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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a NYC based food and travel website that views various dining scenes and destinations through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated thirty-something.

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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Entries in Los Angeles (29)

Friday
Aug282015

Chocolate, peanut butter, and Niman Ranch beef: Recuperating with MUNCHERY

One of the pluses of living in LA is that my folks, who reside in Texas, are just a non-stop flight away.  So when I learned that I had to have surgery, I asked my mom to come in town and take care of me.  #MamasGirl #8GoingOn35

In planning our meals for that week, Mom mentioned that it would be a good idea for us to make a large supermarket run so that we could nosh and nest without having to leave my apartment.   "That's cute and all, Mom," I said, "but you don't even cook!  What are we going to eat for dinner, popcorn?"  She laughed.  "It's true, though!" I exclaimed.  "And it's not like I'll be able to cook."  She agreed.  Granted, there was always Blue Apron (too labor intensive) or Seamless Web (the options in LA suck) and Postmates/Caviar (great selections, but too expensive), but I had a better idea...

Munchery, a meal delivery service that I had already been utilizing for a few weeks leading up to my surgery, could not have been a better option for those first few post-operative days.  And nights.  With meals and snacks created by local chefs (think along the lines of LA's very own Roy Choi) who have worked at some seriously brag-worthy restaurants (ahem, Spago and Providence to name a few), each chilled order is hand-delivered to your door, literally "ready to heat when you want to eat."  Here's the nitty-gritty of how it all works!

With the ability to peruse Munchery's menu for the upcoming week, I ordered the following selections - to be delivered between 6-7PM - for the eve post my procedure:

With the exception of the mediocre tortilla soup, every other dish was, quite literally, life-altering.  I mean, who the hell would have thought that you could savor one of the best burgers YOU'VE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE (yes, I really just said that) courtesy of a meal delivery service?  In the comfort of your own home, no less!  Well, when you start with a patty is constructed of sous-vide cooked Niman Ranch ground beef, you already know that you're in for something incredibly special.  Add to that an assortment of crucial "make-your-own-burger" accoutrement: Brioche bun, California cheddar, apple wood-smoked bacon, sliced red onion, caramelized onions, sliced tomato, butter lettuce, mayo, ketchup, and a secret sauce.  And some really, really delicious and salty kettle-cooked potato chips.

Photo courtesy of Munchery

I may have still been high from the anesthesia, but here's one sensation that I will not soon forget: When I took my first bite of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart, I had a full-body orgasm.  With a buttery, crumbly, chocolate-cookie crust that gave way to a generous amount of creamy homemade peanut butter suffocated by a layer of chocolate ganache, how could I not??  Oh my fcuking god.  WOW!    

Photo found on Pinsta.Me

For those of you who don't live in LA, I pity you.  Why?  Because you will never taste these fcuking glorious items.  However, with Munchery available in other US cities - SF, Seattle, and NYC - I'm confident that there are plenty of stellar meals/snacks that I will never get to experience, either.  I suppose it's a fair trade-off!

Want to check out Munchery for $10 off your first two orders?  CLICK HERE!  Oh, and you're welcome in advance ;-)

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


 

Thursday
Aug062015

Hey LA, what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water invites the people of Los Angeles to ditch their desks for a midday dance party with Flavorpill presents: Lunch Break, made extraordinary by Perrier!  This unique celebration will transform cubicle dwellers into partygoers at two special 1.5 hour events where guests can groove to the spinning soundtrack of DJs such as SOSUPERSAM.

Lunch Break attendees will have the chance to:

  • Dance through their lunch hour – Guests will escape the office grind at an extraordinary daytime dance party set to the tune of DJ’s live playlists. 
  • Sip signature cocktails by PerrierGuests will recharge and refresh their afternoons with thirst-quenching cocktails sure to kick that end-of-week slump. 
  • Enjoy a classic bagged lunch to bring back to the office – When the power-hour ends, guests will receive a throwback lunch to-go, complete with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Perrier.

Following these complimentary Lunch Break sessions, guests will be encouraged to donate unused lunch money to local nonprofits that are part of the Feeding America network.  Proceeds from the Los Angeles events will benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Schedule of upcoming events: 

Friday, August 7, 2015

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

DJ: SOSUPERSAM

Sound Nightclub (1642 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028)

Friday, August 21, 2015

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

DJ: TBD

Lure: 1439 Ivar Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

**To RSVP for Lunch Break in Los Angeles on 8/7, click here!  And make sure to follow #PerrierLunchBreak for updates on the 8/21 event, including the DJ announcement and the RSVP link which will be available later this month.**

...

