Friday, August 30, 2013

Semi Sweet Bakery | Los Angeles, CA

Sure, we had to wait nearly an hour until the next batch of fifty was brought to the counter. And yes, as the clock ticked down to those last waning minutes, we all clamored for position in a line that stretched out the door and down to the immediate street. As troublesome as that may sound, it was well worth it ... Every single second spent, for every single bite it took to consume one. What am I talking about? Call it a Cronut or a Crullant. It really doesn't matter because, when all is said and done, it's still the same warm, flakey, and chewy goodness that filled me (and every discerning customer) with general euphoria while standing in the dining room of Semi Sweet Bakery.

Established in 2010, Semi Sweet Bakery is the brainchild of Sharlene Fong, a native New Yorker who transformed herself from a promising financial consultant to a well-respected and innovative pastry chef. Together with Dennis Hunter and James Gonzalez, she finds inspiration in a budding downtown LA food scene that has collided with the city's ever-changing and vibrant urban landscape. Maple Bacon Sticky Buns, 7-Up Poundcake, PB & J Pockets, Chocolate Butterscotch Potato Chips, and Homemade Pop Tarts populate her menu alongside savory salads and sandwiches such as the McFong All Day Breakfast Sandwich. And let's not forget to the bakery's original "talked about" dessert, the Ding-A-Lings. Sharlene's twist on a popular childhood treat, her Ding-A-Lings come in Red Velvet, PB Crunch, Hazelnut Crunch, or Traditional Cream-Filled.

But again, the real star of late is her rendition of the Cronut, the pastry that skyrocketed its creator Dominique Ansel and his Soho bakery into foodie folklore. While the concept is similar, Sharlene's version is not fried, but rather baked, which explains why they are not made in big batches and takes a while to go from kitchen to counter. Its other distinction is that hers comes candy-glazed and without a filling. Plain, simple, and light. This is a must have that should be on everyone's culinary bucket list!

Semi Sweet Bakery in located at 105 East 6th Street in  Los Angeles, CA. It is open on most days at 8:00a except on Mondays. Get there early!

Semi Sweet Bakery
105 E. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA  90014
(213) 228-9975


Semi Sweet Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Coffee Table Bistro & Lounge | Eagle Rock, CA

Next time you find yourself stopping into a neighborhood eatery, take inventory of not just what's on your plate, but also what's around you on the walls, the floor, the windows, and even the tables and chairs. Sure, the real artistry is what's on the plate (and we've seen some pretty spectacular culinary presentations), but many proprietors have taken great pains to provide a welcoming atmosphere to enhance their patrons' dining experience. Take for example, The Coffee Table Bistro & Lounge in the town of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles, California. The murals and mosaics seen throughout its dining area is a testament of their support of local artists, writers, and musicians. They've been doing it since calling their nondescript 1930s building on the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Shearin Avenue home. And the relaxed, colorful atmosphere has made this a regular stop for the locals to hang out, be casual, and be creative ... I should know. While living in SoCal, some of my best writings happened right here!

But don't just come to The Coffee Table Bistro & Lounge for the scenery and a cup of coffee. After all, it's still an eatery. SO, DO COME HUNGRY!!! 

The menu is chock-full of simple and light dishes that run you through the day. Breakfast specialties include their Super Breakfast Burrito, the Yo-Yo Benny O Scramble, and the Eggs From Hell. Lunches cover everything from wraps and sandwiches to burgers and melts, and the dinner menu, while small compared to everything else, boasts a flavorful Chicken Gumbo, Seared Cajun Salmon, and Grilled Moroccan Chicken. And by the way, if enjoying the nightlife or happy hour is more your thing, be sure to wander over to the lounge where small plates and appetizers are served alongside a choice of over 100 bottled beers and 16 drafts on tap.

They are open everyday from 7:00a-10:00p. 
Coffee Table
1958 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA  90041

Coffee Table Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mercedes Grille | Marina del Rey, CA

It doesn't happen very often when four young kids ... that's right, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 kids ... can come together in a restaurant and become instantly silent as the first plate of food comes to the table. Not only that, when all four of them can say after the meal is over that they really liked the food and can't wait to come back, you know there's something particularly special here. Credit the Truffle Parmesan Fries, the Tomatillo Pork Enchiladas, or the Bachelor Omelette, the folks at the Mercedes Grille had it going on the morning of our visit. Good food, a fun service staff, and a by-the-beach atmosphere certainly guarantees our return.
Mercedes Grille is owned by Mersedeh Ahrablou who, as the story goes, collected just enough cash after twelve years of waitressing around the seaside town to establish this quaint eatery. Cuban and Caribbean specialties are the featured staples on a menu that takes you through the day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and well into the night. Each dish is light, healthy, prepared fresh, and is packed with island flavors that is not found so readily along this stretch of the SoCal coastline. When asked what's popular among the locals, our server was quick to say "everything." A better source of knowing what to order came from a very good friend's recommendation. She turned us on to the Mercedes Grille, after all, and there was no reason to doubt her. Jerk Chicken Enchiladas, Cuban Beef Hash, Chicken Empanizado, and those Truffle Parmesan Fries. Dee-Lish!!!

Located at 14 West Washington Boulevard in Marina Del Rey, Mercedes Grille is open daily from 7:30a to 11:00p, and as noted on their website, they promise to "treat you like family and hope to exceed your expectations."

Mercedes Grille
14 West Washington Blvd.
Marina del Rey, CA  90292
(310) 827-6209

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants