Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Allston Yacht Club: Refining Echo Park Neighborhood Dining

The recently opened Allston Yacht Club offers something quite different from other places in Echo Park. A small-plate restaurant combining American, Asian, and African influences with a wine bar and an inventive cocktail program. All the plates are priced under $10, making it quite the affordable neighborhood destination.

Not that Echo Park is my neighborhood, so it wasn't like I just meandered over there one day.

AYC has gotten some buzz recently since the owners have started blogging about their restaurateur-ing experiences (Apparently they left their careers in the entertainment industry to open up a restaurant. You know, something more relaxed. Ha :P ). So when their PR person contacted me and invited me to check out the food, I took up the opportunity.

As soon as I entered my eyes were drawn to the yellow backdrop and the giant Hokusai waves. I want that for my room, please.
My friend and I started the night with cocktails. She got the Lena's Holiday (vodka, St Germain, cucumber, pear & ginger - $9)
The drink was on the sweeter side, though not overly so.

The server brought out a plate of cheese (Istara, Sheep, Basque) and saucisson sec by mistake instead of our brandade gratin. Oh well, we are not about to turn down cheese.

I quite enjoyed the firm and smooth Istara.

We never did get our brandade gratin, but there was more than enough food anyway.

Duck Confit with BBQ sauce and green papaya salad ($7)
The duck confit was tender and moist and the sweetness of the bbq sauce was balanced quite well by the tart green papaya. The duck confit preparation here changes daily, and at this price point it's very doable to come regularly and check out what's in store.

The next plate we got was the Merguez Sausage ($8)
Our favorite dish of the night. The lamb sausage was very flavorful and had a great texture that's complemented by the melange of vegetables.

AYC also offers side dishes to go along with your small "plates". We tried the Brussels Sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and bacon ($6)
This was my only disappointment of the night. The balsamic vinegar made the dish too salty and covered up the taste of the brussels sprouts themselves. We liked eating the bacon bits by themselves though, they were quite good.

We also tried the Spinach Tian, cooked in savory rice custard ($6). A warm and comforting dish, although the egg flavor came through much more than the rice.

The PR person came and talked to us and told us how much she loves the grilled cheese sandwich here. The sandwich preparation changes regularly and seasonally, sometimes incorporating truffles or apricots.

Of course, we had to order one.
No truffle in sight today, but the aromatic melted cheese on the warm, crisp, and buttery bread was very satisfying. My friend did note that it was a bit too greasy for her usual fare, but you know I do not mind it.

For dessert, I tried the Amandine, a South African almond-based cake
A light dessert that's prepared well with a strong almond flavor and crunchy texture.

I was waiting for my friend to finish her drink, so I tried a second drink too, the Ultraviolet Martini (gin, vermouth, lemon, violet syrup - $9)
A very well balanced drink and the aroma and subtle flavor of the violet syrup made this quite a unique drink. Loved it.

Instead of doing my own recap, here's a summary of AYC from my friend and dinner companion (who has her own blog Whiners n Diners):

" Enter the warm, inviting Allston Yacht Club and you will experience a variety of tastes as richly colored as the decor itself. Imagine a great blue Hokusai wave against a vibrant yellow backdrop as you sip delicately crafted cocktails like the UltraViolet martini, the Echo Park Mule or the Allston Sunrise. You can nosh on anything from an assortment of small plates to savory entrees influenced from a variety of world cuisines. Our favorites include the merguez sausage and barbecue duck confit with green papaya. You can also find the tastiest grilled cheese - it is known to take on different forms at times- from plain to truffle infused. The staff is welcoming, and with prices between $7 and $9 for large plates, why not just make AYC your go-to place? "

Allston Yacht Club
1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 481-0454
Allston Yacht Club on Urbanspoon
Allston Yacht Club in Los Angeles



which reminds me. I still have a big fat coupon to AYC...


I am thoroughly amused by the name of this place. Looks tasty.

Kung Food Panda

Looks pretty good. Lamb sausages sounds pretty good. Too bad the brussel sprouts weren't a hit, but I think the version at the foodbuzz dinner was delicious!

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