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LA Report day 3 - Campanile may be famous, but they have a lousy brunch

Vital Information | Sep 15, 200302:55 PM

Mysterious forces conjured up by Ms. VI kept me from downtown on our first two days. That was not to be on day 3. We needed not only to try the Grand Central Market, but purchase more luggage to take all our purchases home.

I really love the Grand Central Market, so pure even if the fish taco's at Maria's were not as good as the night before. The Chop Suey counter, has anything changed at this place since 1917? The liquor stand with choices geared for the neighborhood wino's, how Chicago's Mayor Daley would freak. I hope this market stays as is for many years. By the way, after passing about 30 pupusarias in the previous two days, we had to try one at the Salvadorian stand in the market. Excellent, but I missed the garlicky hot sauce found at the pupusa stand in Chicago's Maxwell St. market. Tampatio hot sauce just is not the same.

I also loved downtown LA. Sorry to persist with the LA to Chicago comparisons, but the old downtown in LA is so different. In Chicago, we never really "lost" downtown. In Chicago, there is no equivalent of an abandoned or rather abandoned commercial section (in the sense that the May Department store has been transformed into a swap shop type of set up). This is both good and bad, as compared to LA. While it is a shame that nearly all the buildings are empty beyond their first floors, it is a glory that they are all still there. The old LA Stock Exchange, the blue clad Eastern Universal Building and more, LA is an architectural gem. But then again, we went at least an hour or so without eating.

We considered Islamic Chinese, too heavy for Ms. VI, and sushi, too sushi for me at that time of day, before settling on our original plan, Campanile. We had figured the not so pricey brunch would be the chance to give this famous place a whirl. No. Granted, I was already rather pre-dispossed to not liking it as I found the menu not so exciting. The beef brisket hash was exactly the foo-foo food one could complain about in California. A wet mix of shredded beef, like underseasoned ropa vieja, studded with a precious few cubes of potato all set in a giant white (and wiped) bowl. Absolute disdain from our waiter, slightly made up by the hustling and productive bus boys did not help at all. The one disappointment mealwise the entire trip.

We started towards the beach but somehow ended up chugging along on Benedict Canyon Rd. to Mulholland Drive. Wow, talking about getting into the twilight zone by the time you hit the scenic overpass by the reservoir. We're in LA? On the way down, we waved at the Getty, next time, and the headed straight for Westwood.

Someday, perhaps over a 1,000 little plates at A. O. C., I can explain the circumstances that got us to Falafel King ten years ago, and why it is special to us. Regardless of sentimentality, it was pretty much as we remembered, down to the too many salads to choose and the array of condiments. I do not think the battered chips were there back then, but I am glad they added them.

We had our final donuts at Stan's, is he the father of the LA style? The buttermilk bar was slightly more refined than the corner stores, and the famous peanut bar donut was justly famous. Alas, we were running too late as we passed Randy's Donuts on the way to return the car. Next time, with Langers, Jay's Jayburger, Josie, and everything else we missed.

I cannot think of a better eating town than LA. One is constantly bombarded by interesting choices and places worth trying. How is that Harvey's Avocado and Bacon Burger? The wealth of choices in Koreatown, the Thai and Chinese we had no time for, and an outstanding donut shop on each corner. I look forward to returning soon.

Once again, thanks to all those who took the time to answer my queries. Whenever I did not heed your advice, blame my wife.


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