Monday, December 5, 2011

31. BevMo!

BevMo! (formerly Beverages and More) is a veritable liquor wonderland. If you move into a new neighborhood and tell all your friends, "Hey, I just moved into a new place, it's half a block down from a liquor store, come check it out." They will look at you with a forlorned look that can only be described as a combination of pity and concern. But watch as you're friends squeal with delight when you tell them, "Hey, I just moved into  a new place, it's half a block down from a BevMo!," You're social status increases at least 25 points and you'll automatically be slotted 2 spots up on every friend's totem pole.

Well, the same thing happened to me just this past month. I moved about 2 blocks away from a BevMo! and immediately I began shopping there regularly. It's everything it's advertised to be - a superstore of nearly every type of liquor under the sun. Before I was even unpacked, I was mixing Manhattans and sampling microbrew beer from bottles with corks.

I have nothing but good things to say about the selection at BevMo! There's so many varieties of everything that you literally begin exhuming the dark recesses of your brain for memories of random brands you might have tried when you were 23 just to see if they are on the shelves (They usually are). might think that the world's greatest store would also have that world's happiest employees, all of whom work happily, effectively, and efficiently. Sadly this is not the case at all. This might just be the BevMo! near my house, but everytime I've gone in there it's been the worst customer service on the planet. Here are some small anecdotes from the three times I've gone to BevMo! thusfar:

Example 1: "The New Guy"
We've all been there, first day on the job and literally no clue how to do anything. I will give this guy credit in that he confidentially informed us that it was his first day and to bear with him. This guy was the quintessential example of how you imagine a pizza-delivery guy in the movies: naive as shit, constantly picking at his face, and basically fighting countless internal battles each minute to not royally fuck everything up. Insecurely giggling to himself every time he hit a key on the register like it was his first time using a keyboard, he "rang" everything up. Or so he thought. It turns out nothing was rang up. There was a discrepancy on a price as well, to which he replied. "Huh huh huh, oh man, ok... I've seen this done like 20 times..lets see...*picks up phone receiver and hits a button* ...price....check?" It clearly didn't work. So what does genius do? He does the exact same thing again. And again. Surprise, it still doesn't work. Finally he just tells his co-worker, who's just standing there 15 feet away, to check the price. After it's all sorted, he again fails to ring us up properly and also fails to apply our ClubBev member discount. 20 minutes and three employees later, we're finally rang up.

Example #2: "The Unwanted Visitor"
You can't help but feel sorry the mentally deranged. Never really being more than a threat but more so an obscene annoyance to us normal folk. So while paying in BevMo! A delightful old maniac walks in, trenchcoat and all, looks around, and decides THIS is the spot for him to explain to the world the minutiae of oral sex. Apparently, according to the wise old coot, that while oral sex from a thin-lipped woman is delightful, it might actually be BETTER from a thick-lipped man. I am grateful for this piece of sagely information, because I might not have ever known this. But instead of realizing he touched my life at that moment and his work was done, he decided to repeat said information again, LOUDER. Then again, and again, getting louder and more confident with each go-round. As funny as it is (it really was) at some point I would have figured one of the BevMo! employees would step in and take care of things. I was wrong, they ALL stood there gawking, jaws agape, measuring their own lips to gauge the thickness. It was pretty ridiculous. Finally after a good 5 minutes of this guy going bananas, the smallest, meekest, female employee tiptoes up to him and politely asks him to leave. Shockingly, the man quiets down, smiles,, tips his hat, and leaves. Every single large male in the store still standing there like cornstalks doing nothing. This whole hilarious debacle could have been avoided if any employee did their job and just immediately asked the guy to leave.

Example #3: "Stoner's Pot Palace"
Weed is awesome. But stoned BevMo! employees remind us all: Don't mix weed and booze. I'm generally forgiving of new employees, but if you opt to go to work stoned then you should be damn sure you can still operate at the same effectiveness as when you're sober. If you can't, then don't. While waiting in  a massive line to checkout, this employee who looks like B-Real's cousin blissfully walks past all of the disgruntled customers without any thought of opening a new register. The frazzled checkout girl finally manages to break away from the madness to physically escort this kid to a new register and have him check us out. I ask him if I can enter my ClubBev member number directly in myself, to which is blurry red eyes blink uncontrollably. "Sure." I started hit keys and nothing is happening. "Are you sure this is working?" I inquire. "Maybe you can just enter it in for me." He starts blinking his red eyes again. He starts hitting keys when I start reciting my member number, alas, nothing is happening again. Jesus fuck, get your shit together, kid. I fially just give him my card and we start checking out. He scans literally every item, completely oblivious that no item is actually being entered into their system. I ask "Hey man, the screen still wants you to confirm customer number." Obviously baffled, he scans the keyboard for a solution to fix this. Needing to rescan the items and having him forget a couple more in the basket, we finally pay for our 5 items, 17 minutes later.

In conclusion, I don't expect exceptional customer service from an entry-level employee, but common sense is always expected. Come to BevMo! if you want an amazing selection of booze, but stay to witness employees operating at a near-drunk capacity. I immediately drove to the DMV after just to get better customer service.

Name: BevMo!
Genre: Liquor and Spirits
Value: Reasonable prices, ever-increasing frustration.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Hella time.
Rating: 3 / 5

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30. The Vine in Niles

The odds of stumbling across The Vine in Niles will be not unlike opening up a briefcase and finding this. Surprised? Yes! Disappointed? No way! This is how I felt about The Vine, a quaint, newly- opened restaurant in the Fremont, CA suburb called Niles.

I'll begin by admitting a couple things: 1) I've been moving apartments and dealing with holiday obligations and thus have no been updating this site very much, to which I apologize. And 2) My sister opened this restaurant herself so I purposefully drove the 400+ miles north just to go to it. Familial connections aside, I'll do my best to not give it undue credit.


Seriously, it's really good. I'm very proud of my sister's hard work in this venture, and it shows with the final product. Yelp reviewers all love it, and apparently they pulled a VERY substantial profit in their first month of business - literally unheard of in the food biz.

Located in Fremont, CA in the small suburb of downtown Niles, The Vine serves contemporary cuisine prepared by executive chef Annie Wood, a lifelong friend and co-owner with my sister. While Annie is charged with all things edible, my sister handles all finances, vendors, front-end operations, and literally built most of the furnishings by hand.

