Gorge


Photo credit: Gorge

Gorge
8917 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 657-6328
http://gorgela.com/

Unless you’re a mom and pop ethnic hole-in-the-wall located on the outskirts of LA County, it’s damn near impossible for a restaurant to slip under the radar, in a city full of culinary Indiana Joneses looking to be the first to unearth the next dining treasure. But that’s what Gorge has managed to accomplish, despite having a trio with impeccable resumes running things front and back, and being located in West Hollywood. LA Times has barely grazed it, LA Weekly has avoided it like a plague, and you’d be hard-pressed to find reports of it on most food blogs. Recently, someone was asking for info about Gorge on Chowhound (surely due to the lack of information I noted above), and I realized that I did the restaurant no favors by neglecting my very own post, especially when I enjoyed my visits there.

Upon first glance, Gorge appears to be your run-of-the-mill French bistro/brasserie. Old-fashioned French decor here, old-school French dishes there. Take a closer look at the menu, however, and you’d be surprised to find an extremely focused menu – one that does no favors for the ladies looking out for their figures in this part of town by specializing in cured and cased meats. It’s actually very old-school, right down to the all-natural preparations of said cured and cased meats. They mentioned how they wanted to “bring the classics back” into the spotlight. And yet, the concept of Gorge is actually very new, for LA hasn’t seen a French restaurant like this before.

On my first visit, I tried the mackerel tartine and the saucisson sec (charcuterie plate). The mackerel had a wonderfully fishy flavor, a welcome taste for one who likes briny foods, and the curing was strong, but not overpowering and salty. On the other hand, the curing for the cured meats was on the lighter side, presumably due to the all-natural process involved. It’s a labor-intensive and patient process, but the love is certainly evident- each slice of salumi glowed radiantly (probably because it’s fatty), and had a nice variety of salty, herb-y, and garlicky flavors across the board. But the MVP of the charcuterie team had to be the headcheese. Meaty, gelatinous, fatty, herb-y, it’s all there. And it still managed to not be heavy. Also, the pickled romanesco was an inspired choice to match.

On my second visit, I tried the chicken liver parfait and beer sausage. The chicken liver parfait was rather lean – imagine a refined version of the chicken liver pate your Jewish grandma would make. But getting it and the layer of fat that tops it together, and the lean pate transforms into a more creamy bite. The beer sausage was good and had a decent snap to it, and was elevated further by the accompanying fingerling potatoes and what I presume was the French equivalent of sauerkraut. Really a fine job by Chef Elia all-around (this is the same Elia as the one who appeared on Top Chef by the way – twice!)

As amazing as the savory items are, you’d be remiss to not order dessert at Gorge. There is only one type of dessert, the St. Honore (albeit in five varieties). According to Wikipedia, it is a “circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux piped on the outer edge. After the base is baked small cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâte à choux. This base is traditionally filled with crème chiboust and finished with whipped cream using a special St. Honoré piping tip.” Long description, but puff pastry + creme + cream puff on top = awesomeness. The flavors rotate based on seasonality and Pastry Chef Uyen’s imagination, but the classic vanilla will always be there, and that’s where you should start. Sure, there’s only one dessert, but consider the St. Honore a combination of different French desserts in one Frankenstein package.

Another thing I have to mention is the amazing beverage program here, headed by sommelier Darius. I’m no expert on beer and wine, and Darius was more than helpful at describing the different types offered, and even has a beer AND wine pairing for EVERY dish on the menu- that’s dropping knowledge. He, along with Uyen (the two combine to work front of the house during dinner service), are very hospitable hosts…to few customers unfortunately. You can make a reservation, but it isn’t necessary at all. In fact, the most occupied I’ve seen the place during my visits is 6 people. I can certainly appreciate the me-time, but Gorge deserves better. For now, they seem content at serving return local diners, and ones who’ve heard and read rave acclaim from less mainstream sources (like myself). I just hope that they stick around long enough for word to spread further, because a quality restaurant in LA will not be forever neglected.

