Showing posts with label hollywood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hollywood. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Peruvian-Italian Menu at Los Balcones Hollywood

Los Balcones has been revamping both their locations and each one is different. I recently reviewed the Mestizo cuisine at Los Balcones Studio City and now I checked out the Los Balcones in Hollywood. The Hollywood location has recruited Chef Michelangelo "Miguel" Aliaga to helm the kitchen.

Chef Aliaga hails from northern Peru but he started his cooking career in Florence, Italy. In LA, he's worked at various Italian restaurants including All'Angelo and Cecconi's. Now, at Los Balcones he's able to combine his two roots. Los Balcones' menu still has the classic Peruvian dishes you'd expect to see like lomo saltado and ceviche, but he's also melding Peruvian and Italian cuisines in others.

During my visit I mainly stuck to the Peruvian-Italian dishes so I can try what the chef is getting creative with, except for the beef heart anticucho I got for the appetizer. I just have to get beef heart anticucho when I see it.

Anticucho (grilled beef heart, panca pepper, potatoes, rocoto sauce, $16)
Los Balcones Hollywood
When they do it well like they do here and the beef hearts are tender, you can't go wrong.

Agnolotti de seco (homemade ravioli stuffed with lamb and cilantro sauce, finished with rocoto aioli, $20)
Los Balcones Hollywood
A classic pasta dish but with distinctly Peruvian flavors with the rocoto aioli. This is a great representation of how the two cuisines work together.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Totoyama: Sushi and Ramen in the Heart of Hollywood

Let's face it, Hollywood Blvd is not typically what comes to mind when thinking of a place to eat, unless I happen to be catching a show at the Pantages or drinking nearby. But recently I was invited to check out Totoyama Sushi and Ramen, a casual Japanese spot in the same complex as Greenleaf and Pressed Juicery. There's no Hollywood glitz at Totoyama, but the space is nice and comfortable, and the food was surprisingly good and prices were affordable!

Totoyama usually offers an omakase with 10 pieces of nigiri and miso soup and edamame for $48, but they also had a sampler of Japanese fish. I got the Japanese fish sampler combo for $58 which included 4 different 2pcs nigiri and one piece of uni.
Totoyama
I thought it was quite a good deal 9 pieces which included uni! Each sushi was dressed individually. I believe I opted for the aji (mackerel), kanpachi, sea bream, and since they were out of one item I had the salmon.

My friend got the spicy miso ramen ($13) which had a rich and flavorful broth, and pretty spicy. Too spicy for me, but she quite enjoyed it.
Totoyama

Monday, May 2, 2016

Unexpected Dining at Demitasse Roastery and Kitchen (Hollywood)

Demitasse has opened a new location in Hollywood, but this one is no ordinary coffee shop. Demitasse Roastery and Kitchen takes cafes up a level with a great food menu and coffee cocktails on top of their already solid coffee program.

Demitasse has a rotating special coffee drink on the menu at all times. When I came, this was the blood orange nutmeg latte. They've added a housemade blood orange syrup to the latte and grated nutmeg on top. I was initially skeptical how a citrus would work with coffee but this was amazing.Demitasse
The blood orange adds a nice layer of flavor and makes the lattte less heavy. The citrus makes the flavors much more vibrant but you still get the acidity of the espresso.

The space is gorgeous, as well, with a bright and airy interior and a great outdoor dining space.

Demitasse
Demitasse
They sell baked goods from the awesome Sharon Wang of Sugarbloom Bakery.
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They also serve beer, wine, and cocktails - including, of course, coffee cocktails! There's the Adult Spice Latte (Cardamaro, cinnamon syrup, nitro cold brew, cream and organic cinnamon, $7)
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Brunch Menu at The Oinkster Hollywood

by guest blogger @iam_robot

Ever since Andre Guerrero opened the first Oinkster in 2006, it immediately became one of the most sought haute burger and shake joint in Eagle Rock and beyond. By now, many of their popular burgers range from Pork Adobo Burgers to Northeast Bacon Cheeseburger are becoming daily Los Angeles staple.
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Living of the ethos “Slow Fast Food”, The Oinkster seeks to whip up multi-ethnic and contemporary cuisines utilizing the finest ingredients. They currently have two locations in LA andt hese days, their Hollywood location is changing the breakfast game in the area, better fast food without the high-price or infinite long-lines. Breakfast price ranges from $6 to $11.50, and there are many great options for just $6. You can have 2 versions of equally delicious breakfast sandwich, egg with applewood smoked bacon or egg with fry chorizo hash.

