Tag Archives: beach

Charlie’s, Malibu

THIS RESTAURANT IS UNFORTUNATELY CLOSED.

I’m always dragging my friend Laur with me to try out new restaurants. From casual gastropubs up the street like Laurel Tavern, to “modern (molecular) cooking” at The Bazaar across town. She’s always up for a new dining adventure no matter where we go.

When she invited me to dinner at a new place in Malibu last month, I thought to myself, “Seriously, does anyone DRIVE to Malibu just for dinner?” I wondered if trying to get there during rush hour would be worth all the trouble.

If you live in Los Angeles, you understand the hell that is our freeway system, especially during the work week. Sometimes it can take hours to crawl across the 405 freeway, and even shortcuts are clogged with hungry diners trying to make that 7 or 8pm dinner reservation.

It wasn’t just the thought of midweek traffic that bothered me: it was also the general consensus (I think) that Malibu proper is for locals only. I’ve lived in Studio City for fifteen years now, and I can remember driving to Malibu only once for an actual dinner. It was an intimate gathering at some restaurant (can’t remember which one) for a friend’s 40th birthday party. 

Family Beach Vacations, MyLastBite.comDon’t get me wrong, I LOVE the beach. I lived in Pacific Beach (San Diego) for ten years before marrying Peter, and totally embraced the casual lifestyle of a beach community. Over the years, Peter and I rented a beach house in Newport (near Balboa Island) several times, and invited our families for fun, group vacations. Luckily, we also have friends that own a beach house steps from Hollywood Beach in Oxnard, and they let us use it whenever. By the way, the BEST breakfast in the world is nearby at a place called “Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut”.

Those three SoCal beaches I’m most familiar with (Pacific Beach, Newport Beach and Hollywood Beach) are all very laid-back: and growing up, they really never sounded as glamorous as Malibu. I don’t recall Mattel making a “Newport Beach Barbie” that’s for sure. “Malibu Barbie” was, and is still (in my opinion), the best Barbie doll ever. I still have mine tucked away, although her “self-tan” is now blotchy and streaky.

In the early sixties, Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda epitomized the casual (yet still glamorous) Malibu lifestyle that I fantasize about visiting. Photos of them at their Malibu bungalow are included in a book by Dennis Hopper called, “1712 North Crescent Heights”. It’s one of my favorites: a large, black and white coffee table book filled with photos he took around Los Angeles, before he filmed “Easy Rider”. Another favorite shot in the book is of Peter Fonda jamming on an acoustic guitar. He’s just sitting on a large piece of driftwood in the sand, looking cool, but I guess everyone looked cool hanging out at the “Colony” back then. It always makes me laugh when celebrities reminisce about living in the “Colony”, they never say “Malibu Colony”, it’s usually just “The Colony”, as if no other “Colony” would matter in their world anyway.

From Wikipedia: Malibu Colony was one of the first areas inhabited after Malibu was opened to the public in 1929 and it is one of Malibu’s most famous districts. It is located along Malibu Road, westward of the Pacific Coast Highway, on the opposite shore of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach and adjacent to the Malibu Bluffs Park. Long known as a popular private enclave for wealthy celebrities, the Malibu Colony today is a gated community, with multi-million dollar homes on small lots. 

Life in Malibu, MyLastBite.com

The new Malibu spot my friend Laur wanted me to try is called “Charlie’s”, a steak and seafood restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway (in the former Allegria space). Peter decided to join us for dinner, so we headed out to Malibu on an early Thursday evening. I was surprised the drive from Studio City only took about an hour. Guess what? Malibu’s not that far away after all! What was I thinking?

Charlie's Restaurant, MalibuFrom photos I saw online (before I went), Charlie’s looked like a large space, but in reality it’s more like an elegant bistro than a classic steak house. The decor is very stylish (leopard print chairs by Dolce & Gabbana) but easygoing at the same time. I’d be comfortable there wearing a cocktail dress and heels or a little sundress with sandals. 