Mackerel Tartine
Mackerel Tartine ($18) – pictured is a half-order

Saucisson Sec
Saucisson Sec ($18)

Classic Vanilla St. Honore
Classic Vanilla St. Honore ($10)

2nd visit:

Chicken Liver Parfait
Chicken Liver Parfait ($10)

Beer Sausage
Beer Sausage ($20) – – pictured is a half-order

Caramel Apple St. Honore
Caramel Apple St. Honore ($10)

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
French West Hollywood $$$ A-

GORGE Charcuterie & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Vito’s Pizza

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A good New York slice is damn near impossible to find in Los Angeles, especially on the west side of town (don’t you dare bring up Lamonica’s, fellow Bruins). There have been many imitators who are quick to add “New York” to their names and pizzas, in a town that is suddenly bursting with self-proclaimed pizzanistas and pizza snobs. While I’ve recently found a decent variation of such near my apartment, it was the version I had at Vito’s Pizza in West Hollywood a couple of months ago that restored my faith in knowing that there’s indeed a New York pizza comparable to its founding place.

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I always wondered whether a pizza should be crispy or chewy (like how the pizzas at Pizzeria Mozza are more of the former, or how a legit Neapolitan pie is more of the latter – a characteristic which I haven’t been able to fully appreciate just yet), but judging by a slice from Vito’s, it appears that it can and should be both. The crust is thin and crispy, yet the giant slice doesn’t crack or crumble when folded; instead, it’s soft and has a nice chew. I ordered a whole pie, half Margherita and half white pesto. The former is simplicity at its best – just a right ratio of cheese and sauce that’s neither too sweet nor tart. I liked the latter as well, but thought that the dollops of ricotta were too sweet, and craved for more pesto flavor as a result.

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While the New York pizza is often identified as being greasy, cheap fast food, that isn’t the case at Vito’s. The pies aren’t cheap (in the $20’s), but the quality justifies it. Sure, you’re not getting Bufala mozzarella or San Marzano tomatoes, but ingredients are a grade above what you’d expect, and there’s plenty of care that goes into the dough (apparently they use a 500-year-old starter?!?). I’ve heard that the pies can be inconsistent, however, and maybe that’s the story with both halves of my pizza. Eugenia also tried it (since I brought the pizza home) and preferred Joe’s in Santa Monica, which I need to revisit and see for myself after this revelation. But the slices from Vito’s should be able to bring a smile out of the staunchest New York pizza snobs in L.A.

Chris Hei grade: B+

Vito’s Pizza

846 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 652-6859

Vito's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Night + Market (5)

Some VERY bad photos of my VERY good dinner at Night+Market on the last night of DineLA (ordered a combination of DineLA and regular menu items)…

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nam kao tod (DineLA)

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pork toro

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fried pig tail

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hoi nang rom sod | raw oysters on the half shell (DineLA)

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neua yang | grilled short ribs (DineLA)

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nam prik prajam wan | daily mortar-pounded relish (DineLA)

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startled pig (courtesy of Chef Kris + team – thanks again!)

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gai tod mae chan | mae chan fried chicken (DineLA)

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border beef

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crab fried rice

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panang en neua | beef tendon panang (DineLA)

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whole fish sam-rod

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kar moo parlow

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mango and sticky rice

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ice cream sandwich

Again, these photo don’t do the food justice. I highly recommend it for diners yearning for spicy food, Thai food, or just plain good food period.

Chris Hei grade: A-

Night + Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724

Night + Market (4)

Went by myself after work not too long ago. Ordered the awesome pig tail of course, plus tried a couple of the daily specials. Night + Market is basically my source for Northern Thai dishes, which I’m not at all familiar with outside of the restaurant. For instance, I was surprised that northern-style larb doesn’t have the acidity that I’m used to from typical larb dishes (quite the opposite really). But it was amazing. The Miang Pla Tu was very good as well – think Thai tuna salad, but with wonderfully fishy mackerel, and a nice balance of heat and acidity. You wrap the mackerel with the betel leaves (has a peppery taste), which is grown in-house. Had a nice extended chat with Chef Kris, who’s always gracious, and the staff makes me feel at home. I’m actually going to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas this weekend, so hopefully my Northern Thai cuisine knowledge will improve even more.