Before I discuss the food, I believe the "town" of Niles deserves some attention. Niles is one of those communities that, to an outside viewer, looks like everyone has the same two parents. I don't mean this in the retarded, incest-driven hillbilly sort of way. I mean that everyone dresses the same, makes roughly the same amount of money, and every citizen can communally discuss last night's episode of WWE SmackDown!! on TBS.

The residents of Niles decided they needed a downtown strip, you know, a place to put all their old, unused furniture and clutter. 10 years later this unused furniture morphed into 17 antique shops, 12 glass-art studios, and 6 silent movie theaters. A quaint downtown indeed. They even added a magical train of lights which pulls in every hour or so to the delight of the ignorant rednecks who've never seen multiple light bulbs amassed in a single location before. True magic!!
"Dale, something aint quite right 'bout that train."

Meanwhile, the Niles residents plum-forgot about actually building any restaurants or cafe's on their downtown strip. This is why my sister and Annie decided to build a place where townsfolk could bring a date, have a drink, and discuss the unholy practice of using contraceptives.

Now, onto The Vine itself. As previously mentioned, the ambiance is delightful. My sister (a sheet-metal worker by trade) designed and built the floors and tables from scratch. Furnished with chic ornaments and tasteful accents, The Vine reeks of class and is a great place to take a date or to have casual drinks with friends. Even the bathrooms are tastefully done. You could seriously eat to the point of explosive shits and screams and still comfortably relax on the toilet without feeling the pressure to vacate ASAP. Oh yes, and they also have a covered back patio for weekend drinking.

The food is amazing in terms of taste and also price. A meal for four with 4 appetizers, 1 salad, 6 glasses of wine, 4 cocktails, 4 main courses, and a shared dessert all came to a meager $127!! And everything we got was fantastic! I've put a link to the Dinner Menu so you can get a good idea of the type of food. Also, there's a drinking friendly Brunch Menu for weekend warriors/drunken housewives.

I got the the point where I could literally feel my stomach pushing into my other vital organs. My breathing became slow, short, and deliberate as my fully expanded lungs would only compress my bloated belly further. Even so, the food was so good that I would still periodically make lame attempts to digest a fry. The food is unbiasedly good, I promise.

The service was top notch and even when the restaurant became packed, (as it does every evening, apparently) we still received ample attention. Even the people waiting to eat were directed to sit on a massive comfy couch and were served drinks while they waited.

This place is great and worth the short drive if you're ever in the San Francisco Bay Area. Every person I watched exit had a smile on their face and a contented look of someone who was too full to do anything like want sex or free money. Utter bliss personified in each customer. Well done, sis!!


Name: The Vine in Niles
Genre: Contemporary Cuisine
Value: Fantastic Prices for Quality Food.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: An empty stomach and an exaggerated interest in glass art.
Rating: 6 / 5

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

29. Chipotle (in Brentwood)

(This review isn't for Chipotle as a restaurant, as I'm sure they offer the same food and same basic decor in every Chipotle nationwide. This write-up is for the Chipotle located on San Vicente boulevard in the Los Angeles community of Brentwood.)

Ok, so it's the middle of the day on a Monday. I really want to stress this. IT WAS 1:12PM ON A MONDAY. There was no national holiday, no free giveaways, just a regular Monday. I walk into Chipotle and immediately I smash into the back of a guy waiting in line. The line was around the entire F'ing place!! This sucks!! Thankfully Chipotle does fast work so I manned up and took my place. I decided it was a dandy time to people watch. Here's what I noticed:

1) Everyone was on their phone/PDA.
I don't know about you, but people don't call or text me THAT much, and I consider myself pretty dang cool. But the people in Chipotle were staring at these things like they had porn on the screen. We've all done that thing in a bar where you pretend to get texts so you look like you're busy, but this is a freaking Chipotle people, no one is going to judge you if you're just standing in the line without looking busy.  People couldn't detach themselves from their phones long enough to even put in orders. Seriously a guy got so bored between the steps of choosing rice/beans and then his selection of meat, that he got back on his phone and started staring and texting. The lady had to yell "Sir...SIR!!" like 4 times before he goofishly looked up to reply "Oh...uh...Chicken." and went back to his phone (no apology given, either.)

2) Everyone was wearing Tom's.
I'll be fair, not everyone. But 12 people in one place. That's a whole lotta Tom for one building. Tom's shoes basically look like a house-slipper knitted by a Mongolian sheepherder. The gimmick with Tom's shoes is that for every pair purchased, a pair of shoes is given to some poor kid somewhere without shoes. Not a bad deal, I suppose. But you know what's an even better charity then that? Actually donating time and money. But the yuppies in Brentwood don't do that because they don't get a pair of trendy-ass Tom's shoes with that deal. Here's an idea, asshole. How about buying a pair of basketball shoes and just giving it to a kid in need. That way the kid has something he can actually run around in and not look like he's some douchebag in a Brentwood Chipotle. Everyone wins.

3) Everyone bought burrito bowls.
For the people who aren't familiar with these things (normal people), its a burrito. But instead of the edible holder called a tortilla keeping your burrito together, the contents are dumped into a bowl, covered with an aluminum lid, and put into a plastic bag with a plastic fork and knife. Way to go, dipshit, 10,000 Tom's shoes aren't going to replace the oodles of garbage you've just created because you think that by removing a tortilla  you're going to get skinny. Hey Jillian Michaels, you do realize that just because you've cut 18g of carbs  doesn't mean you're carnitas bowl with sour cream and a handful of cheese is going to make you fit into that dress. It's called exercise, and it's not an app for your iPhone.

4) Yup...Yuppies!
Every single person in there was a Yuppie. Yuppies of today aren't your Growing Pains' Alex Keaton types of the 80's. They take on many varieties but can all easily be classified under the same umbrella. Here are the types I saw:

A) The I-Mean-Business! Yuppie:
 These guys always seem to be named "Chaz", "Chet", or "Ryan", and are forever trying to attain the unattainable look of "I dress up for work, but I secretly keep it real on the weekends." They make lame attempts at coolness by wearing ironic sunglasses, loosening their ties, putting a surf sticker on their laptop bag or producting their hair into some sort of faux-hawk. Their life solely follows the almighty dollar and they always want people to think, "Look at that guy on his phone, he must be closing a big-time deal." The irony is that most of these guys make less than we do and don't actually own a surfboard.

