Redbird started Sunday brunch service on April 24th, just in time for Mother’s Day, if you haven’t made a reservation yet. Chef Neal Fraser‘s menu consists of such brunch staples as waffles, quiches, and fritattas, with nods to the South like biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, hoppin’ johns, and some international inspired dishes like Basque bake eggs and posole. A variety of excellent baked goods by pastry chef Jashmine Corpuz are also available.
It was my family’s first time at Redbird, so we ordered a little bit of everything. I had eyed a ca phe sua da-inspired cocktail called Good Morning Vietnam on the restaurant’s Instagram feed and knew I had to order it. It was a great start, refreshing, bitter, not too sweet.
We started with some pastries including their Bostock that was somehow dense and light at the same time, and really, really good, as well as a Berliner doughnut with a simple but decadent milk chocolate pastry cream.
As an offal lover, two items on the menu caught my eye, the Foie Gras Torchon and the Scrapple side. The former, which is listed as $26 on their brunch menu online, same as their dinner foie gras dish, was actually $19 for a decent portion of the liver, served sandwich-like with an English muffin. It was as rich as you’d expect. The later was an unexpected hit at the table, but mostly for the crispy pig ears sprinkled on top. The actual scrapple itself was more headcheese based than liver, and reminded me more of a croquette. Still delicious!
For our main dishes, my wife had the Hopping John, while my younger daughter had the Posole. I got a taste of each, and loved the posole, which I had tried at LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade last year. The hoppin’ john seemed a little bland after the posole, but that may also be due to the fact that I didn’t try it until later, after my wife ate most of the ham. D’oh! The “fried egg” seemed more sous-vide poached, but my wife didn’t mind as the yolk had that perfect gel-like consistency that my wife loves.
My older daughter’s main was the Grilled Lamb Belly, served with some interesting Korean-Jewish fusion of kimchi and (sweet potato) latkes. The lamb was very flavorful, and the bold flavors of the other ingredients paired well with it. My main was the Basque Baked Eggs. Like in my wife’s dish, the eggs were perfect for me, a little runnier than she’d prefer. How did the restaurant know without asking? ;-) Anyway, I’d never had Basque baked eggs before but it reminded me of huevos rancheros or shakshuka and was packed with flavor. Only complaint I had was that it needed more morcilla!
We ordered a panna cotta for dessert that was good, but unfortunately I didn’t get a great shot of it. We thought we were done, but we got one unexpected dish!
My friend and fellow food blogger Julian of Food’s Eye View is actually working as a line cook at Redbird–his story is fascinating. I told him I was coming for brunch, and he had wanted to send out a tripe dish for me, since I love offal (as if you didn’t know that about me).
Chef Neal Fraser actually came out and told me this earlier in the meal–he was making his way around the dining room chatting with customers during this first brunch service–but said that they weren’t able to prepare it. But somehow they pulled it off and served the dish after dessert! To me, this was a better way to end the meal!
Off-menu tripe dish for this offal lover! Tripe with English chickpeas, salsa verde, radish, pickled red onion. So good! Even though I was stuffed I still wolfed this down! Thanks for the hook-up, @foodseyeview! And thanks out server Maria, GM Danielle, chef Neal Fraser, the whole Redbird crew for a great meal! First Sunday brunch seemed to have gone off without a hitch! @nealfraser @redbirdla #tripe #offal #chickpeas #salsaverde #radish #pickledonion #offmenu #sundaybrunch #brunch #redbirdla #redbird #dtla #losangeles #theoffalo
Overall, my whole family thought the meal was excellent. None of us picked the more staid brunch dishes, though based on the dishes we had, I’m sure those would have been delicious too. The dining room was near-full the entire time we were there, and service ran fairly smoothly. Redbird was already open for weekday lunches, so Sunday brunch isn’t that much of a departure, but still glad to see the high quality of execution from the get-go.