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Fried Pig Tail ($6)

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Miang Pla Tu ($9) – salad of mackerel, herbs & chile, served w/ fresh betel leaves to wrap

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Larb Lanna ($10) – Chieng-rai style pork larb w/ blood, liver, sawtooth & roasted chile

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Isaan Sour Sausage ($6)

Chris Hei grade: A-

Night + Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724

Pizzeria Mozza

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Pizzeria Mozza. Still the bougie pizza hotness in town. Came for a late lunch (because they’re still so popular that OpenTable’s earliest time available was 2pm – unless the restaurant’s holding back) as part of the Lawrence’s greatest hits weekend (along with Kiriko and 168 Garden). 4 people, 7 pizza, 1 appetizer, 1 dessert? No problem. While the beautiful people were sharing one pizza and eating salads, us four (relatively) manly men were literally the centerpiece of the dining room, shoving down one pizza after another in record time (except Daniel, who takes the entire shot clock to finish each bite).

The caprese, while small in portion and fairly standard, was quite lovely. Fresh burrata, vine-ripened tomatoes, pesto – still a potent combo. For the seven pizzas, we ordered: 2x fennel sausage, 2x funghi misti, rapini, egg and bacon, and goat cheese. Not going to go into detail, since it’s not my first rodeo at Mozza, and I’m sure over half of the town has been here, but let’s just say it’s as good as I remembered. Basically, still the best pizza in LA in my opinion. That dough has no equal.

Pizzeria Mozza. Still the best.

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Mozza caprese ($13)

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Funghi misti, fontina, taleggio & thyme ($17 x2)

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Rapini, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, olives & chiles ($16)

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Egg, bacon, Yukon gold potato & Bermuda onions ($17)

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Fennel sausage, panna, red onion & scallions ($17 x2)

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Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions, garlic & bacon ($17)

Chris Hei grade: A-

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon

Night + Market (3)

Went back to Night+Market again with Ben and Danno a few weeks ago. Won’t say much since there are two posts already, but we tried a couple of new dishes, along with some favorites since it was Danno’s first time there (PIG TAIL FTW). I have to say, Chef Kris has really stepped it up during these last two dinners, and I find myself wanting to return more and more often. He even came out and chatted with us for a minute. Congrats on making the short list of James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year, and thanks again for the wonderful food! And thanks for the pad thai (it was unexpected).

And by the way, I’m bumping the grade up.

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fried pig tail ($6)

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pork toro ($7) – grilled fatty hog collar, with “jaew” northeastern chile dip

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pad thai

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kao kluk gapi / shrimp paste-seasoned rice ($13) – w/ candied pork, shredded egg omelette, red onion, green mango, cilantro, bird eye chile

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moo sadoong / “startled pig” ($8) – grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, bird eye chile

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pad kee mao / drunken noodle with short ribs ($11) – flat noodles, chile, basil, garlic

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pu pad pong karee / curried crab ($16) – jumbo lump crab, curry powder & onions

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gang ho / “dry” pork stew ($10) – fatty delicious pork belly and shoulder cuts, slowly simmered with palm sugar, fermented bamboo shoots, pickled garlic and ginger, tossed with glass noodles

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ice cream sandwich ($4.50)

Chris Hei grade: A-

Night + Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724

Night + Market (2)

Despite my great dinner at Night+Market last year, I haven’t found myself back at the restaurant yet…until last Friday. To be honest, it wasn’t our first choice for dinner. Or the second. Here’s what happened: I was asking Ben if he minded driving to the Fairfax/Melrose area for dinner, using Animal as a geographical reference. But he suggested that we go to Animal outright, even though we’d promise Paul that we would go with him when he visits L.A. in early March.

