Cooking This Thanksgiving? Forget it!

Thanksgiving-ImageWhy shop spend a lot of money, clean up your house, set the table, heat up the ovens, eat too much food, and then clean up the dining room and kitchen this Thanksgiving? There are some great spots in Los Angeles that are open for Thanksgiving that offer traditional fare for lunch or dinner. A few are even open for breakfast. Check out my list to get inspired:

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Canter’s Celebrates Thanksgiving
Come to Canter’s on Fairfax this Nov. 27 for a Thanksgiving dinner that includes an oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, yams and peas, gravy, cranberry sauce, Canter’s stuffing and a slice of pumpkin pie for $17.95. The restaurant is open 24 hours. 419 N Fairfax Ave. (323)651-2030.

002-HomePageSliderThanksgiving-SidesMimi’s Café Thanksgiving
Eat at Mimi’s Cafe for Thanksgiving Day for $16.99 per adult and $8.99 for kids. Guests have a choice of soup or Mimi’s House or Caesar salad. The main course is turkey, cornbread stuffing, Bourbon sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie with whipped cream or salted caramel pecan pie. For those who want to bring a feast home, order a to-go box to feed 6 to 8 people for $89.99. It comes with a whole turkey basted with rosemary herbs de provence butter or a smoked ham with orange-Dijon glaze served with mashed potatoes, Bourbon sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole and turkey gravy, cranberry relish, Dessert includes six pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie. 2925 Los Feliz Blvd. (323)668-1715.

tdaydessert3TURKEY DINNER FROM Nov. 24 through Nov. 30

Open 24 hours a special Thanksgiving meal is being served at kitchen24. The Thanksgiving Goodness Dinner is $15.95. The dinner includes oven roasted turkey, a homemade buttermilk biscuit, chicken gravy, cornbread pecan stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Dessert is $5.95 for warm pumpkin beignets With spiced cream cheese frosting. 1608 N Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, (323) 465-2424


Papilles Thanksgiving
Open on Thanksgiving from 3 to 7 p.m. for a three-course menu for $45. Start with a Fall market salad or Thaitian squash velouté. The entree selection includes a Heritage turkey with wild mushroom stuffing, roasted roots and a thyme jus or Arctic Char with sweet potato and celery root with a black truffle vinaigrette. Dessert is a chocolate hazelnut crisp or slice of pumpkin pie. 6221 Franklin Ave. (323)871-2026.


Mr C Thanksgiving
On Thursday, Nov. 27 the special holiday meal begins with a lobster bisque soup. Guests will also enjoy homemade butternut squash ravioli, oven roasted turkey with delicious side dishes and homemade pumpkin pie for $85 a person. Pair with wine for an additional $35. The chefs at Mr. C are also preparing Thanksgiving to go meals. Orders must be called in advance. 1224 Beverwil Drive (310)277-2800.


Tanzy Westwoodbrioche_frenchtoast
Eat in or take out on Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. by ordering from their regular menu a la carte or enjoy a generous three-course Thanksgiving feast at $40 for adults and $20 for kids. For take-out, please give 12-hour notice before pick up. 10840 Wilshire Blvd. (310)307-7004.


Komodo Thanksgiving
This California Asian fusion restaurant puts a spin on Thanksgiving to-go. The Komodo box offers a choice of two entree items that include braised ox tail with rose’ red wine, Thai spice baked pork tenderloin, or salmon filet with cream of lemongrass and black ear mushrooms. Choose three out of five side dishes that include charred corn on the cob, Mac & Cheese with Vietnamese sweet sausage, and Peking duck stuffing. Dessert is strawberry Horchata with tapioca boba. Komodo makes a house Lychee lemonade ideal for adding Gin or Vodka and topping with fresh mint. This special dinner feeds six to eight people for $350. 8809 Pico Blvd. (310)246-5153.


On Thursday, November 27, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the iconic waterfront dining destination will celebrate Thanksgiving with an exclusive three-course prix-fixe menu for $60 per person. Celebrate the holiday with such favorites as roasted turkey breast served with sausage stuffing, green beans, truffle mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Chef Abair is also making lobster ceviche and roasted salmon. Desserts include sweet potato pie, pecan bars or cranberry 4451 Admiralty Way (310)823-6395.


Thanksgiving at Barton G. LA

On Thursday, Nov. 27 from 5 to 10 p.m., Barton G. LA presents Angelenos with a holiday feast featuring turkey, gravy, stuffing, candied yams and many of the classic holiday fixings in a three-course menu for $65 per person. The dishes are plated with an artful twist intended to amuse and entertain diners. Finish with pumpkin donuts with cranberry compote, pumpkin butter, spiced warm chocolate, and cinnamon anglaise. 861 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)388-1888.

