n/naka (Los Angeles, CA) (3)

n/naka
3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 2/18/15

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I recently revisited West LA’s n/naka. To me, it’s still one of the more unique meals in LA. It’s Niki Nakayama’s modernized interpretation of a kaiseki meal – hyper seasonal, local, intricate food following a traditional progression. LA’s full of great Japanese cuisine but even in the high-end space, it’s primarily sushi-based. n/naka’s multi-course small-plate meal and focus on service really find a great blend between Japanese cuisine/sensibilities and Western ‘fine dining.’

The modern kaiseki runs $165 with a vegetarian option for $150 – both are thirteen courses.

wines

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Union (Pasadena, CA)

Union
37 E Union St
Pasadena, CA 91103
Dining date: 2/15/15

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I often think of Pasadena as a city of chain restaurants (albeit the good chain restaurants), and that relatively conservative palates make it hard for unique chef-driven concepts to thrive here. That may not be true, but there haven’t been many that have tried in the city. Union is one of the more interesting openings in some time, where chef Bruce Kalman (Urbano Pizza, The Churchill) is cooking up seasonal farm-to-table Californian-Italian fare. I’ve never been to The Churchill, though I’d been to Urbano many times and still kind of miss it.

Since the restaurant opened last March, I’ve heard plenty of good things about it including being named LA Mag’s second best restaurant opening of 2014. That, combined with my experiences at Urbano, made Union high on my list of restaurants to try. But, I just never quite got the final impetus to go until I was invited in this past weekend.

chalk art

Loved this chalk art showing how serious they are about their ingredients.

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Alimento (Los Angeles, CA)

Alimento
1710 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 1/29/15

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Alimento has gained plenty of praise as one of the best new LA restaurant openings in 2014 (see LA Mag, LA Weekly, and GQ). Opened in June, it’s been on my list for some time and I finally got a chance to stop in.

Alimento is on an exciting corner of Silver Lake, just a few steps away from the likes of L&E Oyster Bar, Milk, and LAMILL Coffee. It happened to be dineLa Restaurant Week when we stopped in and the restaurant was offering a special menu of three courses (two choices at each course) for $30. We ended up ordering one of those fixed menus, supplementing it with a few a la carte items.

menu

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Love & Salt (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Love & Salt
317 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 1/19/15

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Love & Salt opened in November in what is a renewed and thriving dining scene in Manhattan Beach (M.B. Post, Fishing with Dynamite, Strand House, Little Sister and Akatora are other notable openings in the past few years). Michael Fiorelli, previously of mar’sel in Palos Verdes’ Terranea, is the chef behind the concept – Italian with Californian accents, made with plenty of love and salt.

The space is beautiful with an open kitchen, a mini chef’s counter, and a large communal table at center.

kitchen

bar

The menu has plenty to offer from a bread, cheese, and salumi selection to a handful of savory snacks, small plates, pizzas, pastas and large format proteins. We made our way through each section of the menu, ordering one or two from each (except the large plates).

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Vegas Uncork’d Preview @ Border Grill (Los Angeles, CA)

Vegas Uncork’d @ Border Grill
445 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Dining date: 1/27/15

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This past week, Bon Appetit and Las Vegas hosted a Vegas Uncork’d preview at downtown’s Border Grill. It was a fitting location, given Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s restaurant has two locations in Las Vegas and has been a consistent participant in the annual food event. This evening’s event served to garner attention to the April fest, as well as celebrate Border Grill’s 30th anniversary.

Now in its 9th year, Vegas Uncork’d has moved up a little earlier this year to the last weekend of April. As usual, it will amass dozens of big-name chefs cooking their way through various different seminars, tastings, classes and sit-down meals. The 20+ event, 4-day Uncork’d has been a tradition in my family for many years now and I’m looking forward to what 2015 has to offer (see 2014 here and here).

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Terrine (Los Angeles, CA)

Terrine
8265 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 1/18/15

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Terrine opened at the end of last year on popular Beverly Blvd a block away from Jar. The restaurant is described as a “California brasserie;” typical French brasserie items do make an appearance along with a bunch of salads, pizzas, pastas and a wide-ranging variety of dishes.

I’ve enjoyed Kris Morningstar’s food as he’s bounced around the city (Blue Velvet, Casa, Ray’s and Stark Bar) so Terrine was definitely on my list of restaurants to try. We came during one of the Friends & Family preview events, but the overwhelmed kitchen wasn’t able to send much out with consistency. Having given the place a few weeks to gain its bearings, we stopped in for dinner.

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