So I called the restaurant around 9pm while driving in that direction, and they said that the next available seating would be at…midnight. No go. Since we were driving east on Wilshire, we passed by Red Medicine. Curious, we parked and asked how long was the wait. 45 minutes, which wasn’t too bad, but we had just played three hours of basketball and were really hungry. Only then did I think of Night+Market. I called ahead to let them know we were coming, and they were more than gracious in holding a table for us (which was good, because that ended up being the last available one).

The two of us ordered some of our favorites from the last dinner: pig tails, pork toro, pork hock, and shrimp paste-seasoned rice. All four were as delicious as we remembered it, and even more so with the pig tails, which were probably among the best things I’ve eaten in this new year. I was asking the servers if there was anything new on the regular menu that was worth trying, but it appeared that we’ve already tried most of those. So they suggested actually ordering off the DineLA menu, since all of the dishes on the menu are new stuff that Chef Kris Yembamroong came up with.

There were three courses on the DineLA menu, with two to three options for each. We chose the beef jerky, the dancing prawns (the easy choice for the second course according to the servers), and the black chicken green curry. The beef jerky was served with a hard-boiled egg sliced up, cabbage, cucumber, and nam prik ta dang (Thai chili paste that reminds me a little of X.O. sauce, but sweeter). Pretty good. But then the prawns came. They were served raw and cut similar to butterfly-style, but with the head intact. It was really good! Just fresh and full of that ocean flavor, and the acidity of the sauce was excellent. The heat definitely creeps up on you though, and we started to sweat and gulp water (and luckily the servers recognized that pretty quickly). The green curry, however, tasted a little bland, especially following the prawns. It was a solid green curry, but the flavors tasted a bit muted. And as expected, the meat of the black chicken was a bit tough.

This was another excellent dinner at Night+Market. Side notes: service was great again this time around. Everyone was attentive, courteous, and knowledgeable. We even got a scoop of the coconut ice cream on the house because Ben was sweating so much. Thanks again! Food came out at a quick pace, which was good because we were starving. And they were playing Mission:Impossible on the projector! On my way out, I saw Chef Kris standing near the exit. We chatted for a minute, and I told him that I really like what he’s doing with the menu, to which he said “then don’t be a stranger!” I definitely won’t be, Chef Kris.

Fried Pig Tail

Fried Pig Tail ($6)

Pork Toro

Pork Toro ($7)

Kar Moo Parlow

Kar Moo Parlow – Whole Braised Pork Hock ($19)

Kao Kluk Gapi

Kao Kluk Gapi – Shrimp Paste-Seasoned Rice ($13)

DineLA menu ($34):

Nam Prik Ta Daeng, Red Eye Relish

Nam Prik Ta Daeng – Red Eye Relish: beef jerky / veggies / egg

Goong Ten, Dancing Prawns

Goong Ten – Dancing Prawns: head on / chile jam / lime juice / shallots

Kiew Wan Gai Dam, Black-Boned Chicken Curry

Kiew Wan Gai Dam – Black-Boned Chicken Curry: black-boned chicken / mortar-pounded green curry paste / pickled rhizomes

Chris Hei grade: B+

Night + Market
9041 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9724

Night+Market on Urbanspoon

ink.

10/26/11

If you live in Los Angeles and haven’t heard about ink. these last few months, then you either don’t dine out at all or were hibernating through the winter. The restaurant was without a doubt, the most-anticipated opening of 2011, mainly because of Chef Michael Voltaggio, whom many know for being the season 6 winner of Top Chef. After stints at The Bazaar and The Dining Room at the Langham, he finally broke out on his own. And after seeing glimpses of the crazy ideas that he had from watching Top Chef,  I was really excited about what the chef can do without any restrictions. I went on Urbanspoon everyday after opening night to check for an opening, and made a reservation for late-October.

So even though I went to ink. all the way back in late-October with Ben and Lawrence, it’s taken so long for me to finally write about my dinner that night. That’s because I’ve been going back and forth for weeks regarding my final thoughts of the place. On one hand, the dishes were some of the most creative and groundbreaking ones I’ve ever had in my life. On the other hand, some of them just didn’t work for me. However, the ones that didn’t work failed gloriously in my opinion, and something can be said about that. Again, I know the photos really suck. Luckily KevinEats went the day after, so please refer to his post on how some of these dishes look like (since I’m sure we ordered off the same menu).