Thanksgiving at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
Executive chefs Kaleo Adams and Hugo Bolanos have created menus to reflect the warmth and magic of the holiday season on Nov. 27 from 12 p.m to 8 p.m. This one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving meal is $140 per adult and $65 for children under 12. 701 Stone Canyon Road (310)472-1211.


Bruce Bozzi Jr. recently opened the new Palm Restaurant in Beverly Hills and is offering a festive three-course menu on Thanksgiving Day from 2 to 8 p.m. Guests have a choice of three salads or lobster bisque or roasted butternut squash soup. For the second course, guests receive a plate of slow-roasted hand carved turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and giblet gravy with a choice of one seasonal side dish. Finish with a slice of chocolate pecan pie with Bourbon sauce or pumpkin pie with ginger spiced whipped cream. Dinner for adults is $55 per person and $24 for children. An a la carte dinner menu is also available. 267 N. Canon Drive (213)763-4600.

Thanksgiving at the Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel
Enjoy brunch from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. for $90 per adult and $55 for children 12 and under. Chefs are also preparing a special dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. This special holiday meal is $135 per adult; $55 for children 12 and under. 9641 Sunset Blvd. (310)909-1663.

Thanksgiving at The Peninsula Beverly Hills

Executive Chef David Codney’s provides an exquisite take on traditional holiday dishes. Appetizers include roasted D’Anjou pears with endive, Maytag blue cheese and pecan brittle. Main courses include Long Valley Ranch short ribs with Brussels Sprouts, pomegranate and sweet potato brulée. Entrees include a “Willie Bird” free range Sonoma turkey with sage stuffing, Farmers’ Market carrots, buttermilk potatoes, Pinot cranberry chutney and traditional gravy. A bountiful dessert buffet will also be featured. The festive meal includes champagne for $130 per person. Children under 12 are $60. 9882 S Santa Monica Blvd. (310)551-2888.


M Café Thanksgiving Feast
Bring home a choice of entrée, holiday soup, salad, salad and your choice of 2 additional healthy accompaniments. Order a holiday Seitan roast or a gluten-free tempeh loaf. A selection of sides include sourdough bread stuffing with almonds and raisins, mashed pumpkin with couscous and raisins, whipped potato and rutabaga. For two it’s $75 and for four it’s $135. Orders must be placed by Nov. 24. 7119 Melrose Ave. Contact Sarah at (617)291-3847.


Overlook the Pacific at Thanksgiving
One Pico offers a casual, yet elegant Thanksgiving meal prepared by Executive Chef Isaac Gamboa. He uses classic Thanksgiving flavors and market-fresh ingredients, seasonal seafood, and a touch of coastal whimsy. The $90 three-course menu includes a range of options from which guests can choose including a traditional free range Diestel turkey and butternut squash soup. 1 Pico Blvd. (310)587-1717.

Coast at Shutters on the Beach
This coastal casual restaurant offers a $42 three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu that consists of butternut squash soup with Madagascar vanilla crème fraiche, free range Diestel turkey with a Yukon gold mash, cranberries, roasted market vegetables, and smoked bacon stuffing. Finish with a pecan pie with salted caramel and bourbon whipped cream. 1 Pico Blvd.

THANKSGIVING BRUNCH AND DINNERbeverly-hills-restaurants-circa-55

CIRCA 55 at The Beverly Hilton
The Thanksgiving menu includes both brunch and dinner options. The brunch buffet is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $79 for adults and $29 for children. A couple of the delicious four-course dinner selections include lobster bisque with sherry cream and chives or pumpkin bisque with toasted pepitas. Entrees include citrus brined turkey with roasted garlic mash, Marilyn Monroe’s stuffing, gravy, apple cranberry chutney or dry aged Prime Rib with Haricot Vert, Beech mushrooms, crispy shallots, rosemary jus and horseradish. Dinner starts with a amuse bouche and ends with a trio of Thanksgiving pies: pumpkin, apple crumble and golden pecan for $69 per person. 9876 Wilshire Blvd. (310)887-6055.


Nick + Stef’s Specials
For Thanksgiving day Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse offers a prix-fixe menu with roasted root vegetables with aged goat cheese, pomegranate, and chimichurri, hand carved Diestel turkey with brioche and chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied butternut squash, creamed Swiss Chard, pickled cranberry relish,and turkey gravy. The three-course meal is $52 for adults and $19 for children 10 and under. 330 S. Hope St. (213)680-0330.

