Los Angeles

barlologo.jpgBreakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Especially a hot one. Sometimes cereal or a muffin is all I have time for, but those are mere sustenance. They don't make getting out of bed worthwhile. I love  breakfast so much, I've cultivated my cooking talents in that direction. I make a mean breakfast burrito, kick-ass chilaquiles and, when I have more time, a frightfully-good frittata. You can keep the pancakes, waffles and French toast. Savory is where it's at.

So it's rare when we actually go out to breakfast in our hometown. Long lines and high costs ($10+ for eggs and $3 for mediocre coffee?) generally keep us at home. Recently though we had the need to be over on the Westside in the AM, so I went on the search for a place that would trump what I could make in my own kitchen. No chains, no fancy brunch, just hearty, interesting food.

I found it at the Hotel Erwin's Barlo Kitchen. What made me choose this unknown establishment over all the others? Well, it was pretty simple – I wanted to try everything on the menu.

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Albright Outdoor-IndoorLongtime 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
Fish&Chips: $4.50
Chowder: $1
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.

joes9.jpgJoe’s restaurant on Abbot-Kinney in Venice, California is a delight and a deal.  Michelin thinks so, having just given this French-California gem a star.  And my entire family agrees, and we are not always the most agreeable foursome.  Our recent love affair with Joe’s began when I took my husband there for his birthday lunch several weeks ago.  A friend joined our table.  We ordered from a three course prix fixe menu that ran about $17.00.  There was also a two-course lunch with many choices that was much cheaper.  The dishes were innovative and fun, reminiscent of my favorite French or Bay Area menus (Larkspur Inn, Aqua, French Laundry).   Even the bread was incredible.  The service was great and, important to me, flexible and easy. 

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darya painting sm
In Persian, Darya means sea

Darya in West L.A. 

 

I wish my comfort food was as simple as mac and cheese or ice cream with chocolate sauce and gobs of whipped cream.  But I grew up with a Persian mother and nothing makes me feel better than basmati rice with saffron; eggplant and zucchini in a tomato stew with veal; filet mignon kabobs, marinated and then grilled to perfection – the dishes that she raised me on.  Back in high school and even to this day, my friends still invite themselves over for dinner in hopes that my mother will be cooking her legendary rice served with one of her Persian stews.

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barhayama.jpgWhat is wrong with me? Why do I drive past intriguing places and keep on driving? Or, why do I keep going to the same places because I know them, they are familiar and safe? My friend, another foodie, Andrea, had made a plan with me last night to try a Japanese restaurant. Then, she kept reading reviews online that scared her straight. This new Japanese usually costs $100 per person. She called me ahead of time to warn me and then told me she really likes this other place on Sawtelle. So now we really have two choices.

When I hopped in her car, she navigated her way around the city in such a way as to end up directly in front of the alternative restaurant and not the original terribly expensive restaurant. I still don’t know whether she did that on purpose, but I was hungry and said, lets just go in there. I had seen it before and it called to me. When she mentioned a place on Sawtelle I just thought it was Hide Sushi and I do already go there all the time.

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