Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Village Idiot

A while ago, Food, she thought wrote about her visit to The Village Idiot and she mentioned a few menu items that were new to me. Having had a few meals and many drinks there before (and enjoying them), I made a mental note to stop by soon. "Soon" is a relative term, but I finally made it there when my friend Seve and I had brunch there.

Village Idiot 1903 Lager
Seve ordered a 1903 Lager ($6). I stuck with water, but from prior experience, I can recommend their Bloody Marys.

Village Idiot rancher's breakfast
He also had the rancher's breakfast ($11): eggs, black beans, crisp tortilla, ricotta salata, salsa roja and spicy sausage. He liked it.

Village Idiot full English breakfast
I was really looking forward to trying a full English breakfast ($13). But, I was let down. Perhaps one mistake is that I decided on a whim to order poached eggs? In addition, the sausage (ahem, banger) was dry, though the grilled rashers (bacon) were good. I guess I will simply HAVE to go to England for the real thing!

I prefer The Village Idiot during the day when the light spills in through the big windows, the conversations are a little less deafening and you don't have to wait for a table. I'll go back sometime again, but perhaps stick to lunch fare.

The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046-7526
(323) 655-3331

Friday, April 23, 2010


I was recently invited to a free private dinner by Libra, a new Brazilian by-the-pound spot in Culver City opened by Marcelo Ahn, owner of Brazilian Churrascaria M-Grill. With a 90% vegetarian salad bar and grilled meat options, Libra's got something for everyone, which is a draw for friends and family whose dietary differences may run the gamut.

At the beginning of the bar, there is a hand-washing station. Unusual, yes, but I like the idea. I fancy the design as well, which could be said of the entire restaurant, which is white and minimalist.

Libra handwashing station

Out of the many salads and sides, these photos turned out the best, but trust me - they've got a lot of stuff (including pasta items and meatballs!).

Libra salads
Snow pea salad was a must for me as I cannot resist the green pods. A good option to balance out the less virtuous (but tasty) items like caramelized plantains and cheese bread. Also pictured: the smoked salmon and pea salad, which I did not try.

Libra pickled items
Pickled stuff. I had the cornichons, of course, and eggplant.

After you load up on the bar, if you want meat, you give your order to the cooks.

Libra grill
The grill. With the meat.

Libra my plate
I chose the picanha (top sirloin cap) and linguica (Brazilian sausage). The beef was fine, but the linguica was very good.

Libra sauces
By the grill station, there are sauces available. I got chimichurri and some type of "vinaigrette" (I believe that's what was on the label).

Pricing is a little high: the bar only is $9/lb and the bar with grilled meat items is $11/lb (my plate above weighed 1.01 lbs). I imagine the prices are due to the location and the quality of the ingredients (the restaurant makes all dishes from scratch with no processed items). But, if you're looking to eat a casual meal in this part of Culver City, you're going to spend a bit of dough unless you go to Chipotle. The setup is cafeteria style, so no table service, but the interior seems to be kept very clean with staff members clearing tables and refilling water (at least the night I went).

The food is better than the "bang for your buck" level as the restaurant boasts a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef (who is Ahn's sister). I liked Libra enough that I would eat there again, but probably for a lighter meal. Funny enough, vegetarians may have a rollicking good time here, maybe even more than omnivores.

3833 Main Street
Culver City, CA 90232

*Park in the Cardiff Center garage (at Cardiff and Culver), which is 2 hours free. I always park here when going to this area.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spinach and Orzo Salad

Spinach orzo salad

I've been on a nutrition kick lately and wanted to make something not-so-boring for a weekday lunch. I found this Spinach and Orzo Salad recipe over at Simply Recipes, which was used as a starting point. Some adjustments that were made:

I used capers (already had some) instead of olives and left out the pine nuts. I had canned artichokes waiting to be used, so I threw those into the mix. I didn't blend the spinach because I lacked the proper equipment (leaving the leaves whole) and the vinaigrette was made with white wine vinegar and without the dried herbs.

This one is a keeper. The olive oil in the vinaigrette gives the salad a slight richness, which was a pleasant surprise, and the feta works well with the other ingredients. I am so looking forward to my Monday lunch!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Osteria Mamma

During the workweek, meals for me are usually simple, light and not very interesting. So, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to a "school night" dinner at Osteria Mamma with Weezermonkey! We ordered a good deal of food and laughed. A lot.

Osteria Mamma Polipolata
Polipolata ($9.25): octopus salad with celery and potatoes. The octopus was so tender. Remarkable! We also had a great gorgonzola arugula salad with brown pear ($8.95).

Osteria Mamma Tagliatelle bolognese
Tagliatelle bolognese ($15.25): loved the springy pasta and the rich sauce. I was a lucky duck and got to take the leftovers home.

Osteria Mamma Ravioli with spinach and ricotta
Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli in butter and sage ($13.95): appreciated the handmade dough, but the flavors were too subtle. Definitely a lighter way to enjoy their pasta, though.

Osteria Mamma Custard Cream Tart
Custard Cream Tart (can't remember the price): A smart choice for anyone who wants a rich, yet not overly sweet, dessert. We split one and it was plenty (it is misspelled as Custer on the menu, which gives it an inadvertent military flair).

I've always wanted an Italian grandmother, but such a relationship is not easy to come by. Instead, I will look to Osteria Mamma whenever I'm dumbstruck with handmade pasta cravings. Their menu also offers pizzas, which might be something to try when I've exhausted myself of their noodles (could this ever happen?).

Osteria Mamma
5732 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bayou Grille

Bayou Grille
Like many of Bayou Grille's recent first time customers, I was led here by the LA Times write up (note: the address was incorrect in the Times; Bayou Grille is actually on NORTH La Brea). It's not often that I move so quickly after reading a review, but sometimes I just decide to do things with swift determination; to the surprise of no one, many of these instances involve food.

Bayou Grille Tiger Shrimp Po Boy
Charles got the tiger shrimp po'boy ($7.29) and gave it high marks. He liked that all the components worked together with not too much of this or not too little of that.

Bayou Grille Crawfish Etouffee
I couldn't get crawfish etouffee out of my mind after seeing it in the article, so naturally I had to order it. I was so glad I did; the flavor was rich and the crawfish were so tender ($11.99 and worth it). They give you the rice and etouffee in separate containers and let you put it all together, which is a smart way to avoid any heated debates since I'm sure lots of people have opinions about the "proper" rice to etouffee ratio!

Bayou Grille Cajun fries
We split an order of cajun fries ($1.99), which were tasty and aplenty. This seasoning would work nicely on popcorn (because salt on top of salt is perfectly acceptable to me).

Bayou Grille Sweet tea
The nectar of the Southern gods: sweet tea ($1.50). It tastes like home! I cannot tell you how deliriously happy I am to have located an authentic version out here. I am over the flippin' moon. And self-serve with refills (dangerous, but much appreciated)!

Bayou Grille is for eating, pure and simple. You order at the counter, wait patiently (if I am remembering correctly, the seafood is fried to order) and scarf it all down once it arrives. I plan on returning very soon because I have got my eye on not only the crab cakes, but also the oyster po'boy!

Bayou Grille
1400 N. La Brea Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90302
(310) 673-0824