Moving up the ladder at $6.50, I thought the breakfast burrito is the best one I’ve had in a long time.
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I like how much filling they wrapped inside the tortilla: Belgian fry chorizo hash, scrambled eggs, sharp cheddar, and bacon. Burrito felt like the perfect to go food – easy grip with no mess or greasy fingers. Finally, the cream of the crop of breakfast menu is the Cluckster Chicken and Waffles w/ Belgian fries.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cheebo on Sunset (Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA)

Cheebo has been around on Sunset Blvd for a while, and their free wifi and all day menu seems to draw a few people either working on their laptops or having meetings there. The decor is colorful, fun, and a bit kitschy.

Cheebo
For appetizer, you must get the Polenta tots with pomodoro sauce ($9)
Cheebo
These fluffy fried polenta were addictive, they're way better than regular tater tots!

If you don't feel like getting a big entree, Cheebo has a big selection of salads and sandwiches, like this B.L.T.A (nitrate free bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado ($12))
Cheebo
I took half on the plane with me, and it was perfect!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop Transforms with Hollywood Location

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop is transforming their look with the new Hollywood location. I still remember the Century City and Beverly Hills locations, a small, fast-casual lunch spot with salads and fresh juice bar. Small, bright, casual. But now, in Hollywood, the restaurant has an outdoor seating area where they also grow some herbs, a gorgeous full bar, a rustic, dimly lit dining room.

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greenleaf
Still serving the same organic, healthy food as the other locations, but they've also expanded the menu with more entree-like options and cocktails.

The entrees are "build-your-own" where you can choose a protein and 2 sides. Salmon filet is $16.95 and I chose pomegranate quinoa and baked sweet potato fries as my sides.
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The salmon was nicely cooked and the quinoa with almonds and pomegranate was almost like a dessert or a nice breakfast dish. They're healthy and delicious like other Greenleaf offerings I've had before, but definitely heartier than the usual salads.

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 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blue C Sushi's Conveyor Belt Empire

Blue C Sushi, the conveyor belt, or kaiten, sushi restaurant from Seattle is taking over Southern California starting from Hollywood and a new location in Newport Beach. They upped the kaiten sushi game with the atmosphere and decor. It is no way a substitute for the great purist sushi places, but a fun place to go when you have friends who won't eat the traditional sushi.

As usual, the items on the conveyor belt are color coded, each color referring to a price point. You can find the more popular nigiri sushi like salmon and tuna, along with fusion rolls like the 
BLT roll with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and marmalade.  
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The quality of the sushi here tends to be better than other kaiten sushi places, though the price also tends to be higher. You'll find your basic nigiri sushi and the typical rolls along with their specialty rolls like this spicy tuna served on crispy rice.
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If you don't want to grab sushi from the conveyor belt or don't see the item you want, you can always order them from the sushi chefs or servers. I had quite a few of the freshly made nigiri sushi that they made directly, including Madai (seabream) with shiso and lemon, albacore, and Seared black cod with yuzu.
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Madai with shiso and lemon
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Famed Hollywood Taqueria Calle Tacos To Offer Catering Service

By: guest blogger @iam_robot

In a time when quick-service and casual dining chains are offering catering service to generate additional revenues, Calle Tacos, Hollywood popular taqueria owned by street-food extraordinaire Dorian and Javier Villasenor, are doing exactly just that. This Hollywood Blvd permanently parked lonchero (food truck) strive to bring your favorite Mexican fare, utilizing decades-old family recipe and fresh ingredients, to your family events and corporate meetings.
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For its catering service, not only common Mexican food (burritos, nachos, tortas, fajitas and tacos) will be served, there’ll be less known items like Shrimp Ceviche, Chicken Mole Poblano and Kobe Beef Sliders. Washed those down with their homemade Watermelon or Pineapple agua fresca, suddenly those corporate events feel a wee bit memorable.  And yes, any of the dishes can be customized with a selection of protein, toppings or sauces to suit your taste. Based on my experience, their al pastor, carnitas and carne asada are excellent but their Chipotle Fish Tacos is probably one of the most delicious tacos in LA. Fish was skillfully fried to golden brown perfection while the chipotle mayo adds tang and cooling underneath.

