Archive for February, 2012

Bar Bouchon

Bar Bouchon has a new chef heading the kitchen – Patrick Rafferty who is originally from North Carolina. He is responsible for executing the delicious Ad Hoc fried chicken!

White wine from their list

Beausoleil and Fancy Sweet oysters from New Brunswick, Luna oysters from California and Hama Hama oysters from Washington State

All portions are 1/2 orders – we split everything – generous is an understatement.

oeuf poache aux lentils – ragout of duck confit, French green lentils, poached hen egg, root vegetables (rutabaga, carrots, turnips), jus from the confit and brioche crouton, jus from the confit acted as the sauce – this is one of my most favorite dishes at Bar Bouchon and a must have!!!!!!!

beautiful runny yolk!!!!!

BYO Red Wine

Shrimp and Grits with cherry tomatoes, lardons, tomato based sauce and a touch of paprika- terrific!

Gigot d’Agneau – roasted leg of lamb, toasted faro, rutabaga, cavolo nero and red wine poached quince with lamb jus – another winner!

What a wonderful restaurant.


Vin Bar

Executive Chef Nico created what Piero described as a “rustic menu.”  What is fascinating about Nico’s cuisine is that he is equally competent with contemporary cuisine and the heartier flavors of his roots.

Mumm to start plus a vase of lovely tulips

On the left tomato gratin filled with pecorino cheese, breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and a touch of olive oil. On the right crostini with lardo, fava beans, pecorino shaved on top – a wonderful hearty beginning.

2nd wine –

Site: Volcanic soils from estate vineyards in the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains; the Pontelatone vineyard is clay and calcareous soil. Vine training is low espallier with Guyot pruning; plant density is 5200 plants/Ha. Grapes: 100% Falanghina. Vinification: After a cold maceration the wine is fermented in stainless steel. Elevage:The wine rests in bottle for 3 months before release. Notes: Perfect with all varieties of seafood and fish because of its clean minerality and fresh ripe fruit.”

Calamari e Piselli – – Vino Blanca — This was an old world-style rustic dish — sauteed calamari with peas, tomato, green pea sauce with white wine – another hearty dish of perfectly executed calamari plus fresh peas in a lovely broth

Zuppa di Pollo (Vellutota) Zucca, Mascarpone – This was a veloute of chicken soup with mascarpone cheese, ortica (bitter greens) and diced pumpkin on top – this is not your mother’s chicken soup! This was not a broth, but a velvety veloute that when mixed with the mascarpone and pumpkin was unbelievably rich.

Homemade Pappardelle with Veal and Porcini Ragu, Parmesan cheese and parsley on top – we are talking very hearty cuisine – full-flavored and again not for the feint of heart

2nd Wine –

From their website:

“The Cirò wine comes from Calabria, a fruitful land full of vineyards. Cirò is famous for its sparkling colour and of course for its peculiar flavour. Vines tilling, natural calabrien inclination, dates back to the VIII century b.C., when the ancient Greeks landed on the calabrien coast and were astonished by the fruitfulness of this land.”

“Enotria , the “wine land” (the ancient name given to Calabria by Greek people), became one of the most important centres were Magna Graecia culture developed.”

Variety;: 100% Gaglioppo grapes
Vineyards: breeding cord
Ripening: fermentation at controlled temperatures in wine bottles to refine the taste for 7 months
Alcohol 13,5%
Tasting marks: typical red fruits bouquet (cherry, black currant, bilberry) with a good tanning structure.

Taglioni with quail ragu, speck wrapped quail, eggplant and melted ricotta cheese – another full-flavored dish

Nero D’Avola wine –

“This grape, native to Sicily, is one of the most widely planted red varieties on this arid, volcanic island.  With a nice touch of floral on the nose, this 100% Nero d’Avola offers fresh plum and black currant flavors. It is a soft fruity wine with a somewhat jammy finish. Another wine made by the great Ricardo Cotarella.”

