Meet me at Mel’s

Mel’s Diner is considered a huge staple here in Los Angeles so it was only right that I made a visit to indulge in some of the diner’s favorite go to entrees.  The décor gives you an Old Hollywood vibe while staying consistent with the ambiance of a true diner.  Busy waiters going through the aisles, a semi open kitchen to see the food being made fresh to order and the infamous jukebox in the corner awaiting a customer to drop in a quarter and select an old tune to take you back to a nostalgic time.

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I decided to try the French toast and my husband went with the old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.  You cannot go wrong with either choice.  Both entrees were great and just what we had wanted in terms of getting that real breakfast fix.  So far, I’ve seen 2 Mel’s locations; one a block from Hollywood and another in the Sherman Oaks area but I believe there’s a total of 4. The next time you visit California, I would be sure to make a stop here.  It’s open 24 hours and has a welcoming menu of pretty much any craving you may have.  Take a look at some of the snapshots I was able to get from Mel’s.

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Frankland’s Crab & Co

Coming from the east coast, moreso NYC, it’s always good to find a place with a tasty lobster roll.  I remember in the summer mostly always wanting to find the perfect roll.  Well here in California, I stumbled upon Frankland’s Crab & Co.  Particularly during DineLA week in which they offered a nice lunch combo that included a drink and an ice cream sandwich; double win 🙂

img_0947So here we have it.  A nice, toasted brioche roll with succulent lobster meat tossed in a melted butter.  This sandwich literally melted in my mouth.  I mean pure perfection.  I was worried about the sandwich not being dressed since I was used to a mayo base but they’ve nailed it over at Frankland’s.  The homemade ice cream sandwich was also a hit.  Way to top off a cute lunch.  As I continue to let you in on my LA food adventures, please mark this one down as a place to try.  I will be coming back for sure!

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The Dog Haus

img_0952I am a true lover of a good dog; hot dog that is.  It’s my go to at the summer BBQ and any sporting event that sells them.  So when I saw Dog Haus and they’re specialty hot dogs, I knew I had to give them a try.  Not to mention their all beef dogs are served on King’s Hawaiian rolls.  This alone should be enough to make you want to try these.  Everyone loves that bread!

img_0955There are a number of variations to try and I went with the Old Town Haus dog.  This one has a smoked bacon wrapped dog with caramelized onions, chipotle aioli, pickled jalapenos and cotija cheese.  Take about a specialty!  The smoky flavor of the dog mixed with the little extra heat from the jalapenos and sweet yet spicy chipotle sauce was a great combo.  I was also able to try one of their burgers.  I cannot recall which one exactly by name but it did have a fried egg on it which always works for me.  Not forgetting the cheese fries that accompanied this hot dog and burger.  Great choice for lunch or dinner and should definitely be adding on your restaurant to do list.

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Harold’s Meat + Three

imageThere’s a new kid on the block in Lower Manhattan and he isn’t playing fair.  Chef Harold Moore has opened a restaurant called Harold’s Meat + Three and when you dine here, you get just that.  All entrees come with your selection of a meat and then you pick three sides to compliment your selection. Pretty awesome concept!  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Harold, before we ordered.  Such a humble guy and very appreciative to hear his restaurant was recommended through great reviews and word of mouth.  To ease our decision making for side dishes, he even let my friend and I add a additional side on the house.  I literally wanted to try mostly all of the side dishes so it helped to add one more to my entree.

While we waited for our dinner, the waiter brought cheddar baked biscuits with a soft butter.  Okay these cn be trouble guys!  Try to only eat one of you can.  As my entree, I had the veal meatballs, recommended by Harold himself.  For the sides, I went with the cucumber salad, Japanese sweet potatoes, grilled broccolini and mac and cheese.  Okay the flavors in the meatballs are undeniably delicious.  I cannot even describe just how great they were and how many happy dances I did at the table.  To balance the sides, I normally try to order at least one cold served dish.  I was glad I tried the cucumber salad which was simply cucumbers tossed in a citrus vinaigrette.  So refreshing!  I also had never tried or even heard of Japanese sweet potatoes.  They weren’t too sweet but had a nice flavor.  The broccolini had a nice grilled flavor and seasoned to perfection.  The mac and cheese literally had just the right amount of cheese and creamy texture that I look for in a good mac.

I love hearing about new places to try and I love even more when I try a place and have nothing but great things to say so I can recommend it myself.  Chef Moore has nailed it with his restaurant and I will definitely be back.  If you’re looking for a nice vibe and good eats, please give them a try.  More pics from my dinner below.

