800 Degrees in Old Town Pasadena

DSC_0208I was so excited to see a line of people eager to try 800 Degrees pizza last week. Co-owner Allen Ravert greeted me inside and showed off the interior decor. All of his Umami Group restaurants have chandeliers, an animal head (usually found in consignment stores in Palm Springs), unique wall colors and mirrors. 800 Degrees in Pasadena doesn’t disappoint.

Located in a historic building on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Fair Oaks, it’s designed by John C. Austin, the architect who designed Griffith Park Observatory and the Los Angeles City Hall. Ravert took me into the ordering area and had me admire a beautiful mural on the wall. “As we removed the drywall, we discovered this  beautiful mural from famed Pasadena artist Kenton Nelson,” Ravert said. “It’s now restored to its original beauty and located in the ordering room.” Ravert is talking to Nelson about putting up more artwork in the dining area.

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Executive Chef Anthony Carron and Allen Ravert

The Umami Group, Adam Fleischman and Allen Ravert, met Executive Chef Anthony Carron in Las Vegas years ago and discussed creating a new concept in pizza that would change the pizza world. Fleischman had so much success with his Umami Burger and believed pizza offers that same satisfying Umami experience.

Carron created a menu of pizzas that could be assembled and baked in less than two minutes. They opened their first 800 Degrees in 2011 in Westwood, near UCLA and became an instant success. Soon after, fast-concept pizza restaurants opened soon all over Southern California.

800 Degrees enjoyed the Westwood community and opened in Santa Monica. They also believed it’s an ideal concept at LAX for travelers to order quickly and take a meal to enjoy during their flight, so they opened at LAX. Then Vegas called, and they opened in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo Resort.

What makes this pizza so tasty? Carron perfected the crust made in-house from only Italian flour, wild yeast, sea salt and filtered water. He purchases the freshest ingredients to create classic Neapolitan pizza. Naturally grown California tomatoes, and cheese from Di Stefano by the Bruno Family, known for their amazing Burrata cheese.

They also make classic salads that include a Gorgonzola, Caesar and a “Create Your Own. Their Burrata is served with beets with balsamic, cherry tomatoes with pesto, artichokes, olives and prosciutto with melon.terrific wood-oven meatballs baked with tomato, oregano and Parmigiano.

There is truffle cheese bread and wood-roasted broccolini with garlic, Calabrian chiles and olive oil.

DSC_0219You tell your personal chef the ingredients you want on your pizza and he/she will assemble it, pop it in the 800 degree oven and hand it to you within one minute. It’s easy to walk out satisfied for less than $10 per person.

They have other 800 Degrees planned to open soon at Downtown LA – 800 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Another in Las Vegas – SLS Hotel and Casino – 2780 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 and The Runway at Playa Vista – 12751 Millennium, Suite #B135, Playa Vista, CA.

To learn more, go to – http://www.800degreespizza.com

Pet Friendly Yountville

Photo by Jill Weinlein

Photo by Jill Weinlein

Yountville is famous for Napa Valley wines, Michelin star-studded dining, amazing artwork & luxurious resorts to relax, unwind and enjoy being pampered. It’s also a terrific pet-friendly destination

Summer Parade with Dogs

Yountville loves our furry friends. The charming one street town leaves a welcome mat or Fido, Ginger and Butch, and a water bowl too.

It’s the only Wine Country town with a winery (Jessup Cellars) that hosts a summertime fashion parade for the best-dressed dogs. They call it their Dress to the K-Nines Stroll.

Located in the middle of town, guests can sip wine at the wine bar or relax with a sit-down, wine tasting in the spacious art gallery.

The owners of Jessup Cellars are three families in the healthcare profession. They give back to the community by hosting special events such as Dress to the Vines weekends and Art House Sessions.

