Oscar’s Cerveteca, Venice Beach

Oscar's Cerveteca, Venice Beach

Oscar's Cerveteca, Venice Beach

Inspired by the flavorful blend of the city of Los Angeles is Oscar’s Cerveteca, Venice Beach. This is a tasty staple in this popular, and growing California neighborhood. Casual and inviting, the menu boasts dishes with latin flavors and many of the recipes from owner Oscar Hermosilo’s mother. You can find anything from gourmet burgers, to fish tacos, to an “LA street dogg” on this menu, and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed by anything. The food here is gourmet, with a strong homestyle feel to it, making this restaurant perfect for any occasion.

The impressive and inventive menu at Oscar’s doesn’t stand alone however. An impressive selection of beers, wines, and cocktails are available ion this Venice Beach go-to. With over 100 beers to choose from, you’d think he’d stop there. However, the simple and well-curated wine list offers an even selection of whites, reds, and sparkling wines. The selection does vary across different wine regions, but offers a California produced Chardonnay among others, to keep the flavor of California in the entire Oscar’s Cerveteca, Venice Beach experience.

Oscar's Cerveteca, Venice Beach

Alinea, Chicago

Alinea, Chicago

Alinea, Chicago

With as many talented chefs, sommeliers, and restauranteurs as there are across the world, it’s impressive to see a restaurant that can maintain a spot on the list of world’s greatest restaurants, have head chefs that are leading voices in molecular gastronomy, garner its own Wikipedia page, and boast a three star Michelin rating in Chicago (an honor that is in fact only boasted by two restaurants). The restaurant that I am bragging so much about is in fact Grant Achatz’ Alinea, Chicago. Every bit as good on table as it is on paper, Alinea is a dining experience that truly defines and re-imagines the experience all together.

Alinea’s tagline is “Alinea is not a restaurant…at least, not in the conventional sense”. This allure of mystery and contradiction are definitely a draw for a restaurant that has been described as “emotional and provocative”. Achatz’ creative culinary coup is a deconstruction of classic flavors and preparations. Although recent seasonal menus have most of the drama happening in the kitchen, former menus have boasted plenty of table theater—or have you not heard of the edible helium balloon (made of dehydrated apple), or the edible kinetic sculptures suspended by wires, or dishes plated directly at your table. A staple dish is the “Hot Potato”, in which you are served a cold potato, pierced by a needle in a paraffin bowl with a bit of butter, and a slice of black truffle. When you pull the pin out, everything falls into a pool of warm, creamy soup. The avant-garde composition and presentation is what Achatz has built the Alinea legacy on, offering diners not just a meal full of flavor, but a private experience that is seductive and extravagantly sinful for all of your senses.

Like any fine dining establishment, a night spent here is not without a drink selection to compliment the chef’s vision and creations. Since the cuisine here is presented as a rotating (and unconventional) tasting menu, the sommeliers’ skills are to be tested, but the Alinea standard is always fulfilled with a wine list that appeals to wine enthusiasts and neophytes across the board. Though wine director Joe Catterson finds his strength with most Austrian, Mediterranean, and German wines, you can find yourself lost in a variety of popular wine countries including Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Australia’s Henschke Hill. A night at Alinea will last you about three hours. An experience that has been described as transcendent, you can expect nothing but the unexpected when stepping foot into this innovative, progressive, and remarkable Chicago hotspot.

Alinea, Chicago

Alinea, Chicago

Nobu, Los Angeles

Nobu, Los Angeles

Nobu-Photo-1

Just one of the 28 different locations spanning the globe is Nobu, Los Angeles. For years, Nobu has held the standard for chic, innovative dining, and this location certainly holds that standard to the highest. Separated into three separate dining rooms, and one bar/lounge, this L.A. hotspot creates a distinct feel for each room to enhance and create your Californian night out. For a laid-back evening that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetic or culinary appeal, you can find a spot in the Nobu bar/lounge and enjoy a hand-crafted, high quality cocktail, or a few bites from the tapas menu that is available.

