So I’m trying something new. A few new things actually.
You may have seen the Donate button on the sidebar to the left; I know my readership is small, but I’m hoping those of you who find some value in my writing, and can spare the money, will help support this site. Just got my hosting bill, so this is timely.
You probably also didn’t miss the text ad at the bottom of the sidebar. Not sure if that’s going to stay or not, but I figured many of the food blogs I read and respect have ads, so I should feel okay giving it a whirl.
The biggest new thing I am trying, however, is not on this site. Instead, it is on Indiegogo! That’s right, I am trying to crowdfund a review! I know it’s not potato salad, but please check my campaign out and support it if it interests you!
Flores on Sawtelle, in West Los Angeles’s Little Osaka neighborhood, opened just over a year ago, with the dishes introduced by its opening chefs, husband-wife team Rob Lawson and Angela Hernandez, both alums of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in NYC, well received. In April of this year, however, the two chefs and owner Amal Flores parted ways, and the restaurant closed for a few weeks while incoming chef Brian Dunsmoor and pastry chef Sarah “Bearclaw” Lange, both of The Hart and the Hunter, developed a menu that focuses on Southern fare.
(Chef Dunsmoor continues to operate THatH with chef Kris Tominaga, while chef Lange has recently departed THatH to work with Field Trip at the Farmers Kitchen, but both are still involved with Flores.)
To go with the culinary shift, Flores also underwent a name change of sorts, to The Ladies’ Gunboat Society (19th century women’s organizations that raised funds and supported Confederate efforts during the Civil War), though technically it is a name “appendment”. The restaurant’s menus, website, and Facebook page all render its name as “Flores & The Ladies’ Gunboat Society”. Apparently, the plan is for the restaurant to shake up its chefs, concepts, and name every once in a while, sort of like Fifty Seven in DTLA.
FLGS (easier to type) had generally positive mentions right from the start–Chicken Fried Rabbit and BBQ Blue Crab seemed to be the early hits. However, I noticed some negative Yelp reviews that appeared right after the transition, though many seemed be by fans of the former chefs’ food, dischuffed from said chef-shuffle kerfuffle (say that three times fast). The menu has already gone through some changes to stay seasonal, and the restaurant introduced a fried chicken “Early Bird” happy hour-and-a-half back in May with weekend brunch service starting just last month.
My adopted little brother Chris Hei and the rest of my family checked out the Early Bird over Memorial Day weekend. I had heard that the special was only available at the bar, but since we’d have some teetotaling tots with us, I phoned ahead and was assured that the same deal was available on the patio. But what exactly was the deal?
The Early Bird special consists of three pieces of fried chicken and a beer for $12. Without the beer, the price is $9. This is a very respectable happy hour pricing, and downright cheap compared to another 3-piece fried chicken special on the Westside: Superba Food + Bread‘s $20 Sunday-only fried chicken supper (to be fair, SFB’s comes with sides: biscuits and collard greens slaw).
We arrived around 6:30 PM on Saturday evening, and the place was probably 2/3 full. We were seated at a beautiful table that looked like it was made from driftwood. We ordered four Early Birds for five people and a few other dishes to go along with them, starting with…
Antebellum White Grits, Morel Mushroom, Peas, Asparagus, Green Garlic, Vermouth, Parmesan: I did not grow up with grits, but it feels like comfort food to me. This bowl of creamy grits, with its assortment of bright, seasonal vegetables, was hearty and definitely comforting!
Grilled Country Bread, Santa Barbara Uni Butter, Grilled Zuckerman’s Asparagus, Florida Bottarga: The asparagus, like the veggies in the previous dish, was very fresh. The bottarga was bold and briny. The butter was tangy, but the sea urchin didn’t really come across to me. The flavors were still well balanced; the dish didn’t even need the sea salt “garnish”.
Local Albacore Crudo, Chili Vinaigrette, Citrus, Scallions, Benne Seeds: This was my older daughter’s entrée, as she wasn’t as into fried chicken as the rest of us. She loved it and has asked many times since to go back to FLGS just for this dish. I can’t remember if I got a taste of this, but I trust my daughter’s judgement that this was a good dish!
(By the way, “benne” seeds are generally synonymous with sesame seeds, but I guess there is a difference between “true” benne seeds and sesame seeds, per this article.)
“Early Bird” Fried Chicken: The moment we had been waiting for… The chicken came out hot and crisp, and with a smokey honey dipping sauce. The pieces were nice and big, with the wings being the full three segments. Speaking of wings…
…we couldn’t help but notice that all the pieces on our plates were flappers! This was strange because our friend Remil had gone just the night before, and legs and thighs were part of his Early Bird. Perhaps they had run out by our meal. Oh well. The wings were still delicious, though with all the nooks and crannies, parts of the chicken were a little over-battered.