So here’s how the catering menu looks like:
Shrimp Ceviche – shrimp seasoned in citrus with pico de gallo and red onion.
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The dish came looking more like a shrimp cocktail but the taste combo were there. The citrus veered the dish towards sour but the inherent sweetness of the pico de gallo balanced out the equation. I like how the red onion didn’t lose the tanginess or crunch despite being soaked in citrus or pico de gallo for a long time. My slight criticism about this dish is that I wished the shrimp was bigger and packed a tad more crunch.

Chicken Mole Poblano – Chicken mixed in a sweet mole made with chiles, chocolate and warm spices
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Friday, August 29, 2014

The Bowery: Not Your Ordinary Pub

by guest blogger Brian L. @iam_robot

To be honest, Los Angeles is the mecca of overhyped burger joints and gastropubs. Is it a conspiracy to think a group of Los Angeles restaurateurs collude every week to create another gastropub? I understand public’s desire to drink peanut butter beer from a local brewery or to devour a grass-fed bison burger without the 4 hours commitment in a jacket and slacks; But when there’s too many of them, the flux of turnovers is inevitable. I mean you might fall in love with a burger joint only to realize they had closed down before you made your second visit 6 months later. That said, it's still sad to think of some of the burger joints we recently lost: Kalbi Burger, The Parish, Haven Gastropub, Hamburger Hamlet, and the utterly delicious tamago (egg) burger at Fuku. Till this day, I regard that tamago burger the same way I regard tequila – if I ate one, all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to stop, and suddenly I’d be broke and jobless.

Initially I had some trepidation when I got the invite to The Bowery. It’s another gastropub – years of experiences have taught me I typically got bored halfway into eating the food that I over-ordered and I’d ask myself, “Is it wrong I kinda wanna cook top ramen in my kitchen rather than eating here?”  But after entering/ observing the Bowery and talking to owner George Abou-Daoud, I knew I was in for a treat.

 Here’s my reasoning: First, George is probably the pioneer of this gourmet burger movement. He’s done it since year 2005, way before we knew the juggernauts: Umami, Father’s Office, and The Counter. The most impressive part is – he did it when the odds were stacked against his favor – Tower Records and The Palladium were closing while those ritzy apartments were probably a rolled-up blue print.
Interior
Bowery
 As a fellow entrepreneur, I admire his fervor. Second, looking at the menu, The Bowery is no ordinary gastropub. Granted the menu could be a smorgasbord of all things irresistible and forbidden on any sort of diet, but they didn’t neglect people who seek balance. There are so many healthier fares I can’t wait to try on my next visit: Roasted Tomato Soup, Spicy Tuna with Saffron Risotto Crostini, Chickpea Falafel, and the Vegan Burger (with Black Bean & Roasted Beet Patty…Interesting!).  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Menu at Next Door Lounge (Hollywood)

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

The Roaring Twenties are back– thanks to the recent popularity of The Great Gatsby, Downtown Abbey and Boardwalk Empire. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s and 30’s in America was intended to reduce public consumption by banning businesses that manufactured, distributed, and sold them. With bars closed, young folks (commonly known as flappers and dappers) started going to “underground saloons” in basements or attics of other disguised businesses (cafes, theatres, soda shops) to smoke, drink, and dance without having to worry about breaking the law for doing so.  Given its name due to the necessity to whisper or “speak easy”, these underground saloons were outperforming legitimate saloons at an outstanding rate – at one point, every  closed saloon were replaced by half a dozen illegal joints.
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Situated strategically on Highland and Lexington Ave, The Next Door Lounge is reliving the forbidden excitement of the speakeasy era by serving up a mix of vintage and modern libations alongside a new menu of small bites created by private chef/ Food Network Star Nikki Martin. Cocktails are definitely the main attraction here. Vintage cocktails like Negroni, Manhattan, and Penicillin are served up with barrel aged spirits (Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Gin and Rum), fresh juices, and top shelf liquor by barman Zac Henry.
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At the front door, I was greeted by a doorman dressed in a three piece suit and fedora, making sure my name was on the guest list and I was revealing the correct password “STOOL PIDGEON”.  Once I passed the reclaimed double doors and vintage curtains, I saw several intimate vignettes donned with leather couches, high back chairs, marble chess boards and antique cocktail tables. 
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 The place was dimly lit and a big part of the lighting came from the west wall, where a black & white film was projected there. As my eyes were observing the regular crowd of hipsters and artsy locals, a pleasant cocktail waitress decked out in 1920’s fashion (beading, fringes, and feathers) guided me to one of the two long communal tables.  