Jessup’s winemaker Rob Lloyd is an expert at the art of blending. Try his 2011 Zinfandel. It’s bright with big fruit flavors and a pleasing finish. 6740 Washington Street – Yountville (707)944-5620 http://www.jessupcellars.com

 

Wine Tasting with Man’s Best Friend

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Here are some more dog-friendly tasting rooms:

Girard Winery – Gaining critical acclaim for excellent wines at great values – http://www.girardwinery.com

Somerston Wine Co. –  Home of Somerston Estate, Priest Ranch and Highflyer wines located high in the eastern hills of Napa Valley – http://www.somerstonewineco.com

Domaine Chandon – Discover a sparkling wine, the result of 250 years of winemaking innovation – http://www.chandon.com

Hill Family Estate – After three decades of farming grapes for some of Napa Valley’s finest wine producers, Doug and the family decided that their family should enter the wine business. http://www.hillfamilyestate.com

Bell Cellars – Anthony and Sandra Bell offer tours of their vineyards and barrel room before taking guests on a sensory training tasting. Smell fresh fruit, herbs and other delectables represented in wine flavors and aromas. They also offer a Winemarker for the Day class and cheese and wine tasting. Bell Wine Cellars is committed to handcrafting limited edition bottles of extraordinary wines. The tasting room is open daily 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.. Call to schedule a visit. 6200 Washington Street • Yountville • California • 94599 • (707)944-1673.

Pet Friendly Dining Venues

IMG_7671Outdoor patio picnics are available for pups and “parents” at Michael Chiarello’s NapaStyle.

At Hurley’s Restaurant, Chef Bob Hurley and team welcome dogs on the patio with a water bowl and a treat.

Pacific Blues Café welcomes dogs on the patio with a San Francisco Giants water bowl or a plain bowl, on request.

At Lucy Restaurant at the Bardessono, the Dog Menu includes three entrees and two desserts for pups dining on the Lucy Patio. They’ve also started a dog-friendly happy hour called Dog Bar. 2014 marks the second year of the program which runs late spring through October. From 5-7 p.m. guests can bring in their dogs for a special promotion: $25 includes light snacks and a glass of wine from Lucy Restaurant & Bar (for the owner) and a cookie for your pup. All proceeds benefit the local humane society. Lucy encourages everyone to post their favorite photos of their dogs and their visits to the Dog Bar to Lucy’s Facebook wall, too. Each week, the person that receives the most likes for their photo receives lunch for two at Lucy.

Other pup-friendly outdoor dining is available at Bistro Jeanty, and at two of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, Ad Hoc’s Addendum and Bouchon Bakery. Bouchon offers two kinds of gourmet dog biscuits alongside their regular delectables, made from freshly ground corn meal and wholesome chicken liver, then glazed with a touch of ketchup. Yummy and good for them, too!

 

Lodging with your Dog

The French country-inspired Vintage Inn welcomes pets of all kinds. The Inn’s Pet Fee includes pet bowls, a pet bed fashioned with cushions, and wrought iron doggy IMG_7632beds with mattresses on request. An amenity package with treats and other dog essentials is presented at check-in, and treats are always available at the front desk. In the morning, precious pooches can accompany their owners for Champagne breakfast on the Vintage Inn patio.

Lavender Inn welcomes dogs up to two per room and “Breakfast in Bed” is included in the Pet Fee.

At North Block Hotel, property mascot and canine greeter Pismo often stars in the hotel’s Facebook page postings. Guests who bring their canine companion will find a comfy pet bed, bowls and special treats, all complimentary.

The luxe Bardessono welcomes pets; the hotel’s Lucy Restaurant & Bar offers a Dog Menu and, in summer and fall, a dog-friendly happy hour called Dog Bar.

Walks and Hikes

Yountville is the best walking town for pets in Napa Valley, the perfect place for travelers and their four-legged friends to soak in the beauty of wine country:

Admire the town's art while walking your lovable pooch.

Admire the town’s art while walking your lovable pooch.

