A quick review of a couple restaurants I went to this summer:
Tripel (Playa Del Rey) Modern gourmet pub.
A small locally-sourced restaurant with a gastro-esque feel. Simple menu with complex entrees—squid ink pasta, waterzooi, and paella. They also have craft beer on tap! I got the stout on tap but next time I want to try the Coconut Porter or the Organic Chocolate Stout. The bartenders are very friendly and are eager to suggest beer. We started off with the charred octopus and the spicy coconut & red curry biscuits. I found the recipe here. The biscuits come with orange blossom honey and clotted cream. It’s a perfect combination of spicy and sweet that goes well with beer. Next we ordered the steamed mussels & clams and chicken waterzooi. Waterzooi is a Belgian stew originally made with fish. The Tripel rendition has heirloom carrots, leeks, kale, potato latka, fenugreek, and gremolata. Fenugreek and gremolata are two types of herbs. It tasted like a curry but the vegetables make it lighter and fresher. The mussels and clams were the highlight of the meal. They have a lot of butter and herbs that will leave your mouth watering. You have to end the meal with their homemade chocolate chip cookies and bourbon milk. Their secret—it’s just milk with bourbon! Atmosphere: Cozy, open, and modern. The bar is situated in the center of the restaurant. There is also a cute store in the back that sells an assortment of kitchen knickknacks and dining ware. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Wurstküche (Venice and Downtown) Sausages and beer.
Wurstküche specializes in exotic German sausages that include rattlesnake and rabbit. You order in the front then go to the back to eat. The room is lined with communal tables with butcher-paper tablecloths. The servers bring out crayons when you are finished eating. A lot of people just come for the beer so it gets pretty rowdy. We went around 7pm on a Thursday and had trouble finding seats together. We were squished in-between a couple on their (possibly) first-date and a group of guys in their mid-twenties. I ordered the apple and chicken sausage with caramelized onions and sauerkraut. Delicious. For beer I ordered the Koestritzer Schwarbier. A dark malty German beer that is slightly sweet. The Aventinus was also good but stronger (8.2% alcohol). Atmosphere: industrial, dark, and rowdy. (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Flores and The Ladies Gunboat Society (Sawtelle) Rustic chic American food (sorry no photos).
Flores uses fresh ingredients but takes it to the next level with rich flavors and decadent sauces. Everything is served family style. The décor of Flores is a fairy’s cavern meets a grandma’s living room with vintage-style mismatched silverware and plates. We ordered the housemade biscuits with maple butter and sea salt, toasted farro risotto, seared scallops, and salmon. The desserts are out of this world. We ordered the vanilla bean cake with mascarpone mousse and the berry crumble with buttermilk ice cream. The cake was extremely moist and rich. Atmosphere: rustic chic, vintage, modern eclectic. Unfortunately I did not take any photos but check out their website! (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Gracias Madre (West Hollywood). Plant-based 100% organic Mexican food.
The sister restaurant of Café Gratitude. They have a good happy hour too. We shared the gorditas (potato-mesa cakes with cashew crema), flautas de camote (rolled tacos with sweet potatoes and cashew nacho cheese), and tamales. All delicious. We also ordered the bacon cashew chips and homemade horchata. I got the Bowl Dos, which is braised lentils, peanut sauce, and coconut rice. While the bowl was good I did not think there was enough sauce and toppings for all the rice. Next time I would stick with the appetizers. Atmosphere: The décor is chic, simple, and earthy. (4 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Sunny Blue (Santa Monica and Culver City) Healthy sushi balls.
Sunny Blue is home to the sushi ball. They have vegan and vegetarian options. I tried the chicken curry, spicy salmon, and shitake mushroom. The shitake mushroom ball was a bit bland. There was no filling. All the ingredients were mixed in with the rice. I would recommend asking which ones have filling and which ones do not. The spicy salmon and chicken curry were better but not great. The salmon tasted like it was canned. It was also very crowded and it took a while to get our food. It is walking distance to the beach so we took our food to go and ate at a park facing the ocean. (2 taste, 4 atmosphere, 3 service)