Chef Nadav Bashan's carefully constructed New American cuisine has earned accolades from the Los Angeles Times and a rating of "extraordinary to perfection" from Zagat. But diners won't have to traipse to a ritzy downtown restaurant to get it. That's because the chef opted to practice his elegant art in out-of-the-way Glendale, at a self-named eatery whose 40-seat dining room is overseen by Romy, his wife. There, the couple strives to give the fine-dining experience a mom-and-pop feel: "We treat everyone that walks through our door as if they are a guest at our house," Romy says on their website.
This commitment to pleasant service lets customers keep the focus where it should be: on the food. Though they constantly rotate, Nadav's previous menus of seasonally inspired cuisine have included wild mediterranean sea bass, sword-tip squid, and other dishes that highlight what Los Angeles magazine calls his "finesse with seafood." He also draws on his experience in high-profile kitchens at The Lobster, Michael's, and Providence to gather fresh ingredients from local markets for each dish.
The Bashans' business "really is a labor of love," as Nadav told the Glendale News-Press, and they leave no aspect of it untouched. The restaurant's decor incorporates driftwood and grass wall accents that complement the naturalness of the cuisine. At the bar, custom walnut wine racks hold bottles from Australia, Chile, and Italy next to taps that can dispense craft brews or refreshing, locally sourced breezes.
Many people feel an indescribable urge to follow in the footsteps of celebrities long passed?hoping that a connection to their genius or charm still lingers in the air of their apartments and favorite pubs. The guides of Esotouric understand and share this urge, though they prefer to roam the paths of history by bus. After scouring the famed neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of interesting and outlandish locations, they share their findings on bus adventures that retrace the trails blazed by local artists, filmmakers, writers, and actors.
Esotouric's odysseys wind through haunts such as Raymond Chandler's favorite breakfast spot and the salon Charles Bukowski visited for his weekly knuckle-hair perm. Coloring their tours with anecdotes about the films adapted from his noirish stories, guides also visit locales captured in the cinematic landscapes of James M. Cain. Various tours explore Southern California?s culture, literature, and architectural sides, giving history hounds the chance to sniff out sinister deeds in old-time tattoo parlors, burlesque shows, and crime scenes.
Rustic brick walls and a wine bar accent Lola's red, low-lit dining room, where candles illuminate the vivid oranges, purples, and greens of Peruvian cuisine arranged on crisp white ceramic plates. Libations culled from the bar's sprawling wine racks complement ceviche, sautéed Quechua vocabulary, and fried yucca.:m]]
By the time Francisco and Patricia Jimenez opened their small restaurant, La Caba?ita, in 1989, they were out of funds to buy food for the kitchen. No matter?they were so certain of their eventual success, they sold many of their personal effects to finish opening. Their dedication has decidedly paid off: in 2002, La Caba?ita moved from a space that seats 40 to one that seats more than 100, fueled by the popularity of its boldly spiced, traditional Mexican specialties. (More recently, it's also added breakfast.) A luminous mural covering Mexican history spans one long wall, adding a sense of depth to a room filled with rustic wooden furniture and framed photos.
Most of the family recipes at La Caba?ita come from Francisco's mother. Starting at 7 a.m., the kitchen turns out homey dishes that, unlike stirring your coffee with a jalape?o, start the day off on a deliciously spicy note?chilaquiles, eggs with chorizo, and chipotle omelets. The rest of the day brings staples such as stuffed poblanos and fajitas, along with soups and stews; the chicken soup and the pozole with hominy broth are perennial favorites. In 2011, LA Weekly had special praise for the tacos at "the pride of Montrose," noting: "Eating a meal of tacos at La Caba?ita is the rough equivalent of a tasting menu: you get the opportunity to sample the kitchen's wide variety of excellent dishes."
Intent on capturing as many farm-fresh flavors as possible, The Wooden Fork indulges patrons with a healthful menu of casual, caf?-style meals made with fresh, nourishing ingredients. The breakfast selection of wraps, omelets, and fresh toast competes for visitors' attention with a variety of lunch options, which includes creative salads as well as sandwiches topped with everything from oven-roasted turkey, brie, and granny smith apples to eggplant caviar, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and pesto. To accompany these hearty meals, the staff members also spend their days blending juices and smoothies using an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Wooden Fork's decor mirrors the eatery's casual vibe by featuring a variety of rustic and modern elements. Mismatched chairs surrounding stout wooden tables, chandelier-like light fixtures, and giant chalkboards on the wall all combine to lend a distinctively homespun vibe to the space. At the same time, the dining area includes a handful of modern touches?meticulously placed wall tiles create the appearance of exposed brickwork, and the staff cools baked goods in the glass display case by regularly shooting them with a freeze ray. This inviting ambiance finds even more reinforcement in the live music, book readings, and cooking classes that regularly occur.
Like its grownup sister location—Polentoni—Piccolo Polentoni offers refined versions of Old World Italian cuisine. The chefs keep the flavors familiar by importing prosciutto from Italy, hand-rolling meatballs, and making every strand of fettuccine in-house. Likewise, pizzas feature classic toppings such as basil, grilled vegetables, and pepperoni tinged with red chili pepper. Some dishes, such as polenta in meaty bolognese sauce, are a tad more complex, combining northern and southern Italian influences onto one plate. The wine list shows a similar appreciation for Italy's culinary imports and features bottles from Piemonte and Puglia.
An ascending ribbon of exposed brickwork runs along one dining room wall to the next, providing a rustic touch in the softly lit space. Metallic sconces adorn the walls beside each booth, which surround tables lit by flickering candles.