Stroll over to Yountville Community Park–dog-friendly and right in town. Five parks in Yountville welcome pets. The “Yountville Mile” (the first segment of the Napa Valley Vine Trail) runs from the north end of town, south to Domaine Chandon, and pets are welcome. The Napa River Ecological Reserve Trail, one of the few dog-friendly trails on public lands in all of Napa Valley, is located on the Yountville Crossroad. Its one-mile interpretive loop trail has been called an oasis in wine country.

For additional information about Yountville, click on this link- yountville.com

Cafe del Rey: Beautiful Seaside Dining

9098314_f520In the 1970s and 1980s, Marina del Rey was “the place” in Los Angeles for singles and young couples. Now, with tech start-up companies flocking to Southern California, Marina del Rey and the surrounding communities are experiencing a resurgence of young professionals to the community, which is commonly referred to as “Silicon Beach”.

One of the culinary hot spots in the area is Cafe del Rey, which offers creative cocktails and farm-to-table fare. Executive chef Chuck Abair said he loves walking out of the kitchen and enjoying the view of the harbor with boats bobbing in the water.
Previously a sous chef for chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence, Abair joined Cafe del Rey in 2011 as the chef de cuisine, working alongside former executive chef Daniel Roberts. His background in preparing seafood dishes has allowed him to create menus highlighting seasonal flavors and emphasizing seafood paired with housemade ingredients.

Chef Abair is a graduate of Le Cordon Blue California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and has more than 10 years of culinary experience. His passion for cooking started as a child, when he enjoyed watching “The Galloping Gourmet” and Julia Child.

I was joined by a friend for lunch at Café del Rey, where Abair prepared a wild caught Hawaiian moonfish with chanterelle mushrooms, roasted purple pearl onions and 9096370_f520a moist chick pea cake topped with pan jus. Abair is a whiz with grilled fish, with rave reviews of his swordfish, salmon, barramundi and yellowtail.
He also makes an incredible cheeseburger with Brie cheese, oven dried tomatoes, arugula, caramelized onions and a mustard aioli. The burger is served with crisp French fries and housemade ketchup.

Other specialties include Dungeness crab cakes, grilled cheese on brioche with tomato soup and a lamb burger with harissa-spiced fries. Regulars often enjoy the daily Cinque Terre, offering a selection of five small dishes with a Mediterranean influence.

We saved room for his maple berry pie with cinnamon ice cream, and also sampled the chocolate tower adorned with an orange sauce, and his luscious butterscotch flan.

With fall approaching, Abair is preparing a new menu with dishes made from ingredients found at farmers’ markets. Last year’s fall menu included sweet potato gnocchi, salmon with butternut squash, and lamb osso buco with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and pine nut gremolata.

Abair said he is planning another “Permission to Come Aboard” half-day fishing expedition that gives seafood lovers and adventurous diners an all-hands-on-deck experience. The cost for the fishing excursion is $55, which includes equipment and a fishing license. Abair shows guests around Marina del Rey before they drop lines. The boat later docks at Cafe del Rey for a barbecue lunch with the freshly caught fish from the trip.

Cafe del Rey offers a casual, yet sophisticated experience for lunch, brunch and dinner. $$-$$$ 4451 Admiralty Way, (310)823-6395.

This article was published in the Sept. 4 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.

Parq Bar at the Montage Beverly Hills

IMG_0718The Parq Bar at the Montage Beverly Hills is an elegant experience, offering an ideal spot for socializing in an attractive, clubby atmosphere. An all-day menu is offered featuring Hamachi and various sushi and sashimi dishes, as well as fresh garden salads and sandwiches. The menu is appealing to area business women and men who come to the Montage Beverly Hills for lunch and dine on lobster chopped salad, with gem lettuce, sliced avocado, cut fresh corn, sliced Marcona almonds, tomatoes and a slightly tangy chipotle dressing. A baby kale salad and an octopus salad are also available.

