Le Ka Serves Up Le Tasty Food

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There’s a bit of confusion about the relatively new downtown eatery Le Ka. Some people think it’s called Leka, others Ka Le, and perhaps a few truly misguided souls believe it’s something named Kale. Let the record show that the restaurant is named Le Ka. The story — as I remember it after a few glasses of wine — is that “Ka” means “family” in Chinese. Furthermore, “Ka” is the surname of the owners. Meanwhile, “Le,” as you may know, means “The” in French, and so the restaurant name literally means The Family… in Sino-Franco language fusion.

Sino-Fanco fusion is also at the heart of several of Le Ka’s dishes, which I recently enjoyed as part of a media-comped dinner. Located in Downtown LA (where everything cool is these days), Le Ka boasts a big, glassy space and a hearty menu full of some definite hits (and a few near misses). Check out pics of the food after the jump…

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Osteria Drago Serves Up Hearty Fall Fare

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It may be shocking to believe, but there are seasons in Los Angeles, and even though the temperatures still linger in the high 60s, restaurants have filled their menus with braises and root vegetables and all that hearty fare we expect at this time of the year. One such spot is Osteria Drago, which has taken up residence in the former Il Sole space on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Fun fact: Il Sole was where Victoria and Jonathan of The Amazing Race took J-Unit and I to dinner i order to clear their names after the infamous Shovegate of 2005. They paid for dinner, and all was forgiven. What can I say? I’m an easy mark.

Nevertheless, I was recently invited to a media-comped meal yet again at Osteria Drago, but this time I can assure you the intentions were far more noble. After the jump, check out some pics of the food, and prepare yourself to be very, very hungry.

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Elevated Pub Fare at Tom Bergin’s

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Founded in 1936, Tom Bergin’s remains one of the few classic (as opposed to “gastro”) Irish pubs east of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, and come St. Patrick’s Day, it’s ground zero for beer swilling celebrations in Los Angeles. There’s more than just Guinness and Bass bubbling out of the taps though. Tom Bergin’s also has a full dinner menu, which has been recently revamped by the likes of Chef Brandon Boudet (Little Dom’s, Dominick’s, 101 Coffee Shop), and on a recent media-comped meal, I was able to sample some of the offerings now on display. After the jump, check out pics of the food.

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Border Grill + Tequila Revolucion = Good Times

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The Border Grill has become something of a Los Angeles institution, a crown jewel in the burgeoning empire of celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. It’s been around for over ten years and spawned two other locations, not to mention a food truck too. Aside from serving up tasty Mexican fare, the restaurant also occasionally hosts Margarita Dinners — multicourse prix fix meals that come with, you guessed it, margaritas. I was recently invited to a media-comped Margarita Dinner at the Santa Monica location, and while I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, my friend Cathy did warn me that “Ohhhh… their Margarita Dinners are soooo fun.”

After the jump, check out the tasty food and drinks I ingested at the Border Grill…

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Lobster Ice Cream: Cool or Crap?

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In case you hadn’t heard, gourmet food trucks have taken over Los Angeles. It all started four or five years ago with the arrival of Kogi’s and has snowballed from there. Now we have a truck for nearly every cuisine and specialty, and so it was only inevitable that a lobster truck would pop up. I’m not complaining.

Enter Cousins Maine Lobster Food Truck, which specializes in — you guessed it — lobster. When I was invited to enjoy a media-comped lunch at the truck, I was only too happy to oblige. And then when I was told there’d be lobster ice cream involved, I was all the more intrigued. I knew it had to either be really good… or really bad.

After the jump, my impressions of Cousins’ lobster ice cream…

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Berry Breakthroughs on Drago Centro’s Summer Cocktail Menu

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A few months ago, I raved about the totally awesome spring cocktails at Drago Centro, the esteemed Italian eatery in Downtown Los Angeles. Well, the seasons have changed, and so have the libations. Gone are mixologist Jaymee Mandeville’s fanciful uses of dill and honeycomb and kumquat. In their place are a new slate of drinks, many of which feature my most mortal enemy: BERRIES.

Avid readers of this blog know that I have some strange, woeful distaste for berries that makes me generally gag upon first taste, not to mention whiff. But given that being a food blogger is very serious business, I felt it was my God-given duty to bravely put aside my own apprehensions and dive headfirst into the fruity minefield that is the Drago Centro summer cocktail menu. Never has a media-comped meal been so fraught with anxiety.

