Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tom's Urban Opens at L.A. Live

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

The newest lineup on the bright lights of LA Live is quite distinct from any of its neighbors. Far from the glitz of Fleming’s or Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill, Tom’s Urban seeks to whip up multi-ethnic and contemporary cuisines utilizing the freshest ingredients. With its expansive space and state of the art d├ęcor, Tom’s Urban is definitely a cozy hangout spot offering a fully stocked bar of liquor, beer and wine, gourmet bar food and comfort food.
Opening its door from 6:30 am – 2:00 am (no, that's not a type, they open at 6:30 in the morning), founder Tom Ryan is pushing the concept of small plates where guests can eat and drink before or after a game at the Staples Center. Now if you’re not familiar with Tom Ryan, his resume is quite impressive. He’s the brain behind the Smashburger, Mcdonald’s Value Menu, Mcgriddle and many other innovative fast food favorites. Though many of the dishes at Tom’s Urban can’t be categorized as fast food, Tom makes a promise that all the food ordered will be served within 6 to 8 minutes span.
Tom Ryan &
Overall, the menu is customized to cater many different personalities. For those who prefer to eat light, they have small plates along with fancy omelets and benedicts. And those who prefer heartier meals could opt for Macaroni and cheese, pizza, soft tacos, salads, burgers and many other diner favorites. Craft beers and fun cocktails are served all day.

Moonshine Merry
Bloody Mary
Here’s their version of Bloody Mary. No, it’s not made with real moonshine. They used Jr. Johnson’s Midnight Moon, homemade Bloody Mary mix garnished with a spicy pickle. I really liked this drink – it tangy, refreshing while the spiciness is not overpowering. Just the perfect Bloody Mary.

Buffalo Wings
Chicken Wings
Wings are good here though it’s nothing special. Really liked how the meat fell off the bones easily while the buffalo sauce has a good tartness. The blue cheese and Greek Yogurt dressing are quite unique.

White Bean Hummus
Definitely one of the best dishes though I’m not crazy on the Rosemary flatbread (felt like store bought). Hummus was well made combining the tang of the lemon and EVOO’s distinct pungent taste. I could eat a tub of these.

All American Cheeseburger Sliders
Knowing Tom as the brainchild behind Smash Burger, I expect to get a better burger than these. Sure the ingredients are premium – butter toasted brioche bun with grass-fed ground beef, however, these burgers are on the dry side while cheese didn’t come out gooey. I thought toasting the bun a little longer would make a big difference as well.

Grilled Croatian Fig Jam + 3 Cheese
Grilled Cheez
Oh I love this! Best dish of the night! In essence, it’s a grilled cheese using brioche bun & jam made Croatian figs. The jam is the highlight of this dish – sweet at first but with the tartness of the fruit coming through toward the end. The 3 cheese (Fontina, Brie and Havarti) melted perfectly & gave a savory overtone to this dish.

San Marzano Meatball Marinara + Sonoma Goat Cheese
These beef and pork meatballs are good but it’s no big surprise. Marinara sauce was not overly tangy but lacked the savory element. As well as the goat cheese, I didn’t realize there was some until somebody told me. A little more goat cheese would bring this dish to another level.

Ginger Chicken Pot Stickers
Ginger Chicken has a good taste but the pot stickers were too thick or felt a bit doughy. Surprisingly, I like the Pot Stickers pairing with Korean Dipping Sauce. The sauce is slightly sweet, spicy and citrusy. Quite delightful.

Edamame Falafel
This was very good!  Their brazen approach to utilize edamame instead of chick peas pays dividend in a big way. Falafel came out golden brown, warm and crispy. Pairing with homemade tzatziki, arugula, parsley, tomato, this falafel will be vegetarian favorites.

Sticky Belly Tacos
Pork Belly Taco
Second best dish of the night…Hands Down! Not only they’re generous with the super tasty pork belly, the chipotle aioli along with the coleslaw gave a sweet refreshing dimension to this overall salty dish. The dish felt light but very satisfying. I could eat this all night.

Baby Kale + White Bean Urban Pizza
The flatbread is good but it’s something I felt that I could make at home. Maybe I can’t get Asadero cheese & Sonoma goat cheese as good as theirs but these cheeses somewhat overpowered the whole dish. I  couldn’t taste the baby kale or the white bean. The bread was airy with good texture. Crunchier bread might be necessary to counter these (slightly) watery cheeses.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the dishes presented today. Some of the dishes I truly enjoyed and others I thought were way too ordinary. I appreciate the fun and simple menu but I feel they could be more daring in their approach. I understand the necessity to tone down the menu as LA Live is a tourist go-to destination & they’d prefer familiarity over exploratory. Definitely I’ll be back as there are many things in the menu I’m curious to try. It’s a cool hangout spot for playoff games or late night dining or weekdays happy hour.

Tom's Urban
L.A. Live
1011 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 746-8667
Tom's Urban on Urbanspoon


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