Showing posts with label bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bar. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Nickel Mine, West LA's New Neighborhood Social House

by @btsunoda

The Nickel Mine is a brand new bar located in West LA. I hesitate to call it a bar because it is so much more than that. It’s located on Santa Monica Blvd and there is no sign on the building. I guessed I was in the right place because from the outside, I saw a few big screens with the Dodgers playing. Due to the large picture windows, the interior of The Nickel Mine is full of indirect light. The walls are lined with aged brick. Bar height tables and chairs line the center. Regular height seating is available along the windows. On the west side of the bar, they have comfortable couches and chairs. With the bookshelf along the wall, it mimics the appearance of someone’s reading room. I like the fact that they have games (e.g., Connect 4, Zenga) available throughout the bar. Their menu is quite extensive. It’s broken down into grub, brunch, wine, beer, cocktails, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, tequila, mezcal, gin, and rum. Ten draft beers are available. I was surprised to see the Chicken and Waffles were made with a Belgian waffle on the brunch menu.

The Garlic Knots are served with a spicy marinara sauce on the side.
Knowing that I was going to try a few different offerings, I promised myself that I would only eat one. Wrong. There was something about these piping hot garlic knots combined with the marinara sauce that made it so addicting to eat.

IMG_1640The Chicken Caesar Salad was topped with large slices of chicken breast, shaved parmesan and crunchy croutons.

What made the salad surprising was the fact that the romaine lettuce was extremely fresh and crisp. An assortment of wings was served next: Buffalo, Teriyaki and Lemon Garlic. Despite my strong inclination to prefer something other than Buffalo wings, I’d have to say it was my favorite among the three.

Coincidentally, it was National Beer Day. To celebrate, I had samplers of some of their draft beers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rediscovering the Italian Food in Boston's North End at Artu

All the tourists and locals alike know that Boston's North End is the place to go for Italian food, yet most of the time I go there, I end up at Neptune Oyster for a lobster roll, instead - I can't help it! Sure, I've had my cannolis and I've been to a couple of the Italian places there, but for the most part, North End remained fairly unexplored to me. But thanks to a recent blogger dinner at Artu, I got the chance to experience another part of the North End.
Our dinner started with a simple salad of Roasted beets, pistachio vinaigrette, gorgonzola
Polpetti (homemade meatballs, parmigiano, $8)
I love meatballs when the texture is right, just like the ones here. Tender homemade meatballs with traditional Italian tomato sauce - why mess with something so simple and perfect!

Grilled country bread, smoked mozzarella, prosciutto, Backyard Farms tomato
I loved the smoked mozzarella on these!

Artu also had some solid cocktails, and the bar is open until 2 AM every day. Every day! That's one of the latest places to grab in the drink in the area, especially on a weeknight. I stuck with the classics, which they do very well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Drinking in a Barrel at Idle Hour (North Hollywood, CA)

I love Los Angeles, but mostly they don't keep a lot of their heritage and cool historic buildings around too much. Thanks to 1933 Group, LA will at least keep one of their awesome barrel-shaped bars, as they have renovated Idle Hour in North Hollywood. The building was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument and 1933 Group purchased it in an auction.

Idle Hour
The old Idle Hour was a taproom built in 1941, and 1933 Group has kept that concept, with plenty of beers on tap inside the barrel-shaped main building.
Idle Hour
They also have a great outdoor dining area in the back that's perfect for day drinking in the summer.
Idle Hour
Behind that area is a replica of the Bulldog Cafe. The original Bulldog Cafe was built in 1925, selling tamales and ice cream (I wish we have something like that now), and they built a replica for the Petersen Automotive Museum in 1991. The adorable Bulldog Cafe is also open for private events, and it's also open to the public when there's no event going on.
Idle Hour

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ames Street Deli (Cambridge, MA)

Backbar is one of my favorite bars in Boston, so when the same team opened Ames Street Deli near MIT, well, I was quite excited (and scared for my wallet).

Ames Street Deli is open from morning until evening with different offerings throughout the day (making the place even more dangerous for the wallet!). In the morning, come for a kouign amann. Ames Street makes a great one, the layers are so flaky and crispy with the baked sugar.

Kouign amann
They also have breakfast sandwiches and scrambled egg donut and bacon and egg donut! I'm not quite sure yet what those are like because I haven't woken up early enough to go to campus for those, but I'm certainly intrigued. The kouign amann is also typically gone by late afternoon, so you should come earlier for that, too.