Comfortable club chairs and lounge seating are available to enjoy a small plate and a cocktail or two. The chilled crab tower with fresh lump crab surrounded by sliced tomato and avocado and drizzled with a slightly tart lemon oil with herbs, creating a low calorie yet satisfying dish, perfect for sharing.

The crab tower and panzanella salad are among the selections for the Suite 100 menu that five leading Beverly Hills hotels have created in honor of Beverly Hills’ centennial celebration. Aptly named Suite 100, each property created suites themed after different decades from the past 100 years.

The Montage Beverly Hills’ suite was designed by Nina Petronzi, and takes guests back to the 1940s with Lalique crystal accents, elegant drapery and tufted furniture. A special touch is the “champagne button” and with just one push, a bottle is delivered to the room.

The Parq Bar offers a Tiffin box daily for lunch with soup, salad, sandwich and dessert. The portions are perfect for lunch, and the selections change daily. Sandwiches Tiffin-Box.Parq_-300x164featured on the regular menu include braised short rib, jamon iberico and a Mary’s chicken sandwich.

The Parq Burger – another excellent choice for lunch – is an eight-ounce, grass fed beef burger with white cheddar cheese, tomato and delicate watercress. It comes with a cone of crispy French fries, and guests have a choice of truffle parmigiano, garlic and parsley, or jalapeño and paprika dust.

The Parq Bar also hosts an afternoon tea every Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests can enjoy artisanal teas served in one-of-a-kind, hand-painted china by porcelain artist Lissi Kaplan. The Montage’s signature tea is an organic, caffeine-free golden pomegranate tea with rooibos, rose hips, orange peel and lemon.
Executive pastry chef Julie Jangali prepares sweet and savory items such as smoked salmon with crème fraîche and IMG_0723basil on a zucchini muffin, and roasted beef with candied shallots and date marmalade on a cheddar cheese biscuit.

Additionally, guests can enjoy a treatment at the Spa Montage, which offers a nail salon, Kim Vo hair salon, massages, facials and wellness classes.
$$$ 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. (310)499-4199. http://www.montagehotels.com/beverlyhills.

This article was featured in the August 28, 2014 issue of Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Jason Alexander -West Coast Broadway Bound

9148358_f520“As a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a magician,” said actor, director, writer, producer and comedian Jason Alexander, 54. The majority of NBY readers will fondly remember Alexander as George Costanza in the mega-successful television show Seinfeld. Alexander practiced his craft starting at the age of six and perform magic shows for family and friends until he was 13 years old.When his family moved to Livingston, New Jersey, the shy Alexander was welcomed by the theater kids at school. “They were friendly, supportive and quick to include me in the group,” he remembers good memories associated with being part of the theater community. To Alexander, the theater was like a big magic show. “Nothing is real in theater, it was the best magic trick. I didn’t have to saw an assistant in half or pull any rabbits out of a hat.”
From then on, he was a thespian throughout high school and college. He enrolled at BU (Boston University) and completed three years before getting a call to perform on Broadway. His acting career started in 1981 and he married in 1982.

Over the years, Jason Alexander has acquired other interests, such as poker and philanthropy. He competed on televised poker shows and in various tournaments. He has appeared twice on Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, winning the final table of the 8th season. Alexander won the $500,000 prize for his charity, The United Way of America to help benefit the New Orleans area. An avid poker player, Alexander was also one of the “famous faces” as a result of being a regular player on the online poker website Hollywood Poker.

Alexander played in the 2007 and 2009 World Series of Poker main event. He also signed with PokerStars where he plays under the screen name “J Alexander”.

Since his memorable role in the television series, Seinfeld, Alexander has been working constantly. Roles on stage, television and movies have allowed him to sing, 9148365_f520dance, act, write and totally immerse himself in the art.

Currently, Jason Alexander is directing Neil Simon’s hilarious and heartwarming semi-autobiographical play Broadway Bound at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. This production is very special to him, because in 1986, Alexander starred in the production of Broadway Bound in New York City.

