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Gastropub

Manhattan Beach: Simmzy’s

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The Skinny:  Simmzy’s is a small crowded American style gastropub in Manhattan beach that serves over 20 kinds of beers on tap, wine, burgers, and salads.  The place was recommended by my brother who said that their burgers was 2nd to none, especially the Bacon Blue Deluxe which is stacked with wood-fired grilled Sterling Beef, Bleu Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Garlic Aioli, fried Shallots, and Candied Bacon.

So I went with that, along with some Shoestring Fries and 15 Minute Wings.   As for beers, I ordered the Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale and a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  I also had to finish my brother’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout since he later remembered that he was on antibiotics.

 The Good:  The medium well done Bacon Blue Deluxe was juicy and delicious.  I usually don’t like Bleu Cheese but it wasn’t too overwhelming in the burger.  But what I really liked about the burger overall was how the bun managed to soak up all the juices flowing from the beef patty and still maintained it’s form.  It was just a tasty and well built burger.

The 15 Minute Wings were also good.  They were crispy, messy, salty, sour, sweet, and had a nice heat that crept up on you later.

 The Bad:  The chopped up Candied Bacon didn’t seem candied at all, it was just salty.

 Would you come back again?  Yeah, I think I would, but parking is a bitch.

 More Info:  229 Manhattan Beach Blvd | Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 | www.simmzys.com 

– MJ


Ktown: Beer Belly

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The Skinny:  Beer Belly is a relatively new pub that opened up in the center of Koreatown.  It’s like a “where everyone knows your name” kind of place and is a welcoming hang out for the non-Koreans living in K-town.  It’s owned by a young couple who for some reason, seems to know everyone, even my co-workers and cousin!  The beer selection is solid and meant to pair up  with the items found on their good size menu and daily specials.  While they do offer full steak meals to justify having dinner there, they also have fried Twinkies and Oreos; so you don’t have to wait for the county fair to get that fried lard induced heart attack.

 

I went with Echo and my cousin Wendy, who works at Beer Belly, and we ordered:

Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings (which uses the Cismontane Citizen Steam Lager),
Duck Fat Fries w/ Raspberry Mustard and Duck Skin Cracklings
Cornbread Fried Okra w/ Frankenstein Ketchup
Mac n Beer Cheese (w/ Bacon, Orzo Pasta, and a Sunnyside Egg on top),
Grilled Cheese (4 decker w/ Asiago, Gruyere, Goat cheese, Bacon, Maple Syrup Drizzle)
Lamb Meatballs (on Baguette w/ Red Curry Marinara, Tzatziki, Dill).

And we drank:

Bootleggers Spring Ale
Ladyface Blind Ambition
Craftsman Triple White Sage
Taps Irish Red

The Good:  Everything was solid and the beer we drank did match well with the food we ate.  The Cornbread Fried Okra were tasty Hush Puppies that were complimented with the A1-ish dipping sauce which gave them a nice bold kick and zing.  I didn’t really notice the Okra, but I guess it kind of balances out the guilt since it’s a vegetable hidden in fried corn breading.  The Duck Fries were really crispy and the scent of Duck Fat was quite noticeable, but what really helped the fried strips of potatoes taste good was the Raspberry Mustard.  It helped cut through the fat with it’s play on salty and sweet.  I just wished the Duck Skin Cracklings were a little big larger and more noticeable.  If you’re going to make a guilty pleasure even more guilty, then you might as well go all the way. The Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings were good too and had a nice heat that creeps up on you after your done eating them.  The Mac N Beer Cheese with Bacon and a Sunnyside Egg was as gooey, creamy and salty as it should be.  I just wished I had some Tobasco sauce to dot that runny yellow eye for good measures.

By the time we got to the Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Maple Syrup, I was pretty much tapped out on space in my stomach.  I can’t say I liked it because of the state of mind I was in at the time, but I do think it’s a nice play on the Montecristo.  The slices of Bread used to make that sandwich were actually pieces from a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  I did have to force myself to try the Lamb Meatballs, and while they were tasty….I kind of wished they were in a bowl of Chili.  mmm…Red Curry Marinara Chili with Lamb and Tzatziki sauce!

Of the beers that I had, the most memorable one was the Bootleggers Spring Ale.  It was herby, a bit spicy, and had a nice hint of Honey.  I think it would be the perfect Autumn beer to have since it reminded me of Pumpkin Spice ice-cream.  I do remember liking the Ladyface Blind Ambition Ale, but at the moment I don’t remember what it tasted like.  However, the Craftsman Triple White Sage was….well….SUPER SAGEY.   It wasn’t bad and it did pair up well with the Lamb Meatballs, but it wasn’t my favorite.

The Somewhat Bad:   They don’t have a burger and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be having one any time soon.  I think a good quality burger at an affordable price with some unique creative touches would be well respected and garner a loyal following anywhere.

Would you come back again?  For the prices they offer and the friendly staff that works there, I can see myself being a regular there.  I think I’ll have everyone call me “Norm.”