B) The Stressed-out Lady Yuppie:
These Yuppies are probably the most hilarious. Despite the fact that their parents pay for the majority of their Brentwood rent and that because they don't hold a steady job they can spend all day in yoga pants traipsing around San Vicente, they act like they have the hardest life on the planet. Everything they do is an incredible inconvenience for them. They will talk to one another about the 3 errands they have for the day like it's equal to a full day of manual labor on the railroads. Also, they are incredibly anal about everything, from their Chipotle order, to their reusable coffee cup they always carry, down to their yoga mat which they don't use because they just wear the pants because they're comfy. Watch their eyes, they are always jittery, its creepy. The world and it's populace are just accessories in their little Sex and the City reenactment they like to call their lives.

C) The Gay Black Yuppie:
 I would imagine in the deep-south of Kentucky, it must be hard to be a black male, let alone a gay black male. But this is Brentwood, and he's not fooling anyone. The Gay Black Yuppie always has 2 or 3 Stressed-Out Lady Yuppies in tow because they both like to talk to each other about how miserable their lives are, despite the fact that they're all in $400 outfits having a social gathering in the middle of a weekday. They spend the majority of their day on social networking sites or in the absence of that, rehashing their past exploits on social networking sites. The Gay Black Yuppie always has a disgusted look on his face and thinks his outfit and life are 1 billion times better than yours. Enjoy your pink mohawk, jackass. I'm going to spend my savings on my mortgage, not a $600 faux Chinese army jacket. He also doesn't have any black friends.

The Metrosexual Yuppie:
The Yuppies are the most anal of the bunch. Meaning, if you get caught behind a Metrosexual Yuppie in line at a Chipotle, give up and go get pizza because you'll be in line all day. These guys will literally make the poor kid behind the counter remake an entire burrito if he see's one bean fall into his burrito, with no regard for the 200 people behind him. The Metrosexual Yuppie will typically be in designer sunglasses, some sort of gay-looking bowling shoe, a v-neck shirt, sporting some awkwardly placed large tattoos, and be holding a PDA and a set of car keys in his hands at all times. To these guys image means everything. If you ever go into a Chipotle and see one of these guys order something that's NOT a burrito bowl with chicken, no beans or rice, no cheese and no sour cream, then watch out, because you're either on Punk'd or the Twilight Zone.

5) Everyone stares you down.
Talk about an insecure bunch. Everyone in their stares at you like you walked in there wearing a Nazi SS outfit. But they do that to everyone, not just you. It's indicative that despite their privileged lifestyles, they still having crippling insecurities about themselves and their outward appearance. Chill out, everyone! It's just Chipotle! Just let me eat my burrito without the leering eyes of 20 people all over me.

There was one guy in line, however, who was in a T-shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops. He order a steak burrito straight up, paid, and left. He seemed pretty cool.

Name: Chipotle (in Brentwood)
Genre: Yuppie frequented Mexican flavored excessive waste bowl dispensary
Value: Reasonable for a Burrito, expensive for the Tom's you must purchase to enter
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Tom's shoes and a smartphone
Rating: 2 / 5

Friday, October 14, 2011

28. The Chill Out Cafe

I was supposed to write about this place probably a good 6 months ago. But due to a bitter, long-fought battle with laziness, it took me this long to finally churn this out.

The Chill Out cafe is a rustic little joint located in the eastside surf community of Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. Already known for their laid back demeanor, residents of pleasure point are rarely in shoes and wreak of stale ocean water. The Chill Out cafe is not unlike the cafe version of a Pleasure Point local - Relaxed, friendly, and quick to strike up a conversation.

I was making a brief stop in Santa Cruz and decided to meander in for one of their amazing breakfast burritos. I should stop here for a moment to talk about the breakfast burritos. Simply put - these things are more delicious than a bacon wrapped ice cream sundae. They truly are amazing. The burritos are cooked with three different customers in mind:

A) The hungover post-college student who, after a long night of weekday drinking, desperately needs any meal thats burrito sized, cheap, and greasy.

B) The surfer who's regular diet consists of breakfast burritos for breakfast, burritos for lunch, and most likely a burrito for dinner.

C)  Someone who's a solid mix of both A & B.

Basically, you walk into the place and odds are you'll either be greeted with a friendly "Good morning!" or an inquiry about the current surf conditions - depending on how wet your hair is. You'll usually engage in about 3-5 minutes of idle chit-chat before the girl/guy at the counter finally realizes that you've come in to the Chill Out for food. They offer about 35 different types of breakfast burritos here, all of which are fantastic (I've only had about 7 different ones, but I've heard 100 different critiques on pretty much every different one on the menu, all positive.)

I ordered the small.
One of the main features of the Chill Out cafe's Breakfast Burrito is the shredded potatoes. The cook leaves a pile of shredded potatoes on the griddle all day, slowly cooking them to the point where all that's left is crunchy, greasy strips. Delicious! Also what's great about this place is that you can order a small or large sized burrito. But I don't think the cook knows the difference, it's merely a pricing option for those who can't afford the large. Because both burritos are exactly the same size... massive!! Awesome!

Top your burrito off with all-you-can-eat pico de gallo and park yourself at one of the indoor stools to finish of your conversation with the cashier or head to the front or back, both of which have benches for ample chilling and people watching. Oh yeah, it's bottomless coffee too.

This place is great because its well-priced, has amazingly tasty and filling food, and has a kick-back atmosphere that most places can only try to fake. Everyone here, from the cashier to the cook to the patrons, all are very "chill" and immediately when you step in you forget your worries and just relax. Oh yeah, and this isn't one of those "Lets let every hippy yahoo play an open-mic and sip their divine boiled barley root while they collect signatures for a city ordinance to create a harmony circle downtown" kind of places. This is a place for people who like meat, the beach, and chilling. It's a surfer paradise, perfectly located with the perfect ambiance. Well worth a stop if you find yourself in Santa Cruz.

Very Chill.

