Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kitchen 24...better diner food needs better diner service

1608 N. Cahunega Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Open 24 hours 7 days a week

As anyone who's ever read this blog for some length of time knows, I have natural affinity for diners, having grown up in a world of diners in the New England area. Recently there's been a lot of talk about a new 24/7 diner in Hollywood called Kitchen 24, so obviously it wasn't long before I was in there to get my own take on the place.

With the attitude of diner cuisine "reinterpreted" as their standard of operation, I think they've put an appropriate spin on it that's new while remaining old.

Even the lighting fits the bill (though I shutter to think how much they weigh).

Above you see the K24 Tuna Burger. If Ahi is your thing, you'll like it. Nothing strikingly new about it, but very tasty nonetheless.

This is the "Bartender's Banquet", for the undecided at your table. The waffle was tasty and crispy enough, though the bacon and egg wrap with sprouts, sour cream and salsa was definitely the highlight.

Here lies the Caheunga Chop Salad with a myriad of ingredients: grilled chicken/tofu (your choice), tomatoes, bacon, feta, apples, cucumbers, kalamata olives and sweet apple cider vinaigrette. While it sounded all over the place, it turned to be a great signature salad that I think Celeste will get next time we make it back there.

Now this particular item is their Cinnamon Roll French Toast. Sounds amazing right? To their shame, it was the weak link of the table. And really, how can you mess up something with that much fat and sugar? I'll tell you... the rolls themselves seem like their day old pastries they were trying not to waste, they should have been sliced thinner, and should have actually been dipped it in egg(I'm still wondering if that step was somehow left out).

But beyond that blaring mistake lies the best plate on the table (at least in my opinion), their open faced meatball sandwich... which they've chosen to name "The Big Baller".... aaaaaahhh LA. The meatballs were sweet savory, the focaccia just toasty enough, the provolone a great choice, and the sauce was great... thin enough to move but chunky enough to grab on to everything else. This ones a feather for their cap.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R... though a great meal was enjoyed, and everyone around us was pretty much wowed by their food... every customer was a wallflower to the wait/hostess staff who seemed to be making efforts, amongst each other, to get laid. If you're a manager of the restaurant, and your reading this... please... please... please do something. It's the one big thing bringing you down. It took 15 minutes to get a coffee refill for my wife after getting up, finding our waiter, asking a bus boy, then finding our waiter again. Thankfully... the coffee was very good.

SO, if you're up late and want food that's actually good, hit this place up... OR if you're very low maintenance and don't care about refills, then you'll be fine. Otherwise prepare to be persistent as we will prepare to be persistent the next time we go to see if their staff's any better. If they are, the next time you read this post, it'll be updated.

Refills: Yes. (if you can get them)
Prices: Breakfast $5-$15, Lunch $6-$12, Dinner(served 5pm-2am) $10-$15

Friday, April 25, 2008

Creperie...what Jack N' Jill were really up to

8738 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Mon-Thu 11AM-10PM
Fri 11AM-11PM
Sat 9AM-11PM
Sun 9AM-9PM

The small strip of area just west of the Beverly Center on 3rd has some amazing little gems for dining. A while ago I went with Celeste to Michelia and had an amazing meal (lobster that was to die for). Alas, Michelia's is now gone and in it's place is Creperie by Jack N Jill's. While I shall miss Michelia's, it's replacement is delightful and yet another great option for the all ready assorted breakfasty places on 3rd.
The spring time fresh vibe at Creperie is perfect now the weather has been heating up and will continue to the further we get towards summer (God I love LA). First things first, get the coffee. So freaking good and for $3.50 for the large French press of their special blend you will not be disappointed. Though you can't really tell from eyeing it, the French press they give you gives you about 5 of their cups of coffee.
Being as this is a place that specializes in crepes you'd be foolish to not get some (though the burger they have is something that must be had next time I go there...along with a crepe). Shown here is their Baton Rouge crepe which is made up of blackened chicken, red onion, cilantro, cheese, all in a smoky Pinot Noir reduction. Typically wine reductions that are this rich either lose the original wine flavor or are nothing but the wine flavor. The balance here is perfection; you can truly taste the Pinot Noir and yet it's not overpowering at all nor is it that rich. Indeed it's very savory but it's an easy choice for those desiring boldness without going over the edge.