Did I survive? Well, obviously yes. I’m here writing, aren’t I? But the trauma, the agony — was I able to rise above? Pictures of this most important journey after the jump…

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Apt 2B Pops Up On Melrose!

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About a year ago, my friend Mat launched a funky, new online furniture store called Apt 2B, which aims to sell stylish pieces at affordable prices. The timing seemed perfect: I desperately needed a new couch, er, SOFA as my current one was in a murky state of disrepair (speckled with red dots thanks to an explosion of fake blood from a 2006 House MD screener — long story). The only downside for me was that I would have to order a sofa sight-unseen as this was an online-only venture.

Well, a year later, I still have my decrepit couch, but perhaps not for long. Mat and his team have taken over the Alpha space on Melrose Avenue here in Los Angeles for a month-long “pop-up” of sorts. I dropped by the opening night to finally see the goods in 3D, and I have to say, it was all super cool. I’m not just saying that because Mat is a friend of mine. I say it because I really liked what I saw. I swear I’ve fallen in love with a sectional, and at just over $1300, it’s a total steal. This could in fact signal the end of days for my old Crate & Barrel sofa.

Don’t take my word for it though. My friend Phamtastic tagged along as well, and given that she definitely knows her interior design, I hold her opinion in high regard. In short, she loved Apt 2B too, and already she’s planning on purchasing some big ticket items for her friend (who has charged her with redecorating his living room). The point is this: if you live in Los Angeles and are in the market for some stylish, funky furniture or decor, be sure to swing by the Apt 2B pop-up this month. Tell Mat that B-Side Blog sent you!

Apt 2B at Alpha
8654 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA
Mon-Sat: 11a – 7p; Sun: 12 – 6p

Until 5/31 only!

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Trying New Things At Blu Jam Café

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For the past several years, one of the best brunch spots in Los Angeles has been Blu Jam Café on Melrose. Their crunchy, Corn Flake-dipped French toast ranks as one of the best French Toasts in the city, and given that I’ve grown to consider myself a French toast expert, that certainly is high praise indeed. However, is there more to Blu Jam than an awesome French toast? Yes, naturally.

When the sun goes down, Blu Jam transitions from a brunchy café into a bistro of sorts, with a nice sized dinner menu full of shared plates. Recently, I was invited to a media-comped dinner to celebrate the restaurant’s sixth anniversary, and while I had been going to Blu Jam for several years, this was the first time I’d actually dropped in for dinner. Pics of the experience, including a terrifying face-to-face experience with one of my deepest fears, after the jump…

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Drago Centro Serves Up Amazing Cocktail Menu (and Bar Food Too)

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The revival of Downtown Los Angeles continues, particularly as it pertains to great bars and mixology. Making a mark of its own is Drago Centro, which unveiled its Spring cocktail menu a few weeks ago with a media-comped tasting session at its bar. When I received the invite for this event, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. Don’t worry though — all ocular function has been retained. Still, the cocktail menu that came with the email was a sight to behold. I wanted to try each and every one of the twelve or so libations on the menu — a first for me.

Crafted by perhaps my new favorite bartender of all time Jaymee Mandeville, I can assure you these beverages rock. Let’s take a looksie, shall we?

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Tequila Adventures at Soho House

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It’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged about cocktails (and it’s been an even hotter minute since I stated a blog by saying “It’s been a hot minute…”). Nevertheless, I’m here to buck the trend. Last night, my friend IndianJones and I attended a “tasting bout” sponsored by Tequila Herrandura and UrbanDaddy at Los Angeles’ Soho House. The event was simple: four mixologists battled it out for cocktail supremacy in front of an esteemed panel of judges, with each barkeep enduring at least two rounds of competition. First they had to serve up a signature cocktail. Then they had to whip up as many margaritas as possible under three minutes. Winner advanced to a final round that involved incorporating chocolate into a tequila drink. Fun times all around.

Of course, while the competition was fun to watch, it merely was an excuse to enjoy some tasty tequila (shots were abundant) and make new friends. In the end, master mixologist Steve Livigni took home the title belt, much to the delight of the many boozy onlookers. I didn’t get a chance to try any of Livigni’s cocktails, but I can assure you I more than made up for it with a variety margaritas, shots, and other assorted libations. A few random pictures of the event after the jump…

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