Restaurant Reviews

Dinner at 3rd Street Station – May 5, 2012

Owner Dion Rottman opened the doors at 3rd Street Station on February 17th, 2012. The menu has since changed, Dion wanted to simplify the items and make everything on it perfect. From what I tasted he has done that hands down! He is part French, so his concept was to recreate a French Brasserie, but above all have quality food that works well with drinking. 3rd Street Station is part pub, part brasserie, blending Western European flavors with gastro pub. Chef Greg DeMichiel has successfully made this small plate cuisine experience very delectable…
It is so amazing that in the hustle and bustle of the Beverly Center area in Los Angeles, you can find a friendly, fun, drinking establishment that has astonishing food as well. The European train station design is very authentic, but also has great neighborhood café vibe. The interiors were done by, John Sofid of Built Inc. The electronic schedule board that you would usually find in a train station has been tweaked; it shows you all of what 3rd street station has to offer; with its cheese plates, deserts, and signature cocktails. And you will always know what time it I across the country, with 3 different time zone clocks adorning the walls. It has an eclectic mix of music; that sets the right tone for this drinking establishment.

I am sold; I truly enjoyed the fun energy and fast paced atmosphere, with such an eclectic crowd. When I arrived, there were elders enjoying their meal, maybe they thought there was an early bird special. One of the lady’s said she could not leave her cappuccino and wanted a to go cup. Right after they left there was a group of intoxicated 20 something gals. They heckled the bartender like he was a Chippendale dancer and as soon as they finished their first round of drinks they hopped back into their limousine to finish there bar hopping girl’s nite out. Then came the lovely folks behind us, perhaps 40 something. They came because of a discount website, where you can get 30 % percent off of your meal. I managed to speak with them about their dinner and they admitted how pleased they were with their meal and overall experience. You can tell that the demographic has no limit; with customers of all ages seeming quite comfortable.
Here’s what I tried:
3rd Street Station’s Signature Cocktails:
Peche D’Or with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Mint, Lemon, Mathilde Peches Liquer. For bourbon lovers this is a perfect drink. It is very refreshing, bold, and gets you ready for things to come.
Off the Rails with Absolut Vodka, Mint, Cucumber, Lime and JM Sugarcane. You almost feel like you are at a spa sipping your detox drink with cucumber and all. But don’t let the cucumber fool you, this drink is power packed, and can get you in the right mood. It is very thirst quenching and goes down awfully easy. A fantastic start to a great experience!

Small Plates:
Crispy Brussel Sprouts with pork belly, mustard, and scotch soaked raisins. This will make any brussel sprout hater a lover with just one bite, it has lovely essence’s that just swim around on your tongue.
Pan Roasted Asparagus with balsamic glaze, parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. The balsamic is so sweet and luscious, you feel like you are eating desert, but no this is healthy, low-fat appetizer that really is terrific.
Risotto Croquettes with chorizo, saffron, manchego cheese and spicy tomato fondu. This is an Italian dish, very simple with great crispiness and flavor.
Station Plates:
Grilled Pizza with mushrooms, baby arugula, roasted tomato, béchamel, and ricotta. You get such lovely mushroom flavor and the richness of the béchamel is like velvet in your mouth. The prefect arugula crunch and nice bitter flavor, really makes this a must have exotic pizza.
Pasta Bolognese with pappardelle, red wine braised short rib, and truffle oil. This dish stands up to all of the similar pappardelles that I have tried. It is one of my favorite pastas so I try it anywhere I can. The pasta is cooked a little on the al dente side, and the meat is so tender, it has a great marriage of flavors, truly terrific.
Grilled Hanger Steak with sauce bordelaise, cipollini onions and pomme frites. This steak is so scrumptious, by far the shining star on the menu. Don’t ask to many questions, just order, and succumb to greatness!
Salads:
Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with grilled breast of chicken, hard boiled egg, smokehouse bacon, blue cheese, avocado and blue cheese vinaigrette. I am a true lover of cobb salad, and what makes this one so special is the amazingly tender chicken that is served on top. It has so many flavors, and the rest of the salad just acts as a blank canvas to this awesome grilled chicken, highly recommend.
Sandwiches:
House Burger with bacon jam, lamb’s lettuce, heirloom tomato, brioche bun and pommes frite. The thing about this burger is it takes you by surprise, the bacon jam adds a special some thing that you can’t quite place, but you just want to keep coming back for more. The sweetness of the brioche bun is the perfect yin and yang to the bacon jam. This is a sleeper, and really terrific.
Organic Turkey Burger with avocado, agave mustard dressing, butter lettuce, brioche bun and pommes frites. This is a throw back to the 70’s, but with a little twist. There were so many health restaurants popping up in the 70’s that featured turkey burgers, they were all delicious. The thing that sets this one apart if the agave mustard dressing, try it and you will see what I mean.

