Live on Grand
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2014
Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 8/23/14
This past weekend marked the fourth annual LA Food & Wine Festival; this year, it spanned almost 30 individual events over four days. Some of the standbys I’ve attended each year have been the large tasting format events; in my opinion, they’re the best way to access the most chefs and bites with one ticket. This year, I attended the daytime grand tastings as well as this evening event, Live on Grand. What separates this event from the others is a live performance at the end of the night (this year’s performer was Common) and a gorgeous backdrop of downtown LA. Grand Avenue, next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is shut down specifically for this event.
Dozens of chefs/restaurants lined the street serving up both savory and sweet bites. Of course, it’s all-you-can-eat/drink for the price of the ticket ($250 GA).
521 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 7/30/14
Q Sushi opened in November of last year, just off downtown’s corner of 7th & Grand, home to other popular spots Bottega Louie, Sugarfish and Mo-Chica. Its opening was right on the heels of the downtown location of Zo, creating a formidable twosome in downtown’s high-end sushi scene.
Q is known for its omakase-only menu (begins at $165) and edomae-style of sushi. Chef Hiroyuki Naruke maintained a sushi bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district for years before moving to LA with the assistance (and persuasion) of some of his loyal customers, who also happened to be LA-based attorneys.
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!
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).