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Kristalbelli

imageWhen restaurant week is upon us, it’a only right to take part in at least one of the restaurants offering a nice lunch or 3-course dinner for $29 or $42, respectively.  I decided to try Kristalbelli.  Perfect for yet another catch up dinner.  Kristalbelli is located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and serves very authentic Korean dishes. I love the prix fixe menu because you do normally get some pretty good options for a 3-course meal.

My friend and I decided to order different things for the appetizer, entree and dessert so we could essentially try various things.  For the appetizers, we went with the crispy salmon and japchae.  The crispy salmon was the favorite for the table which is salmon sashimi with crispy sushi rice.  The japchae consisted of stir fried glass noodles with beef and seasonal vegetables.  For the entree, I decided to try the wagyu marinated short ribs, a recommendation and highly praised dish from the waiter.  To actually experience the grilling at the table, my friend went with the black tiger shrimp.  You cannot come to this Korean spot and not have an entree cooked right before your eyes on the crystal Buddha belly.  The entrees were complimented with a handful of sides including a fresh salad, Korean potato salad and a boiled egg to name a few.  My favorite was the salad because it was so refreshing and added a nice touch to my short ribs.  I was highly impressed with the short ribs.  Talk about amazing!  That was definitely a great recommendation.

For the dessert, we had the popcorn ice cream and apple rose.  OMG both were delicious!  I never even thought of having caramelized popcorn over vanilla ice cream.  To balance the sweetness, there was salt sprinkled on the top as well.  The apple rose was a nice pastry filled with caramelized apples and cinnamon, served with mascarpone ice cream.  I am so glad I finally made it here.  The food was great and you really get to enjoy traditional Korean dishes served right here in New York.  I’ve always loved the diversity in cuisine in New York.  To top it off, there’s  a nice lounge right upstairs called Juga.  I highly recommend stopping by this little hidden gem for a drink and some nice tunes.  Check out pictures below from my Kristalbelli experience.

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My first winery visit

 

imageGeorgia is the home to some of the most beautiful cultural attractions, best restaurants and perfect go to spots for pretty much any occasion.  One place that I had never been to was the winery and resort, Chateau Elan.  I heard such great things before and even thought about having my wedding here.  Luckily, my mother-in-law booked a wine tasting and dinner reservation as a surprise gift after our wedding.  How sweet is she?

Chateau Elan is a little over an hour outside of Atlanta, specifically located in Braselton, Georgia.  Driving into the resort was an experience itself.  It looked a like a mini castle from afar in la la land like in the movies.  My hubby and I drove mesmerized all the way to the front of the ‘castle’ and just stared in awe.  We started with a nice tour of the winery.  Great way to learn more about wine and its origin.  After the tour, we participated in the wine tasting which included a sample of 8 wines.  Of course to go with the ambiance, I added a nice cheese plate.  It was nice to enjoy the scenery and walk the trails of the vineyard.  This was our first time at an actual vineyard so we were sure to enjoy every minute of it.

The day at the resort was topped off with dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants, the Versailles.  I was highly impressed with the decor, attentiveness of the staff and food presentation.  We started the meal with the pickled Georgia shrimp which looked like their take on a classic shrimp cocktail.  The shrimp laid on top of a homemade spicy tomato sauce with lemon and basil.  The flavor of that sauce added such a great taste.  For the entree, I decided to have the filet and truffled whipped potatoes.  My hubby got a little fancy and went with the pan roasted snapper topped with a lump crab salad.  I normally pick the better dish but I think he may of beat me this time.  Both were pretty amazing!  To top it off, we shared the lemon cake with a light butter cream and blueberry compote garnished with a piece of candied ginger.  The overall experience at Chateau Elan was nothing shy of amazing and most of all, memorable.  Checkout more pictures in the gallery of our day spent at our first winery visit.

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Dinner before Broadway

The dining experience at The Capital Grille is like no other. From the time my party was greeted at the door until the flutes filled with champagne were passed, I knew it was going to be a memorable experience.   Some of my family came to visit me in NYC and I decided to give this place a try for dinner before we ventured off to see ‘The Color Purple’.

