Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hurray For Hollywood!

Trip date: September 2015

I am known by my friends to have a mini cocktail kit with me when I fly. My 30k-foot repertoire includes an Old Fashioned and a gin martini. On a flight to LA last fall for a long weekend getaway with my friend Lauren, I added a new morning friendly cocktail. I packed a mini of coffee liquor to my TSA approved ziplock bag; then ordered a cognac (Lauren got a whiskey), a creamer, a seltzer water, and a cup of ice from the flight attendant. Pour 1/2 a mini of coffee liquor, 1 bottle cognac, and 1 creamer over ice. Stir. Top with seltzer (although recently I have been forgoing the seltzer). It reminds me of a brandy milk punch!

Our friend Mary picked us up from Burbank airport and we headed straight to Petit Trois for lunch. We had a short wait, which we passed with some delicious cocktails, and then were seated at the pass for a front row view of all the deliciousness (Chef Ludo was working). And the food looked great too. I absolutely loved this tiny little bistrot hidden in plain sight in a sketchy looking strip mall!
Lauren and I chose an adorable Airbnb in Echo Park as our home base. Our 2-bedroom, 1-bath home had great views and an absolutely fantastic patio. It was crazy hot that weekend, so having a shaded patio to have morning coffee and afternoon rosé on was wonderful. 


That night we headed out for a cocktail crawl in Hollywood. Lauren and I met her brother at our first stop, Good Times at Davey Wayne's. If you grew up in the 70's as I did, you will feel right at home as you walk through the refrigerator door opening and into the shag-carpeted, groovy living room-esque bar. You'll also feel right at home here if you are a hipster. It was a fun spot with good "fern bar" style drinks, a great patio, and some decent grub. This is owned by the same people who have La Descarga, they really like a theme!

From here I made a solo trip over to Power House, which is just off of Hollywood Boulevard and was quite a famous dive bar for about 70 years. It's been reimagined and is now super chill, elegant, and dimly lit, with gorgeous white tiles and antiques throughout the interior. I had a really well-made drink at the bar while waiting for Mary to come pick me up. We then proceeded to meet our growing group at The Walker Inn.

The Walker Inn is a "secret" bar inside of the Normandie Club. You must make reservations in advance, and you must buzz and wait to be let it. Once inside you'll find a seductively beautiful den-like bar along with incredibly creative and delicious drinks. It's dark and comfortable and I wanted to stay forever. Three rounds would have to suffice on this trip. 
(*11/16 edited to congratulate The Walker Inn on placing #37 in at the recent 50 Best Bar Awards; and their first time being nominated at that!*)

Lauren and I started our next day by sleeping in! That was quite a crawl the night before! Then we headed to lunch at Philippe's Original for French Dipped sandwiches. The sandwich was underwhelming to me but the atmosphere was fun; complete with old-school deli counter, sawdust on the floors, low wood stools at communal tables, and employees dressed in uniforms. These folks were taking their lunch break while we were there.

With it being such a gorgeous day out, we decided on a little walk around downtown. After we passed the historic Victor Clothing Co. building we came upon the Bradbury Building, which I knew nothing about but you might know from the movie Blade Runner. We were able to go inside and check out the intricate iron work in the foyer before continuing on to the Grand Central Market. LA's market has some fantastic food stalls along with some very interesting regional product stands. Not sure who is the "it" spot of the moment? Just look at the length of the lines! 

For me, no trip to LA is complete without a stop in at Bar Keeper, our friend Wes was working so we were able to pick his brain and buy some boozy new toys to bring home. Then it was back to the Airbnb to relax with some rosé and the sunset on our patio.

While originally planning our trip, Lauren and I discussed the fact that neither of us had ever been to the famous (infamous?) Bar Marmont. We remedied that by going for pre-dinner drinks. When a friend from Seattle happened to see we were in LA, he let us know that he was too and joined us. Love those types of randomness! 

