Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

NEWS: Restaurant Week Jan. 2010


It's almost restaurant week! Being a non-wealthy resident of Los Angeles, restaurant week is one of my more favorite weeks. Restaurant week takes place over two weeks during the weeknights. This year it will be January 24-29 and Jan. 31 - Feb. 5. The purpose of restaurant week is to promote local restaurants and get people out and supporting their neighborhood businesses. The benefit to you is that you get to try the restaurants at a very favorable price. You will get a three-course lunch or dinner at a set price ranging from $16-$28 for lunch and from $26-44 for dinner. This is a great way to try restaurants that may be otherwise out of your price range or to try a new place that you haven't ventured to yet.

You can find the list of restaurants with their menus and pricing on the DineLA site. Let me make some personal recommendations of places that I think will provide a great value and an enjoyable experience:

Angeli Caffe: Angeli has been a favorite of mine since I first moved back to LA eight years ago. It's been a neighborhood favorite since the 1980s when it opened and I believe the simple, welcoming, family-like atmosphere will keep it in business for as long as Evan Kleinman cares to keep it open. The food is rustic, classic Italian. Nothing new or fancy, but just plain good food. The fact that employees stay there for years and years is testament to happy atmosphere of the place. It's a place where you always know what to expect foodwise and service-wise and it's like that old comfy sweater that you keep forever because you always feel good in it. Angeli will be serving both lunch and dinner for restaurant week. (L:$16/D:$26). The dinner menu hasn't been set yet, but the lunch menu appears below:

LUNCH:

Choice of Appetizers:

• Soup of the Day
 (All soups are vegan)
• Eggplant Croquettes (
A delicious fried tidbit of roast eggplant puree, parmesan, garlic, herbs)
• Insalata Forte
 (Salad of baby greens, fennel, Belgian endive with garlicky parmesan vinaigrette)

Choice of Entrees:

• Beet Ricotta Gnocchi with Melted Butter, Sage and Parmesan
• Butternut Squash Lasagne
• Rosemary Garlic Lemon Roast Chicken

Choice of Desserts:

• Tiramisu
• Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding
• Seasonal Fruit Crumble

Cube Cafe & Marketplace:
Cube is kind of a hidden gem, I think. Although it opened in 2006, I believe, it wasn't until last year's Restaurant Week that I finally tried this place. The food is Italian and they focus on different regions as they change the menu. The pasta is homemade and the ingredients are very fresh. The wine selection is very interesting, and I recall having a wine that was so wonderful, which was a rather obscure and hard to find bottle and I probably would never known it existed except for the person who chose it out for their menu. It is a small, cozy place and in contrast with other restaurants, I remember it being nice and quiet, which makes for a good date location (provided you want to talk to your date!). Cube is serving both lunch and dinner (lunch $22/dinner $34). Below you will find the dinner menu. Lunch is the same except the latter two entrees are exchanged for a truffle burger and roasted leg of lamb panino.

Dinner:

Choice of Appetizers:

- Spicy Tuscan Bean & Sausage Soup; Winter Greens, Tomatoes, Tuscan Olive Oil
- Maple Braised Bacon; Celery Root Puree, Cipollini Onions
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad; Satsumas, Toasted Hazelnuts, Pomegranates, Pecorino, Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Choice of Entrees:

- Cube Garden Greens & House Ricotta Ravioli; Braised Oxtail Ragu -or- San Marzano Tomato Sauce
- Balsamic Glazed Piedmontese Skirt Steak; Cauliflower & Sierra Gold Potato Gratin, Baby Broccoli
- Meyer Lemon & Herb-Roasted Half Chicken; Braised Brussels Sprouts, Farro

Choice of Desserts:

- Seasonal Fruit Cobbler Duo; Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Valrhona Chocolate and Butterscotch Pot de Creme Duo; Shortbread Cookie
- Torched Meyer Lemon Meringue Cake; Fresh Seasonal Berries

Eva:
Eva is quite simply my new favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. The concept is one we're all quite familiar with right now. Dishes made with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients inspired by many different cultures, but with a distinctly California feel. These types of restaurants have sprung up all over the place in the last few years. But imagine such a place run by a Jewish mother trapped in the body of a charismatic and friendly male chef. You can never quite be sure that your meal is over at Eva until you walk out the door. Our first dinner there, the chef came running out as we were putting on our coats to leave and spoon fed us ravioli filling he was experimenting with. When a young girl in the restaurant got a bit cranky, he tracked down her favorite song from "Hey Gabba Gabba" and played it over the sound system. On our second meal, we had just finished dessert and were paying the bill when Chef Gold came around with a heaping plate of fried chicken for us to try, and then after that an egg cream (both of which will be on the Restaurant Week menu). He has that same special magic of a Jewish mom too, where you may be stuffed and full but then she presents you with just one more thing, and you somehow find room to eat it, because it is good. When I left Eva for the first time, I felt as if I had made a new friend and it's very rare that a restaurant can inspire that feeling. I highly recommend taking this opportunity to try it if you haven't yet. Eva is serving both lunch and dinner (L: $22/D: $34). The dinner menu is below:

