Saturday, March 28, 2009

Moving On Main Street

Downtown Neighbors may have noticed a certain chubby Meeko schlepping stuff on a trolley across the street.. Meeko is moving yet again.. but still on Main Street, so no blog title changes.. just a few days of hard labor with us getting our stuff out and moved to the new place.

(086) New place, new view!! Still on Main
New Place, New View, (same landlord!)

We love living in Old Bank District and hopefully a major difference will be that we'll have places to put all of Sean's Disneyana prints and I'll be able to move my desk & stuff back into the loft and give up the little office I've been renting the last few months. A place for everything and everything in its place (that's one of my mom's favorite sayings but not sure where she got that from).

We've eaten out almost every day this week.. which isn't usual for us but I've got some new pix.. so I'll be posting soon.. (The Nickel on Tues & Friday, Blossom on Wed & Royal Clayton's on Thurs & I had lunch @ Weeneez on Friday!) So now you know why it's been more quiet than usual around here. There's just so much stuff to do! DirectTV guy comes this morning so we'll have to move the TV next I guess! (then the cats!)

Alexander will have to take a nap first to get ready for his move today!
Sleepy Alexander

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Meat Friday

Along with the Vegan Chili at The Nickel ($3 for a small bowl), another good & affordable option is to head to Weeneez for some soy or tofurkey dogs. It being Friday I reminded myself I hadn't tried the non-meat options at Weeneez yet, so I headed over today to try a tufurkey dog.. my first one at Weeneez!

tofurky w/ peppers & onions
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Tofurkey Dog is served with grilled peppers & onions, a dill spear and a horseradish mustard was suggested by Julie as a good condiment.. I have to agree!

Take a bite!
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it's not just a tofu dog.. it's seasoned with sundried-tomatoes and basil.

I asked Julie if there was anything else in it, because it had a bit of a spicy seasoning in the "non-meat" and was VERY good! The horseradish mustard made my brain burn but was a good accompaniment to this "dog."

Even if it's not a "non-meat Friday" this is still a good option at Weeneez. I can see ordering it when I'm craving a hotdog and am not necessarily in the mood for my favorite the Kosher Polish.

With a large soda my lunch came under $7. With a price like that, you might want to order two. =)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Veggie Chili

Small Vegetarian Chili on a cool Art Walk evening was just the thing to fill me up..
late night dinner @ the Nickel
I would definitely order this again.. no meat Friday or Art Walk Thursday, it was a good option! Oh and it was spicy!




**still owe a review of THE MUST** which I've yet to sit down and do.. soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

D-Town Burger Bar

The history of the American hamburger goes back over a century, in the US it can be ancient history so that one can spend evenings debating who exactly created the first hamburger..whether on toasted bread or bun. The hamburger was a working man's sandwich, that for a nickel or two you could fill up and move on. It had a disreputable past, having been associated with meat that was cheap and questionable and ground to not waste a part of the cuts of meat the butcher couldn't sell as prime, or so it's once been rumored.

My personal history of the hamburger comes out of Chicago, where the mainstreaming of meat and bun was brought together in places called White Castle and Steak N Shake. The fresh meat was cooked on a grill right in front of you, so you knew what sort of meat you were getting and you got to see it from start to finish as it was presented on the plate in front of you.

While I'm not going to recite the entire history of burger and the burger joint.. There were many: whether it was Steak N Shake (the special sit down steakburger place my mom would take my brothers and myself to on special occasion) or the White Castle, or the ubiquitous McDonalds.. or the classic Mel's and the modern quick serve In N Out of California, I could go on. Instead, I'll move on to what this review is actually about, The Downtown Burger Bar.


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D-TOWN BURGER BAR
Dtown Burger Bar
6th & Spring
(Hayward Hotel)


D-Town is playing off those memories we all have of our youth and hamburger experience. It's got a simple menu that has been likened to In-N-Out, and other than the menu, that's about where it stops. The decor of the place shouts out to Mel's with it's 50s style jukebox and over-zealous Coca Cola decor (one can't help noticing it since it's all over the chairs, walls and counters) as if there was a special at the World of Coke store. We're not here to check out the decorations though, we're here to eat.

Menu
D-Town Menu

Burgers, fries & a coke.. or a hotdog. Shakes are also on the menu, but other than the pristine multi-mixer on the counter, we didn't note anyone ordering or drinking any shakes.

at the Grill  (Dtown Burger Bar)
The grill is so new, it shines.. and they've got their system down to a well-organized easy going pace. Place order at the counter, pay for your order and sit down and wait for the magic to begin..

Burgers come out from a cooler drawer placed below the grill, and cooked to a med/well perfection, fries are cooked in small batches and are a mix of sweet potato and "regular" fries. If you sit at one of the many counter seats, you can watch the process.

double cheeseburger combo @ Dtown Burger Bar
double cheeseburger @ Dtown Burger Bar
SeanYoda's double cheeseburger..