Name: The Chill Out Cafe
Genre: Cafe specializing in Breakfast Burritos
Value: Great especially when you order the small burrito.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A long night of binge drinking, followed by a morning of heavy pot smoking, and a pair of flip flops.
Rating 5 / 5

Sunday, October 2, 2011

27. Jello 1-2-3

If you're anything like me at all you'd absolutely know what this stuff is. This is Jello 1-2-3, quite possibly the single greatest invention of the modern era and maybe of all time.

Here's how it works:
1) Pour ONE packet into a bowl ( Note: Only one kind of powder inside!)
2) Add water
3) Put in fridge
4) Practically piss yourself in amazement as the Jello now has THREE Jellos!  Alchemy at it's finest!

This is the kind of forward thinking stuff that made America thrive in the 80's. Bring back Jello 1-2-3 and kiss America's economic problems goodbye. You heard it here first.

Keep trying, Shake-A-Pudd'n.
Name: Jello 1-2-3
Genre: Magical Gelatin Dessert.
Value: More expensive than regular Jello, but the extra layers provide 3x the return.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Extra pair of pants for when you crap yourself in amazement.
Rating: 5 / 5

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

26. Chapman Plaza

If you find yourself feverishly lost in Koreatown, Los Angeles during the day, you'll think you've somehow been transported to the minimum security sector of hell. The place is dirty, ridden with traffic, terrible drivers, and a gaggle of signs advertising who-knows-what by some big-tittied cartoon character.

Patience is a virtue, friends. Trust me, give yourself until about 8pm and you'll truly see how and why Koreatown comes alive when night falls. Watch as the neon signs hum with life, bums are transformed into well dressed Korean socialites, and streets lined with broken, garbage infested 1984 Toyota corollas are somehow swapped for shiny new Mercedes and Bentley's.

K-town at night reminds me of what Hollywood must have been like back in the 50's. Amazing bars weren't posturing with big lines, and people who mingled together actually "networked" and made things happen. You smoke cigarettes? Well fuck, if you're a paying customer, smoke all you like in any restaurant in K-town, where the customer reigns supreme.

K-town by day.
K-town by night.
Chapman plaza is probably the easiest place to go get a slice of K-town life. As it's the home to about 7 bars, 3 lounges, 5 Karaoke clubs, and a hell of a lot of young Koreans acting the fool. It's also ground-zero and all directions are in relation to Chapman Plaza. The place is lit up like a Roman Candle inside and everything is spectacularly clean and presentable. Last night we ate at Gaam, a Korean bar/lounge for my friends birthday. The inside is frankly stunning, and rivals any high-end lounge in Hollywood. The major difference though is the price. Two large bottles of Grey Goose, unlimited chasers, 5 entrees, Soju, and 4 large Sakes, all served with attentive service ran a group of 10 about $40 each...amazing value. Also, not packed.

The key to enjoying Chapman plaza and frankly all places in K-town is to roll deep, ie bring a lot of people. The more people you bring, the better value it will end up being. The other trick though, is to bring a couple Koreans with you. If you come to Chapman plaza sans Koreans, you'll be a lost and bewildered kitten as most places will gladly seat you, but deciphering a menu and being able to talk with most waiters will be a stressful exercise in humility. Also, you wont be able to read the signs of the places you're going into anyway.

Also, the locals knows the awesome deals. Here are some things I've found out in K-town only because Koreans showed me-

1. A bar that lets you buy bottles of booze for roughly $80, and will write your name on the bottle and hold it for you for a month. Meaning its ready for you on your return visits.

2. A deserted 3rd story mall storefront that, upon gaining secret entry into the mall and even more secret entry into the club, serves a 24-hour full bar and nightclub.

3. A bamboo-lined 24-hour Korean restaurant with cigarette smoke so prevalent that you feel like you're an extra in Ladder-49. Also, booze served 24 hours.

4. A social scene so tightly knit that if rolling with the right crowd, no bartender will charge them for a drink, ever.

5. A club that only allows entry with special permission from the waiter, of all people. and when inside, you're free to summon any and all girls from the dancefloor and your beckon call to mingle. (good luck if you only speak English).

That's just a tease of the K-town underbelly. The place is really fun.If I had to make any real complaints about the nightlife, is that you pretty much have to pay for parking anywhere you go if you plan on driving around. But it gets better, chums. If you opt out of driving, you can call whats called a "K-town Kab" that is a gypsy tazi that will take you anywhere in K-town for $5 a trip. Amazing! Need their number, you can find it on any of the FREE lighters liberally given away at all K-town bars...stock up! PS: Odds are if its a phone number and Korean written on your free lighter, its a K-town Kab. (Hopefully they speak English)

I suppose I should give quick consideration to the food in Chapman plaza and K-town. It's good, but if you have a western palette, a lot of the stuff is weird and frankly, gross. You need to have a good Korean interpreter with you to sample some of the finer foods, lest you end up with Hot Dog soup (real thing). But with that said, if you're sick of the Hollywood scene and want to meet real, fun people in a fun setting then check out Chapman plaza. Bring cigarettes.

PS: Valet is $2 and worth it.

Name: Chapman Plaza
Genre: Hub of Koreatown; bars, lounges, clubs, restaurants, etc.
Value: Expensive, sliding scale the more people you bring/Koreans you know.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Cigarettes and Korean Parents.
Rating: 4 / 5

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

25. Big Ass Fruity Drinks

It was a dark dreary Tuesday night, and the fog loomed heavily over the San Francisco skyline. It was a balmy -20 degrees outside and the evening called for cocktails.

My friend James was celebrating his long overdue 29th birthday at a place called Smuggler's Cove near the Civic Center. Being up north for work, I was flown up and without wheels. So I donned my heaviest coat, harnessed in my ipod, packed a sandwich baggie full of cashews and walked miserably towards the nearest bus stop.

The Ipod and cashews proved to be a great idea, as they provided two barriers to social interaction with others. I'm a pretty social person, but the people you encounter walking through the civic center post-11pm are not the type of thespians who you'd want to discuss Yeats with. If a drunken derelict decides to brazenly inform me through alcohol swigs that I'm a "Honky devil fucking fuck you bitch cocksucker" I can politely reply "Sorry, listening to this Ipod" or "Sorry, eating these cashews," and proceed on my merry way.

