Americana at Brand
237 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204
Dining date: 7/24/14
I first dined at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in March during its opening. The meal was a unique one, hosted by Bon Appetit to promote the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d, where a custom tasting menu was served. I’ve been intending to return for a more ‘regular’ meal and to try more of the steaks; recently, I had the chance with a few coworkers.
The menu at Bourbon Steak centers on the beef, of course, with a number of options under Certified Angus, Certified Angus Prime, and American, Australian and Japanese Wagyu. A wide array of other appetizers and entrees, including Mina’s signature tuna tartare and lobster pot pie, really round out the menu. Between the six of us, we were able to sample quite a bit of it.
Plate by Plate 2014
Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 8/2/14
This past weekend was Project by Project’s 12th annual tasting benefit – Plate by Plate. This was my third time attending the charitable event which benefits a rotating nonprofit partner; this year Pacific Asian Counseling Services (which provides counseling services to under-served populations) was the beneficiary. All net proceeds from the all-you-can-eat/drink event go straight to the partner.
Similar to prior years, Plate by Plate gathered a host of LA restaurants, mixologists, breweries and spirits for an indulgent evening. The venue this year was a slight change of pace from prior years, moving from downtown’s Vibiana to mid-city’s Petersen Automotive Museum. It still had a mix of indoor/outdoor space and I thought this location had more personality; patrons were able to browse the museum and soak up the history. Tickets this year ran $150 for GA and $250 for VIP, which provided access to additional purveyors and an hour earlier admission.
Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 7/19/14
I’ve visited chef David Lefevre’s M.B. Post a number of times since it opened three years ago. Along with sister restaurant Fishing with Dynamite, the restaurant has consistently served up a reliably good meal. While I dislike the drive, Manhattan Beach just feels like a completely different place compared to my downtown LA dwelling. My last visit was almost a year ago, so a return was definitely due.
While a few years old now, the restaurant still packs tables nightly. I’ve checked OpenTable for reservations a number of times over the past six months, but never felt enough desire to commit to a reservation far in advance. However, I stumbled upon a 7pm Saturday reservation just one day prior; someone’s cancellation was my gain!
Project by Project (what is Project by Project?) is hosting its 12th annual fundraising tasting event, Plate by Plate, next Saturday August 2nd. Located in mid-city’s Petersen Automotive Museum (Wilshire & Fairfax), the event brings together plenty of heavy hitters in the world of LA food & drink for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink fest.
Proceeds go to a partner charity each year; this year, the charity is mental health provider Pacific Asian Counseling Services. The food fest is priced at $150 GA & $250 VIP, but I have an opportunity to give away TWO free VIP passes ($500 retail value) to one lucky reader. The exhaustive list of participants is below.
For a taste of what to expect (pun intended), see a couple recaps of the events I attended in previous years: 2011 and 2013.
3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 7/15/14
n/naka opened three years ago in a quiet corner of Palms on the westside. The restaurant and its modern take on the Japanese kaiseki meal, has focused on creating a very precise multi-course meal with seasonal ingredients. Many of those ingredients are grown by chef Niki Nakayama herself in her own garden. I still feel the restaurant is somewhat under the radar; sure, Jonathan Gold has continually mentioned the restaurant in high regard (it was #18 in his 2014 best restaurants list), but I don’t feel like it’s consistently being considered with other high-end restaurants in LA.
While common in Japan, n/naka’s kaiseki-based menu is pretty unique in LA. It’s a carefully-scripted tasting menu often featuring 10+ small plates. Seasonal ingredients (usually simply prepared) are highlighted, and service and plating/decor are as much a part of a meal as the food. The thirteen course menu weighs in at $165 ($150 vegetarian) making n/naka one of the most expensive restaurants in the city (there used to be a slimmed down chefs’ tasting for $110).
The Langham Huntington
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
Dining date: 7/10/14
The Langham Pasadena’s main restaurant has gone through a number of changes since I first dined on Craig Strong’s food at The Dining Room. Since then, Michael Voltaggio and David Feau have taken the helm for relatively short-lived chef-driven concepts (Voltaggio left to start ink. and Feau’s The Royce struggled to grasp its regular clientele). Early last year, The Royce was reborn as a steakhouse, a more conservative concept perhaps more reflecting the tastes of its primary customer base.
The Royce boasts USDA Prime cuts, as well as some international wagyu selections, all grilled over a wood fire. A largely seafood-based selection of appetizers and some seasonal side dishes round out the menu. I felt no urgency to try the new steakhouse concept, but being a steak lover I figured a visit was in order at some point. That point was just this past week.