More Info: www.beerbellyla.com  | 532 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90020 — (213) 387-2337  |  food prices range from 5 to 20 bucks  |  beer on tap range from 5 to 9 bucks while their bottled selection can go up to about 20 or so.  |  The place is Iphone friendly, so if you have a playlist you want to share, you can do so at Beer Belly.  Just DL the app. | Ask for Wendy, she’ll help you figure out which beer goes well with what.

MJ


Hermosa Beach: Hot’s Kitchen

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The Skinny:  Hot’s kitchen is a gastropub in Hermosa Beach that specializes in 5 dollar mini size burgers, tacos, and a very large selection of beers.  There are about over 50 kinds of those tacos ranging from Oxtail and Jerk Rubbed proteins to Alligator and Duck Confit.  I was expecting to get the Foi Gras Burger.

I went with family and we ordered:
Fat Burgers (Fried Egg, Grilled Onion, Shredded Lettuce, Mayo, American Cheese)
Mexilaci Burgers (Roasted Poblano, Corn-Jalapeno Mayo, Fried Onion Ring, Oaxaca Cheese)
Hot’s Burgers (grilled Onion, Avocado, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese)
Grilled Korean Wings
Grilled Buffalo Wings
Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad
Clams in a Spicy Beer Brother with Leguisa, Spinach, and Cheese Bread
Mussels in a roasted Red Pepper and White Wine Broth and served with Toast
A Bunch of Tacos (don’t remember what they were though…)

The Good:  Everything we ordered were all solid, but the one thing that was really memorable for me was the Fat Burger.  Despite it’s small size, the Burger packed a big beefy punch and the runny Egg made it even more excessively good.  I didn’t get to try a Taco and the Lobster Heirloom Tomato Salad, I did however get to pair the Clams and Mussels in their soupy broths with my very hoppy and refreshing Green Flash Imperial IPA….and it was very tasty.

The Bad:  For some odd reason, the things I wanted were on the menu but they weren’t available for that day.  I was hoping to get the Foie Gras burger I’ve read about on Yelp and some Crispy Picatta Wings, but I got neither.

Would you come back again?  Yes and I’m going to order that Foi Gras Burger when I do…and they better have it!

More Info:  www.hotskitchen.com | 844 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA — (310) 318-2939 | Parking will be a pain on a busy night.


Spot Bar & Gastropub

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The Skinny: The Spot is a rather new restaurant found on the outskirts of Koreatown.  The self proclaimed managing foodies aspire to be like The Lazy Ox and  Father’s Office.  Their goal is to give affordable Gastropub food to college students, sports fans, and people that are not in the mood for Ktown.

The Good: The interior was nice, Dogfish was on tap, and the food was free.

The Bad: If Gordon Ramsey from “Kitchen Nightmare” came to this Spot, he’d use words that would be censored on cable TV and follow them up with “disgusting.”  I ordered the Mac & Cheese with Truffle Oil and Dogfish  to wash it down.  A co-worker who was with me at the time, got the Jalepeno Burger with fries and a Stone IPA.  I was going to order the sliders myself, but was warned that they were the frozen kind.  When the Mac & Cheese came out it was in the form of Bow Tie Noodles with loose white liquid as cheese.  I actually have no clue what Truffles are suppose to taste like so if it was in there, I wouldn’t have known.  I give credit to the marketing because the addition of the word “Truffle” certainly fooled me.   The dish wasn’t bad, but it was disappointing since I was expecting Elbow Noodles and a thicker Cheese encrusted with Bread Crumbs.  The Jalapeno Burger my co-worker got, now that’s a different story since I had half of it.  While I might have been saved from getting the sliders that were probably once cryogenized in the freezer section at Wal-Mart’s Superstore, the patty for that burger was like a hockey puck that’s been laying out under a hot sun for too long.  It came packaged nicely and the Fries were good, but I had to keep opinions to myself when a staff member asked me if everything was okay.  Later that evening my co-worker would spend a long cleansing time at his apartment’s bathroom.

When I went to The Spot, I was actually there because one of my co-workers had business with the manager.  She seemed really enthusiastic about the place and had a lot of ideas on how to make The Spot better, but unfortunately, if the food isn’t good, the place will struggle.  I’m sure Gordon Ramsey and Robert Irvine from “Restaurant Impossible”, would take one look at the menu and say,  “there’s just too many items.”  They’d both go into the kitchen and get rid of all the frozen pre-made ingredients and strip that menu down to a few signature dishes and seasonal specials.   Personally, if I ran the place, I’d invest in a good meat grinder instead of a web designer and buy meat from a local butcher like McCall’s Meat and Fish and make fresh burger patties on “The Spot!”  Then I’d build the whole menu around that all American classic.

The Spot has a lot of potential but it should focus first on making quality food instead of trying to cut corners in order to pay for temporary cosmetics.

