Ocean Avenue Seafood

Restaurant: Ocean Avenue Seafood

Location: 1401 Ocean Avenue. Santa Monica, CA 90401. 310-394-5669

Date: November 5, 2011

Cuisine: Seafood

Rating: Good, but overpriced

_

I’ve been going to Ocean Avenue Seafood for probably fifteen years, but while it was once a staple in our rotation it’s been a few years. OAS offers classic American seafood right above the bluffs overlooking the Pacific.


The have both an extensive ocean view covered patio and a clubby inside.


The menu.


Fresh baked sour dough bread.


A green salad.


A sampler of six various Pacific oysters with cocktail sauce, horseradish, and mignonette sauce. Each of these six were different, but all were good.


Their clam chowder. It’s not as goopy creamy thick as I ideally love, but it did have a nice bacony flavor.


Grilled salmon with mash potatoes and asparagus. Pinot noir reduction. My wife is a connoisseur of salmon, and she likes this one.


Lobster roll. The fries and slaw were good. And while this roll had lots of lobster it was somehow lacking in flavor.


Expresso so I can stay up through the movie we are going to see.

Overall Ocean Avenue Seafood has a lot of competition. Both the Blue Plate Oysterette and the Hungry Cat have very similar cuisine and are located nearby (the Blue Plate about a block away). Both are a little less expensive than OAS and a little more “modern.” OAS does have more different types of fresh fish if that’s your thing, they have 7-10 grilled fish at all times. Just depends what you want.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Trés – Lunch Fantastique

Restaurant: Trés [1, 2]

Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555

Date: October 31, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Spanish

Rating: Fantastique

_

My brother and I were in midtown and decided to check out Trésfor lunch. I’d already hit it for weekend brunch a couple months ago, and figuring as I’ve recently hit everything else Jose Andres (é by José Andrés and Jaleo in Vegas and a recent Saam meal), stopped in.


The room was dead at 11:45am, but the food wasn’t.


The lunch menu.


“Octopus tacos. Hydroponic bib lettuce, maggie’s farm baby greens, smoked heirloom cherry tomatoes.” Very nice octopus treatment. Succulent grilled meat and a zesty limey vinaigrette on the whole thing.


“Hawaiian bigeye tuna ceviche. Coconut ginger soy, plantain chips.” Not your typical cerviche as the lime flavors weren’t that blast you Peruvian type. But that meant you could taste the fish, and it was good. The plantain chips were tasty too.


I’m nuts over Jose’s Gazpacho. I’ve even made it from his recipe a number of times at home.


And with the soup itself. Yum yum!


“Herb roasted ham and cheese. Tomme de savoie cheese, carmelized onions, herbs.” This was like a Spanish Croque Monsieur. I love this kind of grilled ham and cheese.


Some good fries too with a spicy ketchup.


“The SLS Burger. House made brioche bun, lettuce, tomatoes, onions with cheddar.”


“Lemon tart. Raspberry sorbet.” Not your typical version, but really good. Bright bright flavors and some pate de fruits thrown in there too.


“Hazelnut pear clafoutis. Coffee ice cream.” Like a bread pudding. The ice cream was really good too.

And this crazy zesty lemonade, which served nicely as an aperitif.

Overall, this was a very tasty lunch. It was a little expensive — as you’d expect from a hotel restaurant — but it was very good, which I’ve come to expect from the SLS offerings.

A review of Trés for brunch can be found here.

Click here to see more LA dining, or reviews of The Bazaar and Saam (also at the SLS).

Jer-ne to the center of the Marina

Restaurant: Jer-ne

Location: Ritz-Carlton. 4375 Admiralty Way. Marina del Rey, California 90292 USA. (310) 823-1700

Date: October 29, 2011

Cuisine: Californian

Rating: Solid

_

When the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey renovated and opened its new restaurant in the early 2000s the naming committee was obviously inspired by Steve Martin‘s classic LA Story (and its 80s restaurant, lee-dee-oh — spelled l’idiot). In any case, the original Jer-ne actually served up top notch California Asian Fusion when it opened. Like most hotel restaurants, there has been chef turnover — who knows how many times in the last decade. I hadn’t been in a few years (except for the pretty amazing Sunday brunch) and when an old friend from High School Facebook IMed me that he was in town, we headed on over.