IMG_0852Café Pinot
Enjoy a prix fixe holiday meal starting with roasted pumpkin soup with coffee cream, Bourbon gastrique,and pumpkin seed. Entrees include veal sweetbreads with chestnut agnolotti or braised pork shoulder with savoy cabbage and apple fondue. The dessert is a chocolate Namelaka with financier, roasted Griottes, pistachio Chantilly and basil. The adult portion is $55 for three- courses and $19 for children under 10. 700 W 5th St. (213)239-6500.

Patina Catering Thanksgiving To-Go
Now through November 25 order by phone or online your holiday meal at Patina Catering. They are offering an array of traditional sides to pair with either a bone-in turkey breast or a whole roasted turkey. Highlights include classic brioche stuffing with roasted squash, charred Cinderella pumpkin soup, and roasted root vegetable salad with Tuscan kale, faro and pumpkin seeds. To complete the Thanksgiving feast, Patina Catering offers four signature pies including the classic pumpkin pie with roasted pumpkin, maple Chantilly, and leaf butter crust. There is also a winter S’mores pie with graham cracker crumble, milk chocolate pudding, and roasted marshmallow fluff. The bone-in turkey breast dinner serves 6 to 8 people with all the trimmings, two sides and one pie at $145.Call (213)814-3263 or email Pick up locations will be given when order is placed.


Thanksgiving Dessert at Bo Nuage10802613_396967167120183_1063352854_a
The Parisian-inspired pastry shop on Melrose offers 15 different flavors of “nuage” cakes. It’s two layers of meringue, filled with flavored whipped cream, covered in that same cream, and topped with shaved chocolate. For a Thanksgiving feast serve or bring one or both of their new seasonal flavors – Pumpkin-Ginger and Apple Cobbler. They are available in the small nuage size or full size cakes. From now until Thanksgiving buy four small nuage cakes (any flavor) and get 2 free. Or buy a 9″ inch cake for $45 and get a box of 6 mini cakes for free. The cakes are around 200 calories and available in gluten-free and dairy free options. 8010 Melrose Ave.(310)880-2065.

Sipping Wine and Cocktails By The Sea

IMG_0980Sitting on the roof-top garden at the Sonoma Wine Garden’s I finally met the talented mixologist Rob Floyd. With his movie-star good looks, he entertained eight foodies and me for over two hours with his show-stopping cocktails paired with sous chef Jefferson Reyes cuisine. While talking to our group, I discovered that Floyd lived in Park La Brea twice.”I loved living there while raising my two boys,” Floyd said.

The first time he moved into Park La Brea was in 2001 after being an actor in New York. Known for his role as “Mallory” on the science fiction television show Sliders, Floyd also worked with James Cameron in the television series Dark Angel. He lived in Park La Brea for almost two years. Then in 2008 to 2009, Floyd moved back into the safe and fun development.

After working at Chateau Marmont and opening the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills with Jose Andres, Floyd founded the Cocktail Theatre delivering engaging stories with unique performances while mixing unforgettable specialty cocktails. Top celebrity chefs consult with Floyd often in creating the perfect cocktail to be paired with a special dish.

After Jeremy Umland opened the Sonoma Wine Garden in the Santa Monica Place rooftop dining deck, he wanted a top-notch cocktail program and connected with Floyd. That was an excellent decision.IMG_0967

Our first course was a crunchy beet and polenta aranacini filled with risotto and goat cheese and served with a saffron aioli. It was paired with Floyd’s Lock and Low’d beer cocktail made with BrewLock Heineken. We learned that BrewLock is a new system designed to deliver draught beer at the right level of carbonation, creating a smoother and less bitter beverage. Floyd mixed this beer with an orange infused Bourbon. The citrus and lemon got our palate ready for the second course of a warm and smooth falafel slider served with a tzatziki yogurt sauce. Farmers Market fruit and cheese boards arrived with creamy burrata, chestnut honey, walnuts, a fig and cherry compote and slices from a Marcona almond baguette.

It went nicely with Floyd’s Bitterly Cherry cocktail. “Taste is 90% of smell,” Floyd said. He used Nolet’s gin with lemon, simple syrup, cherry bitters and bubbly club soda. It’s his version of a Tom Collins.

Our third course was a colorful Petaluma salad with farro, spicy arugula, sliced fuji apples, bacon lardon, sliced grilled chicken, feta cheese and dressed with a mild lemon and mustard vinaigrette.

