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Archive for the ‘downtown LA’ Tag

Above it All   Leave a comment

As names go, 71 Above is not exceptionally creative. It’s an obvious, albeit appropriate, appellation for a restaurant on the 71st floor of the tallest building in downtown Los Angeles.

71viewwithcompass

The views include the ocean far off to the west, the hills, other skyscapers, the Staples Center, Dodger Stadium and freeways – lots of traffic-clogged freeways. Each window table has a compass to help establish direction. Fortunately, the menu is mush easier to navigate.

71bread

Eight first courses and eight second courses are offered. The firsts range from soup to Brussels sprouts, from steak tartare to grilled salad. Ricotta gnocchi was on the menu, but unavailable. Two of us opted for the charred Brussels sprouts served over a small amount of plain yogurt. This combination resulted in a creamy and smoky sauce. This dish could have easily been shared, but I’m glad I had it all to myself. The grilled salad featured two heads of bibb lettuce topped with green olives, golden raisins and shredded grana – a parmesan-like hard cheese.

71steak

For the entrees, we each ordered something different: chicken, pork loin and flat iron steak. The latter, my choice, was the best of the three. Grilled to a perfect medium rare pink center and topped with chimichurri sauce, it was also a colorful plate. The pork, served with pears and mashed parsnip, was a little on the dry side. I didn’t sample the chicken, but it looked juicy and I coveted the grilled cherry tomatoes on the dish.

71chicken

71 Above
Four+ Plates
633 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles

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A Tale of Two Servers   2 comments

redbird sign I recently returned to enjoy dinner at Scarpetta in Bevery Hills. It was as good as I remembered, although I think one element was even better: the service.

Our server, Christian, enhanced our meal with his knowledge of the menu and attentiveness. He knew the ingredients, the preparation and offered to make changes if needed.

The next evening we dined at Redbird, the new restaurant in what was once the rectory of St. Vibiana’s in downtown Los Angeles. The press about chef/partner Neal Fraser’s new digs has made getting a reservation feel like winning the lottery. However, thanks to the service, we didn’t feel victorious.

redbird vibiana

Our questions about the menu were answered by our (nameless) server rote-style stating what we could read for ourselves. A few items were unknown and he did fill in those gaps, but without the passion Christian radiated at Scarpetta.

I ordered Ora King Salmon served with roasted beets, farro verde and pomegranate. The fish featured the most beautifully-crisped skin I’ve ever tasted. However, the farro was ripe with the distinct infusion of goat cheese. Had I known, I would have made another choice or at least requested a different side dish. Half the fish and beets were gone by the time our server returned to check on us. It was evident I wasn’t eating the farro.

I inquired about the offending ingredient and the server needed to check with the kitchen. He returned praising my discerning palette — admittedly, it wasn’t much of a stretch. I continued to enjoy the fish, which, again, was cooked to perfection. A manager offered apologies, explaining that  staff is trained to ask about dietary restrictions. My dislike of goat cheese is based on personal preference; I can’t, in good conscience, call it a restriction. At that point it appeared it was my fault for not informing the server of my aversion. Even if I had, he hadn’t been aware of its presence. I was offered another side, but at this point my entrée was nearly consumed.

redbirdfish

A friend suggested a complimentary dessert. That didn’t happen. Instead, the farro was boxed up for me to take home. I’m confident Christian would have handled things much differently.

Scarpetta                                                                                                                                                                                 Redbird

225 N. Canon Dr.                                                                                                                                                                  114 E. 2nd St.

Beverly Hills                                                                                                                                                                           Los Angeles

The Sweet Spot   Leave a comment

Although Semi Sweet Bakery in downtown Los Angeles has savory items as well as numerous tempting sweets, the name isn’t quite right. It’s not partially sweet, and it’s tucked away in small, hard-to-find space not at all like a semi, as in truck; however, the quality and variety of baked goods rides above other, pedestrian bakeries.

semisweet crullant

Semi Sweet is  fun: it features several familiar goodies that can’t be identified by their better-known names to avoid copyright infringements. Take the Crullant: a cross between a croissant and a cruller (but this donut’s baked not fried); or the Pocket Tart, as unfamiliar in taste and texture as it is similar in shape and size to a convenient toaster variety popular among kids. There’s also the Ding-a-ling, a spin on the Hostess snack.

semisweet dingaling

The Crème Brulee Crullant had a slightly hard glaze and was filled with vanilla cream reminiscent of its namesake. The texture was light with just the right amount of sweetness. The Pocket Tarts have several filling options; since I’m almost always drawn to anything with strawberries that was an easy choice. Thin, flakey melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust encased a fine layer of strawberry jam. Ding-a-Lings also come in assorted flavors, but chocolate and peanut butter is a hard combination to resist – and it did not disappoint.

semisweet pocket tart

On the savory side, we tried, at the recommendation of a woman who described herself as a regular since she works a few doors away, the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Empanada. Yep, macaroni and cheese with bits of the piquant chile baked in flakey pastry. It wasn’t sweet and all, but it was a truckload of flavor.

semisweet empanada


Semi Sweet Bakery

Four-and-a-half Plates
105 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA