Friday, July 22, 2011

Dining in Los Angeles: New Favorites

With enough time spent in any major city, new restaurants are easily discovered. Even though I got on the plane to Los Angeles with a pretty clear picture of what I wanted to eat while I was there, there were definitely a couple surprises that left a wonderful impression. These restaurants will officially be added to my arsenal of go-to LA dining destinations depending on my mood and cravings (and location).

Brunch is serious business in LA as it is in other cities. People will wait an eternity for pancakes at The Griddle. I know because I've done it, many many times (although I usually forgo the pancakes for papas y Benedict, their version of eggs Benedict). Since the weather is perpetually nice in LA, lining up on sidewalks in the morning for eggs is not uncommon. Similar to New York City, the wait for brunch is a lot less severe the further you get from the center of the city (the outer boroughs for NYC, and in LA... the VALLEY). Just speaking the words "the valley" makes this ex-West Hollywood resident feel dirty inside. I prefer the other side of the hill, but when every single relative of yours lives in the valley, you spend a lot of your time there when you visit :) It happens.

Basil Artichoke Scramble - Three scrambled eggs topped with sundried tomato, feta cheese, fresh basil and artichoke hearts, with zucchini shreds and wheat toast $8.50

When meeting a good friend for brunch (who also lives in the valley), you pick someplace close, convenient, and surely awesome. She suggests EAT in the NoHo district of North Hollywood. It's an up-and-coming neighborhood that is actually worth a visit if you're in the area. That's where you will find the restaurants and bars worth going to in the area (if you choose to go out on that side of the hill...). The menu at EAT is enticing (and fairly cheap). You look forward to brunch! She suggests the basil artichoke scramble, her favorite, and you order the same. You MUST get the zucchini shreds as your side. It comes with toast and the butter is perfectly soft and spreadable. You have no regrets. None. The neighborhood is fun and less "valley" than others, the food is fresh and fantastic, the shreds are life-changing, essentially pan-fried zucchini strips. Your friend is amazing, and you have a seriously memorable brunch. You add EAT to your "love" list, even if it's in the valley. You're an equal-opportunity food lover.

11108 Magnolia Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 760-4787

The beach is one of my favorite things about LA. There is so much versatility depending on which area you visit. High class beaches lined with mansions will greet you in Malibu, while graffiti and a far more bohemian lifestyle is what you'll find in Venice. I love it all! Equally! There is something special everywhere you go. I took my mom on a little tour of some of my favorite places in the city, which included the Getty Center, Venice Beach, and also Santa Monica. We decided to have lunch in Santa Monica, and hadn't planned ahead of time where we would eat.

We wandered around 3rd Street Promenade and some of the neighboring streets, but nothing really stood out to me as a place that was worthy of taking my mother on our very special tour of LA. Finally, I saw it. Blue and white vertical stripes on the awning called to me. Blue Plate Oysterette was written across it. Tada!! It was meant to be. Here on Ocean Avenue, across the street from the beach, an oh-so-very nautical-inspired "oysterette" (a much cuter term for oyster bar) featuring a seafood heavy menu that made me wish I had time for more than one visit here.

Ahi Sandwich - Tarragon Aioli, Arugula, Onions, on Brioche with Yukon Gold Old Bay Fries $16

My mom had the ahi sandwich on brioche. It was lovely and fresh, with a mild tarragon aioli. The Yukon gold old bay fries were an excellent accompaniment to all seafood. Old bay is a traditional seasoning for seafood, so using it on the fries at a seafood joint is such a smart idea! They were so flavorful and fluffy and crunchy, and really perfect with our seafood.

Oyster Po-Boy with Shredded Cabbage, Tomato, Onion, Dill Dressing, and Yukon Gold Old Bay Fries $15

I wanted everything on the menu, but settled on one of the specials, the oyster po-boy sandwich with shredded cabbage, onion, tomato, and dill dressing (as a dill-hater this made me nervous, but it was really quite mild and well-rounded). The oysters in the sandwich were Kumai oysters from Baja California, and each one was the size of my head! No exaggeration, they were the biggest, plumpest oysters I've ever seen! There were 4 in the sandwich, and it was so stuffed that oysters were falling out as I attempted to eat the sandwich. Each fried oyster was incredibly melt-in-your-mouth tender, slightly briny and sweet, with a great flavorful crunchy crust. Again, accompanied by their wonderful old bay fries, it was an incredibly satisfying meal.

I felt so comforted by the decor here. Lots of blues and whites, a television featuring a surfing video, aqua-colored glass lights hanging from the ceiling, seashells, an octopus-framed mirror, and mermaid and merman adornments on the bathrooms to differentiate the sexes rounded out the setting.

It didn't feel fake, we were a short walk to the beach. I felt like I could have stayed there all day. This tiny eatery could easily accumulate a long wait during busy times. I can only imagine. The menu is mouthwatering, and the seafood is incredibly fresh. A meal of fresh oysters can get very pricey, but the rest of the menu is more moderate and affordable. I do suggest if given the opportunity, you make every effort to stop by this sweet little oysterette on Ocean Avenue. It's a breath of fresh ocean air...

Blue Plate Oysterette
1355 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-3474


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