When Jonathan Gold’s 99 came out, I just about fell over. Fell over, friends, from the climactic release that comes after such eager, exhaustive build-up. You know when you wait in anticipation but you trytrytry to make yourself think about everything else under the sun except that for which you are waiting because you don’t want to set yourself up for either 1) being stood up and left awkwardly sitting at the bar by yourself halfway through a martini before you run crying shamefully from the bar (I swear that has never happened to me), or 2) being utterly disappointed by he whom you thought looked like Ryan Seacrest but actually was Ryan Seacrest (Out)? You tell yourself to settle down. Be patient. Wait. It’s going to come and it’s going to be great, so just go about your normal daily life? You know?
Yes. I do know.
That is how I felt waiting for Jonathan Gold’s 99 Essential LA Restaurants. You don’t even have to say “Jonathan Gold” anymore because he is just understood. Everyone knows what you’re talking about when you say “The 99.” I knew it was coming. I waited all summer for The 99.
It came (on my birthday, no less). I saw. I was conquered.
And because because because because because! Because of the wonderful things he does…I completely glossed over/ignored/disregarded the fact that the LA Times published their Dining Guide in the last. dying gasp issue of West a few weeks before. It was out before J Gold’s list and still I hadn’t paid attention; like that characterless brown-haired, brown-eyed, 5’10” medium-build guy wearing business casual who was sitting right next to you at the bar as you waited. Unremarkable. Unnoticed.
You didn’t miss much by not talking to ho hum him. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Times Dining Guide is just ho-hum, almost to the point of tedious. With 300 restaurants and just a few descriptive lines of each, it’s more of a vital stats directory than anything else. Really? The only section of the special Restaurant Issue that was worth reading is Fresh, SIV’s blueberry-picked short list of restaurants for which “eating out in L.A. has never felt so fresh and new.”
Despite itself, Fresh is a list. Because I am utterly listgeeky like that, I’ve included the Fresh restaurants here, minus the prattle save for a short, witty, all-encompassing SIV quote about the restaurant (where there was one), as well as self-promotional links and unsolicited comments here and there. Because I am also obsessive, compulsive, competitive and feeling a little fat (not "phat" with a "pee-aych," but fat, as in "bordering on bloggobese") and fresh, a little Executive Summary before we jump into the raw, uncensored data details.
Sarah's Executive Summary
~ There are 35 restaurants on this list, of which I have been to 13. That makes The Delicious Life about exactly 37.14% fresh. If this were a test, I would have gotten an "F minus." That's flunking.
~ Two of the most talked about restaurants this past year both begin with "F": Eric Greenspan's Foundry and Jason Travi's Fresh. Oops, I mean Fraiche. Was the title of the article strictly a coincidence?!?! We'll never know. We'll probably never care.
~ The word “Fresh” appears 14 times in the headline, subtitles, and story's text.
~ If you thought my blog was deliciously divine in covering dining delectables, look at how annoyingly alliterative West with the number of F-bombs they drop. Okay, no F-bombs, unfortunately, but lots of F-words: Fresh, Fine Dining, Focus, French Fare, Fashion, Fountain, Fusion (they didn't, did they? they did), Fantastic, Flavors and Faces, Fresh Fast-Food Featuring Farm Fresh. It's hurting me.
LA Times/West Magazine's 2007 Fresh List
The Foundry on Melrose - "fine dining for the everyday man"
7465 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
** went for my birthday
Gonpachi - "a server will bring out a teapot containing the cooking water, which is filled with nourishing minerals and vitamins"
134 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Soba dishes, $7.50 to $12.50
Il Grano - "With a glass of Pigato from Liguria or a Txakolina from the Spanish Basque country, his fantasia di crudo di mare is a perfect way to start"
11359 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90025
Fantasia di crudo di mare, $21
** went a couple of years ago. it was okay
Catch Restaurant & Sushi Bar - "a special section of the menu devoted to sushi and sashimi as well as Asian-accented crudo preparations”
Hotel Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Crudo, $6 to $20
Pizzeria Mozza - "especially her squash-blossom pizza with a smear of tomato sauce”
641 N. Highland Ave. @Melrose, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Squash blossom, tomato and burrata pizza, $15
** went there to stalk Mario (twice)
Tender Greens - "featuring produce from Oxnard grower Scarborough Farms, take your pick"
9523 Culver Blvd @Cardiff Ave, Culver City, CA 90232
Salads, $5 to $10
Petros Greek Cuisine and Lounge - "small plates to savor with glasses of ouzo or top-notch Greek wines"
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Mezze, $8 to $14
Fraiche - "new confidence and polish with a menu of rustic French and Italian dishes"
9411 Culver Blvd @Main St, Culver City, CA 90232
** went for my birthday
Blue Velvet - "inventive cocktails and globe-trotting bar food from chef Kris Morningstar are reason enough to visit"
750 S. Garland Ave bt 7th and 8th, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Lounge menu, $8 to $12
Sapphire Laguna - "menu covers the globe, dancing from Indonesian duck satay to an all-American chicken pot pie under a beautiful flaky crust"
1200 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Dinner entrées, $23 to $29
Bastide - "the restaurant (and its wine list) will no longer be strictly French"
8475 Melrose Place just east of La Cienega, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Rustic Canyon - "exactly the kind of food many chefs would make for themselves on their night off — uncomplicated and direct”