I started the night with the Giggle Water – Matusalem Rum, Limoncello, Orange Juice, and Rose Prosecco. I inhaled this and granted I was giggling. Delicious!
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Hungry Cat's Crabfest Returns July 27, Summer Crab Nights, and Last Year's Review

The annual Crabfest at The Hungry Cat will return to the Hollywood locaton on July 27! This year, the Santa Monica location will hold "Summer Crab Nights" which will be more like a mini Crabfest. The Summer Crab Nights will be held on Sundays June 29, August 10, and September 7, where you can get half a dozen Maryland blue crabs with sides of corn on the cob, tomato and watermelon salad, cornbread and a dessert for $35. The dealio is at 3-8pm on those dates.

The big Crabfest (now in its 10th year) itself is $75 for 5 courses and will be at 1-7pm - again, July 27 at the Hollywood location.

Here's what the Crabfest was like last year:
We each started with a bowl of Maryland Crab Soup, a flavorful and comforting soup with a generous serving of crab.
Crab Soup
Next was a Beer-battered soft shell crab sandwich, b&b pickles, spicy remoulade
Softshell Crab
This was a substantial sandwich for just the second course! It's a well proportioned sandwich with good bread that complements the crispy soft shell crab.

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Menu at Roadhouse LA with Chef Kyle Schutte

About 3 years ago, I encountered chef Kyle Schutte's cooking at Vu. He called it "progressive comfort food" and I still remember his chicken fried watermelon. He had a short stint at Corner Door and I'm glad he's finally found another home at Roadhouse - that barbecue restaurant at The Improv.

One of the favorites during my dinner was the Root beer-cured bacon, soft scrambled vanilla scented eggs ($12)

Root Beer Bacon
This is made with housemade root beer syrup and the thick bacon is brined for 2 days then smoked for 12 hours.

Chicken Fried watermelon with pickled rind ($6)
Fried Watermelon
Yes, the dish I had at Vu made another appearance here! These are quite interesting and worth a try if you've never had it before.

I really liked the Punjabi Poutine with thick cut fries, coconut curry spinach, grilled cheese curds, queso fresco, goat meat and goat gravy ($12)
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Revisiting Wood and Vine with a New Chef

Hollywood favorite Wood and Vine recently recruited a new chef who has revamped the menu. Worry not, though, as the popular cheese and charcuterie platter will still be around. Chef Marc Johnson used to work at Waterloo and City, so the charcuterie here is something to anticipate.
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There will be potted items like chicken liver mousse with blood orange marmalade, which I was kind of addicted to.

He's making terrines from game meat, including a rabbit terrine with pistachio and pickled carrot puree, head cheese, and a wild boar terrine with pecans and apple chutney.
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For appetizers, he plays with vegetables and fruits like Beetroot, horseradish, kumquat, sourdough, amaranth

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Red Medicine Revamps Formosa Cafe's Food Menu (Hollywood)

Formosa Cafe in Hollywood stores a long history of old Hollywood glamour. It was opened in 1925 and now preserved as a historical landmark. To keep Angelenos interested, though, they decided it was time to spice up the food menu and got the Red Medicine team to move in and take over the menu, resulting in Red Med at Formosa Cafe.

While Jordan Kahn is revamping Red Medicine itself to move away from Vietnamese dishes, the rest of the team brings old favorites and more of the Asian flavors to Formosa. Find dishes like Oyster mushrooms, oyster sauce, haricot vert (green beans), espelette ($12)

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You can't see the oyster mushrooms buried underneath, but trust when I say that the mushrooms with the crunchy bits are one of our favorite dishes here.

Shanghai rice cakes, bacon x.o., shishito, Thai basil ($15)
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While $15 seems a little expensive, it was so good we couldn't stop eating it! That bacon x.o. sauce was pretty amazing with the chewy rice cakes. Formosa Cafe's kitchen is also open until 2 am so I think when I am tipsy I would happily pay $15 for this ...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Revamped Menu and Patio at Sadie Kitchen and Lounge

Sadie Kitchen and Lounge has gone through many chef changes since its opening, and most recently they also revamped their patio dining area to be more lounge-like, although dining tables for larger parties still remain. The lights adorning the walls and trees make this a romantic dining spot at night.

