Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old Standby Brunch and Best Apple Tart Tatin in Town

Rose Cafe is a long-standing brunch destination in Venice. With its patio seating, brunch fares, bakery, and an awesome gift shop, it was (still is) the quintessential brunch in Venice, bustling with families and joggers alike.

I used to go all the time back when I was at UCLA. An off experience one day and moving to Pasadena kept me away from this place for a while. But then I came back.

Rose Cafe offers classical brunch fares - eggs and the like, entrees from the kitchen such as seared tuna salad, and a variety of deli items.

This time I got the Frittata (Italian Style Open-Faced Omelette). Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes and Basil, Topped w/ Goat Cheese
Generous portions and healthy, the food here is still very solid with good ingredients.

Friend got the Eggs Scandia (lox, poached egg, croissant, dill hollandaise)
Another classic brunch fare. The amount of lox in this dish is lacking - wonder if they've cut back due to the recession :/ It's otherwise very good with flakey buttery croissant. Just ... more lox, please.

Rose Cafe has a large selection of pastries and baked goods that you can either have there or take to go. It's hard not to when you're passing the gorgeous display case on your way out. I often get their apple tart tatin.
As I ate it at home that night, I was reminded again of how much I liked Rose Cafe. They still have the best apple tart tatin around! Sweet, plump, and juicy caramelized apples. Flakey pastry crust. Loved it. It might be the flakey crust that makes it better than the rest. Or maybe it's the apple to crust ratio.

I also remembered that I liked their cobblers. And bread pudding ... and ... what was I thinking only buying the apple tatin? *sigh*

Rose Cafe
220 Rose Ave
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-0711
Rose Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nishimura: The Beverly Hills Sushi Fortress

There was someone who kept claiming that Nishimura was better than all the sushi places I've brought him to. I took him to Sushi Zo, he says Nishimura is better. I took him to Sushi Mori, he says Nishimura is better value. So finally I just retorted back with "So why haven't you taken me there?" So off we went!!

Nishimura is located across the street from the Pacific Design Center. There's no sign, just a tall, solid, wooden gate, in front of which you may occasionally find a towncar or two. Street parking are aplenty next to it.

Unfortunately it was rather dark and I didn't want to use flash so only a few of the photos really turned out well. I'll just give you guys a sampling.

At first I was a bit disappointed because Nishimura himself was not the one serving me sushi. But my young sushi chef was very friendly and as it turned out, very good. We got to talking and apparently before going to Nishimura he used to work at Jinpachi.

Among our dishes were a sampling of oysters - 3 kinds per person.
All very fresh and delicious.

Then came a slew of sashimi. Unlike Zo which was mostly sushi or Mori which offers a significant number of cooked dishes for the omakase, our omakase here was significantly composed of sashimi dishes. I'm not complaining, mind you.

Among them were octopus with yuzu.
Fresh and chewy. "Crunchy" even. The quality of the ingredients at Nishimura is evident.

There were tons of hamachi and albacore with ponzu sashimi, etc, all of which were very good. It's a lot of fun watching this young chef coming up with dish after dish, all of which he tried to put special touches on.

The highlight of my meal was probably this one: seared toro with white truffle salt and yuzu.
Orgasm on a plate. I mean, it's practically everything that I love, with the absence of foie gras! The toro used here was fatty and delicious, but the one used for our simple toro sushi we had later that night was even better - it tasted fresher and fattier than the seared one.

I didn't spend the whole night eating fatty fish, though. The waitstaff also brought out piping hot ginko nuts with sea salt.

The highlight towards the end of the meal for me were these fresh king crab legs.
Fresh, juicy, meaty. I had to chow down with my fingers to make sure I got every little piece of meat out of those shells.

The meal for 2 post-tips was $160 - which was comparable to my meal at Sushi Mori, but with more of the things I like (sashimi!). I had to agree that Nishimura was very good indeed, and yes, probably is a better value than Mori. At least, I felt like I got more for my money here.

8684 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 659-4770

Nishimura on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ad Hoc: Thomas Keller's Comfort Food

My trip up to the Northern Cal so I can have my first meal at The French Laundry turned out to be the best food weekend ever (so far). The night before, we tried out Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's 'comfort food' restaurant (most well known for their fried chicken!).

Ad Hoc was originally meant to be a temporary restaurant, to be opened while they're designing a different restaurant to be opened in that space (hence the name, and the motto "for temporary relief from hunger").
5 nights our of the week, Ad Hoc offers a different 4-course menu for $49, served family style and meant to be shared.

I was putting this post off in the hope that I one day will find the menu that I seem to have misplaced somewhere. But not long after I posted the review (a few hours only), a Chowhounder immediately noticed that I was there on 1/31 and posted the menu! The awesomeness of the internet.

Our meal started off with the TFL Garden Broccoli Salad, white cauliflower, toasted almonds, sweet vidalia onions, cara cara oranges, shaved brioche croutons.
There aren't mere broccoli (blogger is telling me that 'broccolis' isn't grammatically correct), people, these babies came straight from The French Laundry garden down the street. And my god, these are the best broccoli ever. It's very juicy, moist, and sweet, unlike other broccoli I've ever had which are typically boring and bland.
At Ad Hoc you can always ask for seconds, but my friends told me not to get seconds yet, since we have a lot more coming ...

Our main course was Roasted Beef Skirt Steak, braised hearts of romaine, tomato-pepper soffritto
Now, the thing I love about this particular cut is how flavorful it is. On the other hand, it tends to be tougher than most cuts which is why some people don't like them. But not these babies. Somehow they've managed to turn these skirt steaks into some amazingly tender pieces of meat, yet still retain the flavorfulness that is skirt steak. Amazing!

The main entree came with a side dish of spiced sweet carrots and shiitake mushrooms.
The carrots were again tender and sweet. Delicious. I justified myself getting seconds of this because it's healthy and carrots are good for my strained eyes :P

Next dish is the cheese course, Silver Mountain Clothbound Cheddar.
It was firm and smooth with a subtle taste and aroma. I enjoyed it with the slice of apple (one per person) but the red cabbage didn't do it for me.

For the grand finale, a gargantuan Baked Alaska! A dome of vanilla ice cream on top of sponge cake, baked in meringue.
I'm not sure this photo does it justice. This thing was HUGE. It was about half a basketball, with meringue on top! There were five of us - who all eat a lot- and we barely managed to finish half.

An extremely enjoyable and memorable meal. That oh-so-tender-and-flavorful skirt steak and those broccolis ... man! The casual atmosphere was perfect for catching up with friends and stuffing ourselves to death. Can't wait to return to Ad Hoc.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2487

Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon
ad hoc in San Francisco

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