Once we got our order it was served hot and fresh. The cheeseburger itself was a simple affair of lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.. ketchup and mustard are on the counter if you need it. While not the best burger in town, it's simplicity is what makes it a winner.

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The fries for me were a bit of a frustration.. I love sweet potato fries and wish there was an option to just have those and skip those long and skinny McDonald type fries. When I go to McDonald's I know what I'll get. these weren't quite that. they were long and bendy and a little underdone in some cases.. and in others, just so. They had little to no salt (thank you!) and so SeanYoda who was dining with me, added salt to his, but personally I think that is how it should be.. over salted food takes away from the taste..

While we ate, music of the fifties (and dare I say sixties?) played continuously, which helped with the feel of the place. When you get down to it, the 'feel' of the fifties is what it's actually going for, as it's nothing like Mel's or Steak N Shake or In N Out, but more a modern 'hats off' to the fifties and the concept of clean, quick and edible diner.

(067) cheeseburger w/ fries @ D-Town Burger Bar
single cheeseburger with a hint of those yummy sweet potato fries.

For a single combo and a double combo plus tax and tip came to just under $20, so while not a recession special, still very affordable for a night out, or a lunch. I would definitely go back when I wanted something quick and convenient, or if it was Sunday (Weeneez is closed Sundays). It doesn't come close in comparison to Weeneez cheeseburger, but then Julie doesn't have fries.. but if you wanted good fries you don't want DTown you want the shoestring fries at the Nickel with the Bacon Burger.. or the Belgian fries at WurstKuche or the sweet potato fries at... You get the picture.

That's the dilemma here.. if you want better tasting than McDonalds, that's affordable and convenient with fries, this is the place. It's hard to find a place that has not only affordable food, but delicious affordable food that serves it with good fries.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pacific Dining Car

**disclaimer** I don't eat fish. Please keep this in mind when reading this review. Thanks!

Pacific Dining Car

Restaurant: Pacific Dining Car
Location: 1310 West 6th Street (City West)
Type of restaurant: Steakhouse

We stipulated: When Mike and Maria of Franklin Avenue announced they were hosting a lunch for bloggers and fans at Pacific Dining Car in honor of their 200th Rate-A-Restaurant review, I of course RSVP'd at the opportunity to try the place. I've never eaten here, and had heard some good things about the place but that it was a little upscale, so it wasn't on the top of my list of places to run & check out. This would make the trek worthwhile.

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They stipulated: That we order from the set menu and hopefully write a review in the style of Mike's Rate-A-Restaurant blog. Since the restaurant was located in City West,we decided to drive over and find parking. Parking was hard to come by, so we opted for the Valet. As it turns out we got little "half off" stickers which brought the $5.50 parking price down.


What we ordered: The one-time $40 Rate-A-Restaurant prix fixe included:

Appetizer
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Spring Mix Salad & Mango Beet Dressing;
Entree
Petit Filet Mignon and Monkfish with Lobster Sauce with Vegetable Medley;
Dessert
Strawberry and Vanilla Vacherin / Compote of Seasonal Berries.


High Point The high point was the company. I was fortunate to finally get to "officially" meet Mr. Atwater Village Newbie (despite having gone on the Great LA Walk with him on the Pico & Santa Monica walks).. so meeting him & Mrs AVN was very nice.. and downtown neighbors Jim & Celia, and Scott Lowe of "Tropico Station" was very good company (I knew Scott from the previous Great LA Walks as well).

Having lunch at Pacific Dining Car was a great opportunity that I'm not sure when I would have had.

Regarding the food: I knew that since there was to be a prix fixe menu, there was a good chance I would be served fish of some kind. The service and the food presentation (plating) was lovely.

The salad: I 'donated' my jumbo shrimp to SeanYoda and so the salad was excellent without the shrimp. It was a fresh sweet summery salad, that does not lose anything from not having the shrimp.
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The entree: You can see pix of the entree elsewhere. I completely forgot to take a photo as when the servers were going around the room, they initially seemed to think that it was a fish or filet mignon option... so when the plate came and had both. I was a little disappointed, but again, I was well aware this might be the case.

Getting over it, I gently moved my piece of monkfish over to SeanYoda's plate, and he in turn passed me his filet mignon. The blue cheese & herb butter was excellent and the steak was served medium rare, so I was able to eat all of it but the very center. Again, SeanYoda had no problem helping me make that disappear. =)

The vegetables had a considerable amoount of lobster sauce drizzled on it and so I ate a little around the edges but left most of my veggies.. I love veggies, so this was probably the saddest part.

Dessert: the Strawberry and Vanilla Vacherin was served with a compote of berries: blackberries and blueberries, etc.. was most excellent. I would gladly order this again given the opportunity.

