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A Toronto Chowhound's trip report of 5 meals in the LA area


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A Toronto Chowhound's trip report of 5 meals in the LA area

prima | May 13, 2013 10:24 AM

During my short stay in the LA area, I was dining with various friends and relatives at each meal,and most meals in LA were chosen by the people I was visiting. I dig my Chowgirl heels into the ground when I reach Northern California a few days later. :-)

After checking into our hotel, I went out in search of some flowers for a hostess gift. After having trouble locating the flower shop that had been recommended, I went tothe cookie/candy/tea section on the lower level of Neiman Marcus, where I picked up Japanese milk chocolate macadamia cookies, Swedish chocolates and a boxed tea selection for our hostess.

Here is where we ate:
dinner at Pastina Trattoria in Westwood, which is a neighbourhood trattoria chosen by someone who lives nearby. Fairly quiet space, so a pretty good place to dine with elderly relatives and/or people with hearing issues. They have a prix fixe with half a dozen options for starter, pasta, main and dessert. I ordered the shrimp and scallop fra diavolo the server recommended. It was decent enough, but I'd think the same fra diavolo could be found in most moderately priced red sauce Italian restaurants in North America. One person in our party ordered the lasagna, which was a massive portion. The restaurant is fairly dim, and the server raved about a bottle of merlot, which was an $89 bottle, which we ordered.I wasn't in the mood for wine that night, so I have no idea if the bottle was worth the $89, but I'm not sure the food was up to pairing with $89 wine, and I got the feeling the server was upselling the fra diavolo and merlot based on their prices, rather than based on their taste.

breakfast at Nate n Al's in Beverly Hills
Packed by 9 on a Friday morning. I liked this place. My friend and I shared 2 eggs with Nova, a blintz and a potato pancake. Good food and friendly service.

late lunch at Ulysses' Odyssey in the Grove
We met up with some friends and their baby for a late lunch in the Grove. Down-to-earth service, good Greek food. I was surprised that the food was better than much of what I find in Toronto's Greek restaurants. We ordered the kopanisti, melitzanasalata and taramasalata as part of a 3 dip sampler, then shared meat and rice dolmades, maroulosalata, grilled octopus. Some people at our table ordered the lamb burger and souvlaki. We had loukamades with ice cream for dessert. The loukamades were better than most I've had in North America. I don't think the ice cream adds to the loukamades, so I'd skip the ice cream next time.

light supper at California Pizza Kitchen in Santa Monica
Yep, you read that right. Since I was travelling with a couple friends, I wanted to let them choose at least a couple of the meals. I ended up ordering the CPK take on tortilla soup, which I liked, as well as their guacamole. I also had a bite of the chile relleno, which might not be anything special for California, but it was better than any chile rellenos I've found in Toronto.

Brunch at Fig
This restaurant worked out well for our group of 6, which included a 6 year-old and a couple seniors. There were options on the menu that worked with our vegetarian friends, as well as a couple people who were trying to dine gluten-free. I enjoyed the chilaquiles. Chilaquiles at the Fairmont seemed a little weird, but they were tasty. Others enjoyed the vegetable frittata with green sauce, and the omelettes. Nice bright space, fantastic fresh squeezed OJ. Metered street parking along Ocean Dr, if you don't want to go with the valet parking.

Thanks for all the recommendations from Chowhounds as I tried to prepare for the trip. Hopefully I'll have a chance to try some of the sushi recs on my next visit.

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