1119 Wilshire Blvd @11th, Santa Monica, CA 90403
** love it. way. too. f**king. loud.
Ketchup - "diner menu replete with "barking dogs" (a quartet of miniature Kobe beef hot dogs) and sliders (more of the fashionable beef made into petite burgers)"
Sunset Millennium, 8590 Sunset Blvd @Sunset Plaza Dr, West Hollywood, CA 90069
** really? i mean, really? ick
Larkin's - "updated Southern soul food in a quaint Craftsman house that dates from 1911… brunch there would be something, especially if it means beignets"
1496 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Opus Restaurant - "wrap your taste buds around his original bäco of short-rib carnitas and pork belly or one stuffed with braised duck and quince aioli"
3760 Wilshire Blvd @Oxford, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Nic's - "A vodka sommelier will hand ladies a faux leopard- fur jacket and gentlemen an old-fashioned uptown coat to venture inside”
453 N. Canon Drive, just south of Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Two flights, $21; three flights, $30
** ate there. would only go back for vodka
Simon LA - "Crowned with a swirl of cotton candy, it's got everything—Rice Krispies squares, pink coconut snowballs with a heart of chocolat, warm chocolate-chip cookies and—to be safe—oatmeal cookies"
Sofitel Los Angeles, 8555 Beverly Blvd. @La Cienega, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Junk food sampler, $25
** DYING to go and get junk food platter. anyone?
Marché Moderne - "classic French bistro with great charcuterie and cheeses, pretty salads and moules or steak frites"
3333 Bristol St @Anton, No. 3003, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
3 Square Café+Bakery - "for a boho beach-going crowd"
1121 Abbot Kinney, just south of Westminster, Venice, CA 90291
Entrées $7 to $18
BLD - "regulars hanker after the flaky cream cheese chive biscuits, plate-sized ricotta blueberry pancakes and house-cured salmon with pickled onions and heirloom tomatoes”
7450 Beverly Blvd @Vista, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dinner entrées $15 to $26
** went. it's sandwiches, for fox ache
Bloom Cafe - "mostly organic menu that starts with breakfast and one of the best café au laits in town"
5544 W. Pico Blvd @Curson Ave, Los Angeles, CA
$10 to $17
Square One - "sophisticated eggs Benedict made with a potato pancake and house-cured salmon instead of the usual English muffin and ham"
4854 Fountain Ave @Berendo, Los Angeles, CA 90029
$7.25 to $12.50
Lou - "short and sweet menu of charcuterie, cheeses and salads, plus a meat dish and an alternative for vegetarians"
724 N. Vine St, just north of Melrose, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Prix fixe wine dinner, $45
** love it. wish it were on the westside
Canelé - "tribute to farmers' market ingredients and simple, sensual cooking"
3219 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Dinner entrées $9 to $22.
Celadon - "inventive chandelier made from hollowed-out ostrich eggs that's as dramatic and playful as chef Danny Elmaleh's Asian fusion cooking"
7910 W. 3rd St @Edinburgh, Los Angeles, CA 90048
** fusion take down a level. or two. or ten
Romanov - "opulent Russian-themed steakhouse in Studio City, features an elaborate crystal and mosaic chandelier"
12229 Ventura Blvd, west of Laurel Canyon, Studio City, CA 91604
Hatfield's - “aluminum rod hung with Swarovski crystals adds understated glamour to the sophisticated small restaurant"
7458 Beverly Blvd @Vista, Los Angeles, CA 90036
** good, but a little too cute, imho
Abode - "sophisticated supper-club gloss with chocolate leather booths, black walnut tables and high-backed burnt-tangerine leather chairs"
1541 Ocean Ave bt Broadway and Colorado, Santa Monica, CA 90401
** been there. that done.
Katsuya - "Brentwood's finest can flirt and gossip while downing slivers of toro or the chef's signature spicy tuna on crispy rice"
11777 San Vicente Blvd @Montana, Brentwood, CA 90049
** been there. i only remember seeing the nanny
Providence - "elegant setup, like everything else at this contemporary seafood restaurant"
5955 Melrose Ave @Wilcox, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Bin 8945 - "wine list deep in vintages and obscure appellations, which makes dining here under the new chef Michael Bryant (late of Norman's) even more fun"
8945 Santa Monica Blvd @Robertson, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Cut - "A-list stars tucking into Wagyu beef steaks or sharing a lavender and honey-scented rotisserie duckling for two"
Beverly Wilshire Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd @Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Three that are so new, they would make next year's list if West were still going to be around...
Osteria Mozza - "menu will be pure Silverton, with input from chef Matt Molina. But you can expect the big guy in the orange clogs to drop in from time to time"
6602 Melrose Ave. @Highland, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Craft Los Angeles - "giving CAA and ICM agents a new power lunch spot in restaurant-poor Century City"
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City, CA 90067
** UPDATE: went. awesome. will go back when i get a bonus check.
BLT Steak - "in the old Le Dome space on the Sunset Strip. The beef may well be magnificent, but we're all waiting to taste his signature giant popovers"
8720 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069