The bar is quite beautiful with three separate areas; there's a small front bar, a large main bar with lots of seating at it, and an area with table and chair combos. Our drinks and service were both excellent, which we were happily surprised by. I'd go back! And I still need to get next door to the Chateau. 
We said goodbye to our friend Charlie and headed to Craft where we were meeting Mary, Chuck, Wes, and Aaron for dinner. The space is absolutely huge and has a real clean modern vibe to it. Chuck and Wes are friends with Chef Ray England who was in the house and cooking that night. Besides getting spoiled rotten by him and his team, the food itself was absolutely incredible! 
At this point you may be thinking that Lauren and I didn't do much besides eat and drink our way around LA. You'd be wrong, we ate and drank our way around LA in the company of very fun friends! We started the next day with brunch at the gorgeously decorated Faith and Flower, joined by Chuck and Dave. Their brunch is pretty well known as they serve an amazing large batch milk punch served to your table out of an antique fountain. I mean you can order just a glass but why not have the entire fountain? 
Our 3-hour brunch was filled with delicious food, lots of laughs, and of course flowing punch. The manager and the bartender got such a kick out of how much fun we were having that they each sent out something for us all; the bartender sent out a really good mini coffee cocktail and the manager sent out a fantastic assortment of cookies. They were having their own competition on which we would like more. The cocktail won but not by much!

After brunch I did feel the need to go for a walk so Lauren and I pulled up Atlas Obscura and decided to go in search of the old Warner Brothers Theater. We walked past some really interesting buildings on the way before finally reaching our destination in the Diamond District. A diamond exchange had moved into the theater but they hadn't changed anything. In fact as we entered we realized we were on the old stage complete with red curtain. I was stopped very quickly from taking more photos by the security, seems they get a little paranoid about pictures when there are cases and cases of diamonds around. 
We headed back to Echo Park using Uber Hop, which is a carpool type of ride share. We used this all weekend and never had anyone else share our ride and still got the crazy low rates. Between that and Lyft we easily got around all over town. 

We explored the cute little stretch of shops, including a really nice specialty food shop, on Echo Park Ave before returning to our house and patio for rosé in the shade.

Dinner that night was at the very popular and well reviewed Redbird. We started with cocktails in the bar and were joined by Chuck, Wes, Dave, and Lauren's cousin Gary. Well into round two, and past our reservation time, the hostess continued to tell us we'd be seated soon. This would be foreshadowing of how service would go the entire night. 

Our drinks were ok, not great. The vibe and the restaurant is very cool and unique; the building is an old rectory of a cathedral. When we were (finally) seated our table was in a beautiful open air courtyard.

The food was good, not earth shattering, but the service continued to be down right bad. And slow. Like really, really slow. Especially compared to our other meals that weekend, when the manager should have sent out a gratis dessert or something trivial to make up for it, they just shrugged off our complaints and sent us on our way, hours later.

Luckily our weekend of drinking and dining would not end on a sour note. In fact everything about our send-off brunch the next day at Terrine was over the top FUN! Awesome company? Chuck, Wes, Aaron, and Mary- check! Gorgeous space? Pretty outdoor courtyard and French bistrot style interior- check! Thirsty? Lovely brunch friendly cocktails- check! Hungry? OMG delicious American comfort food gets in bed with French comfort food and has a baby of French toast with caramel frosting, maple syrup and then a slice of foie gras! Add to that the fact that the kitchen sent this out to us as a gift because of our enthusiasm for brunch! CHECK!

Also adding to the fun factor was being able to watch a very posh private baby shower party being set up in the courtyard. It was quite mysterious as no one would/could tell us who it was for. This being LA we were on star alert. We finally saw some signage that it was Tori Spelling's kid's clothes line hosting, and then finally saw Natalie Zea make her very preganant entrance. 
We stopped into Heath Ceramics, which was not too far from the restaurant, and found some absolutely lovely items. One of the salespeople turned me on to the "imperfect" shelves where there are some serious discounts on pieces that have almost microscopic flaws. 

Then it was to the airport, LAX this time, and back to Seattle. A little fuller...

All photos are here. LA fun map is here