KTCHN DTLA (Los Angeles, CA)

KTCHN DTLA
The Gorbals
501 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 4/21/13 and 10/26/13

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When I think of brunch options in downtown Los Angeles, there aren’t a whole lot that come to mind. Especially without a lengthy wait. There are a number of options that do fairly standard brunch fare, but KTCHN DTLA stands out for its unique twists on traditional egg, potato and toast-based dishes.

Technically a recurring pop-up restaurant, it’s currently open on Saturdays and Sundays inside Ilan Hall’s The Gorbals restaurant. I tend to prefer windows and natural light for brunch, but the setting here is markedly different. Located in the back of the lobby of historic the Hotel Alexandria, its windowless dining room focuses in on the open kitchen.

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Playa Brunch (Los Angeles, CA)

Playa
7360 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 7/22/12

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I’ve stepped into Playa a few times for Julian Cox’s cocktails, but this would be only my second meal here (the first was dinner).  I recently had an OpenTable dining certificate about to expire, and picked Playa due to strong brunch recommendations.

Playa is one of John Rivera Sedlar’s restaurants (the other being Rivera in downtown), with food described as “urban Latin.” I’m not totally sure what that means, but the brunch menu is an intriguing mix of traditional brunch plates with Latin influences and some more original ones. Cocktails, crafted by Julian Cox, are top-notch; a wall of liquor and a bar full of fresh ingredients promise good things to come.

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A Beer & A Ball campari, aperol, grapefruit, sage, lime, hops infused champagne

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This was one of my favorites from a previous visit. Grapefruit citrus is the main flavor that came through with a little sparkling wine. A little bitter and a little herbaceous.

Dramble aged dark rum, fresh lemon, simple syrup, all-spice dram, muddled raspberries

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Raspberry and citrus (from the lemon) were the main flavor profiles in this refreshing cocktail. Loved the presentation.

Tortillas Florales con marmeladas y conservas

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This is one of the signature items at both Rivera and Playa. These tortillas were easily discernible from the store-bought variety in their texture, and I liked that the edges were a bit crispy. Still though, they were just tortillas, albeit really nice looking ones. Butter and two sweet fruity marmalades were served alongside.

Flan De Elote quinoa, flores de calabaza

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I thought this was a very strong dish. A light flan was sweet and savory with some earthy quinoa providing a little bit of bite. Bitter arugula was a nice change of pace.

Piquillos Rellenos gruyere, chorizo, golden raisins

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Sweet peppers, meaty bites of chorizo and a creamy gruyere came together for some tasty bites. I didn’t think the raisins were needed since the piquillo provided enough sweetness.

Huevos Polenta lardons, rajas, calabacitas, queso cotija

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Creamy polenta was topped with a poached egg and cheese making for a very savory flavor combination. Fried lardons added some meatiness as well as crunch, while a subtly spicy sauce brought it all together. A nice dish.

Duck Hash weiser farm fingerlings, peppers, 63° egg

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I thought each of the individual components were good between the potatoes, tender duck and poached egg. However the dish wasn’t anything more than that; I was missing some of the Latin influences that we saw in other plates.

Playa was a good brunch, but I wouldn’t say it was great. I thought most of the dishes were pretty unique, or at least a unique spin on a classic brunch dish (except for the duck hash). I’m always down for something different when it comes to brunch. With a strong cocktail program and a dining room full of natural light, it was a nice spot for a weekend brunch.

Brunch @ M.B. Post (Manhattan Beach, CA)

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 1/7/12

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I visited M.B Post in May of last year and walked away both completely stuffed and impressed. Since then, chef/owner David LeFevre has racked up the accolades, being one of LA Times critic S. Irene Virbila’s best meals of 2011 and seemingly on everyone’s “best new restaurants” list for 2011. And, the restaurant’s bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits have become somewhat of an L.A. phenomenon, a must-order for sure.

I’ve wanted to return but scheduling and lack of proximity have kept me away. However, this past weekend the restaurant launched brunch service – a perfect reason to pay a visit.

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The menu is fairly brief with a number of fresh baked breads/sweets, a few meat/potato side dishes and around nine more substantial composed plates. Similar to dinner service, the full wine/beer list is available as well as a selection of cocktails. Being a little under the weather, I passed on any alcohol but Wes did order this Asian-inspired mojito.

Mo-Pho-Jito mojito with starr rum, kaffir lime, mint, ginger, coriander honey

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Sticky Buns pecan and brown sugar

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While pondering what to order, I saw one of these go to another table. I had to get one. Coming out on a still-hot cast iron skillet, it was quite the sight, especially with the rich sugary glaze dripping and pooling at the bottom. The dough was soft and pillowy, while the pecans added crunch to these sweet bites. Quite delish!

Benedict bacon cheddar biscuit, arugula, la quercia prosciutto, hollandaise

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The much-talked-about bacon cheddar biscuits were the base of this benedict. Slivers of proscuitto and arugula topped the biscuit, as well as a soft-poached egg and hollandaise sauce. I liked the combination of flavors, with the arugula standing up to the bacon and prosciutto, and the rich runny egg yolk adding a rich creaminess to the dish.

Nueske’s Bacon rosemary, brown sugar, chili

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The brown sugar lended a maple-y sweetness to the bacon while some fresh rosemary brightened things up a bit. For me, not as memorable as the other plates we tried.

Weiser Farm Fingerling Potatoes lemon buttermilk ranch

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Fingerling potatoes were prepared “French fry” style with fresh herbs and garlic. These were fried to a crisp, and I thought the herb flavor definitely came through (aided by herbs and garlic being fried in the oil with the potatoes, as well as a dash after cooking). It came with a zesty citrus dipping sauce.

Truffle Honey Laced Fried Chicken kohlrabi slaw

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This all-white-meat serving was surprisingly moist and juicy. It was elevated by the honey glaze (reminded me of honey’s kettle) with a subtle truffle essence. The sweetness and the earthy truffle flavor were an ideal accompaniment to the crusty fried chicken. Nicely done.

Fritatta weiser farm potatoes, sprouting broccoli, white cheddar, piperade

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A kitchen favorite; the scrambled egg, potatoes and cheese combined to make a very filling dish that would be great for absorbing all the alcohol from the night prior. Rich and hearty, the peppers and tomatoes of the piperade added a lot of the depth of flavor.

Similar to my previous visit, M.B. Post delivered with its version of elevated comfort food; it was one of the better brunches I’ve had in some time. While the food isn’t as refined as what he was doing at Water Grill, LeFevre’s cooking is now an entirely different beast showing a lot of thought and full of varied flavors; it’s both interesting yet comforting at the same time. This meal confirmed my belief that it’s one of the top restaurant openings in LA last year. Selfishly, I just wish it was closer to where I live/work, but I’m glad the South Bay has something like this. Judging by the crowds, I’m sure they’re glad too.

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