Feb
19
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in California, Italian, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, United States on February-19-2017

We’ve been walking or driving by Spumoni what seems like our entire lives and decided to give it a try because their website menu goes the extra mile by displaying separate vegan and vegetarian options. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier…giant smiles and humor from the moment we walked in to when we left. We wish the food was as good as the smiles we got.

The place is indeed cozy and looks like it, at one point, had been updated, but feels a bit like it may need another interior design update…or maybe that’s part of the charm, the old-school Italian joint, serving classic Italian dishes, by an Italian family. I can live with it.

I had the Penne Caprino which (from their menu) is small tube pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and garlic in a light cream sauce. The dish was much richer than I would have expected from a “light cream sauce”. It was light on the sun-dried tomatoes, and if it had goat cheese in it, it was lost in the light cream sauce. Too rich for me this evening.

Penne Caprino

Penne Caprino

They offer a nightly gluten-free pasta option. My wife ordered the primavera with this option…the vegetables were fresh and the gluten free pasta was perfectly cooked, (which if you’re a gluten-free-er, you know is hard to do) but the sauce tasted like just tomatoes with not much seasoning or anything else in it.

Gluten Free Pasta Primavera

Gluten Free Pasta Primavera

We also ordered a plate of plain spaghetti with no butter or oil for our child who just about eats only that. It came out with oil, so order not correct, but luckily our kid enjoyed it anyway. Very reasonably priced for a generous kids serving of pasta.

At the end we were brought vanilla ice cream with a little bit of chocolate sauce on it. We hadn’t ordered this and thought it was very cool that everyone seems to get a free dessert…(Another table was brought a tiramisu.) The ice cream wasn’t great though…that kind of generic vanilla ice cream restaurants get in large tubs. Tasted a little stale too. If you’re called “spumoni” and you’re doling out free dessert…shouldn’t it be spumoni? (Or give folks a choice…that tiramisu at the other table looked pretty good.)

Complimentary Ice Cream

Complimentary Ice Cream

I think we’d give it another try, order some different dishes, if only for the fact that it’s a local place that could use support, and mainly because the staff seemed so incredibly accommodating and friendly.

Spumoni Sherman Oaks
14533 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA
http://www.spumonishermanoaks.com/


 
Feb
10
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Brunch, Coffee, New York, United States on February-10-2017

Brunch in Brooklyn! As a west coast boy, wandering around Brooklyn looking for good eats is an affair of the heart. I settled on Colonie in Brooklyn Heights after an unnecessarily exhaustive search through reviews and online map locations close-ish to my hotel. (admit you do all this too.)

It’s a crowded spot with lots of good Brooklyn energy and I was lucky enough to get a table towards the back of the restaurant. I started with the French Press Coffee (it was my special day after all…). It was great…as strong as I wanted it to be, perhaps a tad acidic for my taste.

I had a Kale and Gruyere scramble with jack cheese. They declined my request to make it with egg whites or any egg substitute…so if you are looking for eggs and always get that option, this isn’t the place for you. (I’m accustomed to paying a surcharge for egg whites, but definitely not accustomed to places refusing to make your egg dish with egg whites. Whites…that comes with every egg…it’s not like they were out of them…so disappointing not to have this healthy option.)  I got it anyway…it as very runny which is not how I like my eggs…salted too much, and the cheese it was cooked with had very little noticeable presence in the dish.

Kale and Gruyere Scramble

Kale and Gruyere Scramble

I ordered a biscuit on the side. If a brunch place has a biscuit, being the biscuit fanatic, it’s a mandatory order for me. I’ve had biscuits, literally all over the world…this was the first time I couldn’t actually finish a biscuit. It was very heavy and tasted a bit like I was eating oil. When biscuits fail me, I begin to weep.

Biscuits

Biscuits

Colonie turns into a wine bar and they had an impressive looking cocktail menu. Had it not been first thing in the morning I would have loved to try the Watermelon Chili Margarita. (And back here in Los Angeles I’m salivating about the idea of this cocktail.)

Enticing Cocktail Menu

Enticing Cocktail Menu

Kudos for changing the menu up with the seasons. As of this writing, the scramble has changed on their menu. I’d give the place another shot for the evening menu and cocktails, but not offering egg whites or other healthy egg substitute as an option, plus the biscuit fail is a deal breaker for me in terms of lunch.

P.S. They also had free copies of the New York Times which they offered to bring to the table. That’s cool.

Colonie
127 Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
http://colonienyc.com/


 
Feb
10
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, Coffee, Louisiana, New Orleans, United States on February-10-2017

We visited High Volt Coffee on the way to a tour of the Garden District. It’s a great spot with lots of options of people with all kinds of dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free etc.)

I love a good quiche and unfortunately when we arrived, although there were plenty of quiche options, none of them were vegetarian. I opted for the veggie frittata served with kefir yogurt. This looked really cool in the display case of the items made today, kind of a mini crustless quiche. (see I was in a quiche mood…) It was okay but not amazing.