The different menus at Nobu have been curated and crafted by co-founder and celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who’s stylish japanese fusion food has influenced generations of young chefs across the country. Matsuhisa has ensured that his restaurants carry his signature dishes as well as a number of specials, unique to each Nobu location. In this Los Angeles location, one can choose a specialty dish such as: Wagyu Tacos, Seabass Jalapeño Miso, or Kanpachi Sashimi with Baby Artichoke and Yuzu Dressing. Each Nobu dish takes a traditional, and somewhat simple way of preparing ingredients and shapes it into something unique and flavorful.

And like any true dining experience, your evening at Nobu won’t be just about the food. Each restaurant also has a distinct and well curated wine and sake selection. All of the drinks offered are complimentary to the variation of Nobu flavors. The Nobu dining experience is one not to be missed. From the California wines to the California culinary fusion, Nobu brings a taste of Japanese culture to a Los Angeles palette.

Nobu-Photo-2

Nobu-Photo-3

Black Hogg, Los Angeles

Black Hogg, Los Angeles

Black Hogg, Los Angeles

Nestled in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake community is a small yet bold American gastropub with a unique and flavorful menu that has put it’s stamp on the Silver Lake scene. After opening in 2012, Black Hogg, Los Angeles quickly established itself as a tasty go-to and a neighborhood staple. With head chef Eric Park at the helm, this California kitchen produces what has been called “rustic-urban cooking” and maintains a very “meat-centric” menu. Park, an alumnus of the French Culinary Institute in New York is no stranger to the kitchen, having worked in some of New York’s top restaurants including Spotted Pig and Eleven Madison Park.

Park’s menu offers staples like a buttery lamb burger, or a roast marrow bone with cilantro radish salad and corn tortillas. You can pair your meal with either a wine or beer from their small but well curated selection which offers locally produced wines from Sonoma, St. Lucia, and Napa Valley.

Black Hogg is a contemporary treat brought to life by Eric Park’s inventive menu and big, bold flavors in a tiny space. Black Hogg continues with the daring profiles that have made it a comforting mainstay for the culinary adventurous Los Angeles diner, as well as a trusted neighborhood cornerstone. Black Hogg is an ideal spot for any wine lover, foodie, or L.A. locals looking for a dynamic new spot to dine.

Black Hogg, Los Angeles

Mooo…, Boston

Mooo..., Boston

Mooo..., Boston

Nestled in Beacon Hill is Mooo…,Boston a contemporary steakhouse located adjacent to the XV Beacon Hotel. Mooo is the brainchild of chef/owner Jamie Mammano who creates an atmosphere that is elegant and class, with a modern appeal. The decor is modern and inviting, creating a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. Despite it’s old time charm of a traditional steakhouse, Mooo tends to draw a variety of diners from all over Boston. Mammano’s menus highlight dishes that are classic to a steakhouse, yet appealing to a newer crowd. Dishes like Beef Wellington are served with Foie Gras and Spinach Duxelle, sides of mushroom risotto or B&B mushrooms are enough to share, and to compliment any meal. In fact, all of the Mooo dishes are generously portioned.

Also available at Mooo is an incredibly extensive wine list with over 325 labels. The selections range from the great Crus of Burgundy and Bordeaux to rarities from the Rhône Valley; from the iconic wines of Piedmont and Tuscany to a deep roster of touchstone Napa Valley producers. Their wine selection often rotates but is curated to carefully pair with any dish on the menu(s) to elevate any dining experience.