The menu is mean and lean, all streamlined modern Californian.


From my cellar. Parker 96 points. “The 2008 Flor de Pingus offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”


The Ritz always had good cheesy cracker things.


caesar. organic romaine, santa barbara olives, tomatoes, crouton.”


oyster. pacific oysters, crispy potato, spanish ham, sambuca hollandaise.” The sauces were really good, but the oysters had that bitter note that fried oysters often have. Every time I have them I’m reminded that I like my oysters raw.


halibut. sautéed leek, double smoked bacon, corn, potato, clam chowder sauce.”


salmon. green bean, glazed carrots, potato puree, parsley butter.”


lamb. sirloin, heirloom tomato, organic ratatouille, tomato mustard chutney.” Some very tasty and relatively lean lamb. The sauce was one of those meaty jus reductions that I love.


The dessert menu.


greek yogurt panna cotta. slow roasted market stonefruit, corn praline, thymje.”


spiced peanut butter mousse. crunchy peanut butter chocolate, candied ginger ice cream, spicy caramelized honey.” This was a nice dessert. A good interplay between the fluffy peanut butter, crunch, and the ginger ice cream.

Overall the food at this new Jer-ne was good. It didn’t blow me away or anything, and it’s very different than it used to be 8 or so years ago (full of Japanese influenced dishes), but it was a very solid take on conservative but well executed the New American. Even the desserts show plating influences that are very contemporary — what I think of as geometric and dust — the use of cubes, spheres, and ovals in a sort of post war art kind of arrangement, often dusted with granular flavor components. Red Medicine’s desserts are typical examples, but I suspect it’s really a Ferran Adrià thing.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Fraiche Santa Monica part deux

Restaurant: Fraiche Santa Monica [1, 2]

Location: 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Phone : 310.451.7482

Date: October 21, 2011

Cuisine: Cal French Italian

Rating: Not a bad facelift.

_

Fraiche and Fraiche Santa Monica have gone through a number of ownership and chef changes in the last year. It’s been a couple of months so we decided to try it again.


The is a new menu, about 80% different. Bigger, with more entrees.


“Hierloom tomato salad, burrata, pesto, crispy shallots.”


Beef tartare. Hand cut NY strip. Bacon sabayon, lemon.” I’ve grown increasingly fond of steak tartare and this was a tasty one. The arugala and parmesan complemented nicely.


“Pizza Margarita.”

“Pancetta risotto. Black kale. Faum um bert.” A nice rissoto with a cheesy richness bolstered by the rich chunks of ham.


And a trio of creme brulee for dessert. Chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Nothing not to like here.

While hardly a comprehensive survey of the new menu I enjoyed what we had here. I’ll check in sooner to try it again.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Echigo Sushi

Restaurant: Echigo

Location: 12217 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 201. Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 820-9787

Date: October 27, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Very good warm-rice style sushi

_

Back when my office was at the Watergarden in Santa Monica Echigo was one of my regular lunch haunts. The chef studied under Nozawa and is stylistically related to nearby Sasabune. They both follow the “warm rice” school of sushi (which I believe originates in Osaka prefecture. The rice is warmer and less sticky than Tokyo-style sushi. It tastes really good this way, but has some tendency to fall apart on the way to the mouth.


The lunch menu has two choices, the lunch special for $14 and the omakase. Below is the union (both) of each. The lunch special is by far the best deal (6-7 years ago it was even $9!).


Fresh ground wasabi and pickled ginger. These photos were taken on the iPhone 4S which does pretty well in good light. A few missed photos were purloined from the web.


Skipjack tuna with a bit of sauce.


Medium (chu) toro.


Hamachi (yellowtail).


Halibut, which itself doesn’t have much flavor, but the vinegary sauce does.


Tai (red snapper).


Scallop. One of my favorites.