The three of us were seated in a beautiful booth with a panoramic view of the restaurant. And I must say, as we sat there looking over the menu and sipping our wine (Fess Parker Syrah), we were as comfortable as any local would be. And looking up from the table was the most beautiful hand-blown glass chandelier. It really gave the room (and us!) a nice glow. We felt great and heck, because of the gorgeous lighting, we looked great too!

Our server Amy was terrific and patiently went through the menu with us. Laur had been to the restaurant several times before, and always ordered the Braised Beef Short Ribs. I was in the mood for pasta and went for the Spaghetti Bolognese (made with veal). Peter went for the manly-named Greg Norman Premium T-Bone.

We pretty much shared the six dishes we ordered, including green mussels, crab cakes and a refreshing, roasted beet salad (no photo). I have to say that Laur was right about the short ribs. My pasta was delicious; hearty, savory and perfectly cooked, but next time I’ll be having my own plate of those killer short ribs (and not sharing either!)

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
New Zealand Green Mussels Meuniere in lemon, garlic and white wine, $12.
A wonderful, aromatic way to begin dinner by the sea. Delicious, with plenty of broth left over to soak up with bread.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Crab Cakes with Bell Pepper and Sweet Corn Compote, $14. Gone in Sixty Seconds, so good we almost ordered another plate.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Greg Norman Premium T-Bone (organic signature selection),$42 with an order of Crispy Sage on the side, $4. I wasn’t sure about this “sauce on the side” idea at first. I’m sort of from the school of “eat what the chef has thoughtfully prepared for you”, but honestly, it’s a great way to customize that already gorgeous piece of meat! 

Steak Sauces to select from ($4 each) are:
Crispy Sage
House Barbecue,
Course Grain Mustard
Bourbon Peppercorn
Creamy Porcini Muchroom
Roasted Garlic Demi-Glace
Classic Bearnaise
Port wine with Walnuts & Stilton Cheese

Fried Sage, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Sage, $4. I swear these were cooked in ghee (clarified butter). They were so good, the three of us ate them like potato chips!

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Classic Roasted Veal Spaghetti Bolognese, $18. I was SO ready for this bowl of comforting goodness, and it did NOT disappoint.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Braised Beef Short Ribs, Truffle Demi-Glace Drizzle, $26. My favorite dish of the night. No knife required (or teeth for that matter). Slow-braised and quickly eaten by the three of us!

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.comCharlie’s
22821 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-3132 

Executive Chef Eleano Camboni

http://www.charliesmalibu.com/

Dining Date: 3/26/09


Mentioned Above:

1712 N. Crescent Heights by Dennis Hopper

Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut

Malibu Barbie

Celebrities, Malibu Colony

Wikipedia – Malibu Colony

Laur & Peter

Fess Parker Wines

The Bazaar

Charlie's on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

Gjelina

I was in no rush to dine at Gjelina (pronounced “jelina”) when it opened last summer, adding it to my lengthy list of “places to eat”.

To be honest, I just didn’t care about ANOTHER pizzeria opening, so I pretty much just forgot about it. Then I read Patrick Kuh’s review in Los Angeles Magazine (Feb 2009 issue).

Gruyere Arugula Pizza, MyLastBite.comKuh wrote:
The cooking of Travis Lett is the main draw… only 30 years old, he has developed a remarkably sustained culinary style…

That sparked my interest a little because I love supporting our local up-and-coming chefs.

Then I read: 
Back when he was starting out, Lett had an epiphany while eating a meal at Mario Batali’s breakout restaurant, Babbo, shortly after it opened in Greenwich Village. “It wasn’t one thing they did. It was how they did everything,” he recalls of the food’s exacting forthrightness.

With Mario Batali, MyLastBite.comOne of my best dining experiences ever was at BABBO restaurant in New York. Peter and I had dinner there in October 2005, and we still talk about the amazing Bucatini all’Amatriciana. To this day, we’ve never tasted a better pasta dish and Mario Batali is a culinary king in our home. I’ve learned so much about Italian cooking AND culture from his old series, “Molto Mario” and it’s a shame he doesn’t “teach” on television anymore. If Gjelina’s chef was pulling inspiration from BABBO and Batali, then it could only mean good things for the restaurant.

