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I came, I saw, I ate.

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Citrus at Social (CLOSED)

 6525 W Sunset Blvd
Hollywood, CA
 

Beautiful package, unimpressive food

I ate at Citrus at Social during the DineLA promotion. The first thing I noticed was that the dining room was gorgeously designed in yellows, pale greens, and with shabby-chic flair – a design I wouldn’t mind imitating in my own bedroom, it was so light, airy and pleasant.

Another thing I noticed: The dining room was absolutely vast – and it was virtually empty, on a Thursday night.

There were rumors that the restaurant had been doing so poorly, due in part to the inflated prices, that it could only afford to be open three days a week (Thursday- Saturday). When our group had a tour of the kitchen later that night, we confirmed with the sous chef that the restaurant was at a precarious point financially due to the low patronage.

You’d think that the lower DineLA promotional prices would have motivated a rush of business, so it was eerie to still see the restaurant so empty, even when the prices were low. A companion whispered to me that the “trendy” prices, coupled with relatively average fare, had prompted most LA foodies to direct their interest elsewhere, including to better restaurants also offering a promotional menu.

At any rate, you wonder: How’s the food? Not bad. The Beet and Tuna Salad with Pickled Daikon was presented nicely, in a hockey-puck-like assemblage. The cooked beets and raw tuna were cut into identical-looking chunks, creating a playful effect, as you couldn’t tell whether you were about to bite into a beet, or a piece of tuna.

The “72 Hour Short Rib” was – per the current trend – tiny pieces of meat, displayed artfully on a white plate that was a good 6x the size of the food portion. Accompanying the fatty spareribs was a yummy tatertot-like potato log (“Potato Napoleon”), which I initially thought was breaded in panko crumbs, but it turns out (I think? I can’t remember…..) was actually rolled in finely-shredded filo.

The desert, a “Mushroom Vacherin – Chocolate Ice Cream, Pistachio Anglaise, Crispy Chocolate Pearls,” was the most memorable thing I had that night. It was a frozen confection, sitting in a puddle of pistachio, that clearly invoked something whimsical out of Edwards Scissorhands or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The dessert was so creatively presented, it was easy to overlook the fact that its flavors were pretty pedestrian.

All in all, would I go back? Despite the pretty ambiance, relatively creative food, and friendly kitchen staff who kindly showed us around, the normal menu prices would pretty much scare me away. In these economic times, it’s all about value for your money, and that’s not really what Citrus’ everyday menu offers.

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Melisse

 1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
 

Amazing!

Some of the best food I’ve ever had, I had at Melisse.

But man, what a weird location. Right on Wilshire, which if you’re not aware, isn’t one of the most relaxing places you can have a soothing, high-falutin’ French meal.

But man, the soup! And the bread! And the cote de boeuf! The service can be indifferent, but with the food as good as it is, it’s totally worth it! Yum.

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Le Pain Quotidien

 316 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
 

Delicious breakfast food, cramped setting

Okay, so this one has a totally different feel from its snooty (but alas, much roomier) Bev Hills cousin.

This one feels like the Bev Hills’ version’s dorky, eclectic little cousin, who has a bit of a self esteem problem.

This PQ has a gigantic communal table that essentially takes up the entire restaurant. On the day that we were there, I think there may have been some sort of party or event, since the whole table was occupied, and everyone seemed to know each other.

The ham and gruyere omelette? One of the best I’ve had. I’m sure they cooked it in butter, which – FYI – makes all the difference.

My friend and I had so much fun smearing apricot and berry preserves on our bread, as well as white chocolate and hazelnut. Much better than the average jelly – the fruit jam was tart and tangy, the hazelnut and chocolate more complex than sweet. YUM!

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Denny's

 11750 Jefferson Blvd
Culver City, CA
 

Overpriced, under delicious

I’ve never much liked Denny’s. They used to be known for such amazing deals, but then started charging $9.99 for a plate of eggs.

If I had a choice between Norm’s across the street, and Denny’s, I’d choose Norm’s in a heartbeat. Why? Because you’re getting crappy diner food at both, but at Norm’s at least you’re getting value.

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Vanilla Bake Shop

 512 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
 

In a word: YUM

I don’t care what you say about Sprinkles Cupcakes, it doesn’t hold a candle to Vanilla Bake Shop.

My personal favorite: The chocolate cupcake with mocha frosting. Avoid the “birthday cupcake,” which is a boring vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.

The blackberry cupcake, with puplish berry-flavored frosting, is to die for.

The best part: They will sell you three mini cupcakes for only about five bucks, which means you can try three flavors if you’re sharing with a friend, rather than having to scarf down an entire cupcake for the same price.

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World Cafe

 2820 Main St
Santa Monica, CA
 

Sophisticated and casual

It’s weird. World Cafe is such an awesome brunch location, as well as lunch.

Why, then, does this place not open until 11 am on weekends? I mean, seriously?

I just don’t get it. I know LA isn’t that much of a breakfast town, but for a place that actually serves brunch not to open until 11 am means that it will turn the hungry breakfast crowd away. Is that the goal?

I remember the food being nice, while not anything special. It’s more the lovely outdoor courtyard that makes it worth it.

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Chinois on Main

 2709 Main St
Santa Monica, CA
 

80's throwback

This place has an aging, once-hip clientele who still clings to the outmoded notion that Chinois on Main is a cool, trendy, see and be seen kind of restaurant.

Not anymore. It’s now a place where wannabes from the Midwest go when they want to feel like they’re just a step away from the glamour of Hollywood (they might as well go to the Wolfgang Puck Express on the Promenade, for that matter).

But the food is good, and the people watching is fun, so what’s there to complain about?

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Norm's

 1601 Lincoln Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
 

Only two stars? Shocking.

Okay, it seems kind of ridiculous to even bother rating a Norm’s. After all, this is a cheap diner chain we’re talking about here.

But Norm’s at least deserves two stars, not for its quality (lacking) or atmosphere (also lacking), but because you get a filling, reasonably-portioned meal for not much cash. Sometimes their signs advertising $5.99 dinners almost tempt me, but then I think about how lonely it would be to sit in a Norm’s eating dinner by myself, just to save money. No thanks!

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Izzy's Deli

 1433 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
 

Adequate. Open late. There you have it.

Izzy’s is awesome, in that the food is relatively inexpensive, you can stay as long as you want, and they’re open 24 hours.

When my party ordered a lot of soup, the waiter brought a huge plate of delicious rye bread – nummy! The matzo ball soup was average. So was the corned beef sandwich.

Anyway, if you’re stumbling from a night of drinking at The Parlour and need a place to eat to absorb the alcohol, Izzy’s is the place!

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Brent's Deli

 19565 Parthenia St
Northridge, CA
 

Best pickles / corned beef/ matzo ball soup ever

This place looks like the biggest schlocky diner from the outside, in a strip mall that looks like it took a time machine from the 80s.

Considering the exterior, it’s amazing that the building houses Brent’s, a Jewish deli that’s been around for ages. Even on a Sunday at 3 pm, the place is packed. Good luck even parking.

Like most delis, you get free pickles – both sour and semi-sour, the best kind! And damn, that matzo ball soup is delish. Probably the biggest matzo ball in soup I’ve ever seen.

Showing entries 1 - 10 of 37
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