Salmon with a bit of kelp and sesame.


Bonito, also delicious.


Albacore.


Kanpachi (young yellowtail). With a bright vinegary sauce.


Ono.


Shimaji (stripped jack).


Butterfish. This is an Echigo specialty. A firm fish with miso based sauce.


Uni (sea urchin).


And the now classic Nozawa blue crab hand roll (I ate two and could have had more).

Echigo is a hair below a few of the very top lunch LA sushi places (Sushi Sushi, Mori, Go, Kiriko etc), but it offers pretty good relative value, and on the absolute scale top sushi, far above the generic touristy sushi joint. Getting the Omakase at dinner at the sushi bar is an even higher caliber experience.

For more LA area sushi, see here.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Loving Lukshon

Restaurant: Lukshon

Location: 3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034. 310.202.6808

Date: October 20, 2011

Cuisine: New Asian

Rating: Pretty damn tasty

_

A couple of years ago my office was in Culver City, and the restaurant revolution there was already well under way. But the trend continues apace with Lukshon, a sort of re-imagined southern Asian (vaguely Chinese — sort of) joint opened by the same owners as adjacent Father’s Office. I’ve been itching to try it for better on six months and we finally got the Foodie Club together for an impromptu meeting.


The modern interior space. There is also a generous and attractive patio.


The menu. We ordered about two thirds of it, for eight people, all family style.


“atlantic fluke  pickled watermelon, black sesame, cucumber, kinh gioi.” Light flavored, but tasty. The black sesame lent it a pleasant gritty texture.


Lukshon does not allow corkage. I didn’t know that and Foodie Club co-president EP and I hauled four bottles to the table. I was skeptical at first of the small wine list too, as it’s devoid of big name offerings. But with some help from the Sommelier we put together what turned out to be a very enjoyable trio.


We had the 2010, but the 2009 got 92 from parker, “Ollivier’s 2009 Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords is as perfumed and lusciously-fruited a wine of its genre as you are likely to encounter, though that by no means precludes depth of mineral character. Scents of pear, clover, Persian melon, and fennel inform the nose and migrate to a buoyant yet expansive, mouthwateringly juicy palate tinged with a shimmering crystalline sense of minerality characteristic for this cuvee. This sensational value finishes with an uncanny combination of soothing refreshment and vibrancy. It is apt to be even more ravishing in another year or so and be worth following for at least 3-4.”


“shrimp toast  rock shrimp, cilantro, chiles, tiny croutons.” These are little fried balls with a sweet and spicy sauce. They tasted pretty fried, with an understated flavor.


“baby monterey squid!! chiang mai pork sausage, candlenut, mint, rau ram.” Really tasty. The fried tentacles in the center were pretty straight up calimari. The bodies were stuffed with the yummy sausage.


“duck popiah.  cilantro stems, pickled jicama, hoisin chile sauce.” With the texture of a Saigon Roll, these duck rolls were packed with meaty flavor inside. Plus, being a sauce guy, I love hoison. One of my favorite dishes.


“spicy chicken pops!! shelton farms’ drumettes, garlic, kecap manis, spicy sichuan salt.” Nice little “wings” with a lot of flavor and a bit of heat. A kind of BBQ sweet heat.


This was a very interesting wine. Old fashioned — like 2,000 years old fashioned. Evidently, it’s kept in amphorae, large greek/roman style terra-cotta vessels. While a white, it was so unfiltered as to be almost cloudy. But damn good.


“kurobuta pork ribs.  spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce.” The meat just fell of the bones. A bit of char. Seriously good ribs, what cheap Chinese restaurant ribs aspire to be.


“rib eye steak yam neua. gem lettuce, radish, carrot, tomato, herbs, spicy lime vinaigrette.” This was fine, but just kinda beefy.


“foie gras ganache!! carob, ceylon cinnamon, tamarind gastrique, almond, puffed rice.” These were more a dessert than a savory. The creamy foie texture and richness leant them the character of some kind of ultra rich mousse.


