Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ca'Brea...Old World Italian for the Modern Man


346 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323)938-2863
Mon-Thurs 11:30AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10:30PM
Fri 11:30AM-11PM
Sat 5PM-11PM

Sometimes you need to get away without getting out of town and sometimes you don't want to have to make it an all day affair. Going to Ca'Brea allows for this and much more. Covered mostly by trees and shrubbery, though it's large, you really might miss this transcendent restaurant. Here's the funny part, I wasn't able to grab any pics of the interior because at some finer dining places I don't feel really comfortable being a guerrilla photographer in a dim lit place. Please forgive my lacking in that department, but trust the descriptions, or don't and just go there for yourself. I'm sure my interior descriptions won't do the justice needed to give you a picture of their transportive power(if you still feel deprived of atmospheric description, there's a virtual tour on their website).

When you walk in you're treated to an old world bar that seats maybe 15 in a long U shaped counter on your left. On your right you see the maitre'd and the some small square tables that lead you into another room, where you can see the plates ready for pickup on the left and on the right more tables which have been lit to spotlight the food once placed down (hence why the pics came out the way they did). You continue on through to another room where you get a Tuscan marble villa feel and on the right is there patio area which is a wonderful spot for small parties and would be great for having lunch on a warm sunny day.

To begin with, their menu is extensive, but selective (ie-one style dish of tortelloni, one style beef entree) , and really makes it hard on what to decide because everything sounds amazing. After much indecisive hemming and hawing we eventually agreed on starting with the Formaggio di Capra alla Pancetta e Spinaci. It's baked goat cheese wrapped in Italian bacon(pancetta) and served on a bed of garlic infused spinach. Sounds scrumptious and dare I say we were bowled over with the taste. The pancetta was crispy at it's edges while the rest was warm and just the slightest bit chewy, without the distraction of fattiness, and the goat cheese inside was sinfully creamy. Celeste and I are big on cheeses and this was quite the revelation for us seeing as we normally have it paired alone with wine. And the pancetta, while in other instances has bordered on being as salty as prisciutto, had no sign of that in this dish. The spinach had life of it's own and would be wonderful as an independent side dish, but paired perfectly with the pancetta ball. If more spinach were as good as this, I would eat spinach all the time.

I got the Filettini di manzo ai funghi e olive which is sauteed beef tenderloin medallions with fresh mixed mushrooms, black olives and pinot wine sauce. There was nothing I could find wrong with this plate, meaning no cons. It was wonderfully crafted with the succulent tenderloin that had hints of mellow kalamata olives that added a little pizazz to each bite. The meat was incredibly tender; you almost didn't need a knife for it. The variety of mushrooms added much to eat bite with their smoothe meaty texture and every bite begged to be covered in the wine sauce which not only was great with the meat but equally as great on the veggies.

Celeste had the Costlette D' Agnellao Grigliate Ai Funghi e Tartufi, which is grilled lamb chops with black truffle and mustard sauce. As a cook, she was intrigued by the way the overall flavors were so gently infused through the meat(which was cooked to medium), and the utmost tenderness of the meat...so much so that she now wants me to get her the chef's cookbook so she can maybe get a clue as to how they specifically did it. She was also soaking every bite of meat in the sauce, but certainly not because the lamb needed it. Each element stood on it's own two feet, even the asparagus which she usually doesn't enjoy for lack creativity used on the vegetable.

I'm telling you what I told Celeste, "This dessert may be one of my all time favorites in the history of my eating" and it's for sure in my top ten. We got a Crema di Vaniglia which is a vanilla cream custard covered with a soft, rich, caramelly vanilla cream sauce. The description kind of says it all...it's a little bit of heaven in your mouth. I always have a hard time with things like creme brulee cause for some strange reason is a little too heavy on my stomach from all the cream, but this left me feeling just fine and my mouth was left with the best after dinner taste I've had in a long time. The custard was incredibly light and the sauce was thin and barely sticky enough to cling to the custard. If you're tired, get the Tiramisu for a pick me up, but other than that you have no excuse but to get this dessert. Simply stunning!

Ca'Brea is great spot for any occasion really. Power lunchers and intimate daters are welcome alike. With an already great history of reviews, how well rounded a menu they have, and their killer atmosphere, I can only imagine that Ca'Brea will be in the game for many more years to come.

PS. Street parking is available as well as valet.

Free Drink Refills: Yes
Entree Price Range: $18 to $24 for main courses and $7 to $12 for antipasti

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A dear blogger friend of mine by the name of Tannaz over at All Kinds of Yum is doing an amazing thing this weekend that EVERYONE in LA but especially on the East Side should stop on by. I could speak highly of it but I'll let her tell you the details. If you haven't checked out her page you should for sure. Great writer and very informative. Take it away Tannaz:


I'm writing to tell you about a Bake Sale. On August 18, I, along with a team of dear friends and lovers of baked goods, will be hosting The No Cookie Left Behind Bake Sale, as part of Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale (heretofore known as SOS's GABS). SOS is a fantastic organization dedicated to the cause of ending world hunger, and the proceeds from GABS specifically go towards fighting childhood hunger in the United States. With GABS, they motivate people around the country to hold bake sales in their own community, with the proceeds going to SOS. Turns out, I'm one of these people.

Our bake sale will take place on Saturday, August 18th, at and around SCOOPS Ice Cream Shop in East Hollywood, from noon to 4 pm. There will be delicious goodies (maple vanilla granola, fleur de sel caramel cake, pumpkin cupcakes, vegan something cupcakes (I don't know what kind they'll be yet, but the girls of SporkFoods will be making them, so they will undoubtedly be amazing), lemon bars, Mexican chocolate rice crispie treats, Persian baklava, Barefoot Contessa coconut macaroons, and on and on!), as well as live music, and good good times.

(Scoops is at 712 Heliotrope Ave., just north of Melrose, between Normandie and Vermont.)

I would love nothing more than if you guys would stop by, say hi, and eat some cookies. It'd be great to meet you all. I'd also greatly appreciate if you spread the word about our event. And finally, if you're interested in contributing some delicious baked goods, by all means, let me know!

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