Showing posts with label mediterranean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mediterranean. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

VERTS, a New Fast Casual Mediterranean Grill Opens in Downtown Boston

VERTS started in Austin, Texas about five years ago. In that short period of time, this chain of healthy, fast casual Mediterranean grill has grown to 35 locations around Texas and it has now made its way to Boston as its first non-Texas location.
VERTS
I recently attended the opening party of the Boston location, in the Financial District, to check out the food that makes this chain so fast-growing.
VERTS
VERTS is a build-your-own concept, and you can choose between rice bowl, quinoa bowl, pita wrap, or salad.
VERTS

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fig and Olive (West Hollywood, CA)

by @btsunoda
IMG_1527 West Hollywood is one of LA’s hotspots for new cutting edge restaurants. As a result, I’ve been traveling to the area on a more frequent basis. This time it was to experience Fig and Olive on Melrose Place. Fig and Olive’s menu is largely influenced by its founder, Laurent Halasz, who grew up learning Provençal cuisine. They are probably best known for using exceptional olive oils.

Fig and Olive selected 22 of the finest olive oils and use them as a foundation for all of their their dishes. For them, gourmet olive oil is a central ingredient and it displaces their need for butter.

The interior of Fig and Olive is impressive. They have a huge split-level space with double-high ceilings. Instead of showing off their wine collection, they have an impressive wall display of their olive oils. Other dining areas within the restaurant are available such as their semi-private indoor patio with olive trees and rosemary plants.

Complimentary fresh rosemary focaccia bread was served with three distinctly different virgin olive oils: two were from Spain (Manzanillo and Picual); the other was a Fig Koroneiki from Greece. Of the three, my wife and I both favored the Greek olive oil. The Picual was very earthy and I was extremely surprised at the differences in taste between the three olive oils.

We began with the three crostini starter.
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The first was a prosciutto with ricotta, olives, chopped walnuts and topped with a fig. Burrata with a cherry-sized heirloom tomato and pesto was the second one we selected. Of course, I selected the octopus with hummus which was dusted with paprika. All three crostinis were tasty, but I was surprised at how well the octopus paired with the hummus.

A number of dishes were calling my name and I ended up selecting Paella del Mar.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Modern Meze at Sarma: Worth the Trek (Somerville, MA)

Boston isn't all about seafood and Italian food, there are a few special places that add a big diversity to the available food in town. Sarma is one of those few special places and I have to say it's only a type of restaurant I won't be able to find in LA, making Sarma one of my favorite spots in Boston so far.

Located in Somerville, Sarma is the sister restaurant of Oleana in Cambridge, both specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, but Sarma focuses on meze /small plates and is more casual.

Sarma
Go to Sarma with many people, so that you can try a lot of dishes - and trust me, there are a lot you'd want to try. Sarma also changes a big part of their menu regularly, so even if you're a regular, you'd always find something new to try. Here's what I had at Sarma over two different visits:

Lamb kofte sliders, tomato, brown butter, pickles ($10) - one of the must gets!
Sarma
It may look simple in the photo, but these are seriously some of the best sliders ever. The patty - made with lamb kofte - was really good and the buns had the perfect texture.

Corn cakes, goat cheese, salty date butter, cilantro, pecans ($10)
Sarma

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chef Jose Andres' Zaytinya (Washington, DC)

When I go to DC, naturally I have to try one of Jose Andres' restaurants that I have not been to yet. Having tried Bazaar in LA and Jaleo, I went with Zaytinya, his Mediterranean restaurant.

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The restaurant was bright and lively, and the overall menu was surprisingly pretty reasonable (compared to The Bazaar, for example). The menu was pretty large, and there were so many things I wanted to try, but alas, my cousin and I could only eat so much. We'll just have to go back.

The restaurant sent out a couple of spreads with their fluffy, airy pita bread that's served warm. We got the Htipiti (marinated roasted red peppers, feta, thyme, $7.50) and Hommus ma lahm (hommus, spiced ground Jamison lamb, pine nuts, pickled wild cucumber, mint, $9)
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You know how sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the best? Same with these. I was glad they sent these out since I may not have ordered them otherwise, but my cousin and I loved both spreads. My cousin was particularly addicted to the htipiti. It was so flavorful, yet luscious thanks to the feta, and the fluffy, delicate pita was so good.