One thing I didn’t mention was the space, which I didn’t take any pictures of, but it’s a beautiful, and more importantly for photography, bright space during the day at least. Would definitely like to come back for dinner sometime. If you’re looking for a Mother’s Day brunch spot, and they still have space, grab it! Otherwise, definitely try them on another Sunday!
Sometimes it takes visiting a new place to discover a, well, still relatively new place, but not as new as the newer new place. Um, yeah. Anyway, I “discovered” The Wallace when I went to check out Hanjip, a new Korean BBQ restaurant in Culver City–yes, I’m behind on my post for my visits there too.
The Wallace, which is right next door on Main Street right at the epicenter of a lot of great food in Culver City, opened at the end of 2014. Currently helmed by chef Joel David Miller, The Wallace started off as a Cal-Ital kind of place but nowadays serves small plates that pull influences from a variety of cuisines. Before checking out a movie at the Arclight Culver City, my wife and I tried a couple of those plates and walked out impressed!
First, I decided to try a cocktail by Greg Bryson, the Poison Ivy. I had been talking to a friend about gin recently and she mentioned liking The Botanist, which this drink uses. I have to say I liked it quite a bit! Since this was a cocktail, rather than a straight G&T, I probably couldn’t parse out what specifically was The Botanist and what were some of the other ingredients, including tarragon and mizuna oil, but the entire combination was fragrant, peppery, and quite unique!
My wife ordered two plates for herself, though I did sample. The Wild Mushroom Toast was a rather hearty and meaty dish for being vegetarian. The Lamb Leg was served more like a loin, medium rare and sliced into medallions. My wife enjoyed both dishes very much, as did I, the little I got to try.
I ordered the Cured Pigs Head and the Grilled Octopus. The former was more like a rillettes than like headcheese. It was delicious but was kind of begging to be served with some toast to spread the tender meat. Octopus is de rigueur nowadays in restaurants, which I’m quite happy about, as I will almost always order them. It was great here paired with the fried yuca.
It’s clear The Wallace is not trying to reinvent the wheel–the lamb is definitely inspired by Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavors, the octopus is made with Latin American ingredients, though with an Indian twist with the vadouvan. The important thing is execution and taste, and The Wallace has both down, based on the four dishes we had. Looking forward to another meal there soon!
Here’s a round-up of food events and festivals that are on my radar for May 2016. As always, if I’ve missed one, please let me know in comments. [Edit: Added a cooking competition in early May. See below.]
May 1, 2016 – LA Bacon Festival: In its fourth year, this event is all about, you guessed it, bacon! With participants as diverse as Belly and Snout, Escala, Knuckle & Claw, Quenelle, The Wallace, and more, should be an interesting and delicious time! Tickets are $65, and you have a choice of either noon-3pm or 4-7pm, at the LA Center Studios, 21+.
May 1, 2016 – Taste of the Eastside: Featuring over two dozen participants such as Barcito, Donut Farm, El Segundo Brewing Co., Madcapra, Okipoki, Ozu East Kitchen, Three Weavers Brewing Co., Wax Paper, and more, the 6th annual Taste of the Eastside returns to the Los Angeles River Center. The event benefits Rose Scharlin Cooperative Nursary School, The Pablove Foundation, and Friends of the Los Angeles River, and is all ages. Though VIP tickets are sold out, General Admission tickets are still available for $40 online or $50 at the door, plus fees. Kids 2-12 years old are $8; kids under 2 are free.
[New!] May 7, 2016: A monthly cooking competition held by The Line Restaurant Talent Agency is taking place the first Saturday of the month. Line cooks from hot restaurants like Trois Mec and .ink compete and are judged by veterans such as chefs Vartan Abgaryan, Ben Ford, and Evan Funke. $52 for 6 courses (two from each competing cook) plus dessert sounds like a great deal for dinner and a show!
May 14, 2016 – West Coast BBQ Classic: This is not just a food festival but a full-on California BBQ Association-approved and Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition with a grand prize of $10,000. Attendees will be able to sample BBQ from dozens of pitmasters, and tickets include admission into the Queen Mary cruise ship hotel and attraction. $20 for General Admission Value Pack, $35 for VIP Admission, plus fees.