Anyway, I digress. I got to Smuggler's Cove with minimal altercation and met up with the crew. Smuggler's Cove walks a fine line between hokey and campy. When you make the decision to build a Pirate Bar, you go beyond the notion of thinking Pirates are "Kinda cool." You've now entered a very dangerous place of staking your financial livelihood that Pirates are not the next stupid fad. Maybe a Transformers bar would be better.

One thing the Cove does well, regardless of decor, is their cocktails. While expensive, they are stacked to the rafters with alcohol. I mistakenly began my evening with a double vodka with soda and lime. A frustrating $16 later I had my drink and returned to our table. What did I find there, but a hilarious massive punch bowl with massive straws that everyone was collectively sharing. I immediately felt ostracized and cursed myself for buying an individually sized drink on such a social occasion. I was then informed of the existence of a 7+ page menu of specialty cocktails which made me feel even more stupid.

When round 2 came around I offered to buy the next cocktail bowl. I asked the barkeep, a young, pointlessly cynical chap, what he would suggest as a fun bowl drink.

"The Volcano," he muttered in a cold, monotone voice.

"Oh," I replied, "That sounds interesting. Whats in that?"

"Pineapple juice, passionfruit juice, guava juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and two kinds of rum."

"Jesus," I said, "That sounds like an awful lot of sugar in a cocktail. It sounds like a recipe for a massive hangover.  Can you suggest anything else?"


A good 20 seconds passed while I wondered if this was his poor attempt at dry humor. turns out it wasn't.

"Oh, I guess I'll take one of those."

Some of Smuggler's Cove's more memorable cocktails.
When the bowl arrived, they performed a spectacular display of setting the entire bowl ablaze and somehow showing us that a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg is highly combustible. They also provided long novelty straws in which we could communally drink aplenty. And as my friend Sean exampled, could be pieced together to make massive super-straws, capable of drinking from everyone's cup in a not-so-sleuthy but overall hilarious manner. Good times.

The drink was sugary as hell and got the lot of us plenty drunk. Laughs were shared, butts were pinched, and a good time was had by all.

Would I recommend this place? It's certainly fun every now and then, but your wallet and diabetes will thank you if you keep it in moderation. Also, parking is ample when you catch the bus.

Hopefully pirates stay cool.
Name: Big Ass Fruity Drinks (Served at Smuggler's Cove)
Genre: Colorful Cocktails and Liquor
Value: Not very good.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: See above tattoo.
Rating: 3 / 5

Monday, August 15, 2011

24. McDonalds

Ok, I'm sure you've all heard of the holy fast food gateway lined with the double golden arches. So I'll spare you the details of giving you the McDonald's  M. O.

It was 3:47am, I was driving home from a long night of Sunset Strip clubbing (something I don't often do) and I was incredibly stoned (something I DO often do.) and I thought to myself "I hate fast food and I especially hate McDonald's. It's really a shame that their constant proliferation in low income communities has caused such morbid...."

At this point in my thoughts I found myself puling into the drive-thru. Shit, they got me. Also...why do they insist on spelling it "Drive-Thru?" Does McDonald's really think that little of the literacy of it's clientele. Granted, the reading level of most customers is terrible, the least Ronald McDonald could do is spell it's copy correctly so at least everyone would walk around spelling "through" correctly.

Anyway, I had a moratorium on Mickey D's for about 4 years now, and for the life of me I probably couldn't tell you why I found myself perusing the menu at what was now 3:49am (probably the drugs) but I commited myself to getting something. I was perusing the menu when the crackly half-english voice came through the intercom.

"*chk* Weerrrcome chhhhsssssss McDonalds caahaannnn *chk* please?" 

The nonsensical jabber made no actual sense but I assume he was asking what I wanted to order.

"Yeah," I replied, "Can I get a..."

"*chk* Hoooowwwd own *chk* One secccc *chk*" The robot stated.

It was nearly 4am and apparently there was pressing business that couldn't wait in the empty McDonald's than to be bothered with a paying customer. So I politely waited.

*chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk*...... it sounded like the guy was hitting the button like 5000 times. What the hell was going on in there? The pot started getting the better of me and I began to think that maybe I was hearing things. I tried ordering again.

"Hi, I'll have a..."

"*chk* HOLD ON SARRRR!!! *chk*"

"*chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk* *chk*" the box kept on clicking.

Finally after 7 long minutes of sitting there listening to the McDonalds employee type Morse code, he finally took my order - a "Southern-style" chicken sandwich meal and two McChicken sandwiches as a supplement (I was hungry.)

Preach it, Grandma.
I pulled my car around to the pickup window and proceeded to wait...and wait....and wait....and...holy crap, waiting more. What the hell are they doing in there?

I kept waiting, I think about 5 songs played before I got my took 15 minutes at the window before my food came out. Granted its 4am so I expect there to be a bit of delay with my fast food, but it was ridiculous.

The Fries - The fries were right out of the deep fryer so they had that super crispy texture to them. They were also scalding, also courtesy of the deep-fryer. While I will admit I enjoyed the crispy texture, they tasted like deep fried air. People (idiots) claim to love McDonald's fries. for the life of me, I can't understand why. Those people must also Ke$ha, Jasper Johns paintings, and the song "Who let the dogs out?". If poor-quality had a physical manifestation, it would be the McDonald's french fry.

The Diet Coke - Don't worry, the irony is not lost on me that I ordered a "diet" coke with my deep fried chicken sandwiches. I only took one sip and it tasted like the syrup was sitting around for a while. It was 4am so I'll give this a pass.

The Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich - This was basically a chicken patty with butter and pickles. I'd never had it before but it appeared to basically be a half-step up from a regular chicken sandwich. I love how the deifnition of "Southern-style" means no vegetables. The hilarity was half the reason I bought it. Verdict: far too tendony and the buttery flavor didn't mix with the chicken right.

The McChicken Sandwiches - These were probably the best thing I bought. I held the mayo because for some reason I've never liked it. But the bun was fluffy, the lettuce was not too abundant and the patty was slightly crispy and had a decent taste to it. I don't want to pretend like it wasn't shithouse quality, but of all he things I got this was the only thing that satisfied my marijuana induced hunger.

Above all it was and always will be a big waste of time going to McDonalds.... especially at 4am. I ended up getting crappy food and waiting forever for it. I should have just went to bed. Though eating did give me something do to while I drove around Koreatown for the next 40 minutes looking for parking.

