Something to Talk About

Hidden behind a door marked only with the letter “K” on the second level of the Third Street Promenade food court, an exciting adventure is being had by foodies. One of Chicago’s top chefs, Dave Beran, has relocated to LA and opened an intimate restaurant that serves only a tasting menu of approximately 18 course of New American cuisine with French and Japanese influences. The menu completely changes every three months with only a single dish linking each quarterly menu to the next.

The experience each night is akin to storytelling as Beran weaves an epic culinary tale that progresses through the seasons of the year with many surprises along the way. The attention to detail at Dialogue is staggering and while not every dish is a standout, many are excellent and all are interesting and thoughtful. This is a meal best appreciated by thinking about it as a whole rather than focusing too much on any of its many small parts.

You will need to purchase a ticket for this adventure rather than secure a traditional reservation. Gastronomic excellence of this nature never comes cheap and this experience will cost you between $175 and $200 plus tax (all service charges are included in the ticket price), but not including optional wine pairing for an additional $125-175 plus tax. Although there are a few tables in the restaurant, my recommendation is to go with just one other person and sit at the bar where you can converse with Beran as he and his staff compose each dish right in front of you. This kind of experience makes it well worth the splurge.

Dialogue is located at 1315 Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Oyster Leaf with Lychee Mignonette

Spring Lamb, Green Blueberry, Nasfurtium

Frosted Geranium Leaf

Hamachi in Monochrome

Perilla, Fermented Cauliflower, Comma Song

Earl Grey, Pine Nut, Rose

Strawberry Sphere

Golden Osetra Caviar, Leek Fondue, Smoke

Sea Kelp, braised and fried

Sour Cherry Surprise

Fermented Black Bean, Watermelon Radish, Cocoa Nib

Spot Prawn, Long Bean, Chocolate Mint

Sun Gold Tomato and Pork Belly

Thirty Day Dry-aged Ribeye and Charred Watermelon

Foie Gras Acorn and Barrel-aged Quine Soda

Parsnip-Chai Pie

Chestnut, Malt, Honeycrisp

Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich

Located in a secret room…

…in the Third Street Promenade food court.

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Filed under Santa Monica

Melrose Place

While looks aren’t everything, when it comes to food, it’s certainly true that we eat with our eyes first. Great chefs know this and no chef in Los Angeles is more talented in composing visually stunning plates than Kevin Meehan. At Kali, Meehan expertly arranges colorful edible flowers, delicate dehydrated lemon slices and wispy pea tendrils to create beautiful works of art.

Besides looking amazing, the seasonal California cuisine and drinks at Kali taste pretty awesome too. I recommend starting your meal with a “New Pad Thai” cocktail made with Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfect, Lime and Coconut Ice, and garnished with bean sprouts and a thin slice of carrot. Enjoy your cocktail with an order of Kali’s signature Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Garlic Tea and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp. For entrees, I recommend the Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms and Ash Sabayon, and the Duck Breast with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee. For dessert, go for the hot sugary Buttermilk Doughnuts. You’re welcome.

Kali is located at 5722 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles (on the border between Hollywood and Larchmont).

Cocktails! New Pad Thai (St. George Green Chili Vodka, Aqua Perfecta, Lime and Coconut Ice) and On_the_DL (Vida Mezcal, Blood Orange, Salt & Pepper, Lime and Jalapeño)

Ridgeback Prawns with Citrus, Nasturtium, Pickled Kumquat, Chive Oil and Preserved Lemon Foam

Yellowtail Crudo with Charcoal, Avocado, Rice Chips, Nasturium and Charred Lemon

Beet Root Tartare with Whipped Creme Fraiche, Tender Garden Herbs, Black Garlic Vinagrette and Toast

Burrata Salad with Dill Pickled Carrots, Almond Granola, Mustard Frills and Whole Grain Toast

Black Barley “Risotto” with Fermented Black Garlic Tea, Wheat Grass and Fiscalini Cheese Crisp

Agnolotti with Smoked Parsnip, Egg Yolk Pasta, Fermented Turnips, Burnt Kale Oil and Almonds

Duck Breast from Liberty Farms with Smoked Sunchoke, Sage, Squash and Coffee

Black Cod with English Peas, Mint Oil, White Chocolate, Almond and Pea Tendrils

Ribeye with Buttermilk Garlic Cream, Charred Onion, Potato, Mushrooms, Ash Sabayon

Pork Loin with Tahitian Squash, Potato Gnocci, Raisin Gremolata and Swiss Chard

Duck Breast with Whipped Polenta, Fermented Blackberry, Fava, Coffee Oil and Kombucha

Bass with Preserved Lemon Steam, Tomato Raisins, Fermented Fennel-Kraut, Garden Herbs and Olive Foam

Buttermilk Doughnuts

Cool, modern and minimalist decor

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Filed under Hollywood, Larchmont, Mid-City

Haiku Review

Shibumi is a Japanese word which refers to an aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. The LA restaurant Shibumi more than lives up to its name. Hidden away behind a signless facade and located on the ground floor of a parking structure in Downtown LA, the dimly lit restaurant has a cool minimalist vibe.

The food is modern Japanese and it’s across-the-board excellent; small plates of understated elegance featuring highly nuanced and subtle flavors. To describe my three favorite dishes at Shibumi, I’m going to employ another Japanese creation that also features simplicity and understated grace: the Haiku.

White Miso Almonds
Creamy, crunchy perfection
My new obsession

Hello yummy pork
Perfectly seasoned and grilled
Get in my belly

Sakura Mochi
Cherry leaf-wrapped sweet rice treat
Best happy ending

Shibumi is located at 815 S. Hill St., Los Angeles (Downtown). My book of food haikus will be published later this year.

Lotus, Sweet Potato and Young Burdock Chips

Steamed Rice Bread stuffed with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

Rice Balls with Cherry Blossom and Green Peas

Grilled Heritage Pork in Koji, Pickled Daikon and Leek

Holstein Beef Strip, Fresh Wasabi and Nara-zuke Pickle

Japanese Chizu-keki (Cheesecake) and Pear

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Mochi

Hidden away at the bottom of a parking structure in Dowtown

Dimly lit with a cool minimalist vibe

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Filed under Downtown

The Room Where it Happens

Thomas Jefferson is experiencing a pop culture renaissance these days. As the preening, scheming villain of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, Jefferson is portrayed in a surprisingly less-than-flattering way. But I was equally surprised recently to see homage paid to Jefferson at Felix, one of the hottest new restaurants in LA, where a portrait of our third President hangs on the wall of its temperature-controlled “Pasta Lab” and the kind of pasta machine used by Jefferson sits on display.

Jefferson apparently was a master gourmand and a huge fan of pasta just like Felix’s talented chef, Evan Funke. But while Jefferson preferred Macaroni and Cheese, Funke wows patrons with Pappardelle Bolognese, Rigatoni All’ Amatriciana and Gnocchetti with Oxtail Ragu. All are handmade and exceptional.

Although the pastas are the standouts at this Abbot Kinney Italian Trattoria, the anti-pasti (appitizers), pizzas and meat dishes are also excellent. I especially love the spicy Diavola Pizza with Pomodoro Sauce, Smoked Fior di Latte Cheese and Salame Napoletano. For dessert, I strongly suggest you order the super moist Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema, or you may find yourself asking “What did I miss?”

Felix is located at 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles (in Venice).

Ricotta con la Vignarola

Misticanza Salad with Lettuce, Radish and Herbs

Pappardelle with Ragu Bolognese “Vecchia Scuola” and Parmigiano Reggiano

Sottadita D’Agnello (Lamb Chop) with Peas and Herbs

Olive Oil Cake with Cara Cara Orange Crema

The Pasta Lab

The Dining Room


Filed under Venice

My New Best Friend

If Here’s Looking at You (HLAY), the new small plate hotspot in K-town, was a person, I’d want us to be best friends. HLAY collects old books and is a fan of classic films; in addition to its Casablanca-inspired name, its yummy cocktails are called things like “Cutting Room Floor,” “Femme Fatale” and “Dickensian Villian.” Gregarious, creative and quirky, HLAY is a blast to be around.

Most importantly, HLAY knows a thing or two about amazing eats. HLAY’S Beef Tartare with Red Chili, Ramps, Yolk and Turnip is raw awesomeness. Its Momotaro Tomato Salad with Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong Sausage and Creme Fraiche is a playful and incredibly delicious take on a BLT. And its Pork Belly with Vadouvan, Pistau and Dates is fatty and fabulous. Yep, HLAY and I are going to be seeing a lot of each other.

Here’s Looking at You is located at 3901 W. 6th St., Los Angeles (in Koreatown).

Beef Tartare, Red Chili, Ramps, Yolk and Turnip

Yellowtail with Wakame, Soubise, Kiwi, Serrano Chili and White Soy

Momotaro Tomato, Bagna Cauda, Lap Xuong, Creme Fraiche

Sprouted Broccoli with Ginger, H.O.P., Seeds and Nuts

Pork Belly, Vadouvan, Pistau and Dates

Hamachi Collar, Hot Paprika, Apple and Snake Peas

Beef Cheek with Daikon, Dashi and Aleppo

Yuzu Sherbet, Saffron, Sesame and Koji Cream

A Happening Spot in K-town

I’ve been hunting for a cool place like this to eat.


Filed under Koreatown