Friday, March 25, 2011

Recon: BAR * FOOD

West Los Angeles, CA

Happy Hour is very important to my people. And recently our wallets have been hurting from staying and drinking past happy hour's end- until there was Bar * Food. It's good sized, with a square horse shoe bar in the front, and tables down the sides. It's exactly what the name declares, and just last week I accidentally ended up here three out of the five work days. Let's not get into that now. They have a wide selection of beers, but only three are on happy hour special, along with a red and white wine. With each drink during happy hour, you can have a free hot dog, and there's a solid menu of other happy hour food items that include a delicious burger and some great, spicy tuna on crispy rice.  Eclectic, I know. Past happy hour, the drinks specials stay but the food specials end. 

My friend Dre ordered the $6 burger. Just like the Carl's Jr. commercials, I know. And I totally ate half of it. The bun is toasted in buttery goodness and the burger is served with perfectly melted cheddar cheese, bacon jam and arugula. Its tasty. Great flavor, the right texture and an awesome price. They also have peppered fries with a Guinness ketchup and sweet potato fries with a spicy mayo- the same spicy mayo on the spicy tuna and crispy rice if I'm not mistaken. The next time you need a burger, a happy hour, or both, pop into Bar * Food.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Brentwood, CA

I met my friend Cojo at the Tavern in Brentwood for a catch-up lunch. Tavern has great atmosphere and decor, as well as a full bar and bakery. It's a great place to hang around chatting and while its a favorite work lunch spot in the neighborhood, it's Sunday brunch gets pretty busy. Before my burger I had a Queen Mary, which is similar to a Bloody Mary only made with crushed cucumbers. I highly recommend it. I ordered their Niman Ranch burger with herbed fries. It's served with fontina cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

The fries are delicious.  I recommend ordering them in conjunction with any of their entrees.  The dish is served with ketchup, but I asked for mayo and they were happy to oblige. Crisp on the outside, great flavor, just properly done.  The burger itself is solid, but not surprising or unique, which I think is what the restaurant is going for anyway. It's a classic flavor made with high quality ingredients.  This burger will always be a satisfying choice.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Kearny Mesa, CA

When I was in San Diego a couple weeks ago we decided to do some recon at a place backed by a lot of internet chatter: The B Spot. Nestled into a mostly Asian strip mall, (I say Asian because Kearny Mesa is home to Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets, restaurants and stores and despite my formidable UCLA education, I cannot read any of those languages) it offers teriyaki bowls, sandwiches and burgers. The style is eclectic to say the least: laminated pictures of menu items stick to the walls, tables are pop/mod looking and a large tv next to the counter plays the Food network. You order at the counter, where drinks rest in humming mini fridges behind the register, and then sit down at a colorful, squiggly table. 

We ordered the combo fries which consisted of regular fries, sweet potato fries and yam fries. Apparently sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing... contrary to my prior life knowledge. The fries came out first, smelling delicious with a light seasoning on them and, shockingly, I preferred the yam/sweet potato fries (I can't tell them apart) to the regular fries. They had better flavor and texture. However, I wish they had been served with their own dip, maybe a garlic aioli or thousand island. I ordered the Chopped Bacon Burger (duh) with cheddar cheese and cajun sauce, while my Dad had the Avocado, Bacon and Swiss Burger with a peppercorn mayo, and my little brother bucked the system and had a teriyaki bowl.  

The burgers came out all tall and leaning-tower-of-Pisa-esque. I squished mine down and took a big bite- these were going to be messy. The Cajun sauce was strong and overpowering, definitely had some heat to it. I did ask about the Cajun sauce before I ordered, and it was described as a "spicy thousand island" which I felt wasn't quite accurate. The bacon was really bacon bits, which would have been better cooked in the patty, or on a bacon salad, one of my other favorite lunch items. The real concept that drew me to this place was that the cheese is hidden inside the meat. And while this kept the cheese melting and oozy, it also meant it was distributed unevenly. It was hard to get a bite of burger with every topping in it. My dad loved the peppercorn mayo on his, and I actually liked his burger better, the avocado gave it a cleaner flavor, and without the Cajun sauce you could actually taste the other ingredients. 

It was only $25 for 3 people, so definitely reasonable, but it fell short of expectations.  Conceptually they're close, but execution didn't cut it.  All the internet chatterers who backed this burger need to expand their horizons, and I have a few ideas for my next San Diego endeavor...

Monday, March 14, 2011


Culver City, CA

Last week I popped over to downtown Culver City to celebrate a friend's birthday at Rush Street. I hadn't anticipated on reviewing the place, but after I had the Truffle Asiago French Fries, there was no way I couldn't say something. I started off simple with a Blue Moon, then took a look at the menu. Immediately, the sliders caught my eye. Then there was a very serious debate about the ground turkey sliders, which come with BBQ sauce, and the ground beef sliders, which come with Thousand Island. A few guests had already had the turkey sliders and loved them, but I personally don't think ground turkey is a fatty enough meat to have good flavor, and given the choice between BBQ and Thousand Island, I'm usually going to pick Thousand Island. Obviously I went with beef, and I have to say, without the Thousand Island, the burg's didn't have a lot of flavor, and they definitely skimped on the cheese. 

Still hungry after that weak show, I turned back to the menu and zeroed in on the Truffle Asiago Fries. BAM, done.  Serving size is excellently large, and in addition to the asiago and truffle oil, they had finely chopped parsley, which was a fantastic addition. Four of us girls gobbled that order up quick, just as a few more friends were arriving, and when they ordered the fries too, we couldn't help but eat a few more. I'm embarrassed (proud?) to say I could easily have eaten an entire dish of them all by myself.  

There were several other things on the menu that looked good, but I got distracted with some wines after that and didn't order anything else. As an aside, I've really only been to Culver City to do something on the Sony Lot and then driven right back, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that their downtown is charming and bustling in the most attractive manner. If you haven't been, go walk around and have a nice meal there- its riddled with restaurants. Follow your nose to the truffle fries.