Veggie Fritatta

Veggie Fritatta

I also had a peach ginger muffin which was super dense, without a lot of peach in it, and no discernible ginger taste. In retrospect I should have gone with the “morning glory”…everything in their display case looked amazing.

My wife had the Ozzy which is two poached eggs on sautéed greens, avocado, grape tomato and quinoa, also with the kefir dressing. She loved this meal.

The Ozzy

The Ozzy

She also treated herself to a vegan raw brownie…a very sweet and awesome, date-sweetened and super rich. (in a delicious manner). She couldn’t finish it but was happy to carry it around the rest of the day and finish it in a glorious second round.

Vegan Raw Brownie

There are plenty of vegan and gluten free choices.

Also lots of coffee choices too. You have to love when a breakfast-centric place takes its coffee seriously. I got the American Rosales Pour-over. It was surprisingly smooth and bold.

Although I would have loved a vegetarian quiche choice, I’d definitely go back, when in New Orleans, to have more coffee and sample more from their drool-inducing same day baked display cabinet.

High Volt Coffee
1829 Sophie Wright Pl.
New Orleans, LA 70130-5035
http://hivoltcoffee.com/


 
Feb
10
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in United States, Washington D.C. on February-10-2017

Proof was one of our stops on a 3 night stay in D.C. It’s a very nice place, with a super-accommodating and attentive staff, though in the end, we didn’t love the food.

We started with Curry Cashews which didn’t have much flavor beyond the cashews themselves. They tasted good as roasted nuts do, but would have liked more of a curry presence.

Curried Cashews

Curried Cashews

We also had sun choke apple soup…it was poured at the table over fruit which was cool to watch. Great presentation though the soup was a little tart for our tastes.

Sunchoke Apple Soup

Sunchoke Apple Soup

The Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint, dish lost most of it’s “cauliflower-ness” after the frying. (I’m all for fried and roasted vegetables but it’s so easy to overcook them…) But it got a bit better with the tahini dipping sauce. (We had that on the side and normally it’s poured over.)

Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint

Fried Cauliflower with Lemon, Tahini, Garlic & Mint

The Crispy Fingerling Potatoes were also over-fried and had very little texture of the actual potato left. The sauce they were served with was a bit too mayonais-y for our tastes. (But to be fair I’m generally against mayonnaise so if you’re not you may love it. [but to be extra fair, I have an extra stomach just for potatoes, so if you screw those up, in this case with the over-frying, it really knocks the whole affair down a notch.)

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes

All around the food was a little too rich for us…a good rich dish is nice to have but everything we ordered had a richness about it and it was too much.

They were nice enough to accommodate our picky kid with a dish of plain pasta…but that was $12 which felt awfully pricy.

The kitchen looked amazing and they have an extensive cheese list which also looked amazing in the cheese an bread plates we saw being delivered to other tables. I think if we had ordered a cheese plate which came with homemade breads and jams, we probably would have been in heaven.

In the end it was a lot of money for food we didn’t love.

Proof
775 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
http://proofdc.com/


 
Feb
09
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in California, Encino, Los Angeles, United States, Veggie Burger on February-9-2017

Family dinner at The Stand tonight. Our first time there. We’re a family of 3 vegetarians (2 adults and a picky eater kid) We don’t normally seek out burger joints, but occasionally like to check out veggie burger options to have the “all American” experience.

The Stand put a lot of thought into their brand…nicely designed restaurants, menus and modern amenities give a nice hybrid feel between classic burger joint and modern establishment. There are lots of salad options, a veggie burger, several different french fry options, and even a vegetable side special (in this case it was a brussels sprouts dish.)

I ordered the “Onion Stack” burger with a veggie burger and without the bacon…comes with BBQ sauce, lettuce, roasted tomatoes and cheddar cheese. I didn’t like the veggie burger. This was one of those rice concoctions…they try to excite you with “house made” but falls apart too easily…kind of had an almost falafel texture to it which is great when it’s falafel, but doesn’t really give you a good veggie burger or faux meat experience. They also got the order wrong and it didn’t come with the roasted tomatoes listed in the ingredients for the Onion Stack. Presentation wasn’t great either…you shouldn’t necessarily expect the same look you get in the “food model” pictures, but this was done right hurried and messy.

The fries I ordered with it weren’t particularly hot or crispy.

My wife ordered the kale salad (without the bacon). It was way oversaturated with the lemon sesame vinaigrette and it made the whole thing not at all enjoyable to her.

Also the sweet potato fries she ordered were over done, bordering on burnt.

With so many build-to-order hot dog and sausage options, I would have loved to see a veggie sausage and/or veggie dog option on the menu. (so would our kid have…)

The brussels sprouts, which we didn’t have *looked* really good and kudos for having several beers on top as well.

We’re definitely not going to rush back to the Stand, though if they changed the veggie burger to give a more classic “burger” like experience and added a veggie burger or vegan sausage option we’d definitely give it another shot.

The Stand (Encino Location)
17000 Ventura Blvd,
Encino, CA 91316
http://www.thestandlink.com/