Patrick Kuh ended his review with the following:
Certain restaurant openings are cautious, some careless, and some overproduced. Then there are those that sing. Gjelina is one of them. It has the snap of originality, a little strut. It knows it’s good. It captures a neighborhood.

At this point I opened my “places to eat” list and moved Gjelina up near the top. When our friends Kevin and Tamara (both oenophiles) wanted to meet for brunch in Venice recently, of course it had to be at Gjelina. They brought along a gorgeous bottle of Williams Selyem 2005 Chardonnay, which was a refreshing and crisp companion to our delicious brunch of pizzas, salads and sides.

Niman Ranch Bacon, MyLastBite.com
Niman Ranch Bacon $5. Is there any better way to start off a brunch?

Spinach Salad, MyLastBite.com
Heirloom Spinach Salad with Tomato, Olive, Feta, Pinenuts and Croutons $9. This was devoured within minutes of hitting our table. The large crouton pieces were a terrific crunch mixed with the super fresh vegetables. 

Guanciale Pizza, MyLastBite.com
Guanciale Pizza with Crushed Olive, Fresno Chili, Buffalo Mozzarella & Rosemary, $15
I LOVE guanciale, it’s my favorite type of bacon (the pig’s jowel) which is extra fatty. Notice how THIN the pizza crust is in the upper left of the photo. All the flavors were baked into (and almost through) the crust. I love thin-crust pizza so this wafer-thin heater was my kind of pie (or maybe I should say “cracker bread”!).

Chickpeas & Truffle Potatoes, MyLastBite.com
Two more sides we enjoyed:
Chickpea Stew with Greens, Cous Cous, Spiced Yogurt and Harissa, $12. It was more like a belly-warming soup than a stew and I found myself craving it when I had a cold last week.
Crispy Fingerling Potatoes with Truffle Oil, Herbs and Parmesan, $5. Perfectly crispy on the outside with just a hint of truffle oil.

Gruyere Arugula Pizza, MyLastBite.com
Gruyere, Arugula Pizza topped with Caramelized Onion, Fromage Blanc Pizza and Sunny Eggs, $18. This pizza came after the Guanicale, and we all decided that this one was our favorite. Again, the toppings were almost baked through the thin crust and the runny eggs on top added a creamy-like richness.

View from our table, MyLastBite.com
In the relaxing, sunny back patio area, the view from my seat.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme, MyLastBite.com
Butterscotch pot de creme. Very similar to Mozza’s Butterscotch Budino, (except you don’t get the rosemary cookie here). Gjelina’s version was rich enough that we were happy sharing one together.

Blackberry Crisp, MyLastBite.com
Blackberry and Cornmeal Crisp. I only had one bite (too full!) but my husband said he loved the tartness and crunch.

Beautiful Fixture & Wall, MyLastBite.com
I loved the decor, especially the chocolate brown wall, with what looked like “tooled leather” engravings. The light fixtures were also fun and funky throughout.

Gjelina, MyLastBite.com
From top left: Lighting above bar, Back patio, Vintage glass, Wine bottle chandelier.

I can’t wait to go back!

The L.A. Times writes: Though they’re only a small part of the menu, the pizzas at Gjelina in Venice keep getting better. Six months in, chef-owner Travis Lett has his pizza mojo down. His pies have a graceful aesthetic, beautiful to look at, even better to eat, and farmers market all the way. Like the seductive vegetable dishes here from the wood-burning oven, the eight pizzas on offer shift with the seasons. A pie blanketed in Fontina cheese and bitter greens accented with bacon lardons or one that melds Taleggio cheese with dusky wild mushrooms and pea shoots may give way to a pizza topped with sweet porky guanciale, crushed olives and bufala mozzarella. The crust is very thin, very crisp. Pizza is such a popular item, though, you may have to wait for yours: The oven is only big enough to cook four pies at a time.  Full Article Here

Gjelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429
(no website as of this writing) 
Dining Date: 3/7/09 

Mentioned Above:

LA Magazine Gjelina Review by Patrick Kuh

BABBO

Mario Batali

Molto Mario

Williams Selyem Chardonnay

Niman Ranch

Gjelina on Urbanspoon

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Riva Restaurant

On those very rare occasions when Peter and I have pizza delivered, we either argue over the type of crust to get, or simply order separate pizzas. Peter likes classic “hand-tossed” crust and I prefer a thin crust because it’s less filling, and I admit…. I just care more about the toppings.

