Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Ivy Chopped Salad, Sans the Bullshit

Anyone who has ever had The Ivy Chopped Salad raves about it. Yet, the oft scuttlebutted about Ivy Chopped Salad, due to multiple factors, remained unattainable for plebeians like ourselves. 

Until now. Or maybe for a while. But I just discovered the solution, so... UNTIL. NOW.

What if I told you there was a way to sample The Ivy Chopped Salad without putting up with Shannon Doherty and Verne Troyer sighting Robertson Blvd hoopla? A way to indulge in one of LA's most celebrated salads without forking over an astronomical $27 at lunchtime? Without having to pay double figure valet fees? Without having to sit next to Swedish tourists, Kitson bags at their side, just giving the death stare to everyone that walks in?  

The answer to your hangry prayers is Dolce Isola

Certainly one of the most random restaurants in the whole Southland, 'Sweet Island' sits on a lonely South Robertson stretch in Beverlywood. It may be the same street sign, but this Robertson is a very, very distant cry from the flash-bulb popping, bustling Robertson to the north associated with The Ivy. It is, however, owned by The Ivy and serves as the bakery for both that restaurant and Ivy on the Shore. Like it's sister restaurants, there is very much a faux-faux Mediterranean getaway feel to the place. So much so, the television sitcom-like feel of the place almost makes it charming to a degree.

Aside from handsome breads, pastries, cakes and gelato, there's a sorta/kinda sit-down cafe component to Dolce Isola in which you can order somewhat overpriced appetizers, sandwiches, pizza and salads. Skip everything else on the menu though and order The Ivy Chopped Salad. Whether you enjoy chopped salads, you like salad at all, or you're even hungry, YOU MUST ORDER THIS SALAD to take advantage of this opportunity. Stick it to The Man.

Although not a steal persay at $13 and served on a less than stellar Smart & Final white plastic picnic plate, it's a truly iconic Los Angeles dish. At half normal price. And it's really tasty. One of the better chopped salads around (certainly up there with its arch nemesis from La Scala), TICS comes with a tangy mustardy dressing, along with an infinitesimal amount of toppings, including cubed fresh roasted free range turkey, tomatoes, avocados, hard-boiled egg, crumbled Maytag blue cheese and Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon. The kicker that separates it from the pack: nicely-sized fresh golden beets! They can't be beet because a) they taste good and b) golden beets make you feel like Scrooge McDuck as you eat them.

Overall, it's a really solid lunch. In a location that is very central for many people "meeting in the middle," as I was with my friend Andrew (he from WeHo, me from Culver), who recommended the place. The desserts appear solid as well and I might have to return soon to sample the dolce portion of the cafe. You know, for research. And, of course, to stick it to The Man.

2869 S. Robertson Blvd, Beverlywood'ish
Mon-Fri, 8 am - 4 pm; Sat, 8 am - 3 pm

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

$1 Off Any Peet's Coffee Drink

Sweet! For the next two weeks (August 12-26, 2014) you can knock a dollar off any Peet's coffee or tea drink you purchase after 12 pm. Simply print or bring up this coupon on your phone.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Food Police: Five Foodstuffs That Should Be Banned From LA Menus

I get it. I really do. Foodstuffs get popular and every restaurant under the sun feels the necessity to add the item to their menu. Some of the proliferation I don't even mind, like Fried Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Cauliflower or Banh Mi sandwiches. Many times though I find myself staring at popular restaurant menus and wondering why they all resemble "Grown-Ups 2." As in unoriginal, nauseating and making one want to punch a wall very, very hard. 

Can't we, as the Los Angeles dining populus, step up and make a citizens culinary arrest to ensure there's no "Grown-Ups 3?"

I think we can. And should. So I've come up with five of the most egregious offenders currently ON EVERY LA MENU. Of course there are others - Pork Belly! Expensive Juices (I mean, does anyone know what the heck "cold-pressing" is anyway?)! Deviled Eggs! Toast With Things On It! - but you've already heard people rant enough about them. I've tried to go an alternate route by suggesting the ban of foodstuffs that haven't received the flack they very so deserve. 

