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Entries in Hot Spot (6)

Thursday
May172012

Spur, Seattle

After a solid opening month experience at The Coterie Room several months ago, I have less than exemplary thoughts about McCracken and Tough’s restaurant next door, Spur.

While the meal was ok, I’m a little more critical of service elements. Sorry, no pictures, it was too dark, so instead I've added some pics of Pike's Place Market.

I don’t like attitude and I don’t care for aloof servers and staff based upon the fact that the restaurant seems to be busy all the time. I’m glad for the success of Spur and that it is a busy establishment.

When I’m instructed by the hostess to “go across the street to the bar and come back in 45 minutes” and I obey the instructions of the hostess and return promptly in 45 minutes to the reception, “oh, I thought you weren’t coming back…something will free up soon” attitude; I should have gone somewhere else. Too bad it’s 9:30 already and my options are limited.

Which leads me to ordering at the table. The sign on the door and website say open “5pm to Close”. Which, when we finally were finally seated was roughly 9:45; we asked how long the kitchen would be open. “As late as people are here, generally”.

 My response, “So no rush?”

“No rush”, says the server.

 Great.

Sounded good in theory, but practice was, he wanted us to order everything before 10pm, which is why he and the hostess came by the table 5 times in 10 minute period to ask if we were ready and if we’d like to get an order in. Perhaps they were simply being attentive, but my gut says it was motivated by a desire to close out asap.

Merguez with chickpeas and hummus (chickpeas were way too salty which I had sent back) but the merguez was good. The burger and fries were average. The fries weren’t fresh, they were cold when they arrived. The burger itself was good, and cooked medium rare as requested with the red onion jam similar to the sweet/sour flavor from Father’s Office in Santa Monica. The fries being stone cold were another indication that the kitchen really isn’t open “till Close”. I’d rather the restaurant simply state the kitchen closes at 10pm or 9:30 or has a limited menu at a certain time.

I hate that my last impression of Spur is cold French fries, when my first impression of Coterie was perfect chicharon. I guess I'm batting .500 with McCracken and Tough.

Spur Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Friday
Feb242012

Gjelina, Venice

All the dishes were simply prepared, simply constructed. Make no mistake, simple doesn’t equal easy. Simple is often harder to do, due to the margin of error. Overcook the cauliflower and it’s mushy and tastes more like rotten cabbage. Over spice your sausage and the balance of the whole dish is off.

We started with the Escarole and Sunchoke topped with Smoked Almonds, Lemon Preserve and Parmesan was a clean with good acid balance . The lemon preserve was what keyed me in on the dish. The theme of North African resonated throughout the menu. As I said, straightforward, good flavors.

Our main, Moroccan Baked Eggs w/ Merguez, Chili, Tomato Sauce, Cilantro & Spiced Yogurt was a huge hit with me. This dish could be installed into the Best Breakfast in the World next to Chilaquiles in Merida, Fresh Pastry in Paris, and Bacon and Eggs at Home. I couldn’t get enough of this stuff.

Our side, Wood Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic, Chili & Vinegar. I made this dish a couple weeks later and I hate cauliflower. I added some golden raisins to my dish, but Gjelina did real justice to one of my least favorite vegetables.

Literally, no downside to any dish. All well prepared, good portions, well presented. Service was good, ticket times were good.

And I love their policy of “changes & modifications politely declined”.

I wouldn’t change a thing! (But how hard is that to do in picky LA?!)

Gjelina on Urbanspoon
Tuesday
Jan312012

Father's Office, Santa Monica

It’s hip, it’s happening, it’s loud, it’s chaotic, and it’s totally packed dude, like bodasciously mega-packed. I’ve heard about Father’s Office when I was living in LA. “Go for the burger dude.” Thanks Johnny Utah for the advice. 

I was talking with another foodie, James Collier, who was down in LA for a food bloggers conference and the Father’s Office Burger came up. I recall hearing that it was good, but not earthshattering good.

With all these recommendations, it took simply the suggestion from a former analyst and friend of mine, Monica to get me to go. I trusted her as an analyst; so why not trust her foodie senses?