When Pizzeria Mozza opened a couple of years ago, we finally found that one pizza that we could agree on and actually enjoy together. Nancy Silverton’s pizza crusts are thick enough on the outside for Peter, yet thin enough on the inside so I don’t feel overwhelmed by dough.

We first went to Pizzeria Mozza on Christmas Eve in 2006, and have tried every pizza on the menu since then. Mozza’s “Gorgonzola, Fingerling Potato and Rosemary” is the one we return to again and again. It’s a real shame they don’t deliver.

Riva, MyLastBite.comLast friday we were invited to dinner by Peter’s friends, Barbara and John. They were in town, from Seattle, looking at colleges with their two teenage kids, Corey and Claire. Peter asked me to make a dinner reservation in Santa Monica (near their hotel) so I decided on Riva restaurant. We hadn’t been to Jason Travi’s Italian eatery yet, so after I made the reservation I started researching the menu online.

The L.A. Times noted that Riva’s menu “plays off the cuisine of the Italian Riviera” and serves delicious crudo (Italian style “sashimi”). I was surprised to read that they don’t serve pasta, but Riva does specialize in pizza. I found several good reviews about the pork lovers pizza called “Molto Maiale”, but it’s when I started reading about the “Patate Semplice” pizza that I began feeling well…. a little guilty. It’s made with potato, rosemary, fontina and sea salt, which sounded very similar to our favorite pizza at Mozza. Should we even try Riva’s potato pizza, or would it be like cheating on Nancy? It took almost fifteen years of “crust fighting” to find a pizza that my husband I both love, so maybe it was best not to test fate by bringing in a new player.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s JUST PIZZA… GET OVER IT”.

Well, we did… and both of us absolutely loved the Riva potato pizza. To me, the crust seemed a little lighter than Mozza’s version, and the topping was almost custard-like underneath the potato. It was velvety rich and so cheesy that I had to eat it with a fork.

The other pizza we ordered was (of course) the “Molto Maiale” which was topped with sausage, meatballs, pancetta and bacon. After a few bites, we were all in pig heaven.

The L.A. times said it best: “While Pizzeria Mozza still rules, Riva is closing in, and here at least you can get a reservation”.

What we ate:

Riva, MyLastBite.comPatate Semplice Pizza (potato, rosemary, fontina, sea salt) $14

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Molto Maile Pizza (Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Pancetta, Caramelized Onion, Tomato) $17

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Molto Maile Pizza (Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Panceetta, Caramelized Onion, Tomato) $17

Riva, MyLastBite.com
 Crudo: DELICIOUS cured belly of ocean trout with house made mustard. $9

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Chef Jason Travi

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Chef at the pizza oven

Pastry Chef Miho Travi is a dessert goddess…

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Torta Della Nonna (grandma’s cake) served with roasted pears, caramel ice cream $10

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Ricotta Fritters served with catalan cream foam $9

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Sorbetti e Gelati Trio $8

More photos on Flickr

Riva Restaurant
312 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica
(310) 451-7482
RivaRestaurantLA.com

Dining date: 3/6/09
Thanks Barbara and John, for a wonderful dinner at Riva!

Mentioned Above:
L.A. Times Review of Riva

Pizzeria Mozza

Nancy Silverton

At Mozza
Riva on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

The Bazaar by José Andrés [4]

I think it’s perfectly fitting that my fourth visit to the Bazaar by José Andrés, came just a few days before the L.A. Times awarded the restaurant FOUR stars. I don’t have a rating system on MyLastBite, but if I did… I would give the Bazaar a TEN (out of ten).

