers were a salad and a selection of housemade charcuterie.

Baby lettuce with toasted hazelnuts

I thought this dish was nothing special. The lettuce leaves were gigantic, but the salad was dressed very lightly and the toasted hazelnuts were a nice addition.

The "housemade charcuterie" was composed of three items. 

Ocean trout with shaved fennel

Duck rillette

Pate with pickled vegetables

I really enjoyed the duck rillette. It had a layer of some type of berry jam on top, which made for a very interesting flavor. The first thing you taste is sweetness and then you taste the salty, richness of the duck. I could have eaten a whole jar of that stuff on my on. 

The pate was also pretty good and I loved the lavash that was served with it.

For the entree, we had the choice of four items and we decided on the three meat items. We also were given a side of market vegetables for the table.
California rib eye with beans

 Niman Pork Shoulder with potatoes

 Hawaiian blue prawns with grits
Market vegetables 

To be honest, I wasn't impressed with the entrees. The Calfornia ribeye actually come out cold and over done. I like my meat medium rare, which I feel is the "normal" method of cooking beef these days. I also found the beans unappetizing. Some pieces of the pork were also overdone, but the potatoes were delicious. The shrimp was nothing special either. However, I loved the market vegetables. Sometimes I find myself so used to looking at food that is the same shape and size and texture that seeing vegetables in their natural form is a unique sight. 

We also got two desserts to share. 

Chocolate and peanut butter tart

Blueberry and huckleberry cobbler
Vanilla and cinnamon ice cream

The desserts were very good. The chocolate tart was delicious and rich, but I couldn't eat more than a fourth of it because it was so rich. The cobbler was very tart but I loved the copper pot it came in. The ice creams were also quite good. The cinnamon one tasted like Red Hots. 

If that wasn't enough food, we also got a little serving of caramel corn when we got our bill and each one of us got a little banana bread to take home. I ate mine for breakfast the next day.

Banana bread
10100 Constellation Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067