Salted Caramel
I'm pretty positive I know how Salted Caramel was invented. Imagine a baker, alone in his/her restaurant's dark, vacant kitchen in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe drinking a little Diet Coke to stay awake - with a splash of grandpa's cough syrup. Maybe by the time it comes to making the caramel brownies or whatever, the baker possibly is no longer completely present and maybe unknowingly drops double the requested salt into the recipe. The next day they serve the brownies, the customers love them and a TREND IS BORN. While that might not be a completely accurate depiction of its inception (pretty sure it's been around in Europe for days), ever since Mozza introduced their Salted Butterscotch Budino a few years ago, everybody is going Salted Caramel. Here's the rub though: Mozza's Butterscotch Budino is the Rachel McAdams of desserts. Perfect in every way. You want to know part of the reason? Myself and many others had never had anything like it! It was completely new and special; just like when McAdams did "The Notebook." Now Salted Caramel desserts are available at Arby's, often taste like a pastry with too much salt and are the Lindsay Lohan of desserts.

Cobb Salad Sans Second Protein
This is a trend I wasn't even aware of until I commenced my low-carb wedding diet. One of the most enjoyable low carbohydrate meals comes in the form of a Cobb Salad. The Cobb could pretty much be called the "The Sandwich of Salads" as it's rather gluttonous for a leaf-based entree. It's also super filling due to the various proteins. The typical Cobb has three such proteins: egg, bacon and chicken/turkey. However, recently LA restaurants have abhorrently began abstaining from including the poultry. They pretend like the bacon is the "main protein," yet ALL OF THESE RESTAURANTS OFFER CHICKEN OR TURKEY FOR AN ADDITIONAL COST. That right there is some bullshit and should not be tolerated.

Chicken and Waffles
I like good chicken and waffles. But so few restaurants do good chicken and waffles. In fact, many don't do either of the two very well. Even when a restaurant does an adequate enough job, this is quickly becoming one of the most frightfully overpriced items on any Southland menu. It's like the new "$8 Side of Marcona Almonds." We're talking about a drumstick and maybe a thigh. Sometimes, but only sometimes, a breast. And a waffle. That's it. For around $20. TWENTY. DOLLARS. No way that should cost more than $12-13, even at the nicest restaurant. I could care less if it's on the dinner menu. It's a breakfast/brunch item, served in a breakfast/brunch portion and should be priced as such.

Non-Fresh Cut Fries
Like the reasoning behind no NFL team in LA, this is a real head-scratcher. Why do almost none of the city's best burger joints make their own fries? Some would argue with fresh cut fries it's impossible to keep up with the demand on a busy night. If that were true, how does sausage joint Wurstkuche, amongst many others and many top burger joints in other cities do it? Furthermore, isn't it kinda b.s. to pay $15 for a burger and then not be served similarly housemade frites? Honestly, Umami and Stout, do you really think we don't notice how subpar your fries are? Like, we're somehow so caught up in the awesomeness of your burgers that it doesn't matter? And Plan Check, it's cool you cook your fries in beef fat and all, but it would be a whole lot cooler if they were fresh AND cooked in beef fat. When you go out for a fancy burger you want to go wild. You're willing to fork over whatever it costs for that burger, that microbrew draft and the fresh-cut fries you deserve.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ice cream sandwiches are on so many fine dining restaurant dessert menus right now it makes me want to puke. NO ICE CREAM SANDWICH IS WORTH $9. NONE. If the best ice cream sandwich in town (Manhattan Beach Creamery's "Cream'Wich"; pictured above) costs less than $5 (and is now available in select markets and 7-Eleven's), there's simply no justification for double the price. Ice cream sandies are also horrendous for sharing, which is often what you want to do come dessert time after a fancy meal. Ice cream sandwiches simply aren't shareable desserts! Get that in your noggin, reservation required restaurants! They aren't intended to be and shouldn't be. There's no "we" in "ice cream sandwich" and they aren't meant to be awkwardly split over candlelight in a crowded dining room as a compliment to a dessert wine. They're for backyard BBQs. And beach strolls. And food trucks. And late night UCLA runs. I honestly think the city's nicer restaurants know this, but are just taking advantage of us fools. Let's stop being foolish.