“lamb belly roti. canai  chana dal, cumin, mint, raita, pickled cauliflower.” Another of my favorite dishes. A kind of vaguely middle eastern, vaguely Asian pizza. The little sour marinated crunchy cauliflower was good too.


“garlic pork belly  do ban jian, rice cakes, cabbage, garlic chives.” Probably my favorite dish. This had some good heat and that rich fermented bean paste flavor. The meat was rich, but not too fatty, and under the sauce you could only tell it from the rice cakes by texture. They added a chewiness to complement the some pork.


“short rib rendang!! malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, coconut cream.” More meat. I liked the sauce better on this one.


Parker gives this very solid Riesling 90 points. “Pepper-laced pears and apples are found in the nose of the zesty, vivacious 2002 Riesling Eiswein Oberemmeler Hutte. This molasses, brown sugar and white fruit-flavored offering sports eye-popping acidity, loads of depth, and a long, sweet finish. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.”

“heirloom black rice  lap cheong, onion, roasted garlic, lilly’s farm fried egg.”


Mixed up. This was pleasant, rich, sweet, and ricey.


“gai lan aged ham, shaoxing wine, garlic.” Nice stir fried greens. But I wanted more ham flavor.


“chiang mai curry noodles  chile, tumeric, lemongrass, chicken, prawn, yu choy, rice noodles.” A curry with noodles. Nothing wrong with that, as I love curry.


“dandan noodles!! kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, sichuan peppercorns, peanuts.” I really liked this too. Noodles with a pretty spicy Chinese pork ragu. I had a better version in western China, but this was pretty damn good. Decently hot, but not nearly real Szechuan hot. I guess the sauce isn’t so different than Pocked Marked Old Ladies Tofu (yes, that is a real dish).


Dessert is “free” (as Matt Groning said, “at no additional perceivable cost”). They bring out one per person, but three types. I would’ve liked to try each, but I had the leftmost, which was a delicious form of deconstructed pina colada. Some kind of pana cotta with coconut and pineapple. The middle was chocolate, the rightmost more fruity.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

For other Foodie Club meals (all crazy great) see here.

Blue Plate Oysterette

Restaurant: Blue Plate Oysterette

Location: 1355 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90402. 310.576.3474

Date: October 18, 2011

Cuisine: American Seafood

Rating: Good eats

_

Blue Plate Oysterette is a relatively new (couple years) addition to Santa Monica’s high turnover Ocean Ave restaurant strip. And I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.


The location is prime, with a gorgeous view of the park and the ocean.


Today’s menu.


We sat at the raw bar, looking into the busy kitchen.


Oysters were of course mandatory. These are a number of different types of Pacific oysters Ximemez style (with aged sherry vinegar, tomato, mint, and EVO). They shellfish were all good, but  I really liked the tangy sauce.


We were interested in the yellowtail special on the menu but the waiter cross-sold us to this yellowtail ceviche. Peruvian food is on fire right now. It was a good ceviche, with that potent lime taste, but it pretty much obliterated the subtlety of the fish. I wish we’d stuck with the original — but again, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a very fresh and well done implementation of ceviche.


New England clam chowder. Cherrystone clams, light cream broth, bacon. This tasted good, with a nice smokiness from the bacon and lots of clam. They lightened it from the traditional in a concession to modern tastes. I like my chowder loaded with heavy cream and butter. And no wonder I’m not the thinnest guy in the world!


Another case in point, this “Lobster mac & cheese. gruyere, herbs, truffle oil.” This was real good stuff, with a lot of big chunks of lobster meat.


Crabcake.” Lots of good creaminess and soft blue crab in here. While not as good as the crab torta at Capo, it is a very respectable crab cake. Yum yum.


And the “lobster roll.” Another favorite of mine. I didn’t actually order this, but they have it on the menu, and so I found a web photo, because I love lobster roll. It looks good. Next time I’ll try it to compare to the excellent one a mile north at The Hungry Cat.

All and all, this was a good lunch, with classic (and new Peruvian) seafood. The fish was all very high quality, and being a seafood lover, I’ll be back.

For more LA dining reviews click here.