Mooo..., Boston

Mooo..., Boston

Harry’s Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City

Harry's Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City

Harry's Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City

Atlantic City is known for is eclectic variety of restaurants, nightclubs, and tourist hot spots. The seaside city in New Jersey is also known for another thing: fresh seafood. Opened in 2011 on the site of the historic Dennis Hotel is Harry’s Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City. This is a microbrewery that promised to make waves in Atlantic City. An affiliate of Dock’s Oyster House, this microbrewery was created and established by Harry (Dock) Dougherty’s great-grandson and his wife who were both seeking to reinvent the Oyster bar that Dougherty began in 1897. The restaurant showcases high quality, fresh seafood at reasonable prices, as well as some modern touches for all those who may stop into Harry’s.

Harry’s menu offers a dozen daily oyster selections both from the Pacific and the Atlantic, as well as multi-tiered shellfish displays of clams, lobster, and crab. This fusion restaurant combines sports, fresh seafood, and an approachable yet well curated selection of drafts, bottled beers, craft cocktails, and wine. The wine selection at Harry’s is a modest one but certainly not disappointing. With classic selections from Coastal California to the Pacific Northwest, you can’t go wrong with a glass of your favorite wine.

Harry’s Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City is a fun, fresh way to spend an afternoon or an evening on the boardwalk. With a casual setting and an outstanding menu, Harry’s is a definite go-to.

Harry's Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City

Harry's Oyster and Seafood, Atlantic City

Patois, New Orleans

Patois, New Orleans

Patois, New Orleans

The building that houses executive chef Aaron Burgau’s Patois isn’t where you’d expect to find the latest Uptown hot spot in New Orleans. The space previously housed a smokey barroom that was frequented by LSU and Tulane sports fans, and known for not much more than their neighborhood appeal and po’ boys. After its first renovation is became an Italian restaurant but after its second renovation, it became one of the most exciting restaurants in the area.Patois is intimate and artful with a rustic feel that can only be found in the rich history of Louisiana. A part of that rustic charm can be found in Burgau’s plates, that often build upon traditional Louisianan culinary themes.

To start you can order a small plate of the Bayou Pigeon Frog Legs with Vietnamese caramel, cherry tomatoes, shaved fennel, and red onion before moving onto the Gulf Fish Almondine, or the ever intriguing Mississippi Rabbit. The dishes, rich with fresh seafood and other staple ingredients, offer traditional southern indulgence with an elegance you could only find in the city.Richer dishes like the rabbit stuffed with boudin allow for more indulgence with a glass of red wine, perhaps from the Russian River Valley, or other Coastal Californian selections. The wine list at Patois is diverse enough for all varieties of drinkers (and grapes), enough so that it almost seems necessary to compliment your Patois dish with a glass.

Patois is a must for any New Orleans diner. Aaron Burgau has been labeled as the “Seafood King of Louisiana”, but his menu goes far beyond that. This NOLA dining experience leaves you not only with the flavor of Louisiana but with the pulsing energy that only the city of New Orleans can provide.

Patois, New Orleans

Salt’s Cure, Los Angeles

Salt's Cure, Los Angeles

Salt's Cure, Los Angeles

Salt’s Cure, Los Angeles may not have the flair of other trendy LA restaurants, but the food speaks for itself. Tucked into the West Hollywood scene is a deceptively modest restaurant with a bare aesthetic and a seemingly humble menu scrawled on a blackboard: Raw beef. Blackened albacore. Goat chops. Straight to the point, yes. The food however, is far from basic. Cleverly so, large portions and “hunks” of everything meat is the specialty at Salty’s Cure. Chefs Chris Phelps and Zak Walters may lure you in with the promise of a carnivore’s dream but they have something much more distinct.
Straight-ahead flavors and simple presentation.

Every meal at Salt’s Cure includes ingredients grown and raised in California, all of which are carefully butchered and crafted in house. Despite the simple aesthetic, every detail is carefully placed from the food to the drinks. The award-winning wine list is carefully crafted to make for excellent wine-and-food pairings. And of course, all of the wine is from California and produced either organically and/or biodynamically by small producers.

