Longtime Santa Monica Pier staple, SM Pier Seafood, has officially re-launched as The Albright. After 35 years, the family-owned and operated restaurant has passed down from mother to daughter and has undergone a complete revamp - including an updated menu that reflects the new owner's commitment to using fresh, locally sourced food - and the addition of an extensive craft beer & California wine program. The restaurant is now run by Yunnie Kim Morena, whose parents opened the original location in 1977 upon emigrating to the U.S. from Korea.
The menu’s focus takes a fresh, locally sourced, approach to classic items that one would hope to find on the Pier. The Albright’s culinary program features everything from Spicy Seafood Soup and Kumamoto Oysters to Whole Fried Tilapia and a massive salt-water tank of live lobsters, crabs and prawns, one of the few places on the Westside with this offering. Classic favorites include, Mussels and Fries, Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp Tacos and Corn Dog Bites. Seasonal specials will also be available daily.
In celebration, The Albright will be offering a '77 throwback menu on Thursday, January 16th, to honor prices from 1977 (the year that the original location opened). Items will include:
Live Lobster & Crab: $19.77
Bud Light: $1
The Albright is located at 258 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401.Public parking is available on the Pier or in adjacent lots. Additional information is available at www.TheAlbright.com.
It's all my friend Jo's fault. She brought me to LudoBites 3.0 at Royal T in Culver City just over 2 years ago. I had never heard of Chef Ludo before and really wasn't that into food, but I was happy to go along for the ride. This was still in the early days of the "pop-up" phenomenon – where a chef takes over a restaurant not normally open for dinner for a night or, in Ludo's case for a few weeks. At that point it/he was still a novelty, so getting a table was still possible and not left up to the whims of fate. I learned quickly that while dining with foodies you are required to share plates (something I'm still not always a fan of) and at least try everything that is put in front of you – unless it will kill you. Ludo hooked me with my first bite of his food – a foie gras beignet – and sealed the deal forever with his crispy fried chicken. (Now thankfully available on a regular basis from his food truck. Find it. Eat it. You will never think of chicken the same way again.)
Now whenever a new version is announced, our household goes into the same tizzy as the rest of the food community in Los Angeles, wondering if we're going to get a reservation. We have to get in. It's no longer an option. For LudoBites 8.0, his wife Krissy (the organizational brains behind the Man) switched reservation systems from a computer free-for-all, keep-clicking-in-the-hopes-you-get-thru to a 24-hour, enter-at-your-own pace, lottery where you honestly had just as much of a shot in hell of getting a seat, just without the frustration, angst and sore finger. Lucky for us, we got a reservation.
Last night, we had an eating contest at the newest sugarFISH location downtown. Obviously, Maia won, but her dress was a lot stretchier than Anna's. We each ordered "The Nozawa" (the largest of Nozawa's signature "Trust Me" menus), but we couldn't resist adding an order of the perfectly buttery albacore belly sushi and a few other things. The large scallops (which were the daily special) had just the right amount of tang and practically leave sparkles in your mouth. The crisp seaweed was the perfect complement to the fatty, melt-in-your mouth fish in the toro handroll. The halibut was pure heaven, and the way they prepare salmon is so genius that they should practically call it something else entirely. The ikura was a little soft and not quite cold enough to balance the warm rice, and we were a little too full by the time the lobster handroll came around to properly assess it, but we think we liked it.
If you haven't been there, sugarFISH is the more easy-going, more affordable version of the infamous Sushi Nozawa. They have three locations: Marina Del Rey (which was the first), Brentwood (which feels a little like an episode of Melrose Place, in a good way) and the newest Downtown location (located in the ground floor of the historic Robinson Co. building).
A canelé is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France. A small pastry with a soft custard center and a dark caramelized crust. They are eaten for breakfast, as a snack, and for dessert. Canelé is also a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Just a few walkable blocks from home. Robert and I were there on a recent Friday night. We have often wondered how the recession is affecting restaurants. It didn’t seem to be having much of an affect on Canelé this particular night. The restaurant was full and people were still waiting for tables when we left around 9:15 or so.
It’s great to see this place doing so well. The food has been called French-California-Mediterranean. And it is, but some of the menu items are classic French. Those are the ones I like the most. Like the bouef Bourguignon with buttered noodles I had on my first visit, and the pissaladiere with herb salad. They also have sides like pommes Anna, a very old-fashioned potato dish of layered potatoes and butter; starters like leeks vinaigrette, and brandade, a salt cod dish originating in the Languedoc and Provence regions of France.
I hold restaurant grudges. Big time. If they take french fries off the
menu and replace them with sweet potato fries (ahem, Melrose Bar &
Grill), if I get sick from the seaweed salad (ahem, Reel Food Daily),
if the take out portions are unreasonably small and unbelievably
expensive (ahem, Nook), mark my words, I will never come back. EVER.
But what happened the first time I went to the Foundry, might not have
been entirely their fault.
