Have you read The Madonnas of Echo Park yet?
If not, do! It’s a magical book that takes place in Echo Park, where author Brando Skyhorse also grew up. Many view it as a commentary on the gentrification of the neighborhood – which is the direction that HBO is taking on developing a series of the novel. But if you’re sick of the “g” word (gentrification) like we are, there’s a lot more to the novel.
Fans of the novel will have an opportunity to get some insight into the book in its original location next week. Skyhorse will be reading excerpts of the novel at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 starting at 7:30 pm. He will also join authors Joseph Mattson of Los Angeles and Carlene Bonnivier of Echo Park.
We drove by Elf Café the other night – and it was BUZZING!
Considered by many to be the best vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles, the six-year-old Echo Park restaurant now has something new to offer its patrons (and to compete with the giant and vegan-friendly Mohawk Bend next door): Beer and wine!
Owner and chef Scott Zwiezen is focusing this new menu addition on a natural/organic approach. He explains in an email to us:
Our focus is on wine, with emphasis on biodynamic and natural, dry-farmed wines which utilize native yeasts and natural forms of pest control. There’s a Loire we have in, for instance from Olivier Cousin -a visionary of modern biodynamic winemaking- that is, simply put, incredible. We have also been meeting with and buying wines from other small producers in California, France, Portugal, Australia and Chile.
And there’s beer too – Evan George, of Hot Knives and formerly of Elf, is helping curate the beer menu. Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist IPA and Solidarity will be available, as well as organic options from Eel River Brewery and Iron First (Vista, California).
Both the beer and wine list will change, depending on availability and season.
We can’t wait to check it out!
It’s only been a few months since the new owners of Echo Lake Coffee Co took over the former Downbeat Cafe on Alvarado near Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, but we are told today Echo Lake Coffee is becoming Tierra Mia Coffee.
Owner Ulysses Romero hopes to be opening the Tierra Mia Coffee location soon, which will be its third location in the past year. Romero writes in an email:
Tierra Mia Coffee provides a very high quality latin-inspired coffee offering that is reflected in our menu and store environment. We sell choice micro-lot coffees from some of the best farms in Latin America and roast our out coffee with a fanatical quest to produce the best taste. Our in-store beverage offering includes our brewed coffees as well as several signature drinks such as our mocha mexicano, horchatta latte, cubano con leche, horchata frappe and our rice and beans frappe. In addition to our coffee roastery, Tierra Mia Coffee also operates a bakery and we bake our pastries daily for all of our stores.
Fresh roasted coffee and pastries? Sounds pretty good! Here’s to hoping this one will stick (and will they bring back Wednesday night jazz?).
French for “matchstick,” Allumette is certainly going to “light up” the Echo Park dining scene with a destination for foodies and even budding foodies (like myself). Even after the months of renovations, any AYC fan would recognize the space. But new lighting dark wood, and partitions separating the dining areas give it a new more “serious” vibe to accompany the epicurial menu, composed of small tasting plates with a seasonal focus.
Led by chef Miles Thompson (formerly of the pop-up Vagrancy Project at AYC, among others), the food is both adventurous and accessible. The Fried Oyster comes decorated with Kimchi ranch dressing and a deliciously crunchy Asian Pear mignonette that bursts of flavor with each bite. The Bitter Lettuce dish is simple and un-fussy, the smoked soy cream a unique dressing and a tasty starter. The Grilled Octopus with a sour apple syrup drizzled on top is so not the rubbery stuff of failed Octopus dishes of my past experience at other restaurants. And the Boneless Whole Sea Bream with bouillabaisse sauce – a $40 dish but a meal for two – is any seafood lovers dream.
If the fancy food isn’t enough, there’s a fancy (also accessible) drink menu to boot. Designed by bartender extraordinaire Serena Herrick from Harvard & Stone, the cocktail list is eccentric (but not in a bad way!). If you like bitters, try the Last Ango with Angostura Bitters, rum, Orgeat, pineapple gomme, and lime – it is heavenly. For a hot day, Red Letter Day is light and refreshing with rum, vermouth, Orgeat, lemon, soda water and Yuzu bitters. To warm up your insides, try the Smoking Gun with Mexcal, Cynar and Calisaya, and a brandy-soaked cherry at the bottom. Another favorite is the You Live Only Twice, which has both Sake and Gin, tangerine, peppercorns, and lime.
And for dessert, the Cheesecake Mousse will thrill any palette, but there’s also Red Velvet Cake and Citrus Curd.
In terms of what to expect, vegetarians and the un-adventurous beware – if you’re not willing to break any rules (or in my case, secretly looking up some definitions on my smart phone under the table), this might not be the place for you. There are only 15 dishes, and limited seating at only 30 guests per evening, and substitutions are “politely declined.” If you’re expecting to be wined and dined, you won’t be disappointed.
Time will tell if Echo Park is ready for a such an epicurean dining adventure, and we hope Allumette is here to stay. As Zagat put it so nicely earlier today, “If Jonathan Gold thinks the local hipsters are taking to Cortez in droves, that restaurant has met its match.”
More photos after the jump!
It’s always a bummer morning when learning that one of our favorite locally-owned spots, CitySip, is being put up for sale.
Owner Nicole Daddio first opened the wine-centric bar on Sunset Boulevard in 2008, and at the end of September completed renovations and a branding “revamp.” The fresh food menu, new taps for craft beers, and a more accessible and laid-back wine experience made the restaurant feel practically brand new.
We don’t have official word on whether or not the restaurant will continue to operate or shut its doors while attracting new owners, or how much the business is going for. Check back later for updates!
Owner Nicole Daddio confirmed the closure will take place on January 31, with occasional popup events in February and March. She will be making the official announcement this week.
Thanks to our blogging homie Quarry Girl for the video!