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The Low Point: I'd have to say the low point was the jacked up (and sub-par IMHO) Bloody Marys. SeanYoda seemed to have started a trend with the bloody marys. He ordered one, and I ordered one thinking "hey yeah.. when will I have the opportunity to try this anytime soon??" and a few other folks ordered one as well. I'm not sure if they liked theirs, but at $9 a pop, Sean made a point of pondering aloud to me, "wondering what sort of vodka they are using?" I can't say I'm a Bloody Mary aficionado but I have had much better. I guess the plus of this is that I doubt I'll be going back anytime soon to make the mistake again.

Overall Impression: The waitstaff was amazingly good! Highly efficient and attentive. The atmosphere of the place is high end but not pretentious. I didn't feel like I was at Arnaud's (which I've eaten at along with other New Orleans old line restaurants) and had to worry about which fork to use, or worry about how I was dressed. Putting people at ease is a big part of the dining experience for me, and so having a meal that I couldn't necessarily enjoy 100% was made a lesser issue.

Chance I'll go Back: Honestly, it's very doubtful we'd make it back other than on a rare occasion due to the pricepoint of the place. It seems like it's a special place for special times, which this indeed qualified. Perhaps one day (maybe for a birthday or special anniversary event) I'd like to go and try something off the menu for dinner like the Grilled half chicken.. It's more likely I'd want to try breakfast as I hear they do an excellent breakfast. Better yet, afternoon tea would be more my style.


**Big Thanks** to Mike & Maria for all your great reviews, your time and effort in putting the event together and to the staff & management of the Pacific Dining Car. I do hope I'll get to come & enjoy breakfast there one day.. someday.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Weeneez new hours.. again!

If you've been wanting to try those new sandwiches over at Weeneez but haven't been able to get over there during the week.. new hours are in play:
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Monday thru Saturday: 9am-9pm.
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so get over there for dinner while it's still going on..

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New Famima!

The new Famima!! store expansion puts the phrase "super convenient!" to good use, opening its 5th location at the corner of Wilshire & Hope.

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Famima, 700 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles.

With a location just 2 blocks up the street, and another location on its way around the corner next week at the Roosevelt Lofts, this location may be pushing saturation. I guess it depends on your point of view. If you are any one of the thousands of downtown workers in the area or live in nearby South Park, your Famima!! options must seem limitless.. In some cases, a quick cup of coffee or a "whole lotta banana" fix may be as simple as an elevator ride down to street level, or a walk around the corner.

In comparing Famima!! options, this particular location is a bit smaller than its 6th & Grand counterpart (or the location at 8th & Fig). However, it does have a floating coffee counter in the middle of the store, and a seperate checkout along the wall. The cold food is in the cooler to the left of the checkout and you'll find your beverage choices are in the coolers along the back wall. The same product lineup is there, just in a different location than you may be used to at another location.

some of the fun to be had at the Grand Opening:
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Super Famima! with face cutouts for posing.

There was a raffle to win various prizes:
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various prizes could be won from the little 'bingo' type spinner, anything from a Famima! tshirt, beverage, or snacks like the very popular Pocky or an individual Famima! branded packet of tissue.

If you missed out on the fun today, be sure and check the Downtown News for your free frozen Famima!! Freeze (page 3) and head over there tomorrow.

They're open daily:
6am-Midnight Mon-Friday
7am-Midnight Saturday
7am-11pm Sunday


Now if they want to be really "Super Convenient" maybe they should put a Famima!! on Spring or Main in the Historic Core. Just an idea..

Sunday at the Sausage Kitchen


Wurstküche
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pros: great sausage selection, fries are omg! good
cons: price point on the sausages are a little much if you are on a recession budget, no diet coke, limited topping selection
overall: good for a treat now & again. the fries are the winner here.

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Wurstküche is one of those places that I've seen developing in the Arts District over the past year & was looking forward to its grand opening. The owners are restaurateurs from San Francisco that wanted to bring their idea for a gourmet sausage restaurant to LA. They've worked hard on refurbishing this location in the Arts District over this last year. When their November opening arrived, I was happy to hear about it, but I wasn't spending as much time meandering around the Arts District and put off going there.

I kept hearing good things about it though, and so while trying to figure out where to try something 'new' Sunday, it was decided Wurstküche would be the place.


First thing I want to say is that I'm not a hotdog fan. These aren't hotdogs though, these are gourmet sausages. It's not Pink's (thank goodness) but it's not Jerry's Dogs either.. In some ways that's better and in some ways, it's not.

For those not familiar with Jerry's they have a limited choice of sausages (and regular hotdogs too) and a gazillion topping choices.. their gourmet coupling is the homemade potato chips. Good stuff and filling.. So they have a limited number of items and do it well. They're also in Orange County which is like.. far away if you don't have a car.

