OMG Food!

Soup's on, folks! I'm Tina M. Courtney, aka PoetKitty -- a Los Angeles based food writer audacious enough to think I can critique all manner of eateries. It's a labor of love, and I'm honored to welcome you. Grab a fork and let's get this party started.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Memphis - Hot House, Tepid Treats

6541 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

The Event: Nuttin' spesh. Just dinner time with my Man.

Memphis took over the famed Janes House about two or so years ago. The house is the only residential gem left in movie-land, and it's a stunning Victorian. The restaurant crew wisely chose to restore the home, and it's seriously worth a trip just to spy the lush interior. There's a large outdoor patio, a cozy downstairs bar, and little alcoves of dinner rooms on the top level. The walls are smothered in crimson, textured fabric, and the whole place has a time-warp appeal. Classy, elegant, romantic. It's also very reminescent of the Victorians in New Orleans' Garden District. Seems like a fine place to have a fine cajun meal. Mmmm hmmm.

This was my fourth trip to Memphis. None of the meals have excited me, but I live in the area, and felt a strange inclination to give it one more try. I am such a damn glutton. The service, as usual, was courteous but spotty, and at times molasses-slow. All that Memphis really has going for it is the stellar ambiance. The rest is a world of ho-hum.


Two unremarkable martinis. Weak.


The highlight! Somewhat yummy cornbread and warm crusty traditional offerings.


Fried Calamari with a Spicy Marinara
- Cornbread crusted and well cooked, this had little spice and a very, *very* standard and somewhat runny sauce. Yawn yawn yawn.

Entree 1 (Mine): BBQ SALMON

Photo above

Seared Salmon with BBQ sauce, rice, and asparagus
- Well now, this wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. The salmon was cooked well and defintely tasted premium, but the rice was a world of no and the BBQ sauce as boring as a Rocky sequel. Blah. Too sweet, too flat. Even Tony Romas kicks this sauce's behind.

Entree 2 (Companion's): BBQ RIBS

BBQ Pork Ribs
- Served with bland cole slaw, this was also less impressive than a chain offering. Nothing about Memphis is full-on horrendous, but the price points don't warrant such woefully mediocre food. Neither does this glorious house.

Words to the food-wise - Hit Memphis as a cocktail haven, not an eatery. Soak up the vibes with a Vodka Red Bull and relish how smart you are not to waste moolah and calories on spiceless cajun creations.

Damage for 2 martinis, 1 appetizer, and 2 entrees: about $80.


Ambiance - A
Service - D+
Food (Taste) - D+
Food (Presentation) - C-
Wine/Drinks - C-
Value - D+
Vibe/Energy/Scene - B+

Overall Experience - C-

Parking: Valet on Hollywood, but $8 crazy dollars. Comb the streets first for meters.
Attire: Dressy casual
Pros: Unique and stunning ambiance/interior
Cons: Unimpressive food with too-high prices and slow serivce

Final word - I'm done now. Honest.

But wait there's more.
And sometimes it rhymes.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 18, 2007

La Botte, La Best

La Botte
620 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

The Event: I had an assignment, writing style -- it was time to ID th best Italian spots in LA, and La Botte was a contender. New, subdued, sans a lot of buzz; what would I uncover?

La Botte sits on the bottom floor of an unassuming office building on and in Santa Monica. Somewhat tough to spot, I was disheartened to see it almost empty on a Thursday night - right about 7-ish. Crickets chirping, hushed silence - yet they couldn't trump the interior. It's modeled after a wine barrel, and it's quite stunning. Lots of dark wood hues and burgundies, with the ever present wine bottles dotting every wall. We were granted a large, comfy table, and our delightful Sicilian server started the spoiling. Which, I should mention, he wouldn't cease, the whole eve. Charming doesn't even cut it - and that's a rarity in our fair LA, so I'm still smiling from it all.