Until we dance again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Jul302015

(Los Angeles) Reviewed: Rustic Canyon

Restaurant: Rustic Canyon

  • Cuisine: Seasonal American (menu changes frequently depending on what's fresh/in season)
  • Location: 1119 Wilshire Blvd. - Santa Monica, CA 90401  
  • Pricing: $$-$$$
  • What's delicious: Brined & Roasted Chicken
  • Perfect for: Foodies - date night - small groups - food origin/status/organic-conscious diners

...

Rustic Canyon, the crown jewel and namesake of its small umbrella of sister restaurants and culinary concepts, has long been on my queue of places to try in LA.  And I'm proud to report that, as of last weekend, I was finally able to cross this seasonal American stunner off of my list.  It only took me 14-months!

Situated within a bright and airy modern space (think floor-to-ceiling windows and a room height that soars upwards of 20 feet), the restaurant's aesthetic is as natural - yet visually attractive/tantalizing - as its food and drink offerings.

Photo found on www.lamag.comUpon arrival, Elaina and I were promptly seated at a cozy two-top that hugged the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking bustling Wilshire Blvd.  To whet our appetites, we were rather quick in ordering a round of cocktails: A cosmo for her and the "Dirty Gibson" (Aviation Gin, Dolin dry vermouth, house-made cocktail onion, and onion brine) for me.  While the "house-made cocktail onion and onion brine" sounded sexy on the menu, I found the flavor to be a bit off-putting.  Don't get me wrong, I love onions - whether fried in rings or freshly-chopped and scattered atop my Mexican food - just not in the 'sippable' form.  In the future, I'll stick with my go-to: A "filthy" Hendrick's Gin martini on the rocks.  Served with as many olives that will fit on a toothpick.  And a "double shot" of olive juice on the side.

In an effort to sample more menu items, Elaina and I split everything we ordered.

.

Appetizers 

Summer Bean Salad

Blue Lake and Romano beans (both similar in shape and texture to the green bean) were dressed with salted, chopped almonds and sweet pluot segments (of the plum family) before being tossed in a tangy blue cheese dressing.

Elaina and I loved the texture that came courtesy of the crunchy beans and almonds, plus the sweet/salty flavor contrast that resulted when the pluots kissed the blue cheese.

Summer Bean Salad.

Grilled 'Le Grand' Nectarine

When I hear the word "summer," I automatically think of nectarines.  So when I spotted this salad on the menu, I demanded that it be included in our appetizer order.

Perched atop a fluffy "cloud" of homemade ricotta cheese were loose leaves of fragrant basil and arugula, fried polenta "croutons," and slices of perfectly-ripened nectarines that had spent just enough time atop the grill to gain their coveted "marks."  Drizzled olive oil, freshly-ground black pepper, and sea salt completed the dish. 

Although the flavors were bold and exciting, it was the texture of the nectarine's warm, melt-in-your-mouth flesh against the cool ricotta cheese that was truly transcendent. 

Grilled 'Le Grand' Nectarine.

Pappa al Pomodoro

As if the sound of "...a rich Tuscan tomato stew" wasn't seductive enough, add "...thickened with pieces of day-old bread."  And, for $3 extra, an ice cream-scoop of burrata cheese!

"This stew is so thick that you could eat it with a fork," our waitress chuckled.  So, you can imagine her surprise when Elaina and I asked her for a few slices of grilled bread for dipping purposes...

Pappa al Pomodoro.

Entree

Brined & Roasted Chicken

Plated atop a bed of creamed corn kernels and Vadouvan curry jus was the juiciest, moistest chicken that I've had to date.  The bird was oddly crowned with warm romaine lettuce leaves (Sorry, I just don't understand the "cooked lettuce" trend.  It's off-putting!). 

Never one to order chicken at a restaurant (What?  It's fcuking boring.  You may as well order tofu, for god's sake!), I was completely blown away by this dish's unique preparation (brining prior to roasting).  Like I said in the paragraph above this one, I've never had a more moist piece of poultry, save for a fried turkey at Thanksgiving.  While breading and deep-frying is typically favorable, the brining method is much more heart - and waistline - healthy.

Brined & Roasted Chicken

Aside from the fact that Rustic Canyon's food/drink is exemplary, it's dishes are composed of ingredients sourced from farmers and ranchers who practice sustainable agriculture.  And that, to me, is a beautiful thing. 