Salt’s Cure manages to find complexity in simplicity while opting to showcase flavor through straightforward preparation. The open kitchen and laid-back concept makes the restaurant friendly and engaging. Charming and relaxed. There is a dedication to offering honest food that supports the local community, and the principle that “if it’s not within six hours of the restaurant, it’s not on the plate”. This restaurant is one not overlooked on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Salt's Cure, Los Angeles

Salt's Cure, Los Angeles

LOLA’s Road Trip Down South

William Faulkner Statue, Oxford Alabama

Arnaud's New Orleans

As much as we love this time of year in Calistoga, we felt that it was time to travel South and show our friends and partners of LOLA a little love. So, Jason and I packed our bags and headed to some of our favorite southern cities for a taste of local flavors and our favorite LOLA pairings.

For LOLA’s road trip down South, our first stop was Nashville. Known for it’s bold flavors, rich history, and legendary music, we decided to jump right in with dinners and private tastings at Kayne Prime and The Southern. Kayne Prime takes the idea of a classic upscale steakhouse and blends it with the ideas and aesthetics of a “chef-chic” contemporary boutique restaurant. Ranked in the top ten steakhouses in the U.S., Chris Hyndman’s passion project offers a variety of carefully picked wines, and dishes that include perfectly aged steaks and fresh lobster.
The Southern also serves up a not-to-miss steak, but gives Nashville a variety of different flavors as well. Every entree at The Southern tells a story and is prepared with local produce, sustainable seafood, and a variety of exotic ingredients. Chef Matt Farley has something special here in Nashville with his shuck-to-order oyster bar and diverse flavors. This is one of our favorite spots to settle down for a glass of well chosen wine and a unique plate that provides a “Southern experience with a twist”.

After filling up on Nashville’s finest cuisine and wines, we moved onto New Orleans. This Louisiana city is drenched in the shadows of mystery, magic, and a culture of food and drink as rich as its history. This city is no stranger to a strong culinary culture and vibrant nightlife, but for Jason and I, we had an experience unlike any other. We first stopped into Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar for some fresh Louisiana seafood and drinks. Fresh-shucked oysters and creole staples make this restaurant a classic and casual go-to for any NOLA trip.
But, the most moving part of our entire trip was at Bacchanal, founded by Chris Rudge. One of LOLA’s original supporters, Chris was a longtime friend from a Florida town that neighbors my own hometown. Chris has supported LOLA since it’s beginnings, and we were looking forward to seeing him in his New Orleans based restaurant and wine laboratory in the Ninth Ward. Unfortunately, our friend passed away before we had the opportunity to see him, leaving us saddened before our stay. We took this opportunity in NOLA to remember Chris, and to honor his memory at the beautiful, inventive restaurant that he created. There was art, music, and of course wine. Everything our LOLA friend would have loved. Though our time at Bacchanal was bittersweet, it was the best part of our trip celebrating the life of a visionary such as Chris. He is gone but never forgotten in the LOLA family.

After our time in New Orleans, we moved onto Alabama where we spent time in both Birmingham and Oxford. In Birmingham, we had the pleasure of meeting legendary chef Frank Stitt. Both Frank and his wife Pardis, showed us nothing short of supreme southern hospitality.The staff at their Italian-inspired southern restaurant, Bottega, presented us with a phenomenal menu and fantastic service, along with a LOLA tasting. Our evening with the Stitts was incredible, and we had one of the best meals of this year. We also took the opportunity to stop into Stitt’s other restaurant Highlands Grill. Since our time in Birmingham, Highlands Grill has been nominated for Best Restaurant under the James Beard Foundation. Congratulations are in order for our friends Frank and Pardis, and everyone at Highlands Grill for their well deserved nomination!

After Birmingham, we ended our trip in Oxford. Oxford was an exciting conclusion to our journey. William Faulkner is laid to rest here, and seeing as he is my favorite author, I had to stop by his statue in the town’s center as well as his grave. Also during our time here, John Currence and chef Sean Brock (of Husk fame, and one of the nation’s top chefs) were both participating in a “chef throwdown” with Mexican street food at the Lamar Lounge. John’s restaurants City Grocery and Snackbar both serve Anna Maria’s bottarga and will soon be pouring LOLA, so we went out to show our support.

