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.
The 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.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
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
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.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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.
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)
Monday, May 4, 2015
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)
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)
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
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
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.
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”.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
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.
Smoky meatballs with house-aged ground beef, veal, pork, sun-dried marinara, shaved parmesan ($11)
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
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!
Charred Eggplant Ttukbokki (Korean rice cake, red chili, mozzarella, $8)
Thursday, February 12, 2015
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:
321 N Peters St
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
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)
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
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.
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
Sunday, January 25, 2015
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.
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
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)
Monday, December 29, 2014
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.
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.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
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.
Monday, December 8, 2014
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.
A 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.
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
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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