So the three of us were set on trying one of each dish on the menu. Apparently they changed up the serving policy there that week. Whereas before everything was to be shared like tapas, when we went they were doing it more on an individual-basis, where each dish would be placed in front of who ordered it – like a self-constructed tasting menu of sorts (but the portions remain the same I believe). No matter – we were still getting everything. So our server was nice enough to bring them out in order of menu listing, in sets of three (with the exception of dessert, where all four came out at the same time).

bigeye tuna, parsnip, sesame cream, grapefruit, soy gel ($15)

octopus and hiramasa, romaine hearts, fried caesar dressing ($16)

charred avocado, hen of the woods, whipped fish sauce, mushroom chicharron ($11)

The first threesome were just downright amazing. Probably the strongest threesome presented to us, if I had to choose. The tuna tartare was fresh and the cream and grapefruit played off each other very well. The octopus and hiramasa was like a seafood caesar salad, but with the dressing oozing out of the fried cubes – delicious. And the avocado dish was fun to eat with the fish sauce. I didn’t pay close attention to the dish description before we received it, and I had the hardest time thinking of what the whipped sauce was. Only Chef Voltaggio can pull of such wacky flavor and texture combinations.

kale, burrata, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin preserves, yuzu ($12)

brussels sprouts, pig ears, house-cured lardo, apple ($10)

spaghetti, giant squid, squash, hazelnut-ink pesto, piment d’espelette ($14)

The second threesome was strong as well. I might sound like a girl who goes to the farmer’s market every week, but I’ve really come around to kale. The pumpkin preserves and yuzu was another example of Chef Voltaggio’s ability to mix and match two flavors that seem to contrast. The brussels sprouts and pig ears were an awesome combination. The squid spaghetti, however, was a bit underwhelming in my opinion. Cute idea with the squid as the noodles, but was a bit too crunchy, and the flavors felt muted after such strongly-flavored dishes that preceded it.

beef tartare, horseradish, hearts of palm, sea bean chimichurri ($15)

bay scallops, lamb neck and chickpea poutine, yogurt curds ($14)

butternut squash risotto, chicken wings, egg yolk, toasted wild rice, aromatic broth ($13)

This threesome was the last of the “appetizers” on the menu (the menu doesn’t specify, but this was the impression I got when looking at it). The beef tartare was anything but boring, like many of the beef tartares you’d find around town. This dish, in particular, looks like it went through a lot of changes since its inception on opening night (I think it was more of a corned beef dish), but it looks like Chef finally has it down. The bay scallops and risotto dishes were solid, but were somewhat pale in contrast to most of the dishes we had. Still very fun to eat such combinations though.

skate wing, red pepper dashi, shishito peppers, kelp pasta, fennel ($20)

quail, banana polenta, beet juice, sorrel salad, bariyuls vinegar ($19)

sea bass, cream of dehydrated potato, black olive oil, lemon, caper ($23)

Now we start our “main courses” with two fish dishes and a quail dish. Our server was gushing over how the skate was his favorite dish on the menu. I have to disagree. It was another solid dish, but it (and the sea bass as well) really didn’t live up to expectations. On the other hand, I really thought that the quail was a fail. The quail was cooked perfectly, but all I tasted was beet. Pretty looking plate though – red, red and more red. This was what I meant earlier by failing gloriously – with a bang in one aspect or another. Also, polenta never made it to the table.

berkshire pork, belly, charcoal crust, macaroni and cheese, leeks ($21)

veal cheeks, red curry, nante carrots baked in salt, fried and sticky rice ($20)

wagyu hanger steak, turnips, coffee-cardamom soil, mustard, vadouvan ($24)