Luckily it was three of us and we all wanted to have different entrees.  Well, lucky for me so I could do taste tests of the other options.  My aunt went with the lamb chops which was a great choice;  cooked to perfection and the restaurant gives a nice portion.  I went with the filet mignon of course, being a huge steak lover.  The filet practically melted in my mouth; the cut, seasoning and taste could not of been more perfect.  My cousin went with the restaurant’s special that they were offering at the time.  I cannot recall the type of fish but it was seared and topped with a homemade salsa consisting of peppers, fresh cilantro and avocado.  All three were absolutely amazing. As for the sides, sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes were our picks for the evening.  These both complimented everyone’s dish well.  I love restaurants with shareable sides.  This makes it easier for small groups and gives everyone a chance to try different things.

After having an appetizer, bread, salad and a full entree, dessert for me was out of the question.  To my surprise, our waiter had been paying very close attention and overheard I was soon to be married.  After our entrees were cleared from the table, he brought out champagne filled flutes and a cute little dessert.  Not only had the service been impeccable for our dinner reservation, but for the waiter to make it that much more memorable and special meant a lot to me.  We all left very pleased with an unforgettable NYC dining experience.  I cannot say enough about The Capital Grille in terms of the many things I was happy about.  Great choice for dinner with an amazing ambiance and superb staff.  I will definitely be back!

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A Trip to Cuba

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For one of my girls day/night out, we decided to check out the cutest little Cuban tapas restaurant named Havana Social.  Be warned it is a few blocks from subway transportation in NYC but definitely worth the walk if you’re not cabbing it!   Okay, now that I’ve given that disclaimer, let’s talk food. My friend suggested this place for dinner and we did not leave disappointed.  We went on a Sunday around 5pm and were delighted to see they had a price-fixe menu with pretty good selections.  You could choose from about 4 or 5 entrees along with either an appetizer or dessert.  I decided to start with their empanadas; this came with 3 which included spinach, beef and chicken.  OMG!!  What a way to start off a meal.  We also ordered guacamole for the table (which is  a must these days I’m figuring). As for my entree, I went with the chipotle pork chop; infused with chipotle and honey and served with plantains and beans.  This was so flavorful and really exceeded my expectations.  Towards the end of the meal, I was definitely stuffed but refused to leave any food behind as it was too good to not eat everything.  As for drinks, we all went in on a pitcher of their infamous coconut mojito.  Seeing that I am not a huge fan of mojitos, if I ordered it, it must be a hit.

Overall, the dining experience was great at Havana Social.  In fact, right before you leave, they give you a complimentary shot too.   This is much needed after you get your bill and realize you probably went over budget for a typical day/night out. Don’t worry.  It’s worth it!  More pics below.

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Time for the gala

 

IMG_9475I had the pleasure of attending the Manhattan Theater Club Spring Gala on Monday evening at the renowned Cipriani on 42nd.  I heard so many great things about this venue and, after getting invited, I was so anxious to actually get there and see what exactly the night had in store.  I had a few dress options that I could of worn but decided on this little number from BCBG.  Daring to be a bit different and somewhat bold, I opted for this lime color for my dress versus the typical black, navy or other neutral colors.  There was a very nice cocktail reception beforehand and this allowed for great mini photo shoots.  The decor of this place was absolutely stunning.  The centerpieces, linen, dinnerware, I mean everything, was amazing!  The gala also included wonderful performances from some of the biggest Broadway musicals, including the Color Purple, Jersey Boys and Motown.   I was excited to see one of the cast members from Orange is the New Black, Danielle Brooks, star as lead for the Color Purple. Impressive vocals for sure!  To say the least, the gala definitely exceeded my expectations.  It was great to be among those so passionate about their crafts and to see such great performances.  Let’s not forget the actual dinner.  The star of the meal would have to be the short rib for me.  I have nothing but great things to say about this event at Cipriani and it was definitely a NYC night to remember.  Check out pics of the event below.

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A trip to Marlow’s

For any trips to Atlanta, I try to make sure I visit some of my favorite restaurants. Sometimes fancy, other times, bars or simply fast food work just fine.  This trip I decided to make a stop by Marlow’s Tavern.  It gives you a nice American pub scene with a full bar of course and good choices for both lunch and dinner.  The shrimp and crab nacho plate never disappoints.  The rock shrimp and crab covered with melted pepper jack cheese, topped with a bit of spice from the jalapenos, are a match made in heaven.  It’s a perfect starter for the table or can be ordered as a meal if you want a lighter dinner.  I also went with the infamous fish tacos.  If you cannot tell by now, I love tacos.  All kinds from all places! The blackened tilapia, fresh avocado and smoked chili cream really caught my eye on the menu for this dish and boy was it a good choice.  Give them a try if you’re in the Atlanta area.  They have quite a few locations you can check out.

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