Name: McDonalds
Genre: Fast food burger joint run by a clown, bird, convict, string-monsters, and a giant purple blob.
Value: Better off saving the $5.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal:  A heavy stock investment in McDonalds Industries.
Rating: 1 / 5

Monday, August 8, 2011

23. Pollo a la Brasa

There's nothing that makes a guy feel more manly than eating a whole, cold chicken without utensils. That's probably the best part about Pollo a la Brasa. I don't want to imply that this places would even dream about serving cold chicken though, as it comes piping hot. But the leftovers are really what sets this place apart, as most leftovers (sushi specifically) have a half-life of about 17 seconds before they get closer and closer to terrible.

Located in a small shack just south of 8th st. and Western, this place has been a bastion to the Korean and Mexican communities for years. Being pretty much as white as they get, I have only been coming here for like a year now, but I often bring it up when I'm hanging with Korean people in K-town as an icebreaker, and it always goes over well. Soon I'm offered free cigarettes and kalbi snacks as gestures of good faith, welcoming me to their Korean brotherhood. Thanks, Pollo a la Brasa!

All wood, all meat.
As you may have guessed, this place specializes in chicken. The parking lot is always filled up with chopped up wood as that's the only thing they use to heat their every rotating pimpalicious rotisserie. You can smell wood and meat cooking from down the street. True man-heaven.

The staff is pretty friendly, though I don't like the main guy's dodger hat because the dodgers suck. With that one fault out of the way, I do like hearing all the Korean workers speaking Spanish in hilarious Korean accents. Sometimes I will purposefully let Mexican people in front of me in line just to hear it. Also, since the clientele is mostly Mexican, they serve tortillas, pico de gallo, salsa verde, beans and rice, a such with the food. It's ok, though the salsa is often too hot for my sensitive gringo tongue.

BUT the main thing here is to buy the whole chicken. They have combos and whatnot. But if you're a real man you pony up and get the whole bird and save the rest to eat without utensils later. I'm seriously doing it right now, constantly having to wipe my hands between sentences. I'm not lying to you.

It's fucking delicious.

Anyway, a chicken sets you back about $8, roughly $3 more than a Costco chicken but without the $5,000,000,000 dollars worth of grief you have to go through shopping at Costco. Well worth it. It will last you anywhere from 2-4 days depending on if you eat it straight or chop it up into your chili. (Those are the only two things any real man would do with Chicken.)

So listen up, men. Pollo a la Brasa, do yourself a favor, get educated on your chicken game and learn some Korean in the process. Hit it up.

Name: Pollo a la Brasa
Genre: Rotisserie Chicken
Value: Exceptional, especially for the whole chicken.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: 10 fingers, one stomach, two testicles.
Rating: 5 / 5

Thursday, July 21, 2011

22. El Coyote

Spanish for "The Coyote", El Coyote is one of those Mexican restaurants who brags about it's multi-decade tenure in Los Angeles.I think El Coyote (along with senior citizen's underwear) teaches all of us a valuable lesson in that just because it's been around, doesn't make it delicious. Word to the wise, these were terrible eats here, people. I don't even think a real coyote would eat here, and they mostly eat the rotting flesh of sun-baked carcasses.

My friend Erin and I ended up here after we committed ourselves to an afternoon of hardcore weekday drinking. The LA summer sun was blistering overhead and even though we wanted a patio-adorned perch, we decided to go here instead. It had a covered patio and apparently it was a "can't-miss" LA hotspot. Both these things are very important to me.

I wanted to eat light because South Africa had made pretty fat. And Erin wasn't really planning on eating at all, the strategic drinker she is. She ordered a Mojito, and I got the Cadillac Margarita and green chile tamales a la carte.

The free chips they brought us were ample, and they provided two types of salsas, so they got some bonus points for that. Those 2 or 3 bonus points were irrefutably annihilated from existence, though, when the food and drinks came out.

Erin's "Mojito" was nuclear green. it literally looked like if she spilled it onto a turtle it would transform into a crime fighting ninja. The listed ingredients of said Mojito never included Slimer from Ghostbusters. And the look on her face at first sip resembled the same one someone makes when they witness a cat with diarrhea being swung around by it's tail. She let me try it and I don't think I've EVER tried anything that sugary, and I once ate a heaping bowl of sugar.

My Margarita wasn't as bad but it certainly wouldn't be taking home the blue ribbon. It was terribly mixed, far too much tequila to the point where I had to wait a couple minutes for some ice to melt to make it drinkable. My green chile tamales were about 94% corn meal, with a ravioli sized chile in the middle with unmelted cheese in it. Unmelted CUBED cheese...gnar.

Erin had enough of her terrible Mojito and got up and asked some people across the restaurant if their drinks were any good. She returned to say that the woman across the way LOVES her Raspberry Margarita. Erin promptly returned her nearly full drink and ordered one of those. When it arrived and she tried it, she didn't give the cat-with-diarrhea face, but it was more of a look-a-kid-gets-when-they-first-find-out-Santa-doesn't-exist face. Half confusion, half distress. We made that our last/only drink there and quickly left to find greener drinking pastures.

Now, I find both Erin and I to be relatively discerning with food, but also pretty accepting of mediocrity. But this place was terrible. And it brought into question the good judgement of not only the 50+ patrons in the place, of of LA foodies in general. How the hell could these idiots really be enjoying food this bad? I guess everyone in LA actually IS a gutless, trend-suckling sheep...I'm shocked!!

Name: El Coyote
Genre: Mexican
Value: None.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: IQ below 40.
Rating: 0 / 5

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

21. South Africa

I've been in South Africa for the past couple weeks for work and I'm taking the time to enjoy some of the local eateries here. Also, hopefully this explains why I haven't really written anything lately.

I've mostly spent my time around the periphery cities of Cape Town like Simonstown, Kalk Bay (hee hee!), and Fish Hoek. Because of the long work hours, we don't usually get many chances to eat out, but here's what I've come to realize about restaurants in South Africa. You can expect pretty decent quality of food, with zero attention to the customer.