Now as the director, he feels as if he is a magician creating magic up on stage five shows a week. The opportunity came about when he went to see his dear friend, actress Gina Hecht perform in the 2013 La Mirada Theatre production of Broadway Bound. Hecht asked Alexander for advice after her performance. She wanted to know what he thought of the show and what needed improvement.

As he shared with her his experience about performing in Broadway Bound on Broadway, Hecht asked if he might consider directing the performance in the future. He replied “If the timing is right, yes, I would take a crack at it.” Hecht immediately talked to her other cast members at the La Mirada show including the legendary actor/professor/director Allan Miller and Ian Alda. Miller had the assistant director at the Odyssey Theatre come see the La Mirada production. When they got the “green light” Miller, Hecht and Alda agreed to star in the show with Alexander directing the production.

9148364_f260Mr. Alexander has bonded with the cast and has enjoyed the interactions, specifically mentioning Allan Miller. The 85 year old actor lives in a suburb in Los Angeles and I was able to talk with him, as well.

This is Miller’s third time starring in Broadway Bound. Miller and Alexander hit it off immediately and work well with each other.

“I have had 8 terrific Directors in my extensive acting career,” said Miller. “Jason Alexander is now my 9th favorite Director. He is passionate, enthusiastic and offers wonderful ideas to enhance the show.”
Miller explained that with Alexander’s direction, “Broadway Bound goes deep into the painfully perceptive life of Neil Simon.” Miller finished the interview with, “I have some of the best one-liners in the show.”

This is not the first time Jason Alexander has directed a show. He had the opportunity to direct three Seinfeld episodes. He also has directed the successful television shows – Mike & Milly and Everybody Hates Chris.

Alexander is captivated by the challenges and rewards of directing and is eager to direct more projects.9147122_f520

Broadway Bound runs Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $30. On September 10 and September 19 audience members can buy “Pay What You Can” tickets for a $10 minimum. Also on September 19, a glass of wine is on the house. The Odyssey Theatre is at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles. Box Office hours are from 1 p.m. to curtain. (310) 477-2055 ext. 2.

This article was featured in the September 2014 issue of Not Born Yesterday.

PUMP – West Hollywood’s Newest Darling

9091099_f520One block away from Lisa Vanderpump’s exclusive West Hollywood restaurant and lounge, SUR, is her recent endeavor with husband Ken Todd, PUMP.
I arrived alone on a Wednesday evening and was welcomed by the charming host up front. He sat me at a lovely table on the outdoor patio, under 100-year-old olive trees, and two tables away from Ken Todd and his daughter Pandora. They were dining with friends at a round table in the center of the patio.

As the sun set, the patio became more stunning and romantic with lanterns hanging from branches of the ancient trees and candles casting flickering shadows on the patio and interior of the restaurant. The decor has a French influence with decorative pieces from Parisian bridges below each bar area.

Looking over the Mediterranean and Italian influenced menu, I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and roasted beet and goat cheese Napoleon with candied pistachios. Todd walked over to my table for a chat. We met before when I dined and reviewed their Beverly Hills establishment, Villa Blanca. I reminded Todd, and we both laughed, about how he sat down next to me at Villa Blanca, ordered a dish of his Grandma Edith’s sticky toffee pudding, grabbed a spoon, and fed me bites of the delicious dessert.

All of a sudden, PUMP grew quiet as Vanderpump strolled onto the dining patio. It was as if the most popular girl in high school was sauntering into a classroom. All eyes 9092957_f520-1were on her. If you don’t know who Vanderpump is, she is one of the stars of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and producer of “Vanderpump Rules.”
She noticed her husband talking to me and came over to my table. After a reintroduction, I learned that Vanderpump personally designs the interiors of many of their restaurants, including Villa Blanca, SUR and PUMP.

