Consistently praised by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and numerous other publications, BottleRock enlightens palates with a wine inventory of more than 600 labels and a selection of carefully crafted small plates. Oenophiles can unleash their imaginations sans the risk of being punched by Dionysis with a wine flight—a dramatic sequence of three 2-ounce pours. After a trio of samplings, connoisseurs can nibble on mild and nutty manchego cheese from Spain or indulge in tender pork rillette, slow-cooked in-house and served as a pâté. Cheese plates contain guests’ choice of five or seven out of 14 available moon fruits, and elegant charcuterie platters highlight one of six meat treats. Consult the dinner menu for a full list of available options. Wine tastings featuring the happy tears of grapes from Robert Hall Winery let patrons sample an assortment of adult juices, each paired with elegant snacks such as tuna tartar and grilled truffle cheese.
Start a romantic evening with a Dungeness crab cake with aioli, caper, lemon, and coleslaw ($15) and a bowl of the soup of the day ($10). Eye entrees like the soft and succulent roasted half chicken with fingerling potatoes, haricots verts, mixed wild mushrooms, and pearl onions ($24) and the braised short ribs with polenta, Swiss chard, and salsa verde ($25). Complete the circle of life by burying your fork in a slice of key lime pie with guava puree and mango sorbet ($10) or the chocolate chocolate chocolate trio ($16), whose richness is so deadly it was, until recently, banned by nonproliferation treaties. If you've recently cycled through Fraiche and think you've tasted it all, try the new lunch menu. The chopped salad with Italian cured meats, tomato, provolone, and chick peas ($13) and the Moroccan lamb sausage sandwich with harissa aioli ($13) offer just the right noontime spice-kick to erase your morning malaise.
The meat connoisseurs at Libra Brazilian Steakhouse know showmanship is one of the primary draws of churrascaria-style dining. In this spirit, the chefs cook succulent hunks of meat on giant skewers over an open flame. And once it’s ready, their servers distribute the tender, freshly flamed meat throughout the dining area, pausing tableside to carve off slices directly onto plates.
Presentation aside, Libra Brazilian Steakhouse backs up its bravado with quality meats. The chefs use only 100% Black Angus beef and refuse to accept any meat containing hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, the culinary artists cook more than 30 hot, made-from-scratch sides as well as housemade desserts. And to top it off, the steak-house staff curates and recommends numerous international wines.
At K-Zo, owner-chef Keizo Ishiba crafts seafood and sushi plates with European panache. Keizo has been classically trained in Japanese and French cuisine, and his menu reflects both influences, often in the same dish. For example, he drizzles small plates of braised Chilean sea bass with a sweet soy sauce, steams clams in sake broth, and serves up fresh bites of Ankimo—monkfish liver, or, as he puts it, "foie gras from the sea." Of course, Keizo also puts his decades of experience toward arranging a long list of sushi options. He layers fish ranging from eel to mackerel atop rice to form nigiri, and prepares maki rolls with fillings such as popcorn shrimp and jalapeño peppers. Guests who hope to sample the full spectrum of his talents can even opt for a five-course prix-fixe meal, which concludes with a hot cup of tea. The restaurant's selection of other drinks covers hot and cold sakes, imported beers, and shochu—a distilled Japanese spirit similar to vodka but with more letters.
Housed in a charmingly rustic venue, the Culver City eatery specializes in a more-refined version of Korean barbecue. Smokeless barbecue grills allow diners to experience tableside service without lingering wafts of eau de dinner. Fish fans will appreciate the glazed miso salmon ($21), sided with succotash, or poached black cod with Korean miso broth ($22). While the full menu is available anytime, Groupon holders can also take advantage of the prix fixe G menu, with options to feed parties of two, three, or four ($79–$195) any Thursday through Saturday. The date-friendly G1 option on the prix fixe includes Gyenari's galbee, bulgogi, aged pork belly, flower chicken, and japchae. For larger groups, try the G4, a full-on meat fest that includes filet mignon, Wagyu beef, fresh lobster tail, and diver sea scallops ($195 for four people). For dessert, upgrade from ordinary sprinkled dough rings with Gyenari's famed green-tea doughnuts ($8). The piping-hot pastries come made to order with a buttermilk-raspberry glaze and Ghirardelli chocolate sauce for dipping.
Hover over almost any salad or sandwich ingredient on Tender Greens’ online menu, and its source immediately pops up. Artisan cheese hails from Drake Family Farms; golden balsamic vinaigrette comes from Sonoma Vinegar Works; free-range chicken once roamed at Pitman Family Farms. But Tender Greens’ most valuable partners reside at Scarborough Farms in Oxnard. According to an interview with Restaurant Business, Tender Greens’ cofounder enlisted the Scarborough family’s help before he even opened the first restaurant. As a result, Tender Greens gets preference over other customers, and in return, Scarborough keeps on its biggest client and even owns equity in the restaurants. Tender Greens’ commitment to knowing its sources—and making sure customers do, too—extends to its wine (from local boutique wineries), beer (from nearby microbreweries), and breads (baked each morning at artisan bakeries). But the desserts originate in house, where chefs spend each morning baking, just like storks do before making their daily drop-offs. The eatery’s earth-conscious philosophy also extends to its décor, crafted largely from recycled or eco-friendly materials. Inside, sunlight floods through plentiful windows, and outside, rays filter through patio umbrellas.