The Foodboomblogger West has the audacity to take on the local critics to give you some amazing recommendations from this past year’s incredible L.A. food scene.
(Warning: Extreme Food Porn to Follow)
Jonathan Gold, the resident grub guru, who has a lock on all things smacking of a culinary critique in L.A., recently released his pick for the best dishes in town. Is it because he is who he is? Has his own Gold Bot Chat Site? Won a Pulitzer Prize for describing pudding, pork and pizza? Is it because he has outed himself so he is easy to spot? Is it the result of someone dropping a bag of Gift Cards over his fence in the middle of the night? Who knows? But my question is “What does he really know?” Really?
He know what he knows. I know what I know and picking good dishes is just as subjective as dating. There are those dudes who married the first girl they saw naked. So, I put it to you, would you accept dating advice from that guy? One should take a recommendation for a blind date, a date shake, a shaking date and any advice on what to eat with a grain of salt. Plunge ahead and make up your own mind.
So, here are my picks. Please appreciate that if you ate out for every meal, every day in L.A. for the next year you’d only touch the tip. (I’m still talking about food, stay with me here.)
There is spectacular food lurking out there. Hidden gems, secret treasures, fabulous pop-ups, mash-ups, start-ups and upstarts. L.A has it all
- Bestia: Enjoy the Spicy Mussel Escabeche with saffron aioli, whole parsley, pickled garlic confit, chili all in a screamin’ hot iron skillet with grilled house made country bread to sop and mop. These are definitely mussels you should exercise. And yes, that fancy shirt you over paid for is going to get anointed. It’s unavoidable, but that just gives you the chance to squeeze it out when you get home and savor the last of that terrific broth.
- Spago: Colorado Rack of Lamb with Falafel Macarons, Harissa Aioli, (or whatever Chef decides to aioli-ize that day). Most lamb that arrives at your table is a disappointment. Tiny chops clinging to the bone with their dying breath. Not this. Bah! Meaty, fatless, tasty lamb, Man. Truly, none finer to be had anywhere. I include New Zealand, Morocco, and all lamb land the World over. The quest ends here.
- Son of a Gun: Apple and Persimmon Salad. Although this is seasonal, it’s worth calling the restaurant every week to see if it’s back. Refreshing and delicious, it’s unusual and distinct. Persimmons show up now and then and most of the time the chef thought he was buying something else and just needs to be rid of it. Not this. We are talking the best salad in the City.
- Pizzeria Mozza: I’ll take the Meat Lovers Pizza, please. Every visit. Bacon, Salami, Fennel Sausage, Guanciale, Tomato and Mozzarella. You’ll be having a Sweat Lodge hallucination. Protein to the 10th . Turn in your ticket to the Valet, and he brings up your Merced sled and checks your cholesterol.
- Terrine: Fish and Chips. “The City’s best” touts the menu. And you know they ain’t just whistlin’ Hava Nagila. Is it all hat and no cattle braggin’? Nope. It’s the City’s best. Period. No argument. They are breaded not battered succulent, moist, flaky, perfect damn Fish and Chips. Does Connie and Ted’s, Lost at Sea, or Portsmouth come close? Nope. Why? Because it’s the City’s best. That’s why.
- Officine Brera: Vegetable Frisceu. (Them’s Sage Fritters). Airy light batter filled with red onion, and sage. Flash fried and puffed up like a 50’s hairdo. We are talkin’ the ultimate bar nibble. It comes on a bed of Boston Lettuce which I ate after the fritters were gone because those fritters imprinted on the leaves just like my Chihuahua who curls up on my pajamas.
- Tavern: Spanish Fried Chicken with Romesco Aioli and Chili-Cumin Butter. This comes piled onto a cast iron skillet like a rugby scrum. No ubiquitous K-cluck, Nashville Hots, or Southern style Buttermilk brined Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock’s version, no Willie Mae’s NoLa fryers, fried. Just beautiful and unique bird bites. Jump off the tour bus when they pull up to O.J.’s nearby house in Brentwood and cross the road like a good chicken to Tavern and then don’t be a Turkey…put in for two orders.
- Sotto: Fennel Crusted Marin Sun Farm Pork Porterhouse. Oh Lord, you can take me now. I’ve lived a full life. Make that a life being full. I’ve also had this dish three times this year, and just like that perfect “third date” I can’t wait to go back and have it again. Thick as a brick, soft as a Mukluk, juicy as a ripe peach. All the subtle notes top quality pork can offer. I’m taking down Kennedy’s picture in my den and replacing it with Miss Piggy.
- Miro: Squid Ink Corzetti. Pinwheels of house made pasta coiled on the plate like a Bosun’s rope on the deck of the Enterprise. Then it’s topped with fresh Maine Lobster claw meat, saffron, and cherry tomatoes just picked from the garden. Ooh baby…shared plate my ass.
- Petit Trois: This place gets deux dishes. Escargots Burgundy with garlic parsley butter served with an endless basket of turbo crunch baguettes for soaking up the butter bath. Eat this snail slowly. There is no finer version of this in Paris and they’re right here leaving tracks on this page (and my chin). But wait…there’s more. The Confit Fried Chicken Leg which includes the thigh as well. The title doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s served with brioche butter and frisee salad. Nothing is Frenchier or more satisfying. A kudo to Ludo (Lefebvre) who trained with Marc Meneau just to be able to make this for you.
That’s the wrap for this Food Wrangler’s top 10 for the year in L.A. I would be remiss if I didn’t list Orange County where you’ll find:
Thai Nakorn: Nam Sod
BLK Burgrz: Burger
Myung Yun: K-Dumplings
Kang Lac Bakery: Pork Tenderized Congee
Lily’s Bakery: Banh Mi
Pho 79: Pho
Garlic and Chives: Toothpick Lamb
Rancho Mendoza: Bagre Frito
S & W Seafood and BBQ: Double Delicacy Shrimp
You won’t ever need to go to Chyna to get this amazing Cantonese food.
And the list, the beat and the mixer goes on (LA dee -da-dee da- LA dee- da-dee -da),but, then those are other stories waiting to be told.