IMG_0981Floyd brought out a burner to our table with sprigs of rosemary and glasses filled with Old Fashioned cocktails. He burned the rosemary, placed it inside the lowball glass filled with Bulleit Rye, simple syrup, angostura bitters, and a twist of orange. As the herb was smoking, Floyd put a silver cocktail shaker over the glass to infuse a smoky flavor. It was served with a giant ice cube. The size of the cube kept the cocktail cold, yet takes longer to melt, so it doesn’t water the cocktail down like crushed ice or smaller cubes.

Raves among all were voiced when we tasted Reyes lamb meatballs on top of linguine with his special marinara sauce, Percorino cheese, Fresno chili and intensely green and sweet Castelvetrano olives.

A plate of Branzino fish was decorated with seasonal squash puree, roasted cherry tomatoes, capers, green and yellow pattypan squash, accompanied with a plate of roasted white and purple cauliflower.

Our dessert was a recipe created by the first chef at Sonoma Wine Garden, a Kaiserschmarr’n. This caramelized Austrian pancake souffle was cut into small pieces like a bread pudding and served with whipped cream, almonds, golden raisins and brandied apples. This paired perfectly with Floyd’s pumpkin spice martini infused with Crystal Head vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s, pumpkin syrup and vanilla foam.

With plenty of seating outside, I walked inside the the wine-cellar-styled bar and admired the stunning chandelier made from wine bottles.IMG_0968
Besides serving great food prepared by Executive Chef Garee Battad and sous chef Jefferson Reyes, Umland offers a wine club with a $25 membership. Members receive an enomatic card upon registering into the club. The Enomatic is a wine machine capable of preserving wine for up to four weeks. It serves two oz. up to a full pour in a glass perfectly, giving everyone the chance to taste premium wines by the glass at a much more affordable price than purchasing a bottle. Wine members receive 10% off every time they re-fill their enomatic card, priority notification and discounted tickets for wine tasting dinners and events. Best of all, members have access to Sommelier reservations with table-side custom wine pairings done by David Jones.

Sonoma Wine Garden is a ideal place to meet others passionate about wine, cocktails and good food.

Open for lunch Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner service begins 2:30 to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Come for brunch at 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 395 Santa Monica Place, #300 (424)214-4560.

Parts of this article was published in the November 20, 2014 issues of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Holiday Shopping at The Children’s Place

IMG_1147Walking into the Children’s Place in Tarzana, CA it looked like every article of sparkling holiday wear to boy’s neon clothing was on sale. Before Thanksgiving they offer an up to 50% off sale for girls, baby girls, boys, baby boys and newborns.

I was shopping for my nine-year-old daughter and a new baby that a friend just delivered.

I first went into the baby section and fell in love with a bright red Santa cap and booties.

I also loved all of the onesies and comfy wear that said, “I love Mom and Dad” “I love Grandma” “I love Grandpa” and “I love Daddy Forever.” What parent wouldn’t love to receive one of these gifts for their baby?

Fleece is popular right now with leopard prints a standout among the racks. Glacier fleece hoodies are $5 and IMG_1149up.

Holiday outfits are in sparkling colors and pastels. Many are up to 60% off the tag price.

Boys look handsome in the colorful button downs with vests.

This season The Children’s Place offers critter hats that are very popular with friendly monster faces for up to 50% off. All the cozy outerwear are on sale too.

IMG_1148This is where you purchase “Baby’s 1st Christmas” outfits and holiday pajamas for all the children.

Be sure to buy some cool stocking-stuffers in the accessory areas for girls and boys.

To find a Children’s Place near you or shop online, go to

The Legend of Tam O’Shanter

DSC_0301In 1952, my father returned from the Korean War and his family took him to Tam O’Shanter on Los Feliz Blvd. for a celebratory meal. Located in his old stomping grounds, he fondly remembers the storybook tudor-design building filled with knick-knacks and good wholesome food.

Now in his 80s, I helped move my dad from Palm Springs to live closer to me and my family. One of his first requests was to have dinner at Tam O’Shanter.

As we walked into the restaurant, a hostess and the manager, Brian McNally warmly greeted us. When asked if this was our first visit to the historic restaurant in Los Angeles, my father told McNally his story as we were led to a table in the back.

McNally shared with us that Walt Disney used to dine a Tam O’Shanter on Sundays. He led us past Disney’s table and pointed out the brass plaque with Walt Disney’s name inscribed in the metal. John Wayne used to visit often too.

The room we dined in was decorated with detailed wood paneling with crown moulding short of the ceiling to IMG_0917display plates, tea pots, figurines and goblets. On one wall was an oversized fireplace near an eclectic array of chairs surrounding square and circular tables.