May 21, 2016 – Rioja Wine and Tapas Festival: Featuring wines from Spain’s most prominent wine region, this event comes to Los Angeles for the first time after previous years in New York and Chicago. Over 30 vineyards, winemakers, and wine shops from Rioja participating, including Marques de Caceres, Montecillo, Muga, Valdemar, and a like number of restaurants and food purveyors, including Barrel & Ashes, Broken Spanish, The Cannibal, Moruno, Union, will participate. Tickets are $65 plus fees for this 21+ event.
In addition to the Wagyu Tasting Menu at all Chaya locations, Chaya Downtown recently started an “Uki Uki Sundays” menu–uki uki meaning to be happy and excited in Japanese. The menu is broken down into three sections, $5 for small plates, $10 for medium-sized items, and $25 for large sharable dishes.
I recently got to sample a selection of items at a media tasting. From the $5 menu, I tried and enjoyed the Chicken Liver Toast with yuzu jelly and the Chicken Wings Laraage–unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots of those dishes. I also tried two cocktails, the Blackberry Tokyo Mule and the Cucumber Ginger Fizz, both featuring ginger, one of my favorite ingredients in cocktails, and in food!
Blackberry Tokyo Mule (yuzu sake, rock sake, Lemon juice, fresh blackberries, ginger beer) & Cucumber Ginger Fizz (Effen cucumber vodka, St. Germain, fresh cucumber-ginger juice, fresh lime juice). #blackberrytokyomule #cucumbergingerfizz #cocktails — Signature cocktails from Chaya Downtown's Uki Uki Sundays dinner menu. @chayarestaurant #ukiukisundays #ukiukidinner #sundaydinner #chayadowntown #chayadtla #chaya #dtla #losangeles #theoffalo
From the $10 menu, I sampled the Barbequed Baby Back Ribs, the Arare Calamari, and the Tarako Spaghetti. The ribs were a bit sweet but very tender. The calamari was very light; I really liked the crispy rice cracker “breading” that was used. I loved the pasta with the sharp, briny sting of the salted tarako roe, and the spaghetti was cooked just al dente.
From the $25 menu, the table shared a Whole Branzino Acqua Pazza, which is an Italian preparation, where the fish is served in a stew with other seafood. We also tried the Six-Hour Braised Australian Wagyu Pappardelle. Again, as with the spaghetti, Chaya did a lovely job with the pasta. Seems almost a shame to braise wagyu for six hours, but it was undeniably delicious in the sauce.
The Chaya restaurants have been around for a long time, but the great thing about them is that each maintains its own identity. Chef Joji Inoue, who started with Chaya Downtown last summer, is putting his own stamp on that location with this Uki Uki menu, which will be running indefinitely on Sundays but only at Chaya Downtown. Check it out!
On April 17th and 18th, just under 300 attendees descended upon the InterContinental in Century City for the 23rd annual Women Chefs and Restaurateurs national conference. The organizers packed a lot into two days, so here are just some of the highlights:
Chef Michelle Lainez of Border Grill DTLA and chef Mary Sue Milliken, who gave a fantastic, inspiring opening keynote yesterday to kick off the conference. @lainezmichelle @marysuemilliken @bordergrill #michellelainez #marysuemilliken #bordergrill — At the Women Who Inspire Awards for the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs 2016 National Conference. @wcrwomenchefs #wcr #wcr2016la #2016womenwhoinspireawards #2016wwiawards #womenchefsandrestaurateurs #centurycity #losangeles #theoffalo #offalowcr2016
Mary Sue Milliken started off the event on a high note with an inspiring opening keynote speech recapping her journey, her negative and positive experiences starting, applying “continuous gracious pressure” on her boss to allow her take on the same responsibilities as her male peers, and ultimately, with long-time business partner Susan Feniger, becoming her own boss. Continue Reading →