Our last savory threesome were the ones I was looking forward to the most. Pork, veal, and steak? Drool-inducing. But again, like with some of the latter dishes, were just solid. Maybe I was getting a bit impatient after waiting over 20 minutes for these dishes (the others came out like clockwork though). Again, the cooking of the protein was not the issue at all. Some of the combinations just didn’t amaze me like I thought they would. I appreciate Chef for being so adventurous though, and expect the mains to step it up on my next visit.

goat cheese, ash, concord grape, arugula ($10)

grapefruit curd, avocado, cilantro sorbet, charred maple-lime ($9)

apple, creme caramel, burnt wood sabayon, walnut ($9)

chocolate, coffee, spice ($10)

Finally, dessert. Chef Voltaggio doubles as the pastry chef, and has pulled out some creative desserts here. I think that the goat cheese was basically Chef’s take on a cheese course rather than an actual dessert dish. Not being too keen on cheese courses myself, I thought it was okay. But I ended up eating around two-thirds of it (probably because they didn’t like it). The grapefruit curd was refreshing, but nothing groundbreaking. The apple and chocolate ones were very good though. The apple tasted like a smoky, nutty deconstructed caramel apple – delicious. The chocolate had a bit of a chicory-esque flavor to it due to the bitterness and slight peppery taste from the spice, but I liked it.

In the end, I think it’s easy to see why I was torn over this dinner. Some dishes were amazing, and some just didn’t do it for me. But I really appreciated the ones that didn’t work in my opinion for their uniqueness of flavor, ingredient and texture combinations. Chef Voltaggio is really pushing the envelope on these accounts, willing to take major risks (and editing them as he sees fit – the menu has changed drastically and constantly since opening night). I can’t wait to go back when he has even more time under his belt (and hopefully the minor hiccups in service can improve as well).

Chris Hei grade: B+

ink.
8360 Melrose Ave, Ste 107
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866

ink. on Urbanspoon

The Griddle Cafe

Photo credit: Kwongfucius

The first time I went to The Griddle Cafe was for my birthday last year. Eugenia really wanted to try the place, so she and Linh-Nam dragged me out for brunch that day. I had heard of the place and its ridiculously long wait. The three of us had to wait over half an hour at 10am on a Saturday (I think). This time, however, the wait was only a few minutes…for me and Luisito. Jeannie and her brother were nice enough to arrive early, I mean, on time to wait.

Unlike my previous visit where all three of us got sweets (Eugenia and I ordered pancakes, Linh-Nam French toast), this time we actually ordered one pancake and three savory dishes. Apparently this group likes savory more than sweet, in which case, The Griddle Cafe was probably the wrong place to meet up. The savory stuff was solid, but it’s basically above-average diner breakfast food.

The pancakes, however super-sized and loaded with so much sugar I could’ve contracted diabetes, were much better. I suggest sticking to those if you plan on going. Also, with the exception of the red velvet, all the other pancakes come in an order of three. Look at the photo below. One is plenty (and that option is available, although you should just order the “regular” size and take the rest home). I barely finished half of mine the last time around. Solid food, but food I wouldn’t want to wait an extended amount of time for.

Red Velvet Pancake

Red Velvet Pancake

Omelette "My Soul" w/ Steak

Omelette “My Soul”

"Poached y Papas" Benedict

“Poached y Papas” Benedict

"Chicago Charlie's" Scramble

“Chicago Charlie’s” Scramble

Chris Hei grade: B-

The Griddle Cafe
7916 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 874-0377

The Griddle Cafe on Urbanspoon

ink.sack

9/16/11Everyone knows how long I’ve been waiting to go to ink. (I was just about to confirm a reservation on Sunday 9/25 but it got taken as I was clicking the button). So when Michael Voltaggio announced last month that he was opening a sandwich shop on the same block as the restaurant (opening tomorrow), I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. . However, they’re only open until 4pm from Wednesday to Sunday, and usually sell out before then. So I didn’t have a chance to make it out there until last Friday, when I decided to give myself an extended lunch (due to the somber mood at work).