Established in 1922 by the founders of Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakeries- Lawrence Frank and Walter Van de Kamp, this duo later created the popular Lawry’s restaurant chain. The men hired movie studio carpenters to build Tam O’Shanter and they named the restaurant after a beloved 1790 Robert Burns narrative poem that is a mixture of Scottish and English. It’s about Tam and his cronies drinking at a pub. Tam in the poem wears a bonnet, as do all the servers at Tam O’ Shanter.

The poem goes on to tell how Tam rides his mare through the countryside when lightning strikes, hence the new sign outside of the restaurant with a dramatic red lightning bolt. Also new at the restaurant is a revitalized menu by the newer IMG_0901Executive chef Mark Kalenderian.

This talented chef was inspired to be a chef by his grandmother while living in Long Island New York. The rest of his training was in Las Vegas cooking with Emeril Lagasse and Alain Ducasse. He came to the Tam O’Shanter three years ago, after a stint at the swanky Pelican Hill Resort along the Newport Coast. He has been gradually adding new items to the beloved menu.

Since there are so many longtime regulars, Kalenderian keeps many of the signature dishes and guest favorites that include roasted Prime Rib with mashed potatoes and gravy, Yorkshire pudding, two different freshly prepared horseradish and either creamed spinach or corn.

Kalenderian also kept the Scottish classic, Haggis made with braised beef, fresh herbs, house-made pastry crustIMG_0911 and a spicy mustard. Fish and chips are locally caught cod served with hand-cut beef fat fries, peanut coleslaw and house-made tartar sauce. Many guests enjoy the signature Toad in the Hole made with filet mignon, Yorkshire pudding, pearl onions, mixed mushrooms in a Burgundy wine sauce.

As with Lawry’s, Tam O’Shanter has many long term employed staff members including Ricky the bartender for over 45 years. Sotero our busboy for 28 years and Diane our charming server 17 years.

Diane explained the menu to us while dressed in white knee high socks, a navy colored shirt, white blouse with a Scottish plaid vest and proper Tam resting on her head. She shared that the chocolate souffle takes up to 45 minutes to prepare and to let her know if we wanted one. We piped in “Yes” immediately.
Sotero brought us a basket with Swedish Limpa bread and white bread. The Swedish Limpa is a dark brown bread made with stout beer and an interesting combination of orange rind, fennel, caraway, and anise seeds. It’s served with a soft and creamy butter that is easy to spread onto the divine bread.

IMG_0904We decided to start our culinary adventure with a meat and cheese board that displayed freshly cut Honey Bee aged goat Gouda cheese and a St. Agur cheese with a slightly spicy finish. The meat we selected was a thinly sliced, sweet and salty Lonzino Kurobuta pork from a local purveyor, Angel’s Salumi & Truffles.

On the board were Marcona almonds dusted with cayenne pepper and cumin. There were pools of lavender honey, and three different types of mustards. Sliced apple, black garlic, cornishons, and a spoonful of fennel jam and a pear coriander jam enhanced the two different breads served with the board.

Next we ordered the new root vegetable salad with goat cheese and watercress dressed in a walnut vinaigrette IMG_0909and a bowl of the sweet potato soup with a yam chutney on top.

Kalenderian likes to use fennel in some of his newer dishes and makes his own chutney. The entree I ordered offered a combination of both. My poached Scottish salmon was on a fennel puree with braised fennel bulbs and a lovely tomato and dill chutney. I added roasted Brussels spouts with bacon to the dish. It was a meal fit for a Scottish King or Queen.

My father was excited to try the classic meatloaf on top of mashed potatoes with a sweet tomato glaze and huge beer battered onion rings.

A large chocolate souffle arrived puffed up and ready to be pierced with a spoon and topped with some freshly whipped cream. With a slightly sweet egg flavor, we polished the warm cake quickly.

IMG_0915Upon leaving we noticed the demographics changed inside the restaurant. When we arrived at 7 p.m. the guests inside ranged from babies in carriers to seniors with canes. By the time we left, a talented four piece Irish/folk music band, Whiskey Sunday was performing near the entrance, and the crowd was more in their 20s to 40s with large parties gathering at tables to enjoy Kalenderian’s modernized menu.

Tam O’Shanter is open for lunch at the Ale and sandwich bar from 11 a.m. until the kitchen closes at 11 p.m. Dinner on Monday through Thursday is from 5 to 9 p.m. On Tuesdays Tam O’Shanter offers Trivia Night. There is no cost to participate. Winners receive a prize. On Fridays the restaurant stays open until 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the restaurant serves brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then reopens for dinner at 4 p.m.

