#CarnivorrGoesForGold: Week Four

The #CarnivorrGoesForGold challenge continues with a recap of my visits to Connie and Ted's, Trois Mec, Spring, Chichen Itza, Howlin' Ray's, and Otium. Stay tuned as I eat at all of Jonathan Gold's Best 101 LA restaurants in 101 days!

19. Connie and Ted's (#69 on the #JGOLD101)

Finally got to check out Connie and Ted's, the casual seafood shack of Chef Michael Cimarusti (of Providence) with my friend Allison of @worldwidefoodie! Easily one of my favorite restaurants in West Hollywood.

What I ate: New England clam chowder with fluffy, golden Parker rolls, mac and cheese (came highly recommended... it was okay but I’ve had better), the best lobster roll I’ve ever had ($30, worth it!), fish and chips (delish!), and the blondie (topped with housemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and sea salt).

Watch my full review of Connie & Ted's here!

20. Trois Mec (#7 on the #JGOLD101)

It's easy to see why Chef Ludo is a fixture in the Los Angeles dining scene after doing his tasting menu at Trois Mec.

What I ate: madeleines (tandoori, lemon thyme), crispy tapioca (!! like crispy rice, fried mac and cheese hybrid!!), bread with three types of butter - seaweed, sake (alcoholic!), and my fave: brown butter emulsion, smoked beet tartare with onion creme fraiche, eel caviar (maybe my fave dish because it made me love beets), pickled eggplant (similar thing, beautiful presentation), steamed turbot in curry sauce, grilled pork toro over beans, crispy bread ice cream topped with Comté cheese (creamy nutty flavor perfect in a dessert!), apple butter, cider caramel, smoked gelato, barley crumble, and a hazelnut marshmallow.

Watch my full review of Trois Mec here!

21.  Spring (#6 on the #JGOLD101)

Yet another French tasting menu makes Jonathan's list! Chef Tony Esnault's menu at Spring was my favorite tasting menu in LA so far!

What I ate: hamachi crudo (what a work of art!), beet risotto (another delish beet dish! so creamy as a risotto, gorgeous bright color, pickled yellow beets, parmesan), diver scallop with squid ink pearl pasta (best scallop I’ve had!), duck breast (wow! we had really good duck at his other restaurant, but this was even better... honey spiced skin, yam, pomegranate, yum!), and a pear dessert: pear sorbet, pecan + bourbon cream, caramelized pecan.

Watch my full review of Spring here!

22.  Chichen Itza (#39 on the #JGOLD101)

I'd never had Yucatecan food before trying Chef Gilberto's hotspot, Chichen Itza.

What I ate: white fish filet (wood grilled, marinated with achiote, sour orange sauce), cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork dish, rice beans, tortillas - YUM!), and veggie papatules a.k.a. “enchiladas” (egg inside, pumpkin seed + tomato sauce).

Watch my full review of Chichen Itza here!

23.  Howlin' Ray's (#99 on the #JGOLD101)

I'd been to Howlin' Ray's before, but this time got to meet Johnny and Amanda (the founders) and sink my teeth into some hot chicken with them at a James Beard dinner. i’m a little scared of spice, so last time I tried country style and mild, this time i went for the ‘medium” - omg was it hot!! It was so fun to see all the people at this fancy event gathered round getting messy, hot wings all over their faces.

What I ate: HOT CHICKEN!

Watch my full review of Howlin' Ray's here!

24.  Otium (#32 on the #JGOLD101)

Had the most inventive brunch of my life at Otium, thanks to Chef Timothy Hollingsworth. His restaurant is located directly next to The Broad Museum, and the dishes are as stunning as they are delicious.

What I ate: foie gras funnel cake, with strawberries, raw bar: oysters, hamachi w/ avocado puree, ceviche, mole taco with egg (30 ingredients in the mole sauce),  “hoe cake” cornmeal pancake (just a light drizzle of maple, with fried chicken oysters - kinda like chicken and waffles), and their off the menu “french toast” pork belly (comes out smoking in a gorgeous ceramic grill dish... maybe the most beautiful brunch dish I’ve ever seen)!