In my 14-months of living in LA, this is one of my most favorite meals and, certainly, a restaurant in which I plan to return.

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


 

Friday
Jul172015

Reviewed: Dinner al fresco at Mare

Restaurant: Mare

  • Cuisine: Californian, Mediterranean
  • Location: 7465 Melrose Avenue - Los Angeles, CA 90046
  • Pricing: $$
  • What's delicious: Muddled-fruit cocktails, Mussels with Romesco and Sausage Broth
  • Perfect for: Al-fresco dining - date night - group dining - cocktails

...

Situated within a sexy, hidden patio/garden behind Melrose Umbrella Co. and Greenspan's Grilled Cheese is Chef Greenspan's newest concept: Mare.  And, speaking of concepts...While I do love a good trend/gimmick (i.e. a restaurant with a jewelry store and/or hardware shop facade), the logistics must be fairly user-friendly.  Getting *IN* to Mare is tricky; guests have to meander through the grilled cheese shop - up a short flight of stairs - through the tiny kitchen - and beyond a heavy door to reach Mare's hostess stand.  I can only imagine how annoyed the employees at the grilled cheese joint get every time someone asks to be pointed to "the new restaurant."  All that aside, when we finally reached our destination, Ayano and I were greeted by an incredibly friendly hostess who led us to a two-top under a gorgeous canopy of trees and twinkling strewn lights.

Mare's outdoor dining "room"While I loved the outdoor atmosphere (there is no interior seating, FYI), I found the menu to be a bit random and oddly organized.  The first half listed appetizers and sides under the heading of "Plates," followed by two entrees - skirt steak or the whole fish - and "Shellfish."  Finishing the menu, "Desserts" preceded "Drinks."

Le menuTo whet our appetites, we were presented with a gratis, picturesque potpourri of pickled peppers, olives + pistachios + kumquats, a halved lemon, garlic olive oil, and two generous hunks of "everything" baguettes.  While I found the halved lemon to be a bit of an odd addition, I really enjoyed the peppers, olives, kumquats, olive oil, and bread...although it wasn't as moist as I would have liked.  

Shortly thereafter, our cocktails arrived.  The menu offers a selection of wines and beer, plus a number of spirits muddled with a variety of fresh fruit and herbs.  I opted for the tequila beverage which contained kumquats - among other citrus fruit - and, what appeared to be, basil leaves.  I could not dreamt of a more refreshing, sweet'n sour, delightful summer cocktail!  A++!

Tequila + muddled citrus and kumquatsThe first "Plates" to arrive were the Roasted Broccolini and one of the evening's specials: Scallop Crudo. 

If you're a fan of the fragrant garlic bulb, the greens are a must order!  Served atop a thick schmear of garlic paste, the roasted broccolini was crowned with fried garlic chips. 

Roasted BroccoliniThick slices of raw scallop were topped with green plums and briny sea greens, which perfectly accentuated the delicate oceanic flavor of the mollusk. 

Scallop CrudoForgoing entrees, Ayano and I each chose to order one of the customizable shellfish dishes.  She opted for the shrimp with Vadouvan curry and I chose the mussels with a sausage/romesco broth.  Our shellfish bowls were paired with a mound of naked spaghetti noodles and two shelled poached eggs.  Random.  I would have much preferred a crusty baguette to soak up the remaining broth (Right? I mean, traditionally, that's how I've eaten mussels.  And you, too, no doubt.), but I decided to put my snobbery aside and give the egg and noodles a whirl.  The mussels were plump and the sausage/romesco sauce was outstanding.  When all that remained was broth, I added the spaghetti noodles and topped them with the freshly-cracked poached egg.  I tossed the ingredients to combine and took a bite.  "Aha," I exclaimed to Ayayno.  "Now I get the whole noodle and egg thing!  It's really yummy!"  She smiled and nodded.  My only complaint was that both the noodles and the egg were chilly, as they had a while to cool during the time that we ate our respective shellfish (Mare should present these items once the guest has *almost* finished their shellfish.).

Shrimp in a Vadouvan curry brothMussels in a sausage + romesco brothFor dessert, Ayano and I split the Blood Orange "Trifolo" - layers of semolina cake, fruit, and blood orange-curd - served in a mason jar.  Cute, kitschy and, most importantly, delicious.  A plate of rosemary shortbread accompanied. 