The restaurant is wildly popular during the winter months as it decks the halls with festive decorations. Generations of families celebrate their holiday traditions at reserved tables inside the Tam O’Shanter. Call to make your reservation soon. $$$ 2980 Los Feliz Blvd. (323)664-0228.

Published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News Nov.13, 2014.


2014 – Halloween Culinary Haunts in Los Angeles

IMG_0980Here are some great spots to get into a festive and spooky Halloween spirit -

Sonoma Wine Garden Halloween
A Halloween bash will be held on the rooftop deck of Santa Monica Place on Friday, Oct. 31 starting at 9 p.m. Mixologist Rob Floyd will make his signature libations, and guests are invited to dance the night away to beats by DJ LE. Tickets start at $50 and include a complimentary house wine or beer. To purchase tickets, visit 395 Santa Monica Place #300. (424)214-4560.

Halloween at Andaz West Hollywood

Tarot card reader Sterling Mire will offer free readings to members of the public and hotel guests on Friday, Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Andaz West Hollywood. Participants must sign-up for readings in the hotel lounge, located on the first level. Visitors can also mingle at the Riot House Bar and enjoy happy hour specials prior to the readings. Sterling strives to help clients discover their inner selves and fulfill their greatest desires. Valet and self-parking is available. 8401 Sunset Blvd. (323)656-1234.


Halloween at Sassafrasimage001
The spirit and voodoo of New Orleans has arrived in Hollywood with the mystique of an old saloon and the sounds of blues at the Sassafras Saloon. The party on Halloween, Oct. 31, runs from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Guests can order specially priced Voodoo punch and Halloween cocktails. Reverend Tall Tree will perform live blues music, and a tarot card and fortune teller will entertain guests. A costume contest will also be held with prizes such as $100, $50, $25 bar tabs. 1233 N. Vine St. (323)467-2800.



UntitledFour Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
Visitors who celebrate Halloween in costume on Friday, Oct. 31 from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m will receive a 25 percent discount on food and beverages at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. The bar’s mixologists are creating a special pumpkin spice martini for Halloween made with Fireball whiskey. Guests who take a photo of themselves in costume and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #FSHalloween will receive a cocktail priced $5. There is no cover charge for the Halloween soirée and costume contest, and guests can win prizes. 2 Dole Drive, Westlake Village. (818)575-3000.

Halloween at Fireflyimage003-2
The outdoor patio at Firefly will be turned into an eerie haven for Halloween revelers on Friday, Oct. 31 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Special menu items will be available along with regular dinner service. The festive dishes and cocktails include a complimentary Amuse and liquid eyeball ravioli, or gelled watermelon mojitos topped with carbonated sugar and mint leaf. Guests with a sweet tooth can enjoy a dessert called “Listen to Me” that is made with peanut butter and white chocolate mousse “ear” dripping and raspberry and black currant “blood.” Parties of four or more who dine from 5 to 7 p.m. will receive a complimentary bottle of Cava when they share a celebratory photograph via Instagram, using the hashtag #FireflyHalloween. Costumes are not required, but guests are encouraged to dress up for the celebration. 11720 Ventura Blvd. (818)762-1833.


image008-2Family Fun in Malibu
Ghosts, ghouls and goblins are welcome to celebrate Halloween at the Malibu Pier on Friday, Oct. 31 from 2 to 5 p.m. Children are welcome to enjoy complimentary pumpkin carving at the Malibu Farm café before heading over for a sugar fix at the Malibu Beach Supply Co. Executive chef Jason Fullilove, of the Malibu Pier Restaurant & Bar, will also prepare items from a decadent children’s menu. 23000 Pacific Coast Highway. (310)456-8031.


Tortilla Republic West Hollywoodimage001-3
Tortilla Republic is hosting its annual “Boo Ball” on Friday, Oct. 31 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., with specialty cocktails and bites, live music, a photo booth and festive décor. Menu items include seared albacore tuna bites with an ancho chile crust, mango and radish slaw, avocado and salted chili lime. Tortilla Republic’s “Boo Sliders” are three mini hamburgers made with premium American Wagyu beef, roasted poblano chile, caramelized onion, chipotle aioli, watercress and sweet potato fries with cilantro and lime zest. The prime tenderloin steak taco is made with a fajita rub, salsa de mesa and tequila slaw. Festive margaritas will also be available. 616 N. Robertson Blvd. (310)657-9888.