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The current chef is Jonathan Moulton, who most recently was at Early Bird in Orange County. He brings many Southern comfort food to Sadie, like these decadent buttermilk biscuits with "red eye butter" ($3)
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What is red eye butter, you ask? It has what you love most in the mornings: coffee and bacon!

While many chefs have come and go, mixologist Giovanni Martinez has always remained. Much of the drinks menu remains the same, but there are also many new and seasonal drinks - and they're all excellent. I loved the Negroni Sour (gin, vermouth, campari, nettle cordial, lemon)
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Vintage Enoteca, A Friendly Wine Bar With A Female Sommelier

Female chefs have gotten more attention lately, but it's still pretty rare to find a female sommelier. Well, you can meet one at the very approachable Vintage Enoteca in Hollywood: Danielle Francois. It's not a frou-frou wine bar, but a friendly, casual place where locals hang out or go on a date while trying some interesting wines. In fact, while Danielle is the in-house sommelier and part-owner, the other owner is also a woman.

Owners Danielle Francois and Jennifer Moore worked in advertising in New York City. Tired of the of the advertising world, they moved to Los Angeles and opened Vintage Enoteca, wanting to create "a casual environment to explore and sip interesting vino and eat simple, yet delicious tapas that complements the wine." 

They opened Vintage on June 1st 2010 and Danielle went on to get her sommelier certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers. I took a look at the wine and beer list and was surprised at the number of unfamiliar names and varietals on both. I mean, I thought I've learned quite a bit about beer and wine over my blogging years, but still. There was Scheurebe from the Rheinhessen, a Grignolino from Piedmont or a Blaufrankish from Burgenland. The only word I recognize there was Piedmont!

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Anyway, I came in for a casual wine pairing dinner, starting off with a refreshing glass of Pascal Bellier "Reverie" Brut Rose from Loire Valley, France. This sparkling rose is 100% made of pinot noir grapes and going to be perfect in the summer months to come.

The food, as they claimed, is simple and affordable. The small bites are $6 and all the salads, flatbreads, and paninis are $10.

While it wasn't on the tasting menu, one of the other writers had heard a lot of their Crispy Duck Cracklings Salad ($10) and wanted to try it. The salad was composed of blue cheese, blistered baby tomatoes, arugula, creme fraiche dressing, and topped with duck cracklings.
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I'm glad we got to try this salad, tossed with the right amount of dressing. Of course, it's the duck cracklings that made it special.

Asparagus Salad (English pea, pickled fennel, chorizo chips, herb anchovy vinaigrette - $10)
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This was paired with Palomino: La Cigarrera Manzanilla NV, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain.
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Nope, not a white wine. This is a sherry! This dry sherry pairs very well with the anchovy vinaigrette, cutting the saltiness and fishiness. Danielle explains that the dry sherry pairs well in general with salty snacks.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lucky Devils (Hollywood, CA)


Lucky Devils is one of the oldest craft beer bar in Hollywood, though I actually went to taste the wines from their newly installed wine taps. Lucky Devils was opened by former model Lucky Vanous. It was before my time but Wandering Chopsticks who came with me did remember this old Diet Coke commercial. I've never heard much about Lucky's before and wasn't sure what to expect, but to my surprise the food was actually pretty good. On this particular strip of Hollywood Blvd, Lucky's may well be one of the best options.

As I was being seated for my tasting I noticed a menu of "six courses" with multiple items listed under each and 12 wines. Oh, I need to choose, I thought, but I was quickly corrected. I was apparently getting all of them. All 10 dishes+2 fries+2 desserts+12 wines.

We started with some olive tapenade and jalapeno hummus with char-grilled bread.

Wandering Chopsticks loved the charred bread and couldn't stop eating them even though we have 10+ more courses to come.

With this first appetizer we tried three different white wines they had on tap:
 2011 Zocker Gruner Veltliner. Vibrant, crisp. Notes of stone fruit (melon).
2011 Hess Chardonnay. Slightly buttery. From Monterey's coastal valley.
2011 Acrobat Pinot Gris. Nice one. A hint of sweetness, a bit sweeter than the Zocker.

They only have wines on tap here so you may not find many wineries you know and like, but the most expensive 6oz pour is $9.50 and most is $7.50.

Short rib sliders (braised with caramelized vegetables, wild arugula, horseradish cream, Hawaiian sweet rolls) and truffle parmesan chips (it's truffle oil).

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