You can expect all restaurants in Simonstown to be closed at 8:30pm, and not just "Sorry sir, the kitchen's closed." kind of closed. Literally a "Sir, it's 8:30, you need to finish your meal right now because we're closing." kind of closed. Also, you should get your food orders in around 6:30pm at the latest because the food takes so long to come you probably won't be done with even a quick meal until 2.5 hours later. What the hell kind of restaurant that serves dinner closes at 8:30?...and not just that...but turns away paying customers. Maybe I'm brainwashed by my American standards of eating, but sometimes it baffles me how these places stay afloat.

The food itself tends to be quite nice and of decent quality but I haven't ventured too far yet. Anyway, not much to report, I'll be back in a couple weeks with some better stuff to talk about.

Name: Restaurants in South Africa
Genre: Pretty much everything except Mexican
Value: The company pays for meals so...excellent!
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Meager appetite and infallible patience
Rating: 3 / 5

Sunday, June 12, 2011

20. Bruhaus

So after a delightful dinner in Brentwood, my friend Scott, a couple of out-of-town visitors, and I decided to go check out the new German sausage and beer house "Bruhaus."

Nestled snugly between Wilshire mainstays Cabo Cantina and Q's Billiards club, Bruhaus is Brentwood's attempt at bringing a taste of class to the otherwise party-hearty environment that local residents have come to know, love, hate, and somehow always wind up at.

Before I get too much into Bruhaus, I should explain that when you go to Q's or Cabo, you go to get silly drunk and try to sleep with as many liquored up post-grads that you can rapid-fire hit on. It's a college bar scene through and through, with sexual exploits including my friend Brian getting public domers on the balcony. But, why, you might ask, would I EVER want to listen to rocking music, screw floozy chicks, and drink reasonably priced booze with my bro's?? Good question, and the very same thing occurred to the founders of Bruhaus, who decided to deviate from that winning recipe and bring a taste of Hollywood douchebaggery right smack into Brentwood's Party Alley.

Because Bruhaus is new, I understand that people will check it out squarely out of curiosity. But it was literally shoulder to shoulder packed when we arrived. Mind you, we didn't walk immediately inside because the "Bouncer" (some dorky emo looking Brian Setzer wannabe) informed us that we were "at capacity" and would need to wait until people left. At that moment a guy walks straight out the door.

"Hey," I said, "that guy just left."

The Bouncer looked left, right, then for cocky measure, up and down, and replied, "He's just going to smoke a cigarette."

"Yes," I retorted, "that means he left. And look he's not smoking a cigarette at all, he's just hanging out outside with his friends and that blonde chick." I replied as I watched the man walk outside to meet up with some friends and a blonde chick as they continued to talk and mingle nearly 10 yards from the bar entrance.

The bounce pretended to ignore me. We waited another 45 seconds and a group of 5 people walked outside. I looked at the bouncer he looked at me, and he let another 30 seconds or so pass. He took a long breath and finally replied, "Ok let's see your ID's."

What a prick. Seriously I expect that kind of pompous crap in Hollywood, but not in Brentwood. This is where people go with one shoe on, wreaking of day old puke, and still manage to shack up with some sloppy co-ed before the night's out. Whatever....we went inside.

As previously mentioned, it was packed. Everyone was shoulder to shoulder and merely getting to the bar proved to be a 20 minute errand.  Everyone was dressed to the nines in their hippest outfits making lame attempts to yell at one another over the poorly chosen DJ set. Most people just wandered aimlessly from one end of the bar to the other hoping something would happen, because conversation and dancing were both certainly out of the question. A lot of people just stood motionless and stared at their phones hoping a random  text message would come through.  I would estimate that 75% of the patrons at Bruhaus were incredibly uncomfortable with this environment, but because most people are malleable sheep they thought that since this was the "cool" place to be then they should just keep their mouths shut and pretend to love it.

This is what you do in Hollywood, stand around pretending to have fun.
I don't understand why people could be so spineless as to not actually vocalize that this place clearly sucked. Worse still, Cabo Cantina was at a perfect mingling capacity, offered cheaper drinks, and was a merely 2 second walk from Bruhaus. After 2 drinks at Bruhaus we cut our losses and went to Cabo Cantina to meet up with some other friends who were enjoying an actual table and binge drinking Tecate's instead of sampling a flight of Czech pilsners for $27. I'm not defending one type of partying and denouncing another, to each their own of course. But it's unfortunate that a strip of property that was once a haven from Hollywood socialites has now become a hub for them. Seriously, Bruhaus has a valet. How fucking retarded.

This is what you do in B'wood, try to bone girls while acting like an idiot.
People in Los Angeles are constantly reminded that they aren't rich enough, attractive enough, or cool enough. Cabo Cantina and Q's were a great place to just be yourself. The same poor, socially awkward weirdo we all love. Thanks to the assholes at Bruhaus, that's no longer the case. Best put your flip flops back in the closet.

Name: Bruhaus
Genre: German Beer and Sausage Bar
Value: Never tried the food (heard it's decent from the idiot patrons) Liquor a bit overpriced.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A story about the show you're "developing", an agent, and an incessant need to check your iphone/blackberry.
Rating: 1.5 / 5

Thursday, June 9, 2011

19. The Veggie Grill

I found myself running some works errands in El Segundo (wallet intact) and I had a brief break for lunch. Because I'm probably the fattest I've ever been in my life I thought I could passively lose weight be eating at this place called the Veggie Grill. It's in the big random El Segundo shopping plaza way in the back.

At first glance the decor is something out of an IKEA nightmare. But I'd heard good things about the food so I figure I'd stay the course and order something.  As you hopefully already guessed, there's no meat served at the veggie grill. But rather than rely on the brash assumption that people want to eat vegetables, they pretty much make sandwiches and burgers as usual except instead of meat they make a slurry of reconstituted proteins and curds and flavor them with chemicals to resemble meat (which vegetarians somehow think is better for them.)

The creepy moustachioed teenager at the counter took my order of a Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich and handed me a number. I opted out of the sweet potato fries as they unfortunately were $2.50 extra and also as previously mentioned, I'm fat. I sat at a seat and waited for my order.

Something struck me as awkward. As I waited for my food I looked around and while I couldn't put my finger on it, I felt there was something about this place....The ambiance music in this place played in this order: Jesse McCartney, James Blunt, LFO, Howie Day, Sarah McLaughlin, repeat, repeat.