At lunch, you'll find sandwiches. The sandwiches are on the smaller side, but each order comes with a side dish! I really enjoyed the Rabbit Sandwich (mustard bread, rabbit mortadella, pork liver, beets, radish)
Ames St

Monday, May 4, 2015

Southern Fare at Kendall Square's State Park (Cambridge, MA)

I'm pretty lucky to live within walking distance to Hungry Mother and its sister restaurant, State Park. State Park has more of a sports bar vibe with more casual food and beers, but you can still look for great Southern food here from the James Beard Award winning chef Barry Maiden. Instead of the refined dishes at Hungry Mother, think sandwiches, fried chicken, and the likes.

Try the Snappy's Famous Pork Chop Sandwich (chili, cole slaw, tomato, mustard, $12)

State Park

For those who are not familiar, this refers to Snappy Lunch in Mt Airy, North Carolina. The diner is famous for their pork chop sandwich where the boneless pork chop is covered in a sweet milk batter - yes, very much reminiscent of french toast. Think french toast stuffed with pork chop, then made into a sandwich with chili and cole slaw... The pork chop itself is ridiculously tender! A wondrously messy sandwich worth digging into.

Another surprise for me was the Memphis BBQ Spaghetti (pork shoulder, sarvecchio cheese, garlic bread, $12)
State Park

Who knew spaghetti would work so well with BBQ sauce? It's just a bit saltier than bolognese, with a subtle kick. Bold and sweet, served with fluffy, buttery garlic bread. This has become another favorite of mine.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Preview: Tacos and Cocktails at UnderFire in Back Bay (Boston, MA)

The aptly named Under Fire is now open below Fire+Ice in their Boston Back Bay location. While Fire+Ice is a family friendly buffet, UnderFire is more of a bar/restaurant serving food a la carte featuring burgers and tacos.

I was invited to the opening celebration so I didn't get to try the full menu but I did try some tacos and sandwiches. Between the two, the tacos are the way to go. They're not all traditional Mexican taco recipes, but instead modernized - Americanized perhaps, but the flavors are good - incorporating ingredients like pesto in the Pollo al Pesto (fire-grilled chicken, sunflower pesto, queso fresco, diced tomato, fresh basil, EVOO, flour tortilla, $11 for 3)


My favorite (of the two tacos) was The Club (Peruvian-style grilled chicken, braised pork belly, cheddar cheese, pico, guacamole, jalapeno garlic aioli, flour tortilla, $12 for 3)

Some of the other tacos like the carnitas use a corn-wheat tortilla instead of white flour tortilla, and I'd be curious to try them!

The cocktails here are fruity and easy to go down, but they start at $8. It's nice not to have to spend $14 on a single drink. Also, for the most part, they're using fresh fruits.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Public School 818 (Sherman Oaks, CA)

by guest blogger @iam_robot

Every now and then we get nostalgic about school days – the carefree phase in our life, the days we found best friends for life, the naught and nonsense we committed to gain notoriety, and the many times we got caught staring our secret crushes’ (no matter how swift we were). I was lucky to be in the same school from kindergarten through high school, I always thought school was my second home.
And this is what Bob Spivak, President & CEO of Daily Grill, had in mind when he opened the first Public School a few years ago – to relive some of the best days of our life and make Public School your home away from home. 
Whether it’s the menu designed as a composition book, cocktail napkins that look like lined college-rule notebook paper, the desk lamps on dining tables, or the cosine wall mural - Public School definitely elicits that nostalgic memory of a classroom.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of checking out the latest Public School chain in Sherman Oaks. Taking over the former Sisley Italian Kitchen spot at Sepulveda and Ventura, Public School 818 will be a full service restaurant/ bar that delivers “An Education in the Art of Food and Beer”. 
PS Cocktail Yellow
The menu is diversely American with its international influences, seasonal offerings, local flare and current trends. Naturally, drinks selection is pretty eclectic, including 20 – 30 taps of craft beers along with modern cocktails served up with house-made syrups and fresh squeezed juices. For pre-dinner cocktails, I had the Duck Thunder (watermelon, St. Germaine, Aylesbury Duck vodka) and Yellow Smoke (Fresh Pineapple Juice, serrano agave, El Silencio mezcal). Both were refreshing without being overly fruity or sweet.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kennedy's On The Square (Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)

Kennedy's On The Square is a popular tavern in Harvard Square. The decor sticks to the name, with JFK-related photos and memorabilia on the walls.

They've recently launched a new menu and invited a bunch of local bloggers to try it.
Between more than a dozen of us, we tried quite a bit of food. Here are some of my favorites from the menu:
Smoky meatballs with house-aged ground beef, veal, pork, sun-dried marinara, shaved parmesan ($11)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shojo: Asian Fusion and Craft Cocktails in Boston's Chinatown

Chinatown in Boston doesn't only have hole-in-the-wall Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants like Gourmet Dumpling House or Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, but you can also find a hip Asian-fusion restaurant with solid cocktails at Shojo.