Dinner:

Choice of Appetizers:

- Chestnut Agnolotti (Handmade agnolotti with italian chestnuts)
- Hamachi, Winter Fruit (Japanese yellowtail with winter fruit and seasonal components)
- Soup and Salad (For those who want simplicity, a potato soup and a romaine salad with caesar dressing)

Choice of Entrees:

- Beef Tenderloin, Salsa Verde, Roasted Cauliflower (Sous vide beef tenderloin. the cauliflower is roasted, bordelaise and salsa verde)
- Swordfish, Potato, Red Pepper, Caper Relish (Swordfish cooked over low heat, a caper relish, confit potato and pepper)
- Fried Chicken, Creamed Spinach, Crushed Potato (Eva's famous "fried chicken," creamed spinach and crushed potato)

Choice of Desserts

- Chocolate Decadence (A flour-less chocolate cake, creme fraiche, walnuts)
- Steamed Lemon Pudding (A steamed lemon pudding cake, with whipped honey and thyme)
- Egg Cream and Ruggalah (Mark's favorite childhood drink with some ruggalah to wash it down!!!)

Grace:
Grace is a fine dining experience. It's a place that's on the more expensive end of the dining spectrum (although worth it) and a place I might not normally be able to try unless I saved up my dollars for a special occasion. Restaurant week has afforded me the opportunity to try it and to confirm that the place would be worth every penny for a return visit at regular prices. When I had dinner at Grace for restaurant week in 2008, the salmon I was served was without a doubt the best piece of salmon I have ever tasted. They did a good job of showcasing exactly what the restaurant is all about at a reasonable price. Grace is serving dinner only and it is $44 per person. There will also be some supplements you can add to the menu for a few extra dollars. The set menu is below:

Dinner:

Choice of Appetizers

- Kabocha Squash and Roasted Chestnut Soup
- Roasted Beet Salad (goat’s milk feta, greens, pistachios, goat cheese fondue)
- Grilled Monterey Bay Calamari (warm chickpeas, olives, charred tomatoes)

Choice of Entrees

- Sautéed Wild King Salmon (forbidden black rice, pecans, cranberry, watercress emulsion)
- Grilled Jidori Chicken (ricotta dumplings, chanterelle mushrooms, broccolini)
- Grilled Filet of Beef (farro, haricot verts, morcilla, ossau-iraty cheese, red wine sauce)

Choice of Desserts:

- Sticky Toffee Pudding (brûléed bananas, toffee sauce, hazelnut gelato)
- Bitter Caramel Panna Cotta (blood orange soup, cinnamon croutons, smoked sea salt)
- Milk Chocolate Mousse (tangerine sherbet, earl grey crème anglaise)

Jar:
Jar is another one of my favorites. I must confess I've only eaten in the dining room once. Most of the time we just go and sit at the bar, where you can order off the regular menu and there's just a nice sense of cameraderie and the feeling you can be a bit more casual. The restaurant feels as if you've just stepped into an episode of "Mad Men." It has that retro design aesthetic of a 1960s swanky steakhouse. The vibe isn't stuffy, snobby or old-fashioned at all, however. The room is comfortable and cozy and the food is simple, mom-style classics executed masterfully. Suzanne Tracht just really knows how to cook meat, but as a person who eats meat only sparingly, I have to say that the fresh seasonal vegetables and salads are also very nicely done. Jar is serving dinner only at $44 per person. The menu is as follows, with wine recommendations:

Dinner:

Choice of Appetizers:

- Roasted Beet Salad (Roasted beets, arugula, roquefort, and balsamic vinaigrette)
* Cremant de Bourgogne, Simmonet Febcre, Brut Rose, NV, France $12

- Winter Apple Celery Salad (Watercress, arugula, apples, celery, Marcona almonds, shaved parmesan, lemon and olive oil)
* Sauvignon Blanc, Six Sigma, 2008 Lake County $12

- Soup of the Day

Choice of Entrees:

- Jar's Signature Pot Roast, carrots, caramelized onions served with a choice of mashed potatoes, French fries, or purple yam, and creamed spinach, pea tendrils, or braised beet greens
* Zinfandel, Dashe, 2007 Dry Creek $13

- Lemongrass Chicken, kaffir lime leaf served with a choice of mashed potatoes, French fries, or purple yam, and creamed spinach, pea tendrils, or braised beet greens
* Bordeaux Blanc, Chateau Ducasse, 2008 France $10

- Roasted Wild Alaskan Salmon, shallot lemon vinaigrette served with a choice of mashed potatoes, French fries, or purple yam, and creamed spinach, pea tendrils, or braised beet greens
* Pinot Noir, Carmel Road, 2007 Monterey $12

Choice of Desserts

- Jar's Signature Chocolate Pudding with creme fraiche
- Banana Cream Pie
- Selection of sorbets

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