W Hollywood Halloween
On Oct. 31 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., the W Hollywood is hosting a costume party and hotel-wide haunted house. Guests can celebrate in multiple rooms with different types of music. Tickets range from $25 to $1,200. The Silver Package includes a reserved table, two bottles of the guest’s choice, and four general admission tickets. On Nov. 1 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., a Day of the Dead celebration will be held complete with a costume party and Top 40, hip-hop and house music. 6250 Hollywood Blvd. (323)798-1300.

slide1Día de Los Muertos at Gracias Madre
Gracias Madre executive chef Chandra Gilbert and beverage director Jason Eisner will celebrate the Day of the Dead on Nov. 1 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. with traditional and not so traditional offerings. Diners can enjoy the Pan de Muerto, a traditional sweet bread placed on altars and eaten at brunch, and a pumpkin cake with candied pumpkin and piloncillo glaze with vegan cinnamon ice cream. Drink specials include “Shot and a Beer”, in which guests will receive a pint from the restaurant’s fall draft selection paired with a vegan cucumber mint margarita jello shot that is shaped like a skull. It will be served with spicy chili salt and a cucumber wheel. 8905 Melrose Ave. (323)978-2170.

Halloween at The Wellesbourne
The Wellesbourne is holding its 4th annual “Jeepers Creepers” Halloween bash on Friday, Oct. 31. The Westside bar will be transformed from an elegant English manor house into a goose bump-inducing haunted mansion, with Selvarey spirits flowing from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests can enjoy complimentary tastings of Selvarey’s Panamanian white and cacao sipping rums with co-founder Marc Gold. DJ Eric Sharp will spin throwbacks, contemporary remixes and monster mash tunes, and party-goers can participate in a costume contest with prizes. Photographs can also be taken in a Halloween themed photo booth or by The Wellesbourne’s professional photographer. There is a $10 cover charge for guests who arrive after 9 p.m., and they will receive one complimentary glass of Selvarey Rum’s special Jeepers Creepers punch. 10929 W. Pico Blvd. (310)474-0102.


Blue Plate Oysterette

DSC_0223With the success of Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica, the Blue Plate Restaurant Group opened a second Cape Cod-style restaurant on West 3rd Street offering a fun, beach vibe. Located just East of Crescent Heights, this place was packed last Friday evening with locals enjoying fresh seafood, wine and beer while sitting inside or out on the outdoor patio underneath a bigger than life-size painting of a mermaid playing the guitar.

The beach shack motif offers blue and white colors with a modern look that is light, bright and appealing for dining. Inside the black vinyl captain chairs sit next to engineered stone counter tops with light fixtures that look similar to buoys.

The manager, Javier sat us inside along a banquette looking out to the lively bar and counter area and near the small oyster display bar.

Looking over the menu, I started with a glass of Rose’ wine. I was surprised when it arrived in a can. Since I’ve never tried Rose’ in a can, I was willing to give it a try. Pampelonne is a product from Germany. It’s actually a Rose’-lime slightly sparkling wine. The can describes it as a premium wine crafted with fine French wine and combined with six natural ingredients. It was a little too sweet for my liking, yet I sipped it with a plate of Kumai oysters from Mexico, Luna oysters from California, Fanny Bay from British Columbia and Misty Point from Virginia. The half shells were served with a champagne mignonette, housemade cocktail sauce, pickled shallots and freshly shredded horseradish sauce.

Next we tried Executive Chef Andrew Bice’s lobster tacos made with a super crunchy shell filled with large chunks of lobster. It’s served with a warm tomato and basil DSC_0226puree and chunky guacamole to enhance the dish.

My husband enjoyed the large crab cake with lump crab with a side of arugula and pink pickled onions. The creamy tarter sauce is one of the best in town.
Our server Reid recommended the mussels in a red curry sauce with a side of the coconut rice. It was fun pulling mussels from their shell, yet the sauce offered a kick and was slightly too spicy for me. Combining the curry with the coconut rice mellowed the heat. I also enjoyed a plate of fresh halibut bathing in a fennel and chunky mushroom broth.

If you don’t like seafood, they do offer a 14 oz. New York Strip Steak, an Angus beef burger, a half-pound Angus beef dog, and half a Mary’s chicken with herbs.
Side dishes include Yukon Gold Old Bay fries, garlic spinach, cole slaw and lobster mac-n-cheese or plain mac-n-cheese.

DSC_0231Save room for their extra-large slice of chocolate bread pudding and their toothsome Key Lime pie. Both will put a smile on your face.

Next time I visit Blue Plate Oysterette, I may go back for lunch to try their Fall lunch menu that includes a Ahi burger; fried oyster Bahn Mi sandwich with chips, salad or fries or a salmon quinoa salad with a sherry vinaigrette. Blue Plate Oysterette offers something pleasing for everyone and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. $$ 8048 W 3rd St. (323)656-5474.