Watch my full review of Otium here!

...24 DOWN, 77 TO GO!

Looking for more in depth reviews of each restaurant? Watch full restaurant recaps on my new Youtube channel!

Follow the #CarnivorrGoesForGold project on Instagram to see live videos with the chefs and behind the scenes at each of the 101 restaurants.

#CarnivorrGoesForGold: Week Three

The #CarnivorrGoesForGold challenge continues with a recap of my visits to Church & State, Vincenti, Odys + Penelope, Redbird, and Chengdu Taste. Stay tuned as I eat at all of Jonathan Gold's Best 101 LA restaurants in 101 days!

14. Church & State (#61 on the #JGOLD101)

I absolutely adored Chef Tony Esnault's classic French bistro, Church & State, located in the Arts District in DTLA.

What I ate: the charcuterie platter (everything from pork rinds to prosciutto to duck!), the gruyere / caramelized onion tart (like a mini pizza, but crunchy), escargot puff pastry (butter!!!), macaroni au gratin (ooey gooey, crispy on top, stringy inside), duck breast (gorgeous plate with golden beet, shaved beet, chocolate in the sauce, and cacao nibs bringing out the sweetness), and the cassoulet with duck, lamb, sausage (perfect as we transition into fall, warm, like a chili, or a stew but super hearty with all of the meat inside). As for dessert, they're famous for their profiteroles (french ice cream sandwiches) which looked gorgeous, but we tried the salted chocolate caramel tart with sea salt on top, and the vanilla creme brûlée (the true test of a French restaurant, they passed with flying colors)!

Watch my full review of Church & State here!

15. Vincenti (#33 on the #JGOLD101)

I went to Vincenti in Brentwood on Mauro Vincenti's birthday, so I got the special treat of eating a surprise menu of all his favorite Italian dishes, of course, with a fantastic wine pairing!

What I ate: the appetizer sampler (bruschetta, arancini balls, grilled shrimp), artichoke soft scrambled eggs with guanciale (my favorite!), branzino ravioli, bucatini alla amatriciana, swordfish with leeks and beans, porchetta (crispy on the outside and served with rosemary potatoes), a variation of the napoleon pastry with the cream on the inside, and panna cotta with fresh fig and red wine sauce.

Watch my full review of Vincenti here!

16. Odys + Penelope (#49 on the #JGOLD101)

My parents and I attempted to order the entire brunch menu at Odys + Penelope - everything was delicious!

What I ate: almond french toast (baked brioche, didn’t even need syrup), sweet potato galette with caramelized bacon, onion, goat cheese and walnuts (very fall), shrimp and “grits” (made from cauliflower = healthy grits!), cornmeal ricotta pancakes with blueberries, and poached eggs on “toast” (thick slices of focaccia, with pesto, tomato, + avocado).

Watch my full review of Odys + Penelope here!

17. Redbird (#52 on the #JGOLD101)

My friend Jo of @losangelesfoodie and I went to Redbird for another incredible brunch, in a stunning setting - an old cathedral rectory turned restaurant!

What I ate: brioche donut with lemon vanilla glaze, Basque baked eggs with short rib, potatoes, and toast, and blueberry ricotta pancakes (sensing a theme here? Well, THESE had blueberries inside instead of on top. and the standout was the VERMONT maple syrup).

Watch my full review of Redbird here!

18. Chengdu Taste (#29 on the #JGOLD101)

Headed to the San Gabriel Valley for a Sichuan pepper feast at Chengdu Taste with my friends Chef Nyesha (check out her new restaurant Native in Santa Monica!) and her boyfriend Chef Charles, the corporate executive chef of iPic. It was so fun to dine out with chefs and analyze all the dishes and ingredients with them!