PhotoThere was a line out the door, but it moved fairly quickly. I probably waited around ten minutes in line, and another ten for my order – not bad at all when the wait on opening week was in excess of an hour. When you approach the cashier, you give your name for them to write on your black lunch sack. I had wanted to order all seven sandwich on their menu (read the SE article on details of all seven), but I had heard that there was a six-sandwich maximum. However, that limit has been lifted, and they sold out of the CLT sandwich already anyways. So I ordered the six other varieties, all of them four-inch sandwiches on a mini baguette-esque roll with everything made in-house (besides the meats in the Jose Andres sandwich and the bread I believe). Yes, they’re small, but the sandwiches are priced from four to six dollars each, so ordering multiples to mix and match are encouraged.

PhotoGinger Beer ($3)

PhotoSprecher Root Beer ($3)

PhotoMaryland Crab Chips ($3)

Besides the sandwiches, they make their sides in-house as well. These chips tasted like a more oily version of kettle chips. Not sure where the crab part comes in, but I believe I tasted Old Bay seasoning, so maybe the “crab” was in reference to that. Not bad at all.

PhotoSpicy Tuna: Miso-Cured Albacore, Sriracha Mayo ($6)

I thought that this was a pretty good sandwich, but it was probably on the bottom two of the six I was able to try. The miso-cured albacore with sriracha mayo was actually on the light side in terms of flavor in my opinion, but the seaweed was a nice touch. The tomatoes weren’t necessarily though.

Photo“Reuben”: Corned Beef Tongue, Appenzeller Cheese, Kraut, Russian Dressing ($5)

I believe the beef tongue is cooked sous-vide, which gave it a nice texture. But like the spicy tuna sandwich, the flavor is on the lighter side. I wanted some of that cured meats taste you get in good deli sandwiches. And a small problem with using the same bread for all the sandwich varieties is that they’re not necessarily tailor-made for each specific combination. But still pretty good.

PhotoMaple-Pepper Turkey Melt: Camembert, Mustarda, Arugula ($5)

This was supposed to be the sandwich that got left out if I was limited to six. But it was a pleasant surprise. Turkey melt just sounds so boring, but this was anything but, due to the mostarda (an Italian condiment of candied fruit and mustard-flavored syrup). That and the Camembert (soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese – think of an awesome version of Laughing Cow) just gave this sandwich a nice balance of sweet and savory.

PhotoCold Fried Chicken: House-Made Ranch Cheese, Gindo’s Spice of Life ($4)

I really wanted to love this, but instead I just kind of like it. Arguably my least favorite of the sandwiches. The chicken is actually cooked very well – first cooked sous-vide, then fried I believe. The house-made ranch and hot sauce are nice touches. But it’s the breading that bothered me. Way too soggy in my opinion.

PhotoBanh Mi: Pork Butt, Pork Belly, Chicharrónes, Pickled Vegetables ($5)

This might have been my favorite of the day. It tasted like an actual banh mi! The chicharrones gave it a nice crunchy contrast, since the bread doesn’t provide the crisp a usual banh mi baguette provides. I can just imagine how much better this could’ve even been with some of the chicken liver mousse from the CLT sandwich.

PhotoThe Jose Andres, aka “The Spanish Godfather”: Serrano, Chorizo, Lomo, Manchego ($6)

Three nice cured Spanish meats (Serrano ham, chorizo, lomo) topped with some vinegar-y peppers and manchego cheese. This is like a very fancy version of the Italian sub at Subway, in a powerful miniature package. Can’t go wrong here with that combination.

I tried to not have too high of expectations when eating the sandwiches from ink.sack, since those expectations would’ve been unfairly carried over from my anticipation over ink. And once I was able to overcome those feelings, what was left was the experience of eating some pretty good to very good sandwiches. None of them really impressed me too much, but I did appreciate the varieties offered. And no, I didn’t finish all six sandwiches in one lunch. I’ll need to go back and try the CLT, and some of the other sides. As for any possible repeats, I think I’ll go with the banh mi, turkey melt and Jose Andres. Or I can order all seven!

Chris Hei grade: B

PhotoInk Sack
8360 Melrose Ave, Ste 107
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 651-5866

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