I also discovered that this dynamic duo have a big heart and financially support the organization Keep Memory Alive. It’s an organization that develops treatments and preventions of neurological disorders that include Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Wanting to see her daughter Pandora, Vanderpump excused herself and walked over to her table. The amiable Todd gave me a hug and ambled table to table to chat with guests.

This “Hollywood Royalty” now own 27 restaurants and bars. Their daughter Pandora became involved in the restaurants, after graduating from Pepperdine University in Malibu. She currently has a LVP (Lisa Vanderpump) Sangria line that guests can order at PUMP.

Enjoying my salad, I asked my server a few questions about the restaurant and the chef. He shared with me that I should take a peek at the silver vase that Lady Gaga presented as a gift to Lisa Vanderpump. It’s located near the back bar on the patio.

9092952_f520-1He then had the Executive Chef Penny Davidi come to my table to discuss the menu. Chef Penny was known as the Food Network’s Middle Eastern Mama in the popular television show, Chopped. She was such a fan favorite that she came back on “Chopped All-Stars.”

She shared with me that her Farsi name is Pouneh, which means “edible flower. She is a playful, likable and feisty chef. When Vanderpump and Todd met Davidi, they liked her cooking style and felt she would be the perfect choice as Executive Chef at PUMP.

Davidi is also a certified US Foods Culinary Specialist. She creates both healthy and sexy dishes, such as Kale on a Date, creamy burrata with colorful heirloom tomatoes, the Pinky Pump burger with caramelized red onions, pomegranate ketchup, and feta cheese, on a brioche bun and served with a side of thick cut fries, and Davidi’s favorite the Guinness battered fish and chips.

All of the desserts are made in her kitchen with her recipes. Besides working at PUMP, Penny also owns a bakery, ToC near the Beverly Center and Cedars Sinai.
The restaurant is open nightly and offers a decadent Sunday Brunch. It’s had to believe that this dazzling spot was once the gravel parking lot for Java Detour.
Before leaving I visited the all silver women’s restroom and peeked inside the private cabana’s in the back of the patio. They are decorated with a French Moroccan theme. On the walls were famous hand painted Vanderpump sayings, including “Life isn’t all diamonds and rose, but it should be…”

$$ Hours nightly are 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday Brunch begins at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 8948 Santa Monica Blvd. (310)657-7867.

A portion of this article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park La Brea News – Aug. 21, 2014

Scratch Bar – Delightful Surprises on Every Plate

DSC_0729Stepping into the patio of Scratch Bar on Restaurant Row on La Cienega Blvd. in Beverly Hills, I looked around and noticed that every staff member looked like they are represented by l.a. models. I was handed a flute of Prosecco by Joe, a handsome man with stunning blue eyes, and led into the restaurant to sit at the bar counter in a comfortable leather chair.

Celebrating their one-year birthday, owner and General Manager Dario Danesh and Owner/Chef/Proprietor Phillip Frankland Lee invited a group of foodies to help them all celebrate the restaurant’s anniversary.

The evening was full of delightful surprises. Chef Phillip stood behind the corner of the bar greeting guests while preparing to make an interactive 8-course dinner right before our eyes. He told us he would be preparing 90% of the dishes at the bar.

The dashing bartender Chase, enticed me to drink a Lucky Charm cocktail. He explained that it’s a

Chase mixes great cocktails.

Chase mixes great cocktails.

version of a mojito, only better. Chase poured shots of sake, with lime juice, muddled mint, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper to give a tingle on my lips.

Chase made a Bangkok Dangerous cocktail for my friend. It had two types of sake with lemon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, pineapple juice and a pinch of salt. She loved it.
For those who want a non-alcohol drink, try the Scratch ginger beer.

In front of our place setting was a menu with a description of the variety of small plates we would experience throughout the evening.