What I ate: green beans (super cohesive, extremely flavorful with the spicy sauce), tofu, chilled mung bean noodles (not my fave, but an interesting texture), pork dumplings (one of my faves), boiled fish in green peppercorn sauce (SO GOOD!), toothpick lamb (their signature dish), and, of course, smoky plum juice to balance out the numbing Sichuan spice.

Watch my full review of Chengdu Taste here!

...18 down, 83 to go!

Looking for more in depth reviews of each restaurant? Watch full restaurant recaps on my new Youtube channel!

Follow the #CarnivorrGoesForGold project on Instagram to see live videos with the chefs and behind the scenes at each of the 101 restaurants.

#CARNIVORRGOESFORGOLD: WEEK TWO

The #CarnivorrGoesForGold challenge continues with a recap of my visits to Salazar, Sqirl, Mayura, Alma, Salt's Cure, and Lukshon. Stay tuned as I eat at all of Jonathan Gold's Best 101 LA restaurants in 101 days!

8. Salazar (#46 on the #JGOLD101)

I’d had Salazar’s tacos at an event earlier this summer, but I knew I needed to go in to the restaurant to get the full experience. So glad I did - what a cute space!

What I ate: the aguachiles (basically a shrimp tostada) and the best carne aside taco I’ve had yet.

Watch my full review of Salazar here!

9. Sqirl (#47 on the #JGOLD101)

Sqirl is one of my favorite breakfast spots in LA. I’ve been a bunch of times before, and this time went for a special event with Kellogg’s cereal. Chef Jessica Koslow took her signature items + played around with different cereals for a fun event with all proceeds donated to the hurricane relief.

What I ate: the ricotta toast, the french toast, and the sorrel pesto rice bowl.

Watch my full review of Sqirl here!

10. Mayura (#98 on the #JGOLD101)

Mayura Indian Restaurant has been on Jonathan’s list every single year. With good reason. It’s the best Indian food I’ve had. I had a blast going in the kitchen and watching them make dosas and their incredible garlic naan bread.

What I ate: the BUTTER CHICKEN. ALL CAPS GOOD. (SO GOOD.) We also tried (and really enjoyed) a couple types of dosas, salmon curry, and a mushroom dish.

Watch my full review of Mayura here!

11. Alma (#45 on the #JGOLD101)

Chef Ari Taymor’s restaurant Alma gives a new meaning to soul food. My sister and I enjoyed some of the best brunch food we’ve had in LA at this adorable spot at The Standard Hotel.

What I ate: rhubarb tea, a caramel apple donut, a GIANT CINNAMON ROLL, the buckwheat pancake (super hearty), and the eggplant hash (savory brunch perfection).

Watch my full review of Alma here!

12. Salt’s Cure (#44 on the #JGOLD101)

Met my friend Warren at Salt’s Cure for THE best pork chop I’ve ever had in my life. Also, some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had as well. 

What I ate: the pretzel roll + whipped lardo (off to a great start!), pancakes (soft in the middle with crispy edges and molasses butter!!), the famous pork chop with brown butter + applesauce, and the grapefruit pie, which was good, but less tart than I wanted, more sweet and citrusy.

Watch my full review of Salt's Cure here!

13. Lukshon (#4 on the #JGOLD101)

My friend Layla and I went to dinner at Lukshon, which has been in J Gold’s top 5 for a few years. Chef Sang Yoon is incredibly talented - each dish incredibly cohesive and bursting with flavor. One of my favorite dinners so far!

What I ate: the Hawaiian butterfish, the lobster roll (a favorite!), the Sichuan dumplings, the eggplant (so good), and the heirloom black rice with an egg, which reminded me of an Asian paella.

Watch my full review of Lukshon here!

...13 down, 88 to go!

Looking for more in depth reviews of each restaurant? Watch full restaurant recaps on my new Youtube channel!

