Go Away, Gastropub

I ran into a chef friend of mine at my son’s baseball game the other Sunday. I asked him what he was up to, and after a harrowing tale about his time as private cook for an online poker billionaire, he confessed he was putting wheels in motion to open a restaurant.

I asked him when, where and what. He wasn’t sure, but said he was scanning food trends for inspiration.

“Don’t do a pork belly bahn mi,” I said.

Gastropub burger with truffle fries

As serendipity would have it, I had also been discussing the possibility of opening a restaurant with a friend. A unique opportunity had arisen, and we were exploring it. Which got me to thinking about what kind of food I would serve. I would not serve a pork belly bahn mi. More

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Burger Saturation

Heading to lunch at a local restaurant called Plan Check with my friend and business associate Greg, we got talking about burger saturation.

A special — the "smokey and spicy PCB" (Plan Check Burger)

The “smokey and spicy PCB” (Plan Check Burger)

Our local Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, Jonathan Gold, named Plan Check #71 in his 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. 2014. It is the poster child of the now overused designation of “gastropub.” A superb restaurant indeed, it served a delicious selection of craft beers — including my current favorite, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — a variety of fingery bar foods and artisan pickles, and several carefully curated hamburgers. More

Sean Ramen vs. Ivan Ramen

My pal Greg, who has expanded my cookbook horizon in the past, got me an interesting book for Christmas. It’s called “Ivan Ramen.”

So this Jewish guy Ivan from Long Island moves to Tokyo, it seems, and decides to open a ramen shop. (Sounds like the set-up for a bad joke.)

Ivan

Ivan

Ramen is an interesting food. To most of us, it’s something that comes in a brick in a package to be added to hot water. In Japan, it’s essentially a fast food, but is treated with an amount of reverence not afforded our chicken nuggets or fajita wraps. More

One Man’s Burger Odyssey, Pt. I

The hamburger as we know it was born in Southern California, where in another time guys in hot rods would pull up to drive ins where girls named Betty and Fran would saunter up on rollerskates and take their orders for a cheeseburger and milkshake, while kids on the East Coast were still eating hoagies.

A dear and too-soon departed friend, Dann, hailed from Louisville (“Louvull,” as he called it), Kentucky. He was a fan of White Castle. It reminded him of home. He used to buy them frozen in a Santa Monica grocery store. “Not so much because they taste good,” he would say, “but because they’re comforting.” More