I was starving and jet-lagged and I was with my then new, "not-quite-boyfriend" with whom things were getting increasingly awkward. We ordered vodka sodas while we waited for our table that wasn't quite ready, plopped ourselves into bar stools and took a much-needed sip of . . . tonic. I hate tonic. I'm actually allergic to tonic, but no one ever believes me when I say that. It was an honest enough mistake and was quickly corrected. But when we finally sat down, I noticed there were only four things on the menu. Four. Something with duck confit, some kind of lamb situation, veal and chicken. They were out of chicken. So Mr. Wrong left some money on the table, politely explained that I'd just gotten off a plane and we needed something a little less . . . fussy.
Chef Walter Manzke’s smile is infectious. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t say “infectious” since we’re in the middle of the H1N1 Flu scare (I refuse to call it the OTHER name because I love my bacon).
On my first visit to Church and State, I didn’t get to meet the chef until evening’s end, when I stole a few seconds of his time to tell him how much Peter and I enjoyed the restaurant. During our entire dinner though, from across the room, I was carefully watching him as he expedited orders and finished off each plate in the open kitchen.
Between bites of the luxurious beef short-rib bordelaise and the perfectly baked (and cute) tiny ramekins of escargot, I would look over and see Chef Manzke’s face beaming. It’s almost like I could feel his joy drifting through the kitchen, then up above the beautiful, antiquated string of lights, and finally, smack down onto my plate.
Delicious food always makes me happy, but seeing chef Manzke’s ear-to-ear grin in the kitchen definitely made me more aware of the joy and care he (and his crew) puts into each dish.
Los Angeles has the best Mexican food in the world.
An established foodie might suggest this claim be true, because of Los Angeles’ high end Mexican cuisine. Places like Casa in downtown or Mexico City in Los Feliz.
But I’m no foodie, so I’m not going to make that claim. I am just a dude who really enjoys regional Mexican food, and LA has got way more of it than any other place.
Without opening the census books, anecdotal evidence shows us that there must be a large percentage of Mexicans from Jalisco. Look at all the restaurants named Taquería Jalisco or Tacos Jalisco #2. This compounded with the prevalence of stickers for the Chivas from Guadalajara, proves my amateur research (Chivas’ MLS team is also based in LA.)
Jalisco like Michoacan, their paisanos to the south, has a propensity towards carnitas that delectable slow roasted pork dish. Carnitas end up everywhere, because this community is so large, and this regional Mexican cuisine has come to embody “Mexican Food” to gringos.
After watching Ludo Lefebvre on Top Chef Masters I knew I wanted try out his food. Around the same time his episode aired he opened up a “pop-up” restaurant at Bread Bar on 3rd St. On Tuesday night a bunch of my friends and I went. Simply put the meal was amazing. It’s really a mixture of classical french food and molecular gastronomy. Onto the food.
The table that was supposed to be ours decided they wanted to sit and talk for a long time so we had to wait. To make up for this Ludo’s very nice wife brought us out some lobster medallions with daikon & rosemary with a honey-sherry vinaigrette. It was amazing and great indication of things to come. It looked like a scallop and the sauce was very strong and sweet so the lobster was mainly there for texture.
One of the best things about the meal was the butter for the bread. It was a homemade honey and lavander butter.
First came the chorizo soup with cantaloupe and cornichon. It really tastes like the essence of chorizo. It was perfect. When there was only a little left we almost fought over it like junkyard dogs.
Since our very first visit to Pizzeria Mozza (Christmas Eve 2006), Peter and I have continuously wished for two things: That Mozza would offer a Pizza-to-go / Delivery service, and that Nancy Silverton would make a pizza with chicken liver, guanciale and burrata. If you love Mozza’s Chicken Liver Bruschetta, then you’d understand how amazing this dream pie could be. When I learned (via @Foodwoolf on Twitter) that “Mozza 2Go” was OPEN, I immediately texted my husband and wrote, “DO NOT MAKE PLANS TOMORROW!”
Peter had Friday off from work, and up to that moment, we had no actual plans for the 3rd of July. I searched online to find an opening time for Mozza 2Go, but the closest thing to actual hours listed (at that time) was an Eater LA article stating that, “the first order accepted at noon and the last order at 11:00 pm”.
Thinking there would be a line around the block (hey, it’s Mozza after all!), I told Peter we should plan on getting there by 10:30 AM. I figured we could order a pie, eat it there and then do some shopping at the Grove afterwards. There’s a Mac Store at the Grove… and Peter was obsessed about getting his new iPhone. All I wanted was to check out the new Mozza 2Go. It was a “win win” situation for sure.
Last week, I had two major disappointments. I did not win the ticket lottery to attend Michael Jackson’s funeral at the Staples Center and the red velvet doughnut at the Nickel Diner in Downtown LA was not red velvet.
I was fairly certain I would avoid Downtown and all of the MJ festivities after I learned that I didn’t win seats for Michael Jackson’s funeral in the ticket lottery. Better for the riot police to not have to deal with the likes of me: the aimless spectator. But having made previous plans to meet two staffers from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition that Tuesday at the Nickel Diner for lunch, I knew I would be in the neighborhood...
Then I received a message from a young woman in Russia who wanted me to deliver a note to the funeral. You see, I participate in CouchSurfing.org so I regularly communicate with people from all over the world who want to visit Los Angeles. This particular traveler asked me if I would post a note and a flower in the fan area of the Staples Center in lieu of her coming to LA herself.