Special:
Salmon with pureed peas. This salmon is so fresh, it’s cooked in butter and the outside is crispy. It almost had a Chilean sea bass quality, so moist and perfect.
Deserts:
Benet’s with 3 dipping sauces
Bread Pudding
I paired this wine with the deserts, even though it is not a desert wine it stood up just right with the caramels and the chocolate in each desert. Beaujolais, Henry Fessey ’09, France
Wines tried:
I did a White Flight:
Sauvignon Blanc, Ribbonwood ’10, New Zealand. This wine has no grapefruit flavor, which is typically part of any New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It was great with the Brussels sprouts, just the right amount of fruit and acidity.
Chardonnay, Louis Latour, Grand Ardech ’09, France. I really liked this with the risotto croquettes; it carried all the flavors and bonded with the saffron.
Sabcerre, Les Chatagniers ’09, Loire, France. This wine paired nicely with the cobb salad, it blended in with the chicken, and then added another dimension with the smokehouse bacon. Also did well with the asparagus and balsamic combination.
I did a Red Flight:
Sangiovese Do Romagna, Popderi dal Nespoli’09, Italy. Of course this would be perfect with the pasta. When in Rome……..
Zinfandel, Darcie Kent ’08, Monterey, CA. Paired nicely with the hamburger, as well as the Hanger steak. Just what you would want out of a California Zin, great full bodied wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Catena ’08, Mendoza, Argentina. The hanger steak was so perfect with this wine; with its smoky and licorise flavors it enhanced the sauce bordelaise.

Pinot Noir, Manzoni Estate ’10, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA. This is a nice neutral Pinot, paired great with the turkey burger as well as the salmon. It did not over power either dish.
3rd Street Station also offers an array of excellent imported Euro draft beer, impressive wine selection, outstanding brewed espresso drinks & coffee, and a full-service cocktail bar. The relaxed, social setting, open Monday – Friday 5:00pm to 2:00am and weekends 11:00am to 2:00am.
So what more can you say about 3rd Street Station, next time you want a quick taste of France near the Beverly Center hop on board, to this fun-filled ride, you will not forget. Who knows maybe this could soon become your local Cheers bar!!! I am pretty sure it has become mine.
3rd Street Station Pub & Brasserie
8486 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA.
323 STATION
www.3rdstreetstationla.com

Brunch Playa Restaurant Dec. 10th, 2011

Tamales are to Christmas as latkes are to Hanukah, a rich tradition!
Jewish or Mexican, it’s all the same. I was very surprised when I got
an invite to a tamale demonstration at Chef John Sedlar’s new
restaurant Playa.

One of my first big jobs in Los Angeles in the early 90’s was Special
Events Manager at Bill Board Live, with the now renown John Sedlar
as Chef, boy has he come along way since then. Winning Best Chef
in Los Angeles in 2011, and opening up both Rivera and Playa this
year. He has been touted as the most innovative chef when it comes
to all things Latin Cuisine, and I absolutely agree! I was so
fortunate to do a brunch tasting and witness a tamale demonstration
by Chef Kevin Luzande all on the same day. I learned how to build
and cook a tamale, as well as create a variety of fillings. Truly a great
learning experience. I was even given a goody bag that had fresh
masa to make my own tamales at home.

John Sedlar’s apprenticeship to legendary French chef Jean
Bertranou of L’Ermitage in Los Angeles, is where he mastered classic
techniques while evolving his own approach to cooking. Next he
opened St. Estephe restaurant in Manhattan Beach, and it was here
where he became known as the Father of Modern Southwest
Cuisine, also the title of his first acclaimed cookbook. He has won
numerous awards and acknowledgments that include selection
among the Top Ten Chefs in America, and the First Annual Culinary
Arts Hall of Fame Award, and a place on Food and Wine magazine’s
Honor Roll of American Chefs. He is also the creator and founder of
the first Latino food museum in the United States called Museo 26.
For sure a culinary force to be reckoned with.