Follow the #CarnivorrGoesForGold project on Instagram to see live videos with the chefs and behind the scenes at each of the 101 restaurants.

#CarnivorrGoesForGold: Week One

The #CarnivorrGoesForGold challenge has officially begun! Week one kicks off with a recap of my visits to Jitlada, Little Sister, Petit Trois, Gjelina, Locol, Playground, and Attari Sandwich Shop. Stay tuned as I eat at all of Jonathan Gold's Best 101 LA restaurants in 101 days!

1.    Jitlada (#53 on the #JGOLD101)

First stop on the Highway #JGold101 was Jitlada, arguably LA’s best Thai restaurant. I was especially impressed with this Thai food after my recent trip to Bangkok.

What I ate: the yellow curry with chicken (super deep flavor!), the crying tiger beef (as seen on The Food Network's “Best Thing I Ever Ate”), the glass noodles with crispy pork, and mango sticky rice for dessert. I was nervous after hearing how spicy this place was but I did okay! 

Watch my full review of Jitlada here!

2.    Little Sister (#74 on the #JGOLD101)

Had to go to Little Sister with my little sister! We absolutely loved this Manhattan Beach restaurant.

What I ate: the Balinese meatballs with cilantro-mint chutney and pickled okra, the spicy lemongrass fried chicken with fried garlic & dried chilies, and some of the best noodles I’ve ever had, the pan fried e-fu noodle with confit shredded pork, long beans & tea egg.

Watch my full review of Little Sister here!

3.    Petit Trois (#50 on the #JGOLD101)

Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s classic French bistro, Petit Trois, has become a staple in the LA food scene. After one bite, I understood why.

What I ate: the French onion soup (best I’ve ever had), the escargot (garlic! butter! yum!), the French omelette (again, best I’ve ever had), and, of course, their burger, “Le Big Mec”, which many say is the best burger in LA. It’s a double patty topped with a foie gras/red wine sauce and caramelized onions, and, oh my god, it’s so good.

Watch my full review of Petit Trois here!

4.    Gjelina (#43 on the #JGOLD101)

Finally checked Gjelina off my bucket list! I’d been to the takeaway a few times but never to the restaurant because there is always such a long wait! (Shout out to Mariana for getting out of bed and putting our name in for brunch!)

What I ate: a pomodoro pizza with burrata (yum!) and lemon ricotta stuffed pancakes (double yum!).

Watch my full review of Gjelina here!

5.    Locol (#78 on the #JGOLD101)

Michelin-starred chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are revolutionizing the fast food game! Locol is so cheap, so good, and I love how it’s working to change the community in Watts by only hiring local and offering great food and super affordable prices.

What I ate: fried chicken burger (super juicy!), and the braised beef foldie (basically a taco!) which was my fave!

Watch my full review of Locol here!

6.    Playground (#87 on the #JGOLD101)

Another “finally!” for me after hearing so many good things about Playground, one of the best restaurants in the OC. Their menu changes weekly, and it was all very tasty.

What I ate: the mole enchilada, the brussel sprouts with a Caesar sauce and cornbread crumbs, and the pork tenderloin with strawberry sauce, hatch chile grits.

Watch my full review of Playground here!

7.    Attari Sandwich Shop (#89 on the #JGOLD101)

Attari Sandwich Shop is famous for their beef tongue sandwich, so I had to get it! It was my first time eating tongue, but once I got out of my head and took a bite, I fell in love! Totally reminded me of a po' boy sandwich with the French bread, sauce, and all the fixings. 

Watch my full review of Attari Sandwich Shop here!

...7 down, 94 to go!

Looking for more in depth reviews of each restaurant? Watch full restaurant recaps on my new Youtube channel!

Follow the #CarnivorrGoesForGold project on Instagram to see live videos with the chefs and behind the scenes at each of the 101 restaurants.