The first plate was actually a shot glass with a green mussel shooter. Chef Phillip told us to eat this in a three-step process. First, we were to take the skewer and bite into the sake enhanced green mussel. Then we were to throw back the unfiltered sake and lime juice. Last, we were instructed to skewer and poke the avocado mousse to find a sea urchin treasure surprise on the bottom.

DSC_0712I loved every part of this shooter. Even the sea urchin, which in the past I have said is an acquired taste. What a great start to a stellar evening.

Guests can come in for a la carte dining or be adventurous and allow Chef Phillip and his staff to surprise them with 14 courses at the Chefs Counter.

While watching Chef Phillip assemble a pork belly that looked like firm tofu, he added a raw oyster and poured a little coconut and chamomile broth. He shared with us that he is a local boy, born just blocks from the restaurant at Cedar Sinai Medical Center. He finished the dish with a tiny wedge of orange and puffed amaranth.

Joe the wine steward, served a luscious Pinot Noir with this dish. He told us he loves a good French Pinot Noir, because it’s the most versatile grape that pairs nicely with vegetables, birds and meats.

Next Chef Phillip lined up the tops to Korean hot boxes along the bar. He placed a crisp waffle circle on the bottom and topped it with whipped German potato salad, then chicken before drizzling it with a little maple syrup and micro greens.IMG_0203

As we took a bite and smiled with pleasure, Chef Philip enthusiastically prepared a newer vegan dish for us. It was a combination of various preparations of the cauliflower flower. He purees cauliflower, blackens cauliflower, marinates and dries the stems to resemble beef jerky. He tops this dish with pickled red onion and lime juice.

Chef Phillip doesn’t like to throw anything away, even cauliflower stems.

While enjoying the various flavors and textures of cauliflower, Chef Phillips told us that Michael Cimarusti (Providence and Connie and Ted’s) is his favorite chef in Los Angeles. “I interned for him at Providence,” Phillip told us. “I thought I kept my little area in the kitchen clean, however Cimarusti didn’t think so. One night he threw my cutting board at the wall,” Phillip said. “Cimarusti always told his chefs that you can’t make clean food in a dirty kitchen.” Chef Phillip thought that was so cool.

A plate with a cool glass rectangular top was presented to our place setting. Inside was a scoop of goat cheese that was in a sauna of smoking herbs. When lifted up, the smoke wafted into the restaurant. We were instructed to pick up a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread. Next, we were to spread the smoked goat cheese on the bread and add a swipe of dark olive puree and top with a few pickled vegetables. “Eat this like an open sandwich,” Chef Phillip said. The smoking under the glass gives the goat cheese a campfire essence.

He served his second favorite dish on the menu as we sipped an Italian blended wine from Tuscany with dark cherry and blackberry notes. Chef Phillip told us he takes half baking cylinders and par bakes the sourdough dough inside. Next, he scoops out grooves in the center, and fills it with bone marrow and bakes it again. When done, he tops this with pickled red onions, cayenne leaves and adds shimeji mushrooms from Japan. This dish was served on a decorative floor tile that the chef picks up at Home Depot. This dish offers a “wow” factor.

DSC_0721I loved the dry-hangar steak with roasted asparagus, and super sweet sugar blasted tomatoes.
The last surprise of the evening was when Chef Phillip’s supermodel wife, Margarita came out with dessert. She is the pastry chef at Scratch Bar. The two have known each other since Middle School in Tarzana, CA.

We finished with Margarita’s cayenne chocolate bar with raspberry jam and turmeric shortbread cookies. Margarita uses chia seeds, micro mints and olive oil to offer antioxidant elements.

Recently Scratch Bar opened for lunch service at 11:30 a.m. on Monday through Friday. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. Order a la carte or pull up a stool to watch Chef Phillip craft 14 courses for $111 with a $40 optional beverage pairing. Dinner begins at 5 p.m. The restaurant is open seven nights a week by reservation. $$$ 111 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)289-8010.

Parts of this article were published in the August 7, 2014 Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.

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