Here is what I tried:
Maize Cake Semilla with burrata, arugula salad, and salsa verde.
Maize Cake Jewish with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caper
berry. Flan De Elote with quinoa and flora de calabaza. Niman Ranch
applewood-smoked bacon. Anson farms Organic Blue Corn Muffins,
with almond butter. Duck Hash with Weiser farm fingerlings and
peppers, 63-degree eggs. Eggs Benedict with English muffins, jamon
and chipotle béarnaise. Huevos Polenta with lardons, rajas,
calabacitas, queso cotija. Croque Senor with chorizo, epazote,
quesos, chipoltes en adobo. Tamal with cracked-corn masa, pulled
pork and Sunnyside-up egg. Waffle de jalapenos confitados with
piloncillo-pepita salsa.

Karen, the gracious bartender made me some specialty cocktails;
Cork County Bubbles with Powers Irish Whisky, Lemon Juice,
Chartreuse, Honey and Roderer Champaign. Wonderful combination
of flavors, with a kick. Then she made me a Vodka Bloody Mary, by
far the best Bloody Mary ever, with so many fresh ingredients I could
not name them all.

My favorite dishes were:
Maize Cake Jewish with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caper berry. A perfect gathering of delectable food on one plate. The Salmon was so fresh, moist and tender. Truly an art piece with the 3 fried purple onions on top, adding to the sculpture effect. Flan De Elote with quinoa and flora de calabaza. Not what you would expect, the flan is a sweet corn flan, but very creamy and rich, placed inside a red cornhusk bowl, very artistic, great presentation. Niman Ranch
applewood-smoked bacon had so much good smoky pork flavor, and real thick slices, amazingly perfect. Anson farms Organic Blue Corn Muffins, with almond butter. The butter adds a sweetness that is already in the muffins. The purple color with its crisp outside and
extra moist texture inside, a great brunch starter. Duck Hash with Weiser farm fingerlings and peppers, 63-degree eggs, the duck is so tender, the potatoes are perfect as well. They have a machine that sits on the bar that really arouses your curiosity, called a Sous Vide.
This contraption provides you with a 63 degree egg, that is the same temperature and consistency all the way around. So the yoke is the same texture as the white, it makes for a really smooth and creamy experience. Eggs Benedict with English muffins, jamon and chipotle
béarnaise. Never had Eggs Benedict like this before, the Chipotle Béarnaise adds a whole other dimension that you can’t find in Hollandaise sauce. It is smoky and sweet with lots of subtle flavors. Huevos Polenta with lardons, rajas, calabacitas, queso cotija. The lardoons is what makes this dish so good; it is a form of bacon and adds a crackly texture with every bite. Waffle de jalapenos confitados with piloncillo-pepita salsa. What can I say about this lovely work of art? I am not a big waffle fan, but this one will change your life. The waffle itself is sweet and salty, the accompaniments are so incredible. Candied jalapeno peppers, that are sweet but hot, killer dark syrup, and then there’s the crispyparmesan pumpkin seed tower that is meant to be eaten with every bite of waffle. It’s all one fantastic symphony of flavors that will really
be savored and worshipped. This is Modern Latin Cuisine at it’s best.

The wines that were paired with my magnificent brunch were:
Featured Wine Blue Plate, Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, CA 2010,
worked well with all the egg dishes. Chardonnay Carlos Basso, Don
Fincas, Mendoza, Argentina 2010, very oaky floral and smooth, went
great with the waffle.Temparnillo, Marques De Concordia Rioja,
Spain 2003, very peppery, leathery, with hints of tobacco, so good
with the applewood-smoked bacon. Pinot Noir, Don Rodolfo Cafayate
Valley, Argentina 2009, terrific combo with the duck hash, not too
powerful, lets the flavors speak for themselves.

All in all, every dish is a work of art; the attention to detail is huge.
There are no dress rehearsals here, theater at its best, but with food,
and the stage is set. There is so much complexity, with each nuance,
each eyeful of creativity, and it works. With its very attentive staff, this
place really aims to please. Not your average brunch fare as it is
done with such an artful eye, and exciting new flavors. Next time you
have a brunch outing with friends or family, come here and expect to
be completely satisfied… you will not be disappointed!
playarivera.com 7360 Beverly Boulevard; 323-933-5300

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