Rosemary shortbreadLike many new successful restaurants, I suspect that the minor food hiccups at Mare will lessen with time, especially with uber-talented Chef Eric Greenspan at the helm. 

Ayano and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I look forward to returning in the future!

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


 

Tuesday
Jun232015

Los Angeles: My favorite plates and bites

Do you realize that I have been living in LA now for *gasp* over a year?  My anniversary was on May 29th!  And, to say that I've eaten my way through the city would be quite the understatement.  "Gorge," on the other hand, would be much more fitting. 

Without further ado, my dear readers, this post is dedicated to the ten best items/plates that I've eaten in the last 365 days.  In the City of Angels.

Enjoy!

. . .

*Items listed in no particular order

 

1) Salt & Pepper Caramel Donut, ICDC

2) Cherry Pie, Sweet Lady Jane

3) Rigatoni with Truffle Meat Sauce, Capo

4) Everything. On. The. Menu. Sugarfish

5) House Special Maine Lobster, New Port Seafood

6) Avocado Toast, Terrine

7) Mexican combination plate (cheese enchiladas, crispy beef taco, rice and beans), Gilbert's El Indio

8) Chile Relleno Burrito, La Azteca Tortilleria

9) Chocolate Croissant, Love Catering

10) 'Everything bagel' with a schmear of scallion cream cheese (...because this is the closest I'll get to NYC in LA), Brooklyn Water Bagel

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Wednesday
Feb252015

Reviewed: Brunch at Terrine

Restaurant: Terrine

  • Cuisine: France meets California (New American with a French accent)
  • Location: 8265 Beverly Blvd.Los Angeles 90048
  • Pricing: $$
  • What's delicious: Hand-crafted cocktails, Avocado Toast
  • Perfect for: Al-fresco dining - dine at the bar - group dining - brunch - cocktails

...

Having not been in Los Angeles over the span of a weekend in almost two months, there was no better way to celebrate my return than with a hearty Sunday brunch.  After going back and forth about where we should dine, Carmen suggested Terrine.  "My friends raved about it!  I'll see you there at noon, okay?"  Okay.

In typical fashion, I arrived at Terrine about 15-minutes prior to our noon reservation, as I like to take that slice of "me time" to pony up to the bar and order a drink, study the menu(s), chat with the bartender, and absorb the restaurant's atmosphere, vibe, and design... 

With an impressive space large enough to boast a full bar - plus a sizable outdoor patio - Terrine offers a dining enclave for everyone.  Exposed brick, an expansive copper-topped bar, high ceilings giving way to two walls of windows, plus shabby-chic mismatched silver and tableware truly evoke the feeling and aesthetic of a France-by-way-of-California "brasserie." 

With 10-minutes to spare, I snagged a highly-coveted bar stool and ordered a Winter Champagne Cocktail.  Crafted with hand-chipped ice, bubbly, and a "winter fruit" liquor, the beverage was crowned with a fragrant slice of orange rind prior to presentation.  

Carmen arrived promptly at noon and we were immediately whisked to a table.

To begin, we chose to split an order of the Avocado Toast.  Heavily-buttered, grilled country bread was liberally topped with chopped avocado, briny capers, tarragon "salsa verde," crunchy Maldon sea salt, olive oil and Meyer lemon, and paper-thin radish slices.  The potpourri of contrasting flavors and textures was absolutely incredible!   

Terrine: Avocado ToastWhile awaiting the arrival of our entrees, my second cocktail arrived.  The Lime Daiquiri's famous trinity of fresh ingredients - sugar, rum, lime juice - melded together in perfect harmony.  

Terrine: Lime DaiquiriWith so many delicious-sounding entrees on the menu, I was completely overwhelmed and asked that our server "surprise me" with one of her favorites.  She presented me with the Spicy Fried Chicken + Grits.  

Encircled by a sweet and savory moat filled with butter-thinned maple syrup and coarsely-ground grits were two pieces of "spicy" fried chicken.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the accoutrement, I did not find the batter on the fried chicken to be spicy in the least and, to add further disappointment, there was barely any edible meat/flesh.      

Terrine: Spicy Fried Chicken + GritsFrom their cocktail program, knowledgeable and friendly staff, great indoor/outdoor atmosphere, and food, I was very impressed with Terrine...and I say that aside from the disappointing fried chicken and the fact that I walked away from our meal slightly hungry!  In all seriousness, though, I have not experienced such intense flavors (fried chicken aside) since dining in San Francisco and NYC! 

Get. Here. Now. 

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle