Los Angeles

saintmarthaextIt has been a long time since I have been to a restaurant that actually inspired me to write about it. In the period of time from my last write up, I have been fortunate enough to go to a couple Michelin star restaurants, and those did not inspire me. They were great, but I think I expected it. My experience at the newly opened Saint Martha, stirred something in me that had been dormant for a while. Until now. My husband took me to Saint Martha on a Thursday evening, partly to treat me after having some tough work weeks, and partly to celebrate his birthday.

You can find Saint Martha at a little complex in Koreatown. Yes, I said Koreatown. Frankly, I think it’s the only sign that is in English; that should tip you off! The restaurant is named after the saint of cooks and servers, and after some food and wine you’ll think these people are all saints as well!

Sometimes, a restaurant has a wine list that shines, and a food menu that is just average, or vice versa. Not the case here. Wine and food menus can both stand on their own. The food alone was so creative and delicious.

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ImageLast 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).

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ludoBefore Trois Mec opened, being able to claim you attended one of Chef Ludo Lefebvre's infamous LudoBites pop-ups was sort of a badge of honor amongst Angelenos. An elusive and super cool experience that you couldn't stop talking about, even if it made your foodie friends more than a little jealous. The locations were somewhat off the beaten path, the food completely unexpected, at least for newbies to the world of haute cuisine like me. The community vibe and air of excitement while dining, palpable. What makes this new endeavor of a permanent space even more exciting is his partnership with Animal owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. I've only have the pleasure of eating at Animal once, but it was as exciting and memorable as any LudoBites. When it comes to fine dining with a twist, no one in LA is doing it better than these three.

While this is a partnership - Jon and Vinny have two other restaurants to run - this is Ludo's kitchen. Located in a strip mall on Highland in a converted pizza joint - they still haven't changed the Raffallo's sign - it's not much to look at from the outside. Yet once you cross the threshold and are welcomed with a hearty "Bon Soir!" by the whole staff, you know you've come to the right place. All the great things about LudoBites have been carried over to Trois Mec, but somehow it feels different. More refined, yet more relaxed. Since it's a permanent space, the frenetic nature of having to prepare the food in three hours is gone, but the intensity in the kitchen, the "just make happen" attitude has not diminished one bit.

After experiencing Trois Mec twice, once very early, once after it officially opened, I have to say his food is better than ever. Simpler in a way, though just as inventive with the complex flavors he's come to be known for. It seems cleaner and more vibrant, taking the essence of an item and cranking it up to 11. The presentation is beautiful as well, each course served on a different piece of pottery or antique French plates, designed to showcase just that particular dish.

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ImageHeadaches are the worst. And if you don't catch them right when they start, they're hard to cure. I've had one for four days. My mom told me to drink lemonade.

Lemonade?

I've taken naps, sat in dark rooms, taken Aleve, even taken Fiorinal. What the eff is lemonade gonna do?

But I was desperate, and unable to operate a motor vehicle, so I walked to Cabbage Patch.

I told them my mom sent me and was convinced they could cure my headache. As if that was a normal thing to say to a cafe owner.

He told me of course they could and prescribed French lentils (which were beautifully presented with avocado and drizzled oil and tasted like they could purify your soul) and told me the mint lemonade was on Dr. Cabbage Patch. 

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bludsologoThis is like an April Fool’s Day joke; a BBQ joint write up by a vegetarian! There is a method to this madness. After all there’s more than one way to come at anything!

Here’s the theory; there are a lot of men out there who love BBQ. It’s such a manly man food. A lot of those manly men have wives, girlfriends, partners who are vegetarians. This makes going out to BBQ with their loved one difficult. Probably an adventure saved for boy’s night out. You know, after playing poker, shooting hoops, or screaming at TV skirmishes, they go grab a few ribs and some beers.

Ladies. I’m taking a page out of my book and handing it right to you. Want to make your hungry he-man happy, take him to Bludso’s BBQ and Bar on La Brea where you both will eat well and be happy. There probably won’t be any romance that night because he will be stuffed like the pig he just ate, but he will fall asleep with a bloated smile on his face and you will have won several gold stars! (To be cashed in later for jewelry, an i-pad, a weekend away with (or without) him or whatever your need might be at the moment.)

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