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Restaurants & Bars 9

I came. I ate. I write ...

Rick Hannon | May 15, 200608:54 PM

Made the trip from Upstate NY to LA for daughter's graduation from USC. The trip was long, the food fine, the end of tuition bills ... priceless. The food highlights:

Roy's had surprisingly good food, but the scene was too loud and frenetic. "Butterfish" (black cod w/ miso) was as good as I've had it (which sort of begins and ends w/ Nobu - not a bad measuring stick). Also liked some of the appetizers, especially a marinated, highly spiced tuna sashimi that came in a martini glass.

17th Street Cafe was very good for salads and burgers. The tortilla soup was at once mellow and spicy.

The Water Grill was outstanding. Several in the party who've made a number of visits to Baltimore had crab cakes and pronounced them as good as those from the Chesapeake (a high recommendation from Easterners). I went with sturgeon; maybe beets are not especially complimentary to any fish. Was very fresh, 'tho, as were the various raw oysters we sampled. The bread was reportedly from LaBrea Bakery; wherever it was from, it would be worth a visit to the source.

Mastro's Steakhouse was great, the eating highlight of the trip. The usual steakhouse experience and grub - dark room, leather, solid "manly" barware for cocktails, great beef (the large bone-in filet was great), good salads (liked the chop salad especially), traditional sides (creamed spinach, sweet potato fries, sauteed mushrooms), unnecesssary deserts, strong drinks, wonderful wine list. It was just all done ... so well!! For my money (and a fair amount of that was committed here), it beats Sparks in NYC, or The Palm or Ruth's Chris anywhere. On any given night, I suppose the food here could be a notch above or below those others, but the whole experience comes together so nicley!

We also grabbed a few breakfasts at the Farmer's Market: Kokomo, the French Crepe place, and a random donut stand. I might pass on another crepe, but a fun, bustling place, good for people-watching. (OK, tourist watching, but who am I to get all haughty over that?) Also, a maple donut never feels inside you as good as it smells while you are eating it.

A few regrets: Didn't get to Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. Didn't get to In & Out Burger. Didn't get to the afore mentiond La Brea Bakery. Did get to the breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn (mistakes were made ...).

All & all, 'tho, a very good trip.

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