Jul
26
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Maine, Portland, Tapas on July-26-2014

What brought us to Central Provisions was an earlier review which said “This place is f*king ridiculous. We weren’t sure if that meant you’d walk in and they’d punch you in the face and then spit on your genitals, or if the food was really good. Turns out it was the latter. We had the Roasted Radish Nori Emulsion which melded together so well…the seaweed in it made it feel like we were having a local seafood dish which was a nice experience to have as a vegetarian in a coastal Maine town. The Spicy Maine Potatoes were crispy and delicious with a nice lingering spice. Served with Heinz ketchup which on the surface seemed low-rent for an upscale small plates place but it actually paired perfectly. The Caramelized Sheep Cheese with onion and Beet and, well caramelized cheese which basically can be defined as “how can you go wrong.” The food and drinks were artisanal. We had plenty to eat as vegetarians and we enjoyed talking with the owner Paige who obviously took a lot of well deserved pride in what she was serving. (See the key lime tart which is her mother’s recipe.) This was one of the very best meals we’ve had, certainly on our 10 day trip around New England. Well worth a stop to anyone who is in Portland.

Central Provisions
414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
207-805-1085
http://www.central-provisions.com

Caramelized Goat Cheese

Caramelized Goat Cheese


Spicy Maine Potatoes

Spicy Maine Potatoes


Momma's Key Lime Tart

Momma’s Key Lime Tart


Roasted Radish with Nori Emulsion

Roasted Radish with Nori Emulsion


 
Sep
07
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, California, Granada Hills, Los Angeles, United States on September-7-2013

Joe’s Cafe – Granada Hills, California

 

Once you get north of Burbank Boulevard in the Valley (and some would argue it stops at Ventura Boulevard) the San Fernando Valley can be a wasteland of interesting, good and unique places to eat…but if you brave it all the way to the wilds of “old” Granada Hills on Chatsworth Street, you’ll find a beacon of thoughtful foodie-ness at Joe’s Cafe. Now be warned…it’s a tiny place…if you’re a large man you might not even be able to fit in…(just kidding)…there are only a few seats inside which they supplement with some outside tables…so if you head there during a busy time…say Sunday brunch…you might have to wait for some place to sit…but you’ll be rewarded with top notch home made food. So do it!

 

Our first time eating there was actually our second time there…this was as a result of us being unaware of the limited hours for breakfast…This is actually our only complaint about the place…we often aren’t able to get to brunch until a little later so if we’re going on any day but Sunday, they stop serving the breakfast menu at 11:30 am…even on Saturdays…so we missed that window on our first trip there but headed back another day when we were able.  More breakfast time please Joe’s!

 

Everything about the place demonstrates attention to detail, the farm-sourced food, the staff and the restaurant is smartly designed with a modern sensibility

 

While we were waiting for our feed they brought an olive and pretzel bread which was served with grape and apple jam which was great!

 

Croissant Sandwich

We had ordered 2 croissant sandwiches with egg and smoked gouda. I subbed olives for the bacon and Addie subbed avocado for the bacon. The olives subbed the perfect amount of saltiness for the sandwich and Addie (who had sunny side over medium eggs on hers enjoyed it quite a bit.

 

Our 4 year old had greek yogurt with honey which kept him quite happy.

 

As potato fiends we do wish there was a potato option with their breakfast offerings…we’re sure they’d do a great job with potatoes!

 

We also saw an order of pancakes go by and they looked pretty darned good, coveed with fresh berries.

 

Although we didn’t eat lunch there were some drool-worthy items on the menu which would have satisfied our vegetarian needs including the “Extra Cheese Grilled Cheese” and the “Mac ‘N Bleu” Cheese” and a grilled mushroom sandwich.

 

The coffee was also good…self-serve Intelligentsia brand.

 

We were impressed with the chef’s attention to detail…making sure plates were perfectly presented and spotless on their way out. We also always appreciate a restaurant that makes a point of telling you that menu items are seasonal…let’s us know they put a lot of thought to what they serve.

 

The Valley needs more places like Joe’s Cafe…in the mean time, as they say, Eat at Joe’s.

 

Joe’s Cafe
http://www.joescafegh.com/
17815 Chatsworth Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344
818-990-7888


 
Sep
07
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, California, Coffee, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, United States on September-7-2013

The Valley, Sherman Oaks even is exploding with great places for brunch, with the newly opened Blu Jam up the street, Sweet Butter Kitchen also up the street in the other direction, Nat’s Early Bite, etc…Crave has been on the seen for a couple of years now and is a great place to go for just about anything. It’s a coffee house, a waffle house, a lunch spot, a creperie, they’ve got a kids menu…often at a place that tries to be everything, they end up doing nothing particularly well. That is not the case here. Crave Cafe does just about everything well. Notably well!

 

The location is great too…right on Ventura Boulevard a door away from Van Nuys Boulevard in the heart of the Sherman Oaks “Village” area. (Seriously how many Southern Cal. towns are going to put up a sign declaring their main street a “village?” On top of all of this the place is open 24 hours (except between Sunday night at midnight and whenever it is they open on Monday morning…) so if you’ve got a “Crave”ing for something at just about anytime you’re all set.

 

We’ve been several times, always for brunch and have always been satisfied. The coffee is excellent. Super strong, served in large mugs, refills galore. I recommend if you’re eating there (and by the way it’s an order at the counter place) to order a small coffee as odds are they’ll bring it to you in a large mug and in any case the refills are free.

 

All they’re dishes are presented well…I made my own omelette once…(or, well, it says on the menu “make your own omelette” but really you choose the ingredients and they make it…)…egg whites, spinach, onions, mushrooms and swiss cheese.  The only issue here was the “swiss” cheese…some restaurants seem to use an american-like cheese which is not really swiss but it happens to be white and is labeled as “swiss.”  Otherwise it was presented well, the mushrooms were savory and the portion was generous.


I had a side of hashbrowns…served square, sort of reminiscent of what you’d get at McDonalds but not disgusting like you’d get at McDonalds. (Good hashbrowns just to be clear!)

 

A side of fruit also came which was strawberries and oranges…it’s always good when a side of fruit is thoughtful and fresh like this, as opposed to the typical melon based fruit sides where the melon is often not fresh and takes over the flavor of everything else.

 

On another visit I also noticed they had various quiches. As a vegetarian Francophile I can never turn down a good slice of quiche and they’ve got 3 options! A mushroom Spinach with Feta cheese, a sundried tomato and basil and a “Veggie” with zucchini, squash, onions, peppers and eggplant. I’ve had the first 2 on different occasions and they definitely satisfy my need for quiche.

 

There really is something everyone at Crave Cafe and we’ve never been disappointed with anything. This is a great casual place to eat.

 

Crave Cafe – Sherman Oaks
(There’s also a location in Studio City)
http://www.cravecafes.com/
14504 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
818-990-7888


 
Aug
31
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in California, Los Angeles, Pizza, Studio City, United States on August-31-2013

This review is the culmination of a few different visits to Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in Studio City. (You can guess since we’ve been a few times it’s going to be a good one…)  Taking the place of Louise’s Trattoria on the second floor of the strip-ish mall at Laurel Canyon and Ventura, famous for Studio Yogurt and next door to the also new Loteria Grill enter the relatively new location of Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill. You can find them all over the southland, including Terminal 4 at LAX! (A huge step up from Chili’s, the only other sit-down eatery there.)

 

We were very excited about the existence of “Honey Pizza” an item so ubiquitous in it’s awesomeness that it appears both on the pizza and dessert menus. It didn’t disappoint with a sheep cheese on a crispy, thin pastry-like dough. It definitely looked amazing though we think a slightly more salty cheese would send this dish over the moon. (Or maybe this could just be the dinner variation leaving the goat for dessert…the goat cheese that is.)

