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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A Soft Spot for Bacari

It was a somewhat vulgar term for the pre-opening of a restaurant, my pal Steve pointed out.

“You’re right!” I replied. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

If you’ve never been to the “soft opening” of a restaurant before, the experience can largely be encapsulated in a single sweetly sad moment at the recent preview of a new restaurant we attended with our friends, Steve and Ashley:

A young waitress brought one of our cocktails to the table. The drink was too full, she was nervous, and green tequila-infused juice splashed over the rim of the glass all over her hands and the table as she awkwardly set the cocktail down and apologetically scuttled away.

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“What sort of food do they serve?” Leslie had asked as we drove toward Glendale. More

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

Porkcorn, Pig Candy & Other Confections

I was sitting at one of the many new gastropubs that seem to pop up in Los Angeles every week, having lunch with my friend and sometime Skinny Girls sidekick, Greg. We browsed the brews and burgers, trying to narrow our choices, when we noticed “Pig Candy” on the menu.

Skinny Girls porkcorn & a pale ale

“What do you suppose that is?” I pondered.

“Something sweet and salty and fatty and crunchy,” Greg replied.

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Lovely Bones

When I was a younger man, one of my favorite dishes was osso bucco. It seemed tantalizingly exotic and exclusive, especially the most carnal part — the scooping of the marrow from the center bone. It was only later that I realized you could have that experience without the meat, tomato sauce and risotto.

Recently while browsing the meat section of one of our local upscale markets, I stumbled upon a package of marrow bones. More