Published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on October 23, 2014

Open Sesame is filled with Lebanese Delights

IMG_1457East of Fairfax in Los Angeles is a new full-service casual Lebanese restaurant, Open Sesame. The name comes from the magical phrase in one of the stories from One Thousand and One Nights. In the story “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” when Open Sesame is announced, the mouth of a cave opens in which forty thieves have hidden treasures. At Open Sesame, the restaurant is filled with wonderful culinary treasures. You will find garlicky fried potatoes, baba ganoush, and exquisite falafel patties made of chickpeas and fava beans, garlic, onions, herbs and exotic spices.

The founder of Open Sesame, Ali Kobeissi opened his first restaurant in Long Beach 14 years ago. It started small, then got so popular that he expanded to accommodate the demand. People from Los Angeles would drive down to Long Beach to enjoy his lamb chops, chicken tawook and beef kabobs, so he opened another Open Sesame in Los Angeles.

Looking over the menu, I learned that everything that comes out of the kitchen is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients, and many of the recipes have been in Kobeissi’s family for generations.

It’s a colorful restaurant with a full bar, indoor and outdoor seating. The interior offers Mediterranean light fixtures, tile flooring and skylights in the middle of the dining room making it light and bright.

On my first visit, we started with green ice tea with a splash of orange blossom water and mint while looking over the menu.IMG_1465

The general manager, Alex, approached our table to recommend a few appetizers. We ordered the signature fried potatoes sautéed with cilantro, garlic, roasted chili and a generous amount of lemon juice. When they arrived we dipped them in the garlic sauce to jazz them up even more.

Another appetizer worth ordering is the grilled halloumi cheese with slices of watermelon. The white cheese and bright red watermelon were presented like fallen dominos, slightly stacked on top of each other. I had never tasted halloumi cheese – a mixture of cow, sheep and goat cheese. It has a higher melting point than other cheese and is easy to fry giving it a slightly golden and springing texture.

Open Sesame offers three different salads that are dressed in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, dry mint and sumac. Sumac is a reddish-purple powder used as a spice to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. It enhances the tabouleh with chopped parsley, bulgar, tomato and fresh mint. It also give a bit of pizzazz to the fattoush, a Lebanese peasant salad topped with toasted pita chips.

IMG_1459To get a sampling of authentic Lebanese delights, we ordered the Open Sesame combo with a skewer of extra lean ground beef and lamb, cubes of marinated and charbroiled chicken breast served with garlic sauce and wild cucumber pickles. It also comes with a beef kabob that is marinated and charbroiled top sirloin steak. The dish arrives with basmati rice and either creamy hummus or the smokey garlic baba ganoush made with cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings. Both are excellent, however I love their baba ganoush. I spooned it on just about everything.

You can order these on the lunch and dinner menu. Another lunch favorite is the pita sandwich. There are ten varieties to choose from on the menu. I ordered the fried cauliflower with onion, lettuce, tomato, pine nuts and a tahini sauce. Tahini is a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds. Lemon juice is added with salt and garlic, and then thinned with water. It is one of the most popular toppings for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine.
They offer a special lunch menu that includes an entree and salad. The falafel is dynamite and is served with hummus, fattoush, tomato, lettuce, pickled cucumbers and Tahini sauce.

They make three different types of Paninis with a choice of charbroiled chicken shawarma cooked on a spit and sliced thinly IMG_1462or a vegetarian labne made with creamy kefir cheese, tomato, fresh mint and olives. They also make a halloumi cheese and cucumber panini.

Save room for their baklawa made with flaky phyllo pastry and filled with pistachios. It pairs well with Lebanese ice cream in pistachio or almond flavor. Another tasty treat is K’naafeh. It’s a Lebanese version of sticky toffee pudding cake. It’s made with semolina wheat pastry with sweet cheese or ashta cream and a sprinkling of orange blossom syrup. It’s not as sugary as sticky toffee pudding and is extremely satisfying. Pair this with a Moroccan green hot tea infused with mint and orange blossom.

Open Sesame offers a catering services that offers three of four courses with a selection of appetizers, entrees, salads and desserts starting at $25 per person. Menus include plenty of lamb, beef and poultry dishes as well as several options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free guests.

They offer drop-off service with food arriving in disposable serving trays at the correct temperature. This is ideal for business luncheons, wrap parties, baby and bridal showers, wedding receptions and charity events.

At Open Sesame the quality of the ingredients shines through and leaves you wanting to experience Lebanese cuisine again. $-$$ Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. On Friday and Saturday it stays open until 11 p.m. 7458 Beverly Blvd. (323)525-1698.

This article was published in the October 2, 2014 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

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