Ballast Point Pale Ale: Lest I forget, the drink portion of the Early Bird was a choice of Ballast Point canned beers, specifically the Pale Ale or the Big Eye IPA, but if I recall correctly, they ran out of the IPA, so I ended up with the Pale Ale by default. I liked it, and I’m not generally a fan of ales!
After polishing off food and drink, we were hoping to try an amazing looking dessert that we saw on the the restaurant’s Instagram feed the week prior, the cornbread pudding topped with peaches, but apparently we were too late as it had dropped from the dessert menu. Instead we got…
Chocolate Mousse Pie, Caramel, Sea Salt: This dessert was sweet, chocolatey, and decadent. My younger daughter, the chocoholic (yes, she’s addicted to chocohol, whatever that is), loved it!
Maple Blueberry Crème Brûlée: My only quibble with this dessert was that the caramelized sugar shell was a little too thin and not hard enough, so we didn’t get that satisfying crack of it breaking as we dug in with our spoons, but everything else was spot-on. The blueberries were a bright and tart contrast to the sweet custard, which had a smooth, creamy texture.
While I’m a little disappointed that I never got to try the first incarnation of Flores, I do love what the current chefs are doing, based on the small sample of dishes we got to try. Aside from the all-wings strangeness, the Early Bird special* is definitely a great value, and, more importantly, terrific fried chicken!
*Hey, I made it through the entire post without making a joke about Denny’s or the AARP!
Flores and The Ladies’ Gunboat Society
2024 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
LA Weekly‘s and Bill “Street Gourmet LA” Esparza’s sophomore Tacolandia food festival took place on Saturday, June 28, 2014, in the Plaza Park at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, adjacent to historic Olvera Street, a change from the parking lot of the Hollywood Palladium last year. Anticipation had been building recently, with the inaugural event having received near-universal acclaim from those attending; Bill linked to many of the positive reports in his own debrief last year, including mine.
I started looking forward to this year’s event shortly after the last one ended. When tickets went on sale a few months ago, I was not going to let Tacolandia get sold out again without getting tickets and then have to beg, cajole, or steal (or, in my case last year, win) them to attend. So, I grabbed a Premium Admission for $45, a $20 “premium” over general admission. which included a “VIP” gift bag and 5 drink tickets. As expected, the event sold out, and finally the date had arrived. Would it live up to expectations? Would there be a sophomore slump? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. Continue Reading →
“That guy could turn me vegetarian!” I uttered, or rather, typed, these unlikely-if-you-knew-me words on Chowhound last night. The “guy” in question is chef Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, who will apparently be serving a vegetarian taco with mushrooms and hazelnut “dirt” at Tacolandia 2014 (happening mañana at the time of writing). Continue Reading →
From the people who brought you Piccolo Venice and Hostaria del Piccolo, CiBOTECA (I’ll stick to the way they capitalize it, at least this once) is ostensibly a market for Italian and international foodstuffs that also sells pastries and sandwiches made with imported Italian meats, but across multiple visits, I have yet to see anyone pluck a jar of truffle salt or bottle of olive oil from the shelves for purchase. I’ve also not seen that many people buying the beautiful desserts under brightly lit glass displays. However, I have seen many people enjoy their wonderful sandwiches in a bright, casual environment that stands as a respite from the frenetic energy of Bay Cities just a few blocks away. Continue Reading →
I had a pretty epic six days in San Francisco the first week of June 2014. I still can’t quite believe the number of places I got to try and the amount of food I ate. I also can’t believe that I pounded out nine reports covering the entire trip, with most posted the same night or within the following day. My blog had never been more active, and maybe just a little harder to navigate. So here’s an index to help people locate a report for a particular place without having to scroll through a bunch of posts. Continue Reading →
I was in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course, I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. My report for “San Francisco: Day Six” (Friday, June 6, 2014) is as follows:
I was in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course, I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. My report for “San Francisco: Day Five” (Thursday, June 5, 2014) is as follows:
I was in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course, I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. My report for “San Francisco: Day Four, Part Three” (Wednesday June 4, 2014) is as follows:
I am in San Francisco this week for WWDC (Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference). I found out a few months ago I’d be able to attend, so of course, I made a list and asked for advice beforehand. Now that I’m here, I plan on posting a report as quickly as possible for each day, to stave off procrastination. My report for “San Francisco: Day Four, Part Two” (Wednesday June 4, 2014) is as follows: