Pine & Crane (Los Angeles, CA)

Pine & Crane
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 9/6/14

exterior

Pine & Crane opened earlier this year, bringing Taiwanese food to the Silver Lake neighborhood. Asian food, particularly Chinese or Taiwanese, is always looked upon skeptically outside of the SGV, but Pine & Crane has opened to strong praise early on. The family’s background is in the food business; the Pine & Crane name is taken from a noodle factory they operated in China while all produce is sourced from a family farm near Bakersfield. Sounds like the right ingredients for a successful restaurant.

The restaurant has been very popular and can get pretty crowded in the evenings (evident in the picture below). Food is ordered at the register, you take a number, find a seat, and the food comes straight to your table. The menu is fairly focused, with a handful of small plates (dumplings, scallion pancakes, beef rolls), noodle dishes (both soupy and saucy), and rice dishes.

interior

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L&E Oyster Bar (Los Angeles, CA)

L&E Oyster Bar
1637 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 5/29/12

l&e oyster bar exterior

Recently, my friend Diana was craving a lobster roll. Rather then splurge on the $32 version at Water Grill, we wanted something a little more casual and reasonably priced in the area. L&E Oyster Bar came up and, while they don’t offer a lobster roll, the menu intrigued us enough that we decided to go.

Yelp warned of long waits at the no-reservations spot in Silver Lake, and indeed it was pretty busy on a Tuesday evening. Our party of three got one of the last tables available, squeezing into a table for 2.

l&e seating

True to its name, L&E Oyster Bar offers up a host of oyster options – there were 9 varieties of fresh oysters available the night we went. In terms of preparation, these oysters were served raw, grilled or fried with steamed and smoked options for other seafood. About 4 larger plates were available too.

hush puppies

hush puppies

A complimentary ‘amuse’ came out of the kitchen – these fresh, hot hush puppies. There were two layers of sweetness between the cornbread and honey with a nice crispy exterior. A pretty good starter.

the daily dozen sun hollow, phantom creek, beausoleil

the daily dozen sun hollow, phantom creek, beausoleil

Of course, we had to try some of the fresh oysters. The daily dozen offered 4 pieces of 3 of the oyster options – ideal for sharing amongst the three of us. I enjoyed all 3 varieties, though had a hard time picking out the subtleties between them.

oysters casino butter, paprika, thyme, shallots, neuske’s bacon

oysters casino butter, paprika, thyme, shallots, neuske's bacon

We also tried some grilled oysters on the shell; here, a classic oysters casino. I found the oyster to be cooked well, but there was a very strong grassy flavor that I found overpowering. I think it was parsley.

grilled oysters of the day chipotle, pickled onion, Mexican cheese

grilled oysters of the day chipotle, pickled onion, Mexican cheese

We also tried one of the grilled specials of the day. I found this one to be much better balanced, flavor-wise with a bold chipotle BBQ-like sauce and some spicy notes coming through.

fried oysters with sauce gribiche

fried oysters with sauce gribiche

More cooked oysters – this time fried. Simple and rather satisfying, the batter was light and crispy with plump tasty oysters on the inside.

clam chowder farm-raised clams, neuske’s bacon, weiser farms pee wee potatoes

clam chowder farm-raised clams, neuske's bacon, weiser farms pee wee potatoes

I thought this was a very strong bowl of clam chowder. It was rich and creamy with soft potatoes and a bunch of tasty clams; the smokiness of the bacon was present but not overpowering.

lobster spaetzle & cheese maine lobster, house-made spatzle, english peas, bread crumbs

lobster spatzle & cheese maine lobster, house-made spatzle, english peas, bread crumbs

We also tried this rendition of a lobster macaroni & cheese. I had high hopes for it but thought it fell a bit short. I thought the lobster could’ve been better incorporated since I got the flavor from the piece sitting on top, but not in the interior of the dish. The spaetzle and cheese sauce itself were pretty good, though.

blackened local sea bass sweet corn succotash, blistered shishito peppers

blackened local sea bass sweet corn succotash, blistered shishito peppers

This may have been the most disappointing dish of the night since the sea bass was flat out dry. The sweet corn succotash was a nice counter to the spices of the blackening seasoning, but it wasn’t enough to recover from the piece of overcooked fish. Boo.

fries with aioli

fries with aioli

Lastly we had a side of fries, which was probably the most filling thing we had all evening. These were quite good – crunchy with a complementary herb flavor. Perfect for dipping into the chowda’.