“Intense, Cherry, Berry, Smoke, Full-bodied”

Left rear – Beef Spezzato con Pavote – Beef stew with potatoes –

Left front – Grilled Polenta with gorgonzola and sausage inside

Right rear – Potato and shallot braised in red wine

Right front – Rosemary skewer of Kurobuta pork, tomatoes and onions on a slice of grapefruit

What a wondrous combination of flavor and texture – I was getting very full and couldn’t finish the dish, but did take a “doggie” bag that was consumed not by the dogs but my adult son! He loved it!

Dessert of sorbets and fresh fruit – lovely ending

What a restaurant!!!!! Sometimes contemporary which I love, sometimes rustic – just let Chef Nico and Piero do the deciding for you!

Bar Pintxo

Happy Hour at Bar Pintxo is well worth going to – it starts at 4 pm. You get 6 Pintxos for $6.00.

Wine from their list

1. Tuna Concerve, Anchovie, Cornichon — 2. Mejillones Escabeche (mussel and roasted red pepper) — 3. Serrano Jamon, Monchego cheese, fresh tomato — 4. Huevos Rellenos con Vinagreta Vasca (deviled egg with Basque Vinaigrette) — 5. Mushroom Escabeche (house conserved mushrooms, 25 year old sherry vinegar, truffle salt — 6. Chorizo Bilbao, Cherry tomato – an incredible value and very tasty

Seared Calamari with garlic, lemon, parsley, olive oil – the calamari was cooked perfectly and the saucing was perfect for bread dipping

Orejas de Cerdo – Crispy Pig Ears, Horesradish Aioli – good

Cordoniz con lentejas y arandanos – grilled quail, lentils with Bilbao chorizo and smoked bacon, cranberry compote – this was on the dinner menu and well worth ordering – the combination of flavors was spot on, the quail was succulent and juicy and the lentils with the chorizo and bacon delicious.

We will definitely go again!


I was somewhat critical of our last meal at Villetta, but I have to “eat my words.” Executive chef Dylan Hallas has found his culinary voice and I have to say this was an excellent meal.

Wine from their list

Pizza with burrata, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, olives and basil pesto – Villetta makes one of the best pizzas in LA and this was terrific.

BREAKING NEWS – Villetta is soon to open Via Villetta at 15th and Montana in Santa Monica – you will be able to take out their wonderful pizza or just enjoy it there. Stay tuned for details!

Via Villetta almost ready to open!

Back to our meal.

Seared tuna from Fiji, Venetian salad with blood oranges, olives and shallots, avocado mousse – a wonderful combination of flavors with perfectly seared tuna.

Polenta with a poached egg, Fontina cheese, black truffles shaved tableside by Chef Hallas – extravagant yes but delicious

Pan roasted wild black cod “alla Livornese” with crushed tomato, clams, taggiasche olives from Liguria, capers and white wine – the fish was executed perfectly, the clams fresh and the entire dish was light and bursting with flavor.

All in all – a lovely meal with superb service.

Vin Bar

As usual we had a terrific meal at Vin Bar – it just doesn’t get better than this – service and cuisine is always A+

Schramsberg to start

Braciola of tuna, olive tapenade over roasted yellow peppers – absolutely delicious

On the left baby octopus with a spicy tomato sauce – Arrabiata style, parsley and on the right warm calamari salad, Romano beans, celery, olive oil – 2 perfect dishes

2nd Wine

Eggplant tortino, tomato sauce topped with ricotta cheese – I just can’t wax poetic enough about this cuisine and Chef Nico’s skill

Third wine

Gnocchi sardi, wild boar ragu, porcini mushrooms, light cream sauce, ricotta salata on top – pasta done to perfection

Rabbit stuffed with rabbit ragu and apple, lamb that had been marinated with herbs and grilled, arugula salad, pork sausage, roasted fennel – quite a plateful of wonderful food

4th wine

Cheese course – 24 month parmesan, buffalo brie, gorgonzola, walnuts, horn of Rome chutney, jalapeno and onion, black truffle honey

Blueberry sorbet, white peach sorbet, pear sorbet, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, diced peaches, almond sugar cookies – a light, refreshing end

All in all – a wonderful meal!