As we walked in, I get carded. Really. This automatically makes me think we’re going to a bar that serves food, rather than a restaurant that serves drinks. All seating is first come, first serve, like a bar. All orders and drinks are taken at the bar. There are no waiters, only expeditors and bussers. The place is a 1200 square foot space with a narrow space in between tables.

The food was above average across the board, but unbalanced. To their credit, our food came out fast, hot, and generally well prepared.

We started with a smoked eel, slivered onions, and coddled egg. The four pieces of smoked eel was outstanding and delicate. I wish I could have had 4 more pieces of eel. However, the softball sized amount of slivered red onion that accompanied the eel was way too much. Talk about onion breath! The coddled egg, while wonderfully cooked, served almost no purpose since there wasn’t a starch on the plate or the table to mop up all that yolky goodness.

We also ordered the sobresada. It was good, but not over the top. The bread was crispy around the edges and not uniformly crispy, which bugged me. I know, I’m being picky. I think I used some of the bread to sop up the egg yolk from the eel dish and the egg, bread, and meat combo worked for me.

As I mentioned, Father’s Office is known for its burgers and the burger didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it was the best burger I’ve ever had, but it was well seasoned and prepared. I ate the burger through our entire meal. Lots of arugula, caramelized onions with balsamic, and medium rare beef all good. I think I might have even dipped my burger into the egg yolk from the eel dish as well. I can’t let quality egg yolk go to waste; I needed bread damn it.

One outstanding, yet simple item were the sautéed mushrooms. I loved these. In fact, I was using my fork and burger to scoop up the mushrooms and sauce (read butter) just so I wouldn’t waste anything. Probably the least technical item of the night, but the simplicity spoke to me.

Lastly, the sweet potato fries were good, but the ubiquitous alternative menu item to the humble,  regular potato fries, I’m tired of. I think I was tired of them 3 years ago. There’s nothing more healthy about a deep fried sweet potato than a regular spud. They’re Deep Fried. And ranch is less healthy than ketchup.

I’d say Father’s Office is an experience. The food is good. The beer is good. A busy crowd is good. As someone who has eaten many a meal alone because of work, I wouldn’t come here alone. I wouldn’t make this my regular stop if I were local either. It’s not an alone type of place. It’s a social place to be quickly served, well fed, and well imbibed. I still believe that it’s a bar, that happens to serve good food. Just not a bar I’d go to alone for a quiet drink and a burger.

Father's Office (Santa Monica) on Urbanspoon

Saturday
Aug272011

The Reggie, Pine State Biscuits, Portland

I was up early for a Saturday, 7:00am to be exact. I got a workout in, showered up, and took a walk up to the Portland Farmer's Market with one thing on my mind (before I did my shopping for a wine dinner tonight) The Reggie from Pine State Biscuits.

The Reggie is a signature biscuit sandwich from the Portland institution. A flakey biscuit with freshly fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, and topped with a sausage gravy. It's a gut buster frankly and it's delicious. The biscuit didn't disintegrate, but retained it's basic shape from first bite to last. The fried chicken was moist on the inside, crispy on the outside. The bacon, well I didn't taste much of it, because the sausage gravy was even better than bacon (yes, hard to believe but true). I loved this breakfast! The Full Resolution Photo is Here

Friday
Jun032011

Laurelhurst Market, Portland

Some of the best sweetbreads I’ve had in a very long time, combine that with creamed spinach and I was nearly in heaven and then came my bone marrow and I was elevated to an even higher place.

The Grilled Piedmontese Ribeye Steak http://piedbeef.com/ was cooked right on medium rare, well-seasoned and rested prior to service. I asked that they not put any of the bleu cheese butter on top of a beautiful piece of meat (really, what’s the point when the meat is this good). The onion rings that accompanied my steak were crisp, freshly fried, and salted nicely.

I can’t think of a single nasty or critical thing to say about the meal or the service and I’m usually not this brief or complimentary. Well done.

Laurelhurst Market on Urbanspoon