Posted (Rick Lupert) in Faux Meat, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Mexican, United States on March-20-2017

We stopped in for a quick pre-show dinner at Te’Kila Hollywood. I somehow got the impression from the website that it was a little more ‘restaurant-y’ than bar-y so I’m not sure it was exactly what we were looking for in terms of ‘vibe’ but knowing that ahead of time would’ve made the difference.

The food was pretty good…I had the soyrizo tacos…they were served in very small flour soft-tortilla shells with tasty salsas on the side.

Soyrizo Tacos

Soyrizo Tacos

Unlike many Mexican restaurants (nouveau, bar, fine dining or otherwise) they didn’t serve chips. I think one of our God-given rights when we go into a Mexican restaurant is a basket of chips, so, hear this Te’Kila…make with the chips when people are seated!

I also had the melon-margarita…it was a tad-sweet for my taste, though to be fair it was labeled as sweet on the menu. (And it certainly did the job of making me forget about being seated outside in the cold where the awning mounted heaters didn’t quite do the job for us.

Also the water was served in disposable thin plastic cups which just feels like a no-no for in-house dining. Te’Kila…the Earth needs you!

Oh, and as a completely irrelevant side-note, the women’s bathroom door has a beautifully painted door…whereas the men’s bathroom door has nothing on it. So when women go to the bathroom, they are ushered in to an artistic fantasyland. Men, however, must erase their brains of all artistic sensibility and simply get our business done.

I’d give the place another chance as the soyrizo tacos were memorably good.

6541 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, California, Coffee, Larchmont Village, Los Angeles, United States on March-11-2017

It was birthday brunch time and we needed a spot with gluten-free options in this part of town so we made the trek from the Valley to Larchmont Bungalow. It’s a popular spot…half coffee-house, half restaurant with in-house roasted coffee beans and plenty of options for everyone of every diet.

It’s an order at the counter then they bring it to you at a table kind of place, which wasn’t necessarily what we wanted for a birthday celebration…especially with such an extensive menu, there’s always extra pressure deciding what you want for a complete meal in a line-situation, but we persevered.

For the gluten-free (which my wife, whose birthday it was, is) they’ve got gluten free bread, waffle and pancake options which is sort of the mother-load for those on that diet.

I had the Garden Omelet made with egg whites, asparagus and spinach (and then had them hold the zucchini – just a personal preference but if you like zuchini, get excited – and subbed cheddar for goat cheese. The veggies on the inside were super fresh, not over-cooked, and a delight to have inside my eggs.

Garden Omelet

The breakfast potatoes it came with were somewhere between the crispy and wet style of breakfast potatoes. I generally prefer crispy in my breakfast potato options but these weren’t bad.

The raisin walnut bread I chose was a little dry or perhaps too toasted. Not a lot of flavor.

For a place that roasts its own beans I expected the coffee to be a memorable experience. The French Roast could have been a lot bolder. It was acceptable, not too thin, but not great.

My wife had one of the benedicts, the veggie one, subbed with rosemary gluten free bread instead of the typical English muffin. The zucchini was “wonderful” according to her, the zucchini loving woman I married. The side of fruit it came with, however, was not great. The melon wasn’t ripe but the berries were good. (Melon always seems like a hit or miss filler in fruit salads…if you’re going to include it, make sure it’s good.)

Veggie Benedict

One snag with the order at the counter service…it was our first time there and we knew they’d be bringing us our food so we sat at the table for a while waiting for our coffees…no-one had told us we had to pick those up at the station to the right of where we ordered.

The omelet sliders, which we didn’t order, looked cool. The baked goods in the display counter looked amazing. The staff was very friendly.

Larchmont Bungalow
107 N. Larchmont
Los Angeles, CA 90004

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

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.



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.

127 Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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