Would you comeback? Nope, I rather go out of my way to The Lazy Ox and even the original and more crowded Father’s Office.  Of course, I haven’t tried all of their menu items so I can’t say all their stuff is bad.  I do wish The Spot staff  well because I don’t want anyone to fail at something they want to succeed in.

More Info: yelp them | www.myspotla.com

MJ


Oinkster + Black Boar + Pitfire Pizza Company

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The Skinny: In one night, I went to a gastropub in Eagle Rock called The Oinkster and stopped by The Black Boar, a no frills bar.  Then on whim, I ended my evening at The Pitfire Pizza Company that’s located in between Culver City and Venice Beach.

Oinkster is popular hipster-ish restaurant that got spotlighted by Guy Fieri on his show Drives, Dives, and Diners.  The establishment is known for their Pastrami and BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches.

The Black Boar is an Irish style pub I Yelped and went to after eating at the Oinkster.

The Pitfire Pizza Company is a relatively new and trendy place that had a live DJ, wooden decor, Sangrias, and really good Pizza Bread.

The High:

The Oinkster: Since I went here with some friends, I was able to trade one half of my BBQ Pulled Pork for his “Oinkster Pastrami.”  The sandwiches came as a combo with Belgian Fries, a nice dill pickle, and my choice of a hoppy Eagle Rock beer on tap.  The BBQ Pulled Pork is described as being brined in Soy and Honey and then slowly roasted and smoked.  It came packaged with a Red Cabbage Slaw, Caramelized Onions and BBQ Sauce.  While my friend preferred the Pastrami that came pretty much built the same way, except without the BBQ Sauce and with Gruyere Cheese, I liked the Pork more.  It could have been because it was the first thing I ate while it was still hot, so all the flavors just felt that much more comforting.  When I got to the Pastrami, it was cold and falling apart and it didn’t have the same flavor impact as the Pulled Pork did.  It was still good, peppery and full of fatty goodness with the Slaw complimenting everything else.  The Belgian style Fries came with Garlic Aioli, and they were pretty addictive.  I also love the fact they have an outdoor seating area where I can drink beer openly during a nice Spring evening.

The Black Boar: The Black Boar is a pub not too far from The Oinkster.  Inside it the interior and vibe is that of an Irish bar, with dart boards, a Foosball table, old Celtic letterings everywhere, and left over St. Patty’s Day whiskey promos still hanging from the ceilings.  I liked the place and the indie rock music they had playing on the jukebox.  It’s the kind of bar I wish I had near my house so I can be a regular.  However their mixed drinks were watered down, but it’s forgivable because my friend had ordered a girly one in a seemingly no frills kind of bar.  Plus, the dark haired bartender girl with a nose ring was hot!

The Pitfire Pizza Company: I wasn’t really expecting to go here, but my friend decided on a whim to try it out for the first time after we talked about pizzas we had and loved in Los Angeles.  When we got there, the atmosphere reminded me of my design school years with the interior being in a big open area and the kitchen in plain view sight.  While we were waiting in line to order, the DJ was playing Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”  as industrial lights guided us to the cashier lady.  It was cool, the atmosphere made me feel young again.

My friend and I ordered a pitcher of Sangria and two small Pizzas, one with Wild Arugula and the other with Pumpkin Squash.  Both were delicious. The Arugula pizza seemed to have very few ingredients, even with the haystack size greens on top.  The Burrata Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Caramelized Onio, Hazelnut , and Pesto Drizzle that were on it, all worked well together (or at least I thought since I was kind buzzed) on the light and airy Pizza Bread.  The Pumpkin Squash Farmers Market special had the good kind of cheese that actually stretched as you pull away from a bite.  These days, in order for Pizza chains to deliver 5 dollar specials, they opt for the cottage cheese kind that is texturely mushy even when hot.   Pitfire Pizza’s seems to be doing it right, with their fresh hippie like ingredients, that delicious pizza dough formula, and their art student music playing in the background.  Oh…and the Sangria was a bit too fruit punchy, but good enough to make me stumble as I walked out.

The Low:

The Oinkster: None really.

The Black Boar: The only thing that doesn’t really bother me is the watered down mixed drinks.  No biggy though, since all I was drinking was Jameson.

The Pitfire Pizza Company: While the Pumpkin Squash Pizza was tasty, the special ingredient was hardly noticeable.  It was a bit too subtle.  I think maybe if they caramelized the pieces of Squash a bit before cooking the pie in the oven, it would’ve tasted just a little bit better.

Would you come back again? Sure x 3.

More Info: TheOinkster: 2005 Colorado Blvd. Eagle Rock, CA 90041 | Expect to pay about 15 bucks for a Sandwich with a Beer and Fries.  |  The Black Boar: 1630 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90041 | The Jameson cost me 7 bucks per order | The Pitfire Pizza Company: 2018 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035 | Expect to pay 10 bucks for a Small Pie & 15 for a pitcher of Sangria.