Our next course is something I must order every time I see it on the menu:
Seared halloumi cheese, dates, pomegranate, orange, mint ($9.50)
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I love halloumi cheese and I liked this rendition combined with the thick, sweet dates.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Getting Lebanese Food in West Hollywood at Open Sesame

Open Sesame is a popular Lebanese restaurant in Long Beach and they have now opened their LA location on Beverly Blvd, in the former Eva space. They've revamped the small space quite nicely to fit the theme.
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Addictive, pungent garlic dip is served right off the bat. It's also great with the appetizer of fried potatoes, sauteed with cilantro, garlic, roasted chili and lemon juice. That dip is great with anything, really.
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The cocktails here are worth a look, some of them utilizing middle eastern components like rose water and tamarind. I tried the Tamarind cocktail with tequila, tamarind syrup, agave, grapefruit liqueur, rose water, lime.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Brussels Sprout 8-Ways And Great Seafood at Tapenade (West LA)

New restaurants keep popping up on Sawtelle Blvd and they're not all Japanese. Tucked inside the Olympic Collections is Tapenade, which all brussels sprout lovers should visit.

Tapenade

The chef, Ressul Rassalat, also loves it so much he serves it multiple ways at his restaurant. They're all prepared the same style and crispy, but with different flavors. Currently I'm counting eight different flavors of brussels sprout on the menu, and he will either rotate or add more! I had to order the "Indonesian" (because I am one, in case you didn't know) even though that was not one of the waitress' recommendations. This latest addition is made with pineapple, cashews, lime and chili ($9).
brussels sprout

It wasn't quite typical Indonesian flavors but it was spicy and tropical. I want to try the Moroccan one next, which comes with lamb, olives, goat cheese, and red wine vinegar.

Goat cheese tapenade, brioche bread ($10)
Tapenade

I had to try a tapenade because of the restaurant's name! I liked its creaminess (and wished there were more bread).

I especially enjoyed the seafood dishes here, where I think the chef's classical training really shows. Try the Seared scallops, New England chowder ($14)
Tapenade

I thought New England chowder was the white, creamy ones and that the red one is a Manhattan chowder? Well, anyway, the scallops were perfectly cooked and fresh, and the light chowder broth had a lot of of flavors.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Where to Eat for Palm Springs Restaurant Week: Catalan (Rancho Mirage, CA)

Catalan in Rancho Mirage opened in 2012 by father and son Mark and Drew Davis. Drew had worked in New York and moved to Los Angeles to be a private chef to Steven Spielberg before finally deciding to open a restaurant in the Palm Springs area. Catalan is a Mediterranean restaurant, emphasizing on Italian and Spanish influences.

For Palm Springs Restaurant Week, Catalan is offering a $38 menu that has not been determined and will probably change between the 2 weeks of May 31-June 16, in line with their policy to use local, seasonal products. We tried a lot of great dishes during our media visit, though, and you can probably expect the same for the prix fixe menu.

The entire table loved the Chicken liver flatbread, caramelized onions, roasted pears, smoked mozzarella ($17)

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I mean, you eat chicken liver with bread anyway right? So why not put it on top and bake it together, add on some roasted pears and caramelized onions as "condiments"? So good.

More chicken liver? Why not! Especially when they're fried, like these Buttermilk crispy chicken livers, manchego polenta, wild mushroom port reduction, herbs ($15)
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I wondered if the typical Palm Springs audience is adventurous enough for chicken liver but either way I'm glad the chef isn't shying away from it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Doma (Beverly Hills)

The owner of Dan Tana has branched out of the old school Italian with Doma, a modern Mediterranean Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. It's a casual but elegant space with a focus on seafood. The chef, Dustin Trani, grew up working in his family seafood restaurant, J. Trani's in San Pedro. He has also trained in Europe and worked in Thailand, and he brings these influences into his menu.

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I got to the restaurant too early for my media dinner, so I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. The cocktail menu during the opening was simple, but he said that they will soon be expanding the menu to include more complex drinks including a barrel aged Negroski (Cynar, Campari, basil infused vodka).
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He let me take a peek at the upcoming menu, which was definitely a lot more interesting than the opening menu. I ordered the Mexican Grill which was mezcal, Chartreuse, and peppers. Spicy and smoky!

After everyone else arrived, we sat down for an extensive tasting that started with some fresh Japanese hamachi sashimi, ginger soy, ponzu caviar, carrot, cucumber, scallion, sesame tuile ($18, the portion shown is for a tasting, probably not the full portion)
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The ponzu "caviar" is a fun touch here

I won't show you everything I ate that night, but here are some of the many many highlights:

Local crispy calamari and rock shrimp, sweet and spicy Thai aioli, balsamic reduction, micro herb, $16)
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This is an example of how Dustin's training in Thailand his dishes. The spicy aioli is a nice and unique departure from the usual tomato based sauce.