My Top 10 Picks for Dine LBC Restaurant Week

Wassup, Long Beach foodies? The most delicious week of the year in the LBC is rapidly approaching - do you know where you're eating yet? Dine LBC is August 5-13, and here are my top 10 Restaurant Week picks:

1. Roe Seafood - Roe, roe, roe your boat over to one of Belmont Shore's best restaurants and try some of the freshest seafood you'll ever eat in the most beautiful open-air setting. Everything we ordered was incredible, especially the fresh Sashimi Platter, the Poke Nachos, and the Kabayaki Glazed Seasonal Fish. And don't skip out on the cocktails! My favorite was the Lavender Detox, made with lavender limeade and crème de violet.

2. Beer Belly - Arguably the best restaurant downtown, Beer Belly puts a gourmet twist on classic American dishes. They specialize in fancy bar food (duck fat fries, brussel sprouts, insanely delicious wings), but don't sleep on their killer grilled cheese. Made with a five-cheese blend, stuffed with bacon, and doused with maple syrup, this sandwich is the thing I keep coming back for. (Oh, and you can add an egg to it if you're brunching!)

3. The Attic - This charming cottage on Broadway serves up some of the best home-cooked food you'll find in Long Beach. They're famous for their Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese, but this place is certainly not a one-hit wonder. Every dish I've had here has blown me away, and the cute house makes for such a fun dining atmosphere.

4. Restauration - This is another favorite spot in terms of ambiance - I could sit forever in Restauration's spacious garden patio. And let's be honest, if I'm gonna spend a long time somewhere, the food must be good too. Restauration is serving up some of the most creative dishes in town! I love the brunch here - make sure to order the Duck Confit + Waffle, the Freedom Toast (French toast topped with ice cream!), and the Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich.

5. Rance's - This cheesy new addition to Second Street is well worth the 45-minute wait for a Chicago-style deep-dish. Pro tip: call ahead (before you're hungry!) to place your order and saunter in to have your pie waiting for you. My favorite? The CSP (Chicken Spinach Pesto). Say cheese!

6. Berlin Bistro - To be honest, I wasn't expecting a lot from a restaurant that also doubles as a record store. Boy, was I wrong. Berlin Bistro first blew me away with their drinks (Mexican Mocha, Lavender Arnold Palmer, Peanut Butter Blended Mocha), and then I quickly fell in love with their other offerings. You can't go wrong with anything, but I especially loved the Burrata BLT on rosemary focaccia (I know!!!), the Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese combo, and their various flatbreads with delicious toppings. And of course they have avocado toast!

7. Open Sesame - Let me tell ya... this hummus is yummus! Second Street's Mediterranean hotspot almost always has a line, and with good reason. Bring some friends and share some meat platters and Lebanese sides such as grape leaves, falafel, and baba ghanoush.

8. Padre - No better time to try this upscale Mexican restaurant than during LBC restaurant week! Padre is another one of my favorite restaurants downtown, serving up specialty dishes like Guacamole topped with crickets, Ceviche, and Lomo Saltado. Of course, they also are serving fantastic margaritas, cactus mojitos, and watermelon sangrias to help you wash all that food down.

9. Federal Bar - Step back in time at this Pine Street historic landmark-turned-restaurant. As hinted by the name, The Federal Bar was formerly a bank - you can even see the old bank vault downstairs where the vault door serves as the entrance to a hidden speakeasy! My favorite dishes included the Maple-glazed Tater Tots, the Short Rib Poutine, and the Monte Cristo Burger, one of the many creative burgers on their menu.

10. Aji - It's about time you tried this underrated spot on Retro Row. Aji is serving up delicious and authentic Peruvian cuisine in a chill, laid-back space on 4th street. Popular dishes include their ceviches, fried rice, as well as their beans and rice plates. What better time to try someplace new?

Now, the real problem is seeing how many spots you can get to in one week... #ChallengeAccepted

Written for Curated Agency.