Since the very first night the restaurant opened (I was there), I’ve been telling everyone about this “gift” that Jose Andres has given to L.A. I know times are tough, but if you can afford to eat out once in awhile and haven’t been to the Bazaar yet, then make a reservation now. Your spirits (and taste-buds) will be quickly lifted, and you’ll feel good that you did something nice for yourself.

I love the Bazaar so much that I find myself berating friends who haven’t been there yet. These are friends who eat out once or twice a week and just haven’t “gotten around to it”. I want to shake them and scream “Do you have ANY idea what you are missing?”. Thanks to S. Irene Virbilia (L.A. Times Restaurant Critic), maybe now they’ll finally go experience the magic for themselves. 

The Bazaar is not just a “special occasion” restaurant, although on this fourth visit we went to celebrate my nephew Cody’s birthday. Each time we go to the restaurant, Peter and I make sure to take family or friends, because it’s such an awesome experience to share with people you love… especially if you are celebrating something (or someone) special! 

What we ate:

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Of course, we started the evening with my favorite… the 
Foie Gras Cotton Candy! Bites of foie gras rolled in crushed corn nuts then wrapped in cotton candy. My nephew Cody and his girlfriend Jade loved them! $5

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.comCaviar Cones with Crème Fraîche $8

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Nitro Caipirinha $20

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Making the Nitro Caipirinha (cachaça and lime) made with Liquid Nitrogen

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
“Not Your Everyday (Winter) Caprese” (Molecular Liquid Mozzarella Balls)$12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Steamed Crab Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumber $15

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
”Just Shrimp Cocktail: Yea Right” $12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Alitas de pollo: Boneless chicken wings with green olive puree $9. These were so good, we ordered seconds!

Mushrooms toped with Truffles, MyLastBite.com

Chef Marcel Vigneron brought this special dish to our table. I can’t remember what is was called, but it was filled with mushrooms and topped with freshly shaved truffles. A wonderful treat… THANKS CHEF!!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
truffles, lovely truffles!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Pisto Manchego con flor de calabaza: Sauteed peppers, zuchini, onions, eggplant and tomatoes with a beautiful poached egg. $9

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Beef Hanger Steak and Piquillo Pepper Confit $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Japanese Baby Peaches with Persimmon, Yogurt and Olive Oil $12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
The incredibly gracious William Douillet making our “Dragon’s Breath”! Caramel Popcorn bites “cooked” in Liquid Nitrogen!

Liquid Nitrogen at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
William lifting the Caramel Popcorn out of the Liquid Nitrogen!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
I love Cody’s face as he bites into the “Dragon’s Breath”!! Priceless.

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Cody exhaling the “Dragon’s Breath”

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Cody, Jade and Chef Marcel Vigneron

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
The Patisserie Menu

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Nitro Island, specially delivered by the lovely Waylyn Lucas!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
“Nitro Coconut Floating Island” Dessert $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Apples Carlota $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Jo, Felix, William, Dan, Jade and Cody. Thanks for ANOTHER fantastic evening!

At The Bazaar by Jose Andres, MyLastBite.com 
My wonderful husband, Peter.

Additional dishes we had (as well as previous visits):

Olives Ferran $8

Sweet potato chips $10

Toro (Tuna) “Nigiri”, Wasabi, Watermelon, Soy and Jalapeño $16

Jicama wrapped guacamole with micro cilantro and corn nuts $10

“Philly Cheesesteak”: Air bread filled with cheese and topped with Kobe beef $8

Lomo de corder con Patatas y trufas: Lamb Loin with Mushrooms and Potato. $14.00

Jamon Platter $32

Five Quesos: Murcia, Valdeon, Idiazabal, La Serena, Manchego $25

Jamon Croquettes $9

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5555
http://www.TheBazaar.com

Bazaar photos on Flickr

Dining Date: 2/15/09

<– Bazaar Visit #3

–> Bazaar Visit # 5 and 6

Mentioned Above:

L.A. Times (Don’t miss the awesome video)

About Cody

My Adventures in Molecular Cooking

The Bazaar by Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

17 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking