A bastion of upscale cuisine for decades, The Dining Room at the elegant Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena has been playing to packed houses since the arrival of Top Chef Contender Michael Voltaggio whose full-page menu of tasting size portions is a gastronomical success. (Michael’s tender short ribs virtually melt in your mouth). For good measure, an over-due face-lift of the Dining Room’s somewhat stodgy décor is scheduled in the New Year. The hotel is land-marked at 1401 So. Oak Knoll Avenue. Expect something special with superior service and presentation but carry your Platinum card.
My friend Mako’s family has thrived on Asian noodles for generations so he’s bemused by the current move of state health inspectors to force California noodle makers to refrigerate their traditional products. Many have protested the change. “Chilling will cause the soft noodles, which has been part of our culture for centuries, to become hard and brittle” insists my friend who drives to Little Tokyo downtown especially to stock up on the popular staple. Mako maintains it’s the law rather than the tradition that needs changing. Hey, that might be using the old noodle. State Senator Leland Yee (Democrat from San Francisco) and others, including TV celebrity chef Martin Yan, are leading a movement to do just that. Meanwhile “ethnic foods are not treated any differently from other foods” declares Ralph Montano of the California Department of Public Health. Man your battle stations and draw your noodles!
Whether you prefer fresh fish, grilled or broiled, you’ll get Hook’d on Fish at the Encino Town Center (17200 Ventura Blvd.) in Encino. The Palate was clued to this neat notion of budget-wise quick (but not ’fast’) food by Palate readers Hartly and Pat who paddle over for sensibly-priced ample portions of halibut, swordfish, salmon trout, catfish, calamari, shrimp and sea scallops from the fryer where they’re cooked with 0 trans fats or from the charbroil. All main dishes are served with a choice of tasty sides of rice, salad, home-style cole slaw or fries.
New England (white) clam chowder is made fresh daily and there’s broiled chicken breast for those who resist anything with shells or fins. Dinner for two typically costs around $25 and kids can get hooked on fish nuggets, chicken fingers or popcorn shrimp with fries and a soft drink for $4.95. The neat as that proverbial pin franchise operation serves til 9pm weeknights and 10pm weekends.
Who, What & Where…
Gourmet, the nation’s oldest food magazine with a circulation just short of a million subscribers, is being discontinued in an economy-based move by Conde Nast. L.A.’s Original Farmers Market is still busy celebrating its 75th year on the setting of the old Gilmore Stadium at Third and Fairfax where at least 3 million visitors arrive annually to shop and sup at the likes of the Gumbo Pot, Pampas Grill Brazilian Barbecue, Singapore’s Banana Leaf Indonesian and Indian cuisine or Dupar’s old-school coffee shop serving breakfast anytime (the hotcakes are big and special here), legendary chicken pot pie and tempting key lime pie. Patina at Disney Hall brings youthful New York Star Chef Tony Esnault to the helm this month. He reportedly plans to overhaul the hall’s menu with a stronger French accent. Add the fourth Katsuya sushi palace designed by Philippi Stark to the restaurant scene at the new L.A. Live complex downtown at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. The old Max space at 13355 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks has been re-launched as Chef Gary Menes’ Marche.
Top Line Wine and Spirits, 4718 San Fernando Road, in Glendale has prospered for over two decades in its unlikely industrial setting. It may not be much to look at but the unique space is a virtual treasure trove of rare and familiar vintages and prestige booze bottles at bargain prices. Check out the loads of Champagne choices in the French Room. Betcha’ a silver dollar you won’t leave empty-handed.