Pliny the Younger @ Father’s Office (Los Angeles, CA)

Father’s Office
3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 2/21/11

I’ve blogged about Father’s Office before, but I figured this visit was worthy of a post on its own. You see, I’ve become more and more into the craft beer scene over the past year. Currently my favorite beers are India Pale Ales; one in particular is the double IPA Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewery. One of the most sought-after beers in America is another beer from Russian River – Pliny the Younger. This triple IPA is made once a year (each February) and is served at the brewery in Santa Rosa, CA as well as distributed to select bars around the west coast.

Much-publicized events at Surly Goat and Verdugo Bar earlier in the week were met with lines hundreds deep by the time of opening, while only the first 40-50 were lucky enough to score a taste. Father’s Office went with a different approach; they didn’t publicize when they were serving the beer. My friend had a “hunch” that the beer would be on tap this President’s Day.

Clearly, others had a similar impression. When we got there around 4:30, there were about 20 people in line; by the time of its 5pm opening, the line was at least 50 strong.

Our party of 6 came at different times; luckily, the first two to arrive were 3rd and 4th in line and were able to secure a prime table right by the bar. At the bar, two taps were pouring Pliny the Younger nonstop. This was the moment we had been waiting for.

The Younger was a very good beer and actually tasted very similar to its “Elder” sibling. I thought it was a little less bitter and a little more floral, but still a ton of hop flavor. I wouldn’t wait hours for this, but if it was produced year-round, it’d definitely be in my regular rotation of beers. I’m glad the bar didn’t limit the beers to one per person; one could go up repeatedly to get more until they were out.

Some food was in order, of course.

The Office Burger caramelized onions, bacon, gruyere, maytag blue, arugula

One of the most talked-about burgers in the city, the Office Burger is definitely one of the better burgers in the city. It’s very meaty and juicy, balanced by some bitterness from the arugula and sweetness from caramelized onions. Goes very well with a hoppy IPA.

Brussels Sprouts

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of these; the brussels were roasted to a crisp, leaving a nice smoky, charred flavor. A long strip of jamon accompanied the vegetable. I thought the pork could’ve been incorporated better though, as the two flavors were mostly separate.

Steak Au Poivre shallot cognac sauce, fries

This looked so delicious when it came out. The flatiron steak, however, was very chewy even though it was cooked a requested medium-rare. The flavors were spot on though, with a really nice shallot-cognac sauce – mopping up the sauce with the fries was fantastic, if not a little salty.

This was a wildly successful trip to Father’s Office. Good beer, good company. I’m glad that I’m able to now say I’ve tried Pliny the Younger.

Haven Gastropub – 4/8/10

Haven Gastropub
190 S Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866

I’ve been meaning to try this place for a little while now, since my friend (who is a regular) has been talking about it for some time. Located just off the Chapman University campus, Haven Gastropub draws a lot of students, as well as locals in the area. As a “gastropub,” Haven offered a very extensive wine and beer list, as well as gourmet foods to pair with the alcohol. We decided to share a number of dishes to sample the menu.

Pommes Frites with truffle oil – house-cut french fries, fresh herbs, housemade ketchup

I had high expectations for these. I had the Wustkuche truffle fries the prior night, and I love those. These are thinner, and I thought they would have just the right ratio of crispiness:fluffy potato texture.  However, I was wrong.  The fries weren’t too crispy at all, and actually rather soggy. How disappointing! The truffle essence was perfectly subtle, and delicious.

Roasted Spaghetti – spaghetti squash, marinara, cheese

This was kind of a unique dish. Spaghetti squash is peeled to yield spaghetti-like strands, and prepared to mimic a spaghetti pasta. This was quite good, and really was kind of like a pasta with a crunch. A guilt-free pasta. The marinara and cheese went well with the squash and was not overpowering.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken – jumbo drummettes, orange-habanero BBQ sauce

I’ve been on a fried chicken kick lately, so we had to try these. The “jumbo” drumemttes (they weren’t that jumbo) were cooked well, but rather bland. They needed more seasoning here, especially when it’s only white meat. The orange-habanero BBQ sauce was not spicy at all, but lended some of the missing flavor.

Pulled Pork Sliders – chipotle aioli, warm apple-cabbage slaw

These were delicious. The pork was moist and flavorful, and the slaw lended a bit of texture to the sliders.

Arrogant Mussels – black mussels, tomatoes, fresh herbs, Arrogant Bastard broth with a splash of cream

The mussels, named for the Arrogant Bastard ale that they are cooked in, were a disappointment. A little bitter, a little sandy, and rather small, these were just a letdown. In addition, there were at least 5 in the bowl that were still closed. Not good.

Roasted Neck of Lamb – braised kale, gremolata

I really enjoyed the presentation of this dish, with the greens brightening up the dish. The gremolata was somewhat deconstructed, with whole leaves of parsley and minced garlic on top of the lamb. Unfortunately, the lamb meat was a bit bland and a little dry. This was quite a surprise, since I’m pretty sure this was braised, and I expected a rich, flavorful sauce. The parsley and garlic were a nice accoutrement, and added some fresh, vibrant flavor.

I had mixed feelings with Haven. Some of the dishes were clear successes (sliders and spaghetti) while some others fell flat (lamb and mussels). The beer and wine list are both great, so I could see why this place is popular. I think you just have to know what to order, as it can be fairly hit-or-miss.