Their "Perfect Little Creperie Salad" is the bomb. I, as many of you know, don't really care so much for salads of any sort. It's not that I hate them or anything, I just don't find them all that wonderful in my palate. In other words I'm not craving too many green things at all. This little salad which came as a side with our crepe is just like it say..."perfect". Fresh butter lettuce, candied pecans, roma tomatoes, mushrooms, shaved carrots, with their citrus vinaigrette was so dang good. This is honestly a salad I could have with just about any meal. Simply delicious.

The hearty eater in me had to have a main course since I'm not actually from LA (those of you from LA take that comment as you want). Their pulled pork sandwich was rich but in a good way since you don't really get tired of the sauce which was slightly tangy bbq with a hint of smokiness that glued all the pork fibers together. Amazing but I must admit I had food envy when I saw their burger delivered at the table next to me (should have snapped a shot but someone might have thought I was taking a pic of Adam Sandler who was in the same direction as that table).

A nice thing about crepes is you can get them hearty or sweet; giving yourself a dessert. The Gentilly (shown above) was a great introduction to a simple sweet crepe done well. Made with apricot preserves, cream cheese and honey it was a perfect ending for the already scrumptious meal we had. At times, I was a little apprehensive that there might not be enough cream cheese to balance out the preserves but it only happened in a couple of bites. No easy feat to pull that off.

I see myself coming here way more often since it's not on the immediate brunch stomping ground of 3rd st (Toast, Joan's, etc.) and for the fact that it's a little something different. Sure the parking can be weird (they do have valet if you don't mind waiting next to celebs or the or the other option of walking a couple of blocks for street parking) but the dining experience of quality, interesting food with quality service is always what's called for on this stretch of road. If there was anything I could have wanted to replace Michelia's when they left, it's the Creperie.

Free Refills: Don't know...get the goes with everything they serve!
Entree Price Ranges: $9 to $14 for everything but the grill and rotisserie selections which range from $15 to $25...get a crepe ;)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Father's Office: 2.0...a most blessed day for Culver City

3229 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
Mon-Thu 5PM-1AM
Fri-Sat 12PM-2AM
Sun 12PM-12AM

I like to think I was on a sabbatical from writing on here until Sang Yoon was able to have everything aligned right to open the new location of Father's Office, which subsequently has been one of the most delayed AND most anticipated openings that we've been witness to in a long time in LA. Last night they opened and I was there on hand to witness the gloriousness of it all.

As many of you know, the one thing that the original suffers from is lack of space. Space for more tables, space at the bar, space to crawl passed someone without committing some sort of party foul.

The new location has a bar that is at least 3-4 times as big as the original with 72 taps on hand to satiate your thirst for fine beers. This alone helped with 1) getting your order in cause it was a ton easier to get the bartenders attention and 2) increased your odds of actually getting a spot at the bar (love the seats).

The new hit at the bar is the massive patio area with track heating. These seats I see as being THE coveted spots to grab. People were mixing it up and so light hearted even while eagerly waiting on these seats to open up. The gatekeeper (running the door) was telling me that people were sitting on the patio since the place opened at like 6:30...he told me this at like 8 o'clock. Indeed the mood of many of the people was that they would be there for a few hours more in fact.

While this does increase the chances of getting a seat right away, it by no means guarantees it. The first Father's Office suffered terribly in this aspect. While this does make things way more comfortable, it by no means solves the seat stalker syndrome that has always plagued them and is singularly the only thing wrong with this one. That being said, we waited for only 10 minutes to grab a seat once we were in.

The real question then boils down to what has made this restaurant and the one before it, a place that people will gladly wait in line for (which there was last night)? The killer Office burger that annihilates the senses. Rest assured that it is still gorgeous and complex in all it's magnificence like the original location's. I took a buddy of mine there last night and I told him he had to at least order the classic Office Burger with sweet potato fries and whatever beer he wanted. He got it and remarked "I don't like onions or bleu cheese and am just okay with arugula but I LOVE THIS BURGER! I don't get it". I do. Sang Yoon is a genius.

I can't say enough good things about this place but that I'm sure it will only continue to wow the crowds like he's been doing over in Santa Monica for quite some time now. Big plus is the abundant free parking! Sang, you know how to pick'em!

Free Refills: Of course not, it's a bar.
Average price: $26 for the Office Burger , sweet potato fries and beer combination but I know you'll want to stay and spend more!

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