 

We also had the Crispy Tofu Tapas. This was super-good…battered tofu with a very enjoyable light texture on the inside, perfectly paired with a sesame ginger dipping sauce. This is one of the most crave-worthy tofu dishes we’ve had and we’ve ordered it all three times we’ve been to Sammy’s.

Another side we had was the local strawberry snap pea salad. (Which we don’t see on the menu now so it could have been a seasonal dish or special.) It had more lettuce than strawberry’s or snap peas but the snap peas were fresh…also the base contained fennel which provided a unique taste to the salad.

 

We also had the Margarita pizza. The homemade sauce was quite tasty with basil and a little bit of a kick, probably provided by red pepper.  The cheese was a little under done. This seems to be an epidemic with pizza places…especially ones that serve more gourmet style individual pizzas…the cheese always tends to be melted but not cooked quite enough to for it to be done perfectly…we tend to order our pizzas well done as a result but this was our first time getting a pizza here so we wanted to see what they did. It tasted great though.

 

We also had the Brie pizza on one visit. It was served with truffle oil on the same dough as the honey pizza. Very tasty though the truffle oil was a little more subtle than we would have liked.

 

Sammy’s is very vegetarian friendly with lots of options and a menu on which items are specifically marked as vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.

 

They’ve also got a great beer selection. (Try the banana beer!)

 

Sammy’s is definitely a restaurant we will continue visiting…for the Crispy Tofy alone, and for a unique and tasty alternative to our regular pizza night.

 

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill – Studio City
Multiple Locations Throughout California and Nevada
http://www.sammyspizza.com/
12050 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
818-762-3330


 
Aug
31
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in California, Los Angeles, Santa Clarita Valley, United States on August-31-2013

We live in Van Nuys so trekking up to the Santa Clarity Valley just for brunch isn’t the most convenient thing in the world, but we are brunch fanatics and after discovering the menu for Egg Plantation online (advertising 101 delicious omelets), we decided we had better consider it a destination restaurant, piled in the car and we were on our way.

 

The place was crowded as one would expect the best brunch places to be on a Sunday morning (ok it might have been noon…) While we were waiting for our table we witnessed a man, who may have been homeless approach the restaurant…rather than being shooed away, the hostess asked him to wait a moment and she came out with a sandwich packaged to go for him. It felt good to see this.

 

We had the Peanut Butter Stuffed French toast which Addie described as “Awesome.” It was a half order which was enormous enough…tasted like a peanut butter sandwich with French Toast as the bread. (Read that sentence again…it’s worth it…) They accommodated Addie with apples as a side instead of the meat it normally came with and the apples complemented the dish very well.

I ordered the 87 Omelette (made with egg whites) which included apples, bananas, honey and cinnamon. The egg whites were cooked perfectly but the ingredients were folded into the omelet after cooking so it wasn’t quite as cohesive a dish as I would have liked. (It was still good though.)

 

We had the O’brien potatoes (which my spell check somehow changed to “Obedient” potatoes in my notes…I’ll let you use your imagination there…). They were pretty good but we saw their hash browns delivered to another table and they REALLY looked good…about an inch thick, perfectly crispy looking on the outside. The visual made us wish we’d ordered those instead.

 

Our food also came with a home-made biscuit which was very good…could have been baked slightly longer but still enjoyed it…they even brought honey with the biscuit without us asking for it which makes incredible sense to me! Biscuit, honey, butter..mmmm.

 

The staff was incredibly nice and accommodating…they even brought our 3 year old a sample of their granola to see if he’d like it when it turned out they didn’t have the Raisin Bran he’d hoped for. They also had pretty good looking Bloody Mary’s – Not that we usually drink those – but they looked appealing.

 

We had a great experience at Egg Plantation and if we lived in the Santa Clarita Valley we’re pretty sure they’d know as by name there.

 

Egg Plantation
http://www.eggplantation.com/
4415 Walnut St
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
(661) 255-8222