Our trip was filled with so much food and wine—but even better than that—it was filled with amazing friends of LOLA. We are lucky to have been surrounded by such wonderful friends (and those we consider to be family) during this time, and we look back to returning to these southern cities.

Bacchanal New Orleans Live Music

Southern Art

Oxford Alabama, Faulkner's Tomb

Seth-South-trip-Statue

Seth-South-Trip-Food


Snackbar Oxford Alabama

Oxford's Big Bad Minero Pop-Up

Gjelina, Venice Beach

Gjelina, Venice Beach

Gjelina

Leading the pack in innovative cuisine and ingredients is Travis Lett’s Gjelina, nestled in California’s Venice Beach. Like other popular Venice Beach eateries, Lett’s restaurant boasts a trendy, casual yet exclusive vibe. Gjelina, Venice Beach is a hip, no mods, no frills kind of restaurant with impressive culinary results. The menu, at first glance is seemingly simple with signature pizzas being it’s main attraction. However, Lett is in fact known for his impressive thin crust pizzas, even offering one topped with smoked mozzarella, confit tomato, jalapeño, arugula, lemon, and bottarga (a thinly shaved caviar fresh from the Florida Gulf). Ingredients like bottarga, and other fresh, unique flavors are used frequently in Lett’s kitchen. He even has a cold appetizer that consists of coal smoked leeks, burrata, vinaigrette, shaved chives and bottarga that is as enjoyable as it is unique in flavor.

Like all smart restauranteurs, Lett doesn’t forget the most important part of any enjoyable meal, the wine. The Gjelina wine list is a well balanced addition to the menu and the restaurant. Casual yet refined, unique, and cool cuisine is served at Gjelina, and we love the results. And we can’t forget Gjelina sister cafe and bakery Gjusta with their fresh baked breads, pickled items, and extended hours. The Gjelina empire is taking over in Venice Beach and we can’t wait to check out what’s next for Lett and his creative culinary works.

Good Eats with LOLA at Maison Premiere

Good Eats with LOLA at Maison Premiere in Brooklyn NY

6.21.2014

We recently went to Maison Premiere for brunch; not to our surprise, it was amazing!

The location Williamsburg Brooklyn

The decor: Inspired by hotel lobbies

The story: Maison Premiere is an Oyster House and Cocktail Den reflective of the staple establishments of New York, Paris and New Orleans.

The food and drinks: Don’t skip on the seafood, Rose and absinthe drinks! Maison Premiere is a laid back and cool spot in Brooklyn where seafood lovers can enjoy fresh oysters, cocktail shrimps, clams, and a variety of other delights from the sea (SEA URCHIN!) with a nice selection of wines and signature cocktails. Whether you are an expert or a novice, you’ll enjoy trying the wide selection of oysters offered at Maison Premiere.

Rose and oyster cocktail shrimp bloody mary

<Poached eggs with boiled oysters, whelks, leeks and potatoes>

Boiled oysters, whelks, leeks, potatoes and poached eggs at Maison Premiere

<Razor clam with mint>

Razerclam with mint at Maison Premiere

<Oysters and Shrimp Cocktail Galore>

Oysters, cocktail shrimp, cockles at Maison Premiere

LOLA’s Tasting Event in Nashville, TN

4.24.2014

– LOLA Wine Maker and founder Seth Cripe poured @JJ’s Wine Bar and Patrick’s Bistreaux in Nashville, TN –

It was so great to meet so many wine lovers and LOLA lovers at the event. Big thanks to JJ’s Wine Bar and Patrick’s Bistreaux for hosting us in Nashville. We love Nashville and can’t wait to go back!

LOLA at JJ's Wine Bar Wine Tasting Event

LOLA Wine Tasting Event at Patrick's Bistreaux