You'll find dishes like Chicken and Waffle v3.0 (five spice butter, syrup $13)
Their chicken and waffle is made using Hong Kong style waffles. Egg puffs!

While I don't think it makes that big of a difference in taste, I still like the fact that they use Hong Kong waffles. They also make the chicken boneless for the dish.

Charred Eggplant Ttukbokki (Korean rice cake, red chili, mozzarella, $8)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where to Drink Cocktails in New Orleans

Being the home of Tales of the Cocktails and where quite a few classic cocktails were invented, New Orleans is obviously a promising place to grab some cocktails! Thanks to the recent Chowzter North American Awards, which was held in NOLA, I was able to hit up a few bars in this great city.

Now, this is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it's a good place to start!

The first bar I had to try was of course the new tiki bar from the prolific cocktail writer, Beachbum Berry:

Latitude 29
321 N Peters St
Untitled A tiki bar, naturally, and one of the best. The cocktail menu is divided into short, long, and communal drinks. Professor Remsberg's Punch came highly recommended, made with "fine old Guadeloupe rum", lime, and "a Caribbean spiced syrup discovered over 30 years ago in San Juan by the Professor himself". Beloved tiki classics like Mai Tai and Missionary's Downfall are obviously on there, as well.
They also serve food like loco moco and dumplings, but I didn't get a chance to try any. They serve food until 10pm and cocktails until 11pm nightly, which is pretty early for NOLA.

by the way, don't you love that rowing Moai stirrer?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Corazon y Miel (Bell, CA)

I don't venture out to East LA much, but there are a few great restaurants there worth traveling to. One of them is Corazon y Miel. This is an unusual restaurant to find in Bell, as it serves a more modern/non traditional Latin American food and craft cocktails to boot.

For appetizers you'd find things like marinated chicken hearts or Bacon wrapped dates with whipped cotija cheese, mustard seed cider ($5)

One of my favorites was the Wild Boar Chilaquiles (guajillo, roasted carrot crema, queso casera, fried egg, $14)
I love chilaquiles to begin with but the wild boar in the bold guajillo sauce and the runny egg just made it even better.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Butchers and Barbers (Hollywood)

Butchers and Barbers in Hollywood is Houston brothers' first venture into the restaurant business. Their bars are known for their themes and secret entrances, but this restaurant has a more classic bistro feel.

Butchers and Barbers
The kitchen is headed by Chef Luke Reyes (formerly of The Corner Door and Lucky Duck). The menu is divided into snacks, "Garden", "Sea", and "Land". You can expect a great Charcuterie board ($18): pate, rillettes, cured meats, house-made pickles, stone fruit jam
Butchers and Barbers
I had forgotten how much I like chicken liver mousse until this exceptional version here, and I couldn't stop eating it with the toasted bread. They also had housemade ricotta that was delicious.

Naturally, since this is a Houston bros' establishment, the cocktails are as good as expected. I tried the Greta Garbo ($12): hazelnut-infused Belle Mead bourbon, benedictine, honey, angostura bitters, citrus oils
Butchers and Barbers 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eating and Drinking at High West Distillery & Saloon (Park City, Utah)

If you're in or going to Park City in Utah for the Sundance festival or to go skiing, make sure to visit the High West Distillery & Saloon. It's perhaps the only ski-in ski-out distillery, but it's also a great saloon serving nice cocktails and food.

High West
You can go to the saloon to try one of the rare High West whiskies you might not find in your own city. I tried the Valley Tan and Son of Bourye (unfortunately, they no longer make or sell the Bourye).
High West

The menu is what they call "high country" food with some local game meats but you'd also find a plate of locally cured meats with housemade mustard
High West

For my first drink I ordered the Hootspa Special with Double Rye! (that's one of the High West whiskies), Rendezvous Rye, Amontillado sherry, Masala chai, lemon juice, and egg ($11)
High west

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Hour at Melrose Umbrella Co Spans the Classic Cocktail Families

Who does't love happy hour? Cheap drinks, sometimes cheap food. But most of the time happy hour menu consists of only a handful of cocktails, which means limited options. Not so much at Melrose Umbrella Co.

Melrose Umbrella Co
I've heard a lot of Melrose Umbrella Co before, for having good cocktails, so I was excited to come in for happy hour. The decor is fun, and the name of the bar is actually related to an old photo of the great great great grandfather of one of the three bartenders who started Melrose Umbrella Co. You'll see vintage umbrellas along with vintage photos of the family around the bar.

OK, back to happy hour. At first glance the happy hour menu looks small, with a punch that serves 4 and 4 sections of cocktails. But the last section actually covers the four classic cocktail families with your choice of garnish and base spirit. Virtually unlimited choices!