L&E Oyster Bar had its ups and downs but overall was somewhat of a disappointment. The quality of their oysters were definitely a strong point as expected, but the larger plates fell flat (lobster spaetzle and sea bass). Given the consistent crowds, I wonder if I was just there on an off-night or if I’m just missing something; regardless, I’m not in a hurry to return.

Black Hogg (Los Angeles, CA)

Black Hogg
2852 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 5/4/12

black hogg exterior

Black Hogg opened in March and has quickly become a popular destination in Silver Lake. Early reviews I’ve read note long waits for the no-reservation tables and bold, flavorful cooking. The food is very much gastropub-like, composed of mostly small plates meant for sharing and a few more substantial large plates. It’s hard to be a gastropub without alcohol though, and Black Hogg is still pursuing its alcohol license. In the meantime, it’s BYOB with no corkage (nice!).

interior1

interior2

The chef of Black Hogg is Eric Park, who has The Spotted Pig and Eleven Madison Park on his resume – I’m pretty sure Black Hogg’s cuisine more closely resembles the former. The menu offers a number of intriguing options; since there were just two of us dining this evening, we didn’t want to go too crazy. We probably still over-ordered, ordering three of the smaller plates and three of the more substantial plates.

Popcorn Bacon, Maple Crema

popcorn bacon

This has to be one of their most notable dishes so far. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen this before, but these were bite-sized chunks of bacon that were deep fried – think popcorn chicken, not corn popcorn. I think the pork was braised before frying since it was so tender; hard to go wrong with something like this and it was definitely tasty albeit very rich. A maple crema was a nice sweet accompaniment.

Uni Toast, Scallion Vinagrette

uni toast

I thought the toast was a bit dense here, but I liked the cool uni with the sesame oil vinaigrette and the cool bite of scallions.

Pork Belly Tacos, Fuji Apple Slaw, Jalepeño Relish

pork belly tacos

This might’ve been the most successful complete dish of the evening for me. Chunks of pork belly (again) were topped by a crisp, sweet apple slaw and a spicy jalapeño relish. I found each ingredient to be very well balanced, between the richness of the pork, cool acidity of the slaw and the spiciness of the jalapeno. Quite nice.

Longaniza Sausage Hash, Fried Egg

sausage hash

I found this dish to have a good balance too. Spicy sausage, green peppers, onions, and both red and purple potatoes were accompanied by a fried egg and warm tortillas. I liked how all the flavors came together; simple and satisfying.

Fat Tire Ale Battered Cod and Ruffled Chips

fish and chips

The cod was fairly typical in preparation – moist and flaky, though I thought the batter could’ve been a little crispier. Ruffled chips were a fun accompaniment – some were delightfully crispy while some (especially those that stuck to other pieces) were on the oily, soggy side.

Buttery Lamb Burger, Habanero Onions, Onetik Bleu, Fries

lamb burger

lamb burger2

We ordered this burger medium-rare, and I think I’m being a little generous by saying it came out medium-well. Still, it was fairly juicy with a little bit of gaminess working in tandem with the funky bleu cheese. Not bad.

Black Hogg was one of the better gastropub-type meals I’ve had recently, which isn’t to say it didn’t have its faults. I found the ‘untypical’ pub dishes to be more interesting than typical ones such as the fish & chips and burger. Highlights for me were definitely the popcorn bacon and pork belly tacos; because the food is so heavy, coming in larger parties is probably recommended. It’s definitely grub that would go well with alcohol, so I’m curious what they’ll bring to the mix once they get their alcohol license.