Baked eggplant and ricotta involtini (grilled eggplant, filled with ricotta and basil, baked over tomato sauce, $12)
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A lighter counterpart of the eggplant parmigiana, this is a simple and comforting dish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Artisan House (Downtown LA): New Executive Chef, New Menu

Artisan House took over a large corner on Main St, with its market on one side and the restaurant and bar on the other. While I've walked through the market, I haven't heard much about the restaurant until I came in to try it myself.

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Chef Maureen d'Ath (formerly of Cecconi's) recently took over the kitchen in this Mediterranean-slanted restaurant, with dishes like Roasted cauliflowers in turmeric, harissa, and pinenuts ($9)
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More staple Mediterreanean appetizer: Couscous with raisins, currants, almonds, harissa ($10)
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Yes, there are quite a few items with harissa, as expected of a Mediterranean restaurant, but I'm not complaining.

My favorite dish was the Chutney-stuffed, Prosciutto-wrapped quail, parsnip purée, endive, cranberry and walnut chutney ($18)
Quail

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pre-Theatre Prix Fixe at Boulud Sud (New York, NY)

Early in the evening, Daniel Boulud's new Mediterranean restaurant, Boulud Sud, has a pre-theatre prix fixe menu, three courses for $55. Since I was going to see War Horse and the restaurant was just a stone's throw away from the Lincoln Center, I thought it would be a perfect time to check it out.

The restaurant was pretty full when we got there, but it was still quiet enough to hold a conversation.

Bread
The "bread", of course, was Mediterranean. 
For my first course, I ordered the Octopus a la plancha with marcona almonds, arugula, Jerez vinegar
Octopus
I liked how the subtle accompaniments showcase the flavors of the octopus itself, which also had a great texture.

My companion ordered the House made lamb kibbeh, swiss chard, feta, pine nuts
Lamb Kibbeh
It was not what he expected, apparently. It was good but I thought it was a little dry and we both preferred the octopus.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

La Cachette Bistro Switches to Tapas Menu for the New Year

La Cachette Bistro is switching to a French-Mediterranean tapas menu come the end of this month. In the meantime, though, you can start ordering items from the new menu as well as the current menu.

A couple of weeks ago, Chef Jean Francois Meteigner offered a tasting of about 10 items for $50 per person. I think I got a few extra dishes when I went, but since blogging about all of them would result in a very, very long post, I'll just give you the highlights (which were still almost all of them ...) to let you know what you can expect. A few were paired with wines chosen by their sommelier, who had to be on her feet since this was the first night Chef Meteigner served the new menu items. I'd say she did a good job, though!

Many of the current menu items make an appearance, just in smaller portions.
We started with the Foie gras terrine and duck rillete with fig jam. Paired with Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, Baron de Rothschild Collection, Bordeaux, 2008.

Foie Gras and Rillette
Foie gras and fig, a match made in heaven.

Bacon wrapped dates
Bacon wrapped dates
Sure, bacon-wrapped dates are everywhere now, but I like how the bacon here is particularly crispy. This was paired with a grenache that I had originally thought to be too young, but in fact paired very nicely with each decadent bite.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Jose: Falafel Drive-In, a Local Foodie Landmark

Food aside, this drive-in has been in business since 1966 and seems to be a local favorite.

My cousin's friend took my aunt and I to San Jose to visit the Winchester mystery house and I was searching high and low for some good food, made more complicated by the fact that the friend was vegetarian. Luckily Kung Food Panda pointed this place out to me. Get the $7 falafel and banana shake combo! he says.

After going up stairs that lead to the ceiling, opening doors that open up to a 20 ft drop into the garden, standing in a seance room, we were ready for some good food.
The place was pretty busy even in the late afternoon but the line wasn't too long and moves quickly. You line up, you order, and then you grab a seat next to the stand.
Apparently the said falafel+banana shake combo is $7.50 now (KFP lieth!).

It doesn't photograph well (especially with a camera phone) but trust me, it tastes way better than it may look.
The crispiness of the falafel balls reveals a moist, green mixture of beans and spices. I have to first say that I haven't had too many falafels in my life, but based on my inexperienced falafel-palate, these were great.

These along with fresh lettuce and a generous dollop of tahini +hot sauce are stuffed into a pita pocket. Extra containers of the sauces (hot sauce for you, tahini for me) are available by request and are recommended (just because they're so good).

The banana shake in a large styrofoam cup had a lot of banana flavor and washed down the falafel quite well.
Mind you it isn't particularly thick and wouldn't be the best banana shake you've ever had, but did you note that this and the falafel sandwich are only $7.50 total?

If you're in the San Jose area, you can't go wrong with Falafel Drive-In. In fact, if you're in the area, do make a point to stop by.


Falafel Drive-In
2301 Stevens Creek Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 294-7886
Falafel Drive-in on Urbanspoon
Falafel Drive In in San Francisco

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