The white truffle tasting menu was still being offered (this was way before the holidays) so, I figured, let's just Go. My companion was a first timer in the high-eating realm, and what better way to initiate. . .
A general note about the experience on the whole - it *was* extraordinary. I loved all the savory dishes immensely. But they menu itself wasn't crafted to match white truffles per say; instead, they simply added the gems on top of existing dishes (most straight from the ala carte menu). That's a bit of a peeve, but a minor complaint.
I must also note that the white truffles at Providence where slightly superior; again, however, this is a tiny infraction.
La Botte rocked this menu.


Impressive, yet overly priced wine list. We opted for a $90 Sicilian white with a black label - mild and crisp and perfect for not overpowering those luscious white mushies.


Yummy crusty offerings with a trio of olive oil selections, which I found truly classy.


Home cured duck breast, thinly sliced, drizzled with a mild gorgonzola dressing.
- THE most unique, outstanding meat-based carpaccio I have ever tasted. The duck was outlandishly succulent, zapped to life by that creamy gorgonzola goodness. The white truffles threw in a salty addition that balanced the dish way more than I expected - possibly my favorite of the eve.


Pan seared sweet breads served in a bed of soft polenta and marsala wine demiglace.
- Did I say the last dish was my fav? I blatantly lied. OMG, these Sweetbreads were just divine. Better even than those at L'Atelier in PARIS, for crying out loud - wow. Super crunchy on the outside, perfectly most and mouth-melting on the inside, and matched beautifully with the soft, grainy polenta. The truffles through this sucker over the top and slammed dunked them all the way down. Hot hot fire!


Homemade ravioli dumplings filled with cheese and topped with a fontina based cream sauce.
- These little honeys were not on the menu; this was the one dish made exclusively to match the the white truffles, and the chef shoot/scores/makes me all kinds of happy. Fontina is the perfect compliment for soft, billowing dumplings and the subtle, earthy taste of the truffles. The combination was a creamy dose of paradise. Quite rich, however, so I was grateful for the smaller portion.


Homemade beet tagliolini with homemade quail sausage in a bed of parmesan fondue.
- Beet pasta with quail sausage - instant bonus points for originality! This is a premiere item from La Botte's menu, and I *highly* recommend it; absolutely succulent, with unique flavor bursts and an incredible texture. My complaint here involved the truffles -- they just didn't add to the dish. The flavors were overpowered by the sausage spice; the funghi were an afterthought, and an expensive one at that. Otherwise, the dish is stellar.

Picture above

Beef filet mignon with truffle Barolo wine sauce.
- A really tasty and marvelously prepared filet, but the accompanying brocolli and potatoes were bland by comparison. The sauce was also vibrant and rich, but once again, it drowned the delicate truffles. Black fellas would have faired better, but even still, a Barolo is never shy. Not that we would want him to be, even with a mountain of truffles on top.

They had two desserts to offer, and we of course chose one of each.

Puff pastries stuffed with hazelnut Nutella, served with a white chocolate raspberry sauce.
- I knew just by glancing at the offerings that savory was their specialty. Since I was full to the hilt already, this was not a disappointment, even though this stale little numbers didn't delight in the least.

Chocolate mousse cake on a chocolate wafer crust with a raspberry coule.
- Slightly better than the creation above, but still far too sickly sweet and amateur.

Suggestion - indulge in a port or other sweet libation rather than overload on sugary nonesense. Yes, good call.

Damage for 2 White Truffle Tasting Menus and a $90 bottle of wine: just under $400.
Worth it? Yes and no. You won't pay nearly this much for the regular tasting menu, which will be very similar to what I described above, sans the truffles. And guess what? You won't miss them. La Botte's food doesn't need any extravagant extras - it is absolutely fantastic Italian fare.


Ambiance - B+
Service - A-
Food (Taste) - B
Food (Presentation) - B-
Wine/Drinks - B
Value - C+
Vibe/Energy/Scene - C

Overall Experience - B

Parking: Valet on side street
Attire: Business casual
Pros: Nice decor, great service, heaps of wine choices, really fantastic flavors and original to boot
Cons: Expensive wine options

Final word - I really love this place. I'll be back before you can say Tagliolini.

Come home with me.
Or have yourself a poem.