Grand Central Market Tour (Eggslut, G&B Coffee, McConnell’s, Belcampo)

Used to be, when friends and family visiting from out of town wanted a quick-and-easy way to get the “flavor” of Los Angeles, I would take them to the Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax.  It was one-stop shop(ping) for some decent eats, and for people watching, especially at the adjacent Grove shopping mecca.  Nowadays, though, probably the best place to go is Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles.  It is there that I took my sister and my baby nephew last month for a crash course in what’s hot in the L.A. food scene.

EGGSLUT

Having tried and failed to eat at Eggslut previously–the line is just ridiculous during the weekend–I made this a priority.  Fortunately, as it was a weekday morning, the queue was only a half dozen people long at around 10:30 AM.  My sister and I placed our order, and we plopped down on two bar stools, playing monkey-in-the-middle with her son in his sling.

Bailey Biscuit [$3], house-made buttermilk biscuit, salted butter, apple butter:  While we waited for our order, chef Johnny Lee, still with his Zagat 30-Under-30 glow (could also have been the heat of the stoves), threw one of these golden pucks in front of us.  The biscuit was excellent, but it was the apple butter that caught me off guard.  I’ve never found apple butter to be very exciting.  I’ve either been served a thick, bitter, apple-peel tasting paste, or a cop-out rehash of plain apple sauce.  But the apple butter at Eggslut was a bright, concentrated burst of apple, and not overly sweet either.

Bailey Biscuit, Salted Butter, Apple Butter, at Eggslut

Bailey Biscuit, Salted Butter, Apple Butter, at Eggslut

Fairfax [$7], soft scrambled eggs, chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo in a warm brioche bun:  This was my sister’s choice; I probably would have gone with one of the sandwiches with the over-medium egg.  But it was still mighty tasty, especially with the bacon and avocado “upgrade” we got.  It’s also very photogenic; with 180+ Likes, it is by far my post popular pic on Instagram.

Fairfax Sandwich, w/Avocado and Bacon, at Eggslut

Fairfax Sandwich, w/Avocado and Bacon, at Eggslut

Slut [$9], a coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar and served with a demi baguette:  The eponymous dish, I had figured on liking it, but I was still curious if it’d live up to the hype.  I think it did.

Slut at Eggslut

Slut at Eggslut

The egg was custard-like, while the potato actually reminded me more of a creamy polenta.  It was very good with the baguette, though I wish it came with more than three pieces of bread.  To be fair, I think I could have requested more bread.

Slut on Baguette, at Eggslut

Slut on Baguette, at Eggslut

G&B COFFEE

Dark & Stormy [$5], split shot of espresso & house ginger beer, w/split shot of espresso on the side:  After Eggslut, my sister wanted to try G&B’s iced almond macadamia-milk latte.  I have a thing for ginger, so I went with the Dark & Stormy.  I don’t think I’ve ever had coffee and ginger together, but they went surprisingly well, forming a smokey, spicy concoction.

Dark & Stormy at G&B Coffee

Dark & Stormy at G&B Coffee

MCCONNELL’S FINE ICE CREAM

Flight [$5.50], Alex’s Lemon Chocolate Tart, Olive Oil & Salted Almonds, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip:  Last on the rough itinerary was dessert!  My sister, nephew, and I shared a “Flight” of three flavors, some of their “fussier” proprietary combinations.  All the flavors were a hit, but I particularly liked the Alex’s Lemon Chocolate Tart.

Alex's Lemon Chocolate Tart, Olive Oil & Salted Almonds, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip Ice Cream at McConnell's

Alex's Lemon Chocolate Tart, Olive Oil & Salted Almonds, Toasted Coconut Almond Chip Ice Cream at McConnell's

BELCAMPO MEAT CO.

Pulled Lamb Belly Bun [$5], harissa aioli, arugula, cilantro:  After milling around for a while, taking in the ambiance of the place, we decided we’d try Belcampo before leaving.  My sister got the Pulled Lamb Belly Bun, a slider-sized sandwich that was simple but well executed, the meat and the greens balancing each other out.

Pulled Lamb Belly Bun at Belcampo Meat Co.

Pulled Lamb Belly Bun at Belcampo Meat Co.

Cabeza Frita Cemita [$11], deep-fried pork head & trotter, avocado, salsa, queso:  Of course I had to get the breaded and fried head cheese!  The protein was shaped like a filet-o-fish, square and breaded, but I cut it in half to reveal the tender morsels of meat and fat inside.  This sandwich really packed a punch in flavors and textures, and I really enjoyed it!

Cabeza Frita Cemita at Belcampo Meat Co.

Cabeza Frita Cemita at Belcampo Meat Co.

WEXLER’S DELI

Before we left, we made one more round of the market.  We didn’t actually eat at Wexler’s, as we were quite stuffed, but we saw Anne Fishbein taking photographs of Micah Wexler and his shop for an LA Weekly article.

Anne Fishbein and Micah Wexler at Wexler's Deli

Anne Fishbein and Micah Wexler at Wexler's Deli

My sister and my nephew thoroughly enjoyed their experience at Grand Central Market, as did I.  In the span of about three hours, we got to sample a large variety of food from a number of very different vendors, and we barely made a dent in GCM’s offerings.  Between the old school and new hotness, GCM really has something for everyone.  I can’t wait to go back and explore more.

Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 624-2378
http://www.grandcentralmarket.com/

Eggslut
http://eggslut.com/

G&B Coffee
http://gandbcoffee.com/

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
(213) 624-2378
http://www.mcconnells.com/

Belcampo Meat Co.
(213) 625-0304
http://www.belcampomeatco.com/restaurant/los-angeles/

Wexler’s Deli
(213) 624-2378
http://wexlersdeli.com/

25 November 2014 by The Offalo
Categories: American, Breakfast, Coffee, Ice Cream | Leave a comment

Fork in the Road’s Happy Hour

Charcuterie Board at Fork in the Road

Charcuterie plate?  Check.
House-pickled vegetables?  Check.
Flat breads from a wood-fired oven, located just outside the kitchen, in view of the dining area?  Check.

Main Street Santa Monica’s Fork in the Road opened in late 2013 and had all the essential ingredients to make it a hit with “food enthusiasts” (my alternative term for “foodies”), like Waterloo & City or Gjelina.  Yet it had only a smattering of pre-opening coverage from Eater LA, one mention on LA Weekly’s Squid Ink blog, and nothing I could find in LA Times’ Food section, which isn’t that unusual as the Times can’t possibly cover every new restaurant that opens in the greater Los Angeles area.

However, with the number of food bloggers in L.A., I was surprised to not have found any independent reviews of the place longer than a paragraph blurb.  What’s more surprising was lack of recon on Chowhound LA, which, with its grassroots army of food enthusiasts, generally covers much more ground than the above publications.  I could only find a handful of mentions on the board, all of them positive, but light on details, so my wife and I decided to check it out for ourselves one early evening last week.

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24 October 2014 by The Offalo
Categories: American, Gastropub | Leave a comment

Night+Market Song

Pla Meuk Tod Gratiem (Fried Baby Octopus) at Night+Market Song

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written about Night+Market, the ultra-popular West Hollywood Thai “street food” restaurant, and quite a lot has happened in the past year.  Most significantly, Night+Market Song, the long-awaited Silver Lake location debuted in March.  Helmed by power-couple Kris Yenbamroong and Sarah St. Lifer, back-of-house and front-of house, respectively, Song has been receiving accolades from the start.  While less convenient a location for me personally, I made a point to dine there a handful of times since opening but had not been back very recently.  Having my sister, her husband, and their toddler son visit this weekend was the perfect excuse to have a big meal with them and my own clan.

Arriving right at 6 PM on a Saturday, we squeaked in before the crowds built.  By the time we left shortly before 8 PM, a large crowd had gathered outside waiting for tables.  I was in charge of ordering, and with some direction from the lovely Ms. Sarah, I got a good variety of dishes, including all four items on the Specials menu that night, starting with…

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13 October 2014 by The Offalo
Categories: Fried Chicken, Offal, Thai | Leave a comment

b.o.s. (Beef. Offal. Sustainable.), a review

Whole Braised Oxtail at b.o.s.

In a cozy, 24-seat space next to venerable Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo, b.o.s. (beef. offal. sustainable.) has been trying to entice potential diners to experience their beef-centric, nose-to-tail concept since late 2013.  Despite positive reviews by press, blogs, and customers alike, business never really picked up, and, unfortunately, b.o.s. will be serving their last supper on Saturday, September 27.

This past week I had the privilege of dining at b.o.s. for my first, and possibly last, time.  I had met owner Jun Isogai and chef David Bartnes at the Plate by Plate benefit back in August, and was already in discussions to set up a tasting menu for a small group of friends when the announcement of their closure dropped.  But rather than dwell on the whys and wherefores of the demise of the restaurant, I hope to inspire you with this post to give b.o.s. a try before the end of the month.

When b.o.s. first opened, the menu had an omakase-style tasting menu option, but one is no longer listed.  However, a tasting menu can still be arranged with the restaurant with advance notice.  For our dinner, we had a budget of $300 for five people, and our goal was to sample the wide range of dishes available at b.o.s.  Jun and I narrowed the tasting menu down to 9 dishes from their a la carte menu that highlighted the breadth of nose-to-tail dining, including one large-format dish.  I also asked if chef David could create a dish just for our dinner, whatever inspired him at the moment.

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14 September 2014 by The Offalo
Categories: Brain, Fusion, Heart, Intestine, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marrow, Mexican, Offal, Oxtail, Sweetbread, Tacos, Tendon, Thai, Tongue, Tripe, Turkish | Leave a comment

The Misfit’s $5 Bar Fly Lunches in Santa Monica

Crispy Chicken Sandwich at The Misfit

If someone asks you what Santa Monica is known for, as far as food goes, there are a few ways to go.   If you’re a gourmand, you’re likely to mention destination restaurants like Tar and Roses, Rustic Canyon, or Melisse.  If you’re a New England expat, though, perhaps the newly opened Dunkin Donuts is on your mind.  But “gourmet burgers” and “cheap eats” are probably not your first or second thoughts, and certainly not together.

However, even if you don’t realize it, Santa Monica is kind of known for gourmet burgers.  Within the city borders lie The Counter, Father’s Office, Hole in the Wall, Pono, Stout, Umami, to name a few.  But they are definitely not cheap eats!  In fact, it is unlikely you can lunch at any of these establishments for under $10, considering the burgers themselves start at $9 (or higher) and just go up from there!

There is one place in town quietly peddling a gourmet burger that holds its own against the above high-end specialists, and it can be had for only $5!

The Misfit, a restaurant and bar in the space previously occupied by Anisette Brasserie, at the base of the historic Clock Tower Building off the Third Street Promenade, has a “Bar Fly Lunch” special Monday through Friday, where one dish a day is available for $5.  The menu lists only three rules you must follow to take advantage of this deal: 1. only at the bar, 2. no holding seats, 3. done at 4 PM (doors open at noon).

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06 September 2014 by The Offalo
Categories: American, Fried Chicken, Gastropub, Hamburger, Salads | Leave a comment

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