First off, they served us a mini cup of the white sangria to start off the night (and "amuse booze"). This is the same sangria that comes as a 4-person punch and it is a crowd pleaser.
Melrose Umbrella Co
Let's start off with some of the happy our choices. There's the Nip Julep made with bourbon, mint, and peach, and only $5! The last section lets you choose between the four cocktail families: smash, fix, daisy, or maid. The "Fix" is your choice of base spirit with citrus, sugar, and your choice of garnish (I did bourbon and grapes). The Smash would be like a mojito with any spirit, and the Maid is made with cucumber, mint, and and citrus. Each is $9.
Melrose Umbrella Co

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hey 19: Fun Food and Cheap Drinks in Torrance

There are tons of great Japanese restaurants in Torrance, from oden and yakitori to soba to wonderful pastries, but I wouldn't know where to drink in Torrance. Until now, when Demi Stevens of Ortega 120 opened up Hey 19, a pub with affordable drinks and comfort food - serving until late at night.

Hey 19
The drinks range from $7-8.25. You can hardly get those prices even at happy hour in LA! Yay for low rent in Torrance. I tried the South Bay Storm (Cruzan rum, Campari, lemon, pineapple, Roy Rogers - that's coke and grenadine, $7) and the Classic Cup (housemade Pimm's #1, lemonade, ginger ale, cucumber, mint, orange - also $7).
Just like the popular margaritas at Ortega 120, the drinks tends to be strong and sweet, easy to drink. It turns out Demi prefers her own drinks less sweet so she made me another one that's coming on the menu soon. She said people tend to Uber down from LA in groups to drink because of her much cheaper prices!

Monday, December 8, 2014

$1 Oysters, Great Cocktails, and More at Russell House Tavern (Cambridge, MA)

One of the recommendations I received before moving to Boston was to have cocktails at Russell House Tavern. They do have great drinks, but now most of the time, I come here for the $1 oyster special, which starts at 11pm til closing.

Russell House Tavern
I previously had made a list of $1 oyster places in Los Angeles, but there are even more in Boston! Still, there's a big range on quality, and Russell House Tavern is on the top end where that's concerned.
IMG_3258A lot of places don't serve the freshest oysters when they do $1 oysters, but I've had great experiences with Russell House Tavern, and I've come 3-4 times. The first time they had Island Creek oysters. I also had Moon Shoal oysters once. Not only the types, but these are also fresh and cleaned properly (unlike the $0.50 I had at Red House which were not that fresh and weren't even really cleaned well).

The cocktails I've enjoyed included the Howling Winds ($12): Ansac cognac, yellow chartreuse, cinnamon syrup, lemon, butterfly absinthe, bitters, and Battle of Trafalgar (pictured below, $10): Pimm's no 1, elderflower liqueur, Batavia arrack, honey, lime.
Russell House Tavern
There was also Burma Nights ($13): Bombay East Gin, P.F. Dry Curacao, Orange Flower & Jasmine Waters, Lemongrass, Regans No. 6.

I've tried the other dishes which tend to be good and reasonably priced like the Steamed Moosabec mussels, Spanish chorizo, fried garbanzo, white wine, grilled Fondi bread ($10)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Late Night Happy Hour at Fleming's Steakhouse

If you've shied away from dining at a steakhouse because of the price, head over to Fleming's Steakhouse for their "late night happy hour", which isn't all that late. Called "8 for $9 til 10", you can get 8 items for $9 each from 8-10pm. They also have a "5 for $6 til 7" which may be an even better deal, but the offerings are better for the later night menu.

The same deal is available at all Fleming's locations nationwide. Even better, at most Fleming's locations you also get happy hour prices on some drinks (8 wines and cocktails) including a flight of single malt scotches for $9! Alas, Boston doesn't allow alcohol happy hour (poor me) so I can only show you the food offerings.

First of all, even though you're only there for the cheaper food at happy hour, they still serve you the housemade bread - served with tomato basil butter and Chardonnay-infused gorgonzola sauce.


The $9 items that are offered are the same full size that you'd get from the regular menu and includes things like the Filet Mignon Flatbread (danish blue and monterey jack cheese, red onion confit).

The filet mignon was unusually tender for toppings you'd find on a flatbread. This is a steakhouse and it's filet mignon after all! This was probably my favorite of the things I tried.

For the $6 flatbread during the earlier happy hour, you get mushroom and artichoke instead of filet mignon.

 I didn't have the stomach room to try everything and had to skip the prime burger, which I am sure would make a great affordable dinner if you get off work late one day!
Instead, that evening I tried the lobster lettuce wraps (North Atlantic lobster, crumbled bacon, crisped onion strings, orange-fennel slaw, tarragon dressing)

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