Getting back to Wurstküche, their niche is the gourmet sausage. You can exercise your curious palette with some 20 different sausages from standard Italian to the more exotic rattlesnake & rabbit, or a duck & bacon sausage.

meat cooler
you can see what your meat options are before you order..


The price point on your sausage varies on creativity.. While the Italian will run about $6, a mango jalapeno will run $6.75 and the more adventurous "exotics" are $7.75 and regardless what you order, you get a 2 topping option. That's it. If you're going for the more exotic, you may not want to cover up the flavor with onions and peppers though. If you want mustard, they have at least 5 kinds.


I've heard the best thing to do when you want to see how someone does it, is to go with what you know is good.. In other words, I like brats and are familiar with them, and so comparing apples to apples I think is good for a first visit. I chose grilled onions and 'spicy peppers' for my 2 toppings. They do have sauerkraut as an option but I wasn't craving it for whatever reason.

SeanYoda had the Louisiana Hot with grilled onions and sweet peppers. Along with the sausages, a large order of Belgian Fries and a couple sodas rounded out the order. The lunch total with tax (not including tip) came to about $30.

@wurstkuche w/ ginger cider
Reed's Spiced Apple Brew and the Fentimans Ginger Beer
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Louisiana Hot and the Classic Bratwurst with aforementioned toppings.

You get a number and take your drink to your table & wait for them to grill your food and bring it out fresh & hot. There's a small counter in the order area, but if you go down the hall the larger dining room has abundant seating available.

We noted someone working on their laptop, and so when our food was delivered I inquired about wifi. While wifi is not available, if you happen to pick up Little Tokyo Unplugged.. well, you're lucky.

Along with ample seating in the back is a bar where they have several bottled and draft options. The non-alcohalic drinks run familiar to classic soda drinks like Moxie and Fentimans. There is no Diet Coke or diet anything. They do, however, have bottled water. I opted for the Reed's Spiced Apple Brew, and Sean got the Fentiman's Ginger Beer.

@wurstkuche w/ ginger cider
I hadn't tried the Reeds before.. it was super sweet and had a fresh super crisp apple flavor that made me think of chunky applesauce. Sean said it made him think of apple pie. I highly recommend the Reeds. The Fentiman's was your classic ginger beer. Either way good choices. You may want to drink slowly though as each bottled beverage runs from $2 for bottled water to an average of $3.50 to $5 for bottled sodas.

As for the sausages, they were both good. $6 each for a couple of classic sausages I thought was a bit much. They tasted on par with my favorite place,Top Dog (in Berkeley,CA) but while Top Dog is also grilled & served straight off the grill the price point is a little more palatable. We were also a little disappointed they don't offer much in the way of toppings, the ones they do have are ok. I found 'spicy peppers' on my bratwurst to not be spicy, but rather mundane. It was still good, just not what I was expecting. The brat was hot and fresh and had good flavor.

As for Sean's Louisiana Hot, it was a nice spice blend but not what I'd call hot, unless they meant it was served piping hot off the grill (which it was). Still good stuff, just not "OMG! best sausage ever!" For classics, though, I can't complain.

While we weren't bowled over with the sausages, we did agree that the Belgian fries are what would bring us back.

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Belgian fries are made fresh, sprinkled with kosher salt, and served in a paper bag. You get a choice of one dipping sauce for a small order, or 2 dipping sauces for a large. The next problem is choosing what two of the 10 different flavors do you want.

We chose the pesto mayo and the chipotle ketchup. While I had a little trouble making my mind up which of the two I liked better, I think the pesto mayo won out.

As for the fries they are good on their own, crispy golden on the outside and soft potato goodness on the inside. Not mushy at all, (but one would hope not with these thick cut fries). I don't salt my food, so the sea salt was almost a little too salty for me, but I think that most fries aficionados will find the salt just enough.

I've heard folks come here regular, and I can see why but I don't see myself doing it. I definitely want to come back and have the mango jalepino which was my first choice before deciding to do with something simple & familiar. I like aligator and I'd like to see how they do it.. but that'll be for another day as well. The price point doesn't endear me to sneaking off to eat here on my own. The fries however, could. =)

Wurstküche
800 E 3rd Street
(@ Traction)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213-687-4444

EDIT: the rest of my flickr set is HERE

Monday, March 02, 2009

L&L I love you!


L&L glendale "phrase of the day"
Glendale, CA

Yesterday, while hunting down a copy of Animal Crossing City Folk @ Circuit City (no luck), we instead spotted this great sign. I snapped it with the celphone on our way to Starbucks for some coffee.

If we hadn't had lunch at Wurstkuche (that's German for 'sausage kitchen' btw!) I don't think I would have been able to pass up a L&L opportunity! Aloha!