Food writer Merrill Shindler recently tackled the phonetically-challenging iX tapa Cantina, a newcomer to the Colorado Boulevard dining scene. He, first, found that the eatery’s name brought out his inner grammar curmudgeon:
Food writer Merrill Shindler recently tackled the phonetically-challenging iX tapa Cantina, a newcomer to the Colorado Boulevard dining scene.
He, first, found that the eatery’s name brought out his inner grammar curmudgeon:
Look: You’ll forgive me if I spell it “Ixtapa.” Apparently, the spelling chosen by the Jack and Karen Huang, the restaurateurs who opened this Urban Chic Cantina, is the somewhat keyboard-unfriendly “iX tapa,” which will drive me to madness. And it’s apparently caused those who note restaurant openings on the Web to sprain all ten fingers. Take a look, and you’ll find “Ix Tapa,” “ix tapa,” “IX Tapa,” “Ixtapa” — the variations go on and on.
THE PLACE: An Eagle Rock standard, The Chalet, was closed down in the summer to undergo a metamorphosis. The result was The Black Boar, a British-style pub with lots of cheap, craft beers on draft. The shift was met with shock and some tantrum-like resistance by The Chalet’s hardcore fans, who apparently couldn’t bear — boar? — to say goodbye. But is the bar at 1630 Colorado really so different?
THE PRICE: You can’t really argue with a drink list that’s plastered with $5 signs.
And, to think, the price gets even lower during happy hour. That runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, when all drafts and well drinks drop to just $3.
Even during peak hours, those five bucks will get you rolling through an impressive draft menu that’s extensive enough to cover all the bases while still offering some unexpected thrills. Mine was Old Speckled Hen, an English pale ale that felt befitting an establishment with a mounted boar’s head as the bar’s focal point.
THE SOUNDS: The original Chalet jukebox survives another day. The machine itself seems to have a following, so let that be the olive branch.
THE FOOD: There’s no food served, but patrons can reportedly bring in the noms from surrounding establishments. Closest of all is Casa Bianca, the famed pizza joint with infamous long lines (the wait’s worth it) and it’s just paces from The Black Boar.
THE VIBE: There’s a barely palpable difference in feeling between the former establishment and the latter. To me, that’s a good thing; The Chalet isn’t dead — it just has new life. But did it need reincarnation? I guess the owners thought so.
Maybe it’s the brighter lighting — The Chalet was always dark as midnight — and the pristine wood that would be better off for some wear. There is something slightly colder about The Black Boar, but isn’t that the stalwart English way? (The stone walls, aside from being literally cold, smack of the not-so-far-away Griffin’s dungeon-esque quality.)
The total effect is hardly bad at all. On the contrary, compared to its former life, The Black Boar still feels easy but also slick, upscale — less den and more iniquity. It’s compelling enough that my Hollywood-based companion opined, “I wish there was one near me.”
AGE GROUP: Oxy kids reign supreme in Eagle Rock, as they do in this pub. Also, for your people-watching pleasure: Local artists and alterna-hippies on the prowl in their Free People dresses and tees.
BEWARE: Beer is the emphasis here, and there’s no custom cocktail menu, despite the so-called “new cocktailian” revolution that’s creeping like kudzu through downtown L.A. and Westside. Still, with an extensive and stately bar, you’re only limited by your imagination.
GO: The Black Boar, 1630 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. Daily, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. (323) 258-8800.
MY RATING: 3 — Take advantage of the fireplace and warm up to The Black Boar. You might find things haven’t changed so very much after all.
RATINGS: 5 is really, really hot; 4 is hot; 3 is fun, loose, low pressure; 2 is cool, relaxing; 1 is just OK, sorta cool.
We love free stuff. (A demonstration of that love is our soon-to-launch sister site Freebie Finds. Bookmark it now. Thank us later.)
Free stuff is even better when it comes from The Langham Huntington Spa.
Tomorrow from 4-8 p.m. in the courtyard, The Huntington Spa and Ajne Rare & Precious are hosting a complimentary Lavender Harvest Festival with live lavender distillation, samples of essential oils, bundles of lavender and lavender-infused hors d’oeuvres.
And (in the not-free-but-still-lavender category) lavender manicures ($45), specialty cocktails, beauty products and jewelry will be available for purchase.
Reserve your manicure in advance: (626) 585-6414
If you can’t make it tomorrow, The Langham is continuing its discount on lavender manis and pedis through October.
It was a sea of red (one hoped it would never part) for a few nights in August at the Scarlet Tea Room. A sultry, live theatrical revue took up residence there for Scarlet Passion, with music, cabaret and burlesque performances amid the tea-room tables and rounds of fire-engine-red raspberry lemon drop shots.
Oh, yeah, there was food, too. Selections from the new menu debuted, and are represented in the photos below. Also check out the photo spread, above, in Rose Magazine.
From top: Guests wore red to gain entry to the affair. Heirloom Capri salad. DelMonico grilled pork chop. Banana hazelnut chocolate strudel. (Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)
THE PLACE: At the gateway to the San Gabriel Valley — the city of Alhambra — you’ll also find a gateway to Cuba. Cuban Bistro off Main Street offers a taste of Cuban culinary delights as well as live salsa music that brings the soul of Cuba alive. Helping guests to delve deeper to find their inner Ricky Ricardo, live salsa music is offered on Friday nights starting at 9 p.m. and jazz on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.
THE PRICE: There is no cover charge to take in the live music. Drinks start at $6. I decided to try the tequila mojito while my partner tried the house mojito.
The simple syrup in my drink was much sweeter than I am used to; I almost couldn’t stand to finish it. But I had a sip of the house mojito and it wasn’t as sugary. I tried the house sangria as well. It came with a nice heap of fresh-cut apples and oranges on top. This is now my favorite sangria; it was not too sweet or overwhelming but still had plenty of flavors of fruit and wine, which is what a sangria is meant to be. Appetizers ranged from $5.50 to $17.50 for a house sampler.
THE SOUNDS: You couldn’t help but swing your hips to the lively music in the room next to the bar. In the bar area, it is possible to hold a light conversation, but next door, you can barely hear anything above the beat of the drums. But most people in there didn’t want to talk, anyway.
I love dancing and I am not usually shy about it, but the skills of many dancing couples on the floor did make me feel a bit intimidated.
THE FOOD: To my dismay, I was not able to try any of the dinner platters or even appetizers the Friday evening I visited the bistro. My partner and I sat in the bar area and were handed menus by our waitress at about 10:15 p.m. and when we were ready to order, she said the kitchen closed at 10:30 p.m. I looked at my cell phone for the time: it was 10:31 p.m. I think she could have mentioned that when she handed us the menus and took our first drink order.
AGE GROUP: The restaurant is open to all groups and ages, but they card you in the bar area after dinner. The age of the crowd on Friday night varied from mid-20s, all the way up to 60s and 70s.
BEWARE: The bar gets a little busy after 10:30 p.m., and it might be tough to find parking. There is free parking in the structure behind the restaurant with the entrance off Second Street. The bar also closes at midnight — even on the weekends.
THE VIBE: There was a fun, carefree feeling in the air. Groups of friends gathered at the bar and in the dance room together. Couples canoodled in the corner while others took to the floor. If you are not the shy type, don’t be surprised if you are asked to the dance floor by another patron — male or female.
GO: Cuban Bistro is located at 28 W. Main St. in Alhambra. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.; 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Fri.; noon to midnight Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. and closed Mon. Happy Hour is 3 to 7 p.m. Tues. through Fri. For more information, call (626) 308-3350 or visit www.cubanbistro.com
MY RATING: 4 With the music, this place gets pretty hot.
RATINGS: 5: Really, really hot; 4: Hot; 3: Fun, loose, low pressure; 2: Cool; 1: Just OK.
(Photos by William Hallstrom / Correspondent)
THE PLACE: It may feel nothing like the place you grew up in, nor where you currently hang your hat, but somehow the welcome mat at Home is one-size-fits-all. The Silver Lake location proclaims in neon letters its breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails — why ever leave? — on a giant birdhouse perched overhead. So even if you’re just migrating through, you’ll always have a place to nestle down.
THE PRICE: Everything at Home, from the drinks to the dining room fare, is affordable. Drinks run about $7 to $10, with beers coming in at $5 or less. I chose two polar opposites — a cucumber-mint muddled vodka cocktail and a mudslide. Both were delicious, but the first won by a landslide — or, technically, a mudslide. It’s a perfect summer cocktail.
THE SOUNDS: It was uber-quiet on my most recent Monday night visit. I wondered if all the residents of Home had already stumbled up some invisible stairs and and were tucked into bed. But I’ve also seen the place pop on a Friday night, including a fabulous chop-and-swap party I attended in a private area of the restaurant. Friends rented out the space to celebrate the successful giving (and receiving) of a kidney. Thanks to one friend’s life-saving organ donation, both the giver and receiver were able to attend the festivities. The staff handled the well-attended party with panache.
THE FOOD: Home has a massive menu stocked with comfort foods, and all items are available no matter where you sit, inside, outside, at the bar. The menu covers all the basics, from burgers and pizza to wraps and all-day breakfast. Just like your real home, mom always has a specialty dish. Here, it’s Mom’s Famous Chicken Almond Salad, with chicken breast, mayo, tarragon, sweet relish, toasted almonds, tomato, bell peppers, cucumber and carrots ($9.95). The Mexican Taco Salad is also a standout; At $8.95, it comes with corn, black beans, red onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and Monterey Jack, tossed in ranch dressing and garnished with tortilla chips and spicy taco seasoning.
THE VIBE: It’s so laid-back you might find yourself looking for pop’s beat-up La-Z-Boy to take a nap. My favorite spot to relax at Home is the outdoor seating area, a literal oasis — with running water fountains — amid the surrounding urban sprawl.
AGE GROUP: The restaurant attracts all ages, but in general, the masses trend toward Eastside hipster youth and working-class professionals.
BEWARE: There’s so many old-school, haven’t-drank-this-since-college cocktails on the menu. (Woo Woo? Check. Peach Fuzz? Check. Sex on the Beach? Check.) Don’t sample too many, or you might get Home-sick.
GO: Home is located at 2500 Riverside Drive in Silver Lake, (323) 665-0211. Plenty of free street parking is available along Riverside. A second location is at 1760 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz, (323) 665-4663. Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to close. Closing hours are seasonal; call ahead in colder months.
MY RATING: 3 Ever notice how nothing seems to change when you go home? It’s like that here — and that’s a good thing.
RATINGS: 5: Really, really hot; 4: Hot; 3: Fun, loose, low pressure; 2: Cool; 1: Just OK.