Then it hit me. Excluding the workers, I was the ONLY male customer in the entire place. And mind you, this wasn't like there were 4 girls and me. There had to have been close to twenty women sitting and eating with even more in line. It was either the beginning of some awesome porno movie or some twilight zone nightmare. They were all dressed in either yoga pants or business suits, neither of which were appropriate since there's really nowhere to exercise nor many office building in the general area.

Thankfully I was dressed in probably the most heterosexual outfit I own (replete with hockey team hat) with masses of unkempt facial hair, so it was clear as day that I was obviously lost and not looking to discuss their relationships, bosses, or insecurities. I did however, have to overhear 47 women discuss those subjects with one another. All  My food was brought to me and I dug in, silently.

Truth tell, for not having any chicken in the fucker, it was a damn good sandwich. And I mean REALLY good. Modern science has somehow not only chemically found the flavor for chicken, but also for slightly mesquite, crispy chicken. The taste, consistency, and presentation were all spot on. I also really like How the soda machine only serves water, so you don't have to feel like a freeloading chump for ordering free water like you do at the movie theater.

Notice the man in back sitting quietly.
I wolfed the sandwich down REALLY fast. It was so good! Needless to say, all the jabber-jockey chicks in there were about 1-2 bites in and still running their mouths to one another by the time I finished. I was full despite no fries and I had a feeling of pride for eating quasi-healthy. Bachelors take note, there are a gaggle of women in this place, old and young. I can't verify if this would actually be a good place to meet women though, lest you be caste as a potential man-friend or shopping partner, but it's worth a shot if only to try the awesome food.

I will say that you're going to drop around $10 per burger/sandwich at this place. Which is a little on the steep side, but the quality shows through in all their ingredients. They have lots of juices and shit too if that's your thing but water is usually enough for me. If you're into good food and cockblocking some chick's gossip hour, then I would totally suggest the Veggie Grill, no yoga pants required for dudes.

Name: The Veggie Grill
Genre: Women-Only Vegetarian Sandiwches
Value: A bit steep but good quality ingredients, around $10 bucks to fill your face.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Heavy Duty Earplugs.
Rating: 4.5 / 5

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

18. Ramenya

It was yet another insufferable morning of alcohol induced regret. Waking up sleeping on a leather couch is probably the worst feeling in the world. I was at my friend Mark's condo, blurry-eyed with an insatiably sore throat and an urge to both piss and vomit simultaneously.

The kitchen counter was littered with last night's post-drinking munches: Chili-cheese fries with stale cheese forming an impenetrable crust, half eaten hamburgers with too much mayonnaise dropping from the bun, it was truly a dismal site.  Chris, Mark, and I each took turns expelling our demons in the bathroom before we convened on the couch to rehash last night and formulate a game plan.

Conveniently, and not surprisingly, Chris had weed. (He has dreadlocks - hence the lack of surprise). The drugs helped take the edge of the hangover, but left us with *gasp* an insatiable lust for food. The problem with getting stoned and discussing something simple like where to eat is that while ideas come free, no one has the conviction to decide on a place. We'd literally suggest a place, agree, get excited, then find ourselves trailing off and sitting on the couch for another 10 minutes before one of us starts the cycle anew.

After about 1.5 hours of trying to leave, we exited Mark's condo still with not a 100% idea of where we were going. We got to the bottom floor of his place and finally one of us asked, "Hey, where are we going, anyway?"

"Let's go to Ramenya," Mark drove the final nail into the coffin of our indecision.

Ramenya is a Japanese noodle house on Olympic. I could tell it was generally going to be good by the wide variety of customers in the place. There was one table left which we took. A cheerful old asian lady with a comically fat ass handed us some menus.

We started with some Gyoza and Mark and Chris ordered some kind of ground pork ramen. I opted for a corn, tofu, and egg style soup which was not so different from Eggdrop soup. We waited for what seemed like forever (I'm sure the weed helped that.) until the waitress brought out our soups.

Holy Shit! These bowls were massive!!! Each of us had a punchbowl sized bowl of ramen. They seriously were the size of a DirectTV satellite dish. If these bowl's followed the Goldilocks principle of dish sizing, these were Great-Great-Grandpa bear.

Worse still, our fat asses finished every last drop. I have to admit, it really hit the spot. It wasn't too salty and it had ample noodles so you weren't just drinking your meal. Also, I was REALLY impressed with the spoon design... I'll try to give a visual example:

We left with over a gallon of soup each in our bellies. And honestly, while I liked the soup a lot, the feeling of carrying that soup with you all day was terrible and made me shit like 5,000 times. Though with that being said, I'm sure the hangover helped in that venture.

This is a great place to go while stoned. But please, exercise caution and don't finish your meal. We went back to Mark's place to smoke more pot to make our stomach's feel better.

Name: Ramenya
Genre: Japanese Noodle House
Value: Good, but cash only.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: OG Kush and  throbbing headache.
Rating: 4 / 5

Monday, May 30, 2011

17. The First Couple Days After Grocery Shopping

Things were looking grim in the kitchen. I needed groceries.

I swear to you there is no better feeling than a full fridge. More divine than the sweetest of manna. I'm not sure how the rest of you roll, but I literally am spooning jam, eating ketchup packets, and mixing up dubiously purchased baby food before I'll admit to myself that I need groceries. So when I've been running on fumes in my kitchen for a week or two, the magic carpet ride (aka Ralph's) seems like Mecca itself.

When I grocery shop I literally go into a zen type of lucid meditation. I no longer acknowledge moronic people and nuisances, life goes quiet and I am alone with my thoughts.

"Pickles...fuck yeah!!!" seems to be my first message.

I returned home with armloads of groceries from meats to drinks, to frozen goods,and grains. Everything under the sun was now plucked, packaged and placed in my kitchen in easy-to-open packages.

I live alone so I constantly have sweat-inducing nightmares of my food going bad before I eat it. I also always purchase too much out of greed and bouts hedonistic gluttony. I'm stuck between a rock of value and the hard place of excessive supply. So there's nothing left to do but make myself eat a lot of the food in the first couple days to make myself feel's a tough responsibility that I've bestowed unto myself.

It's just so great a feeling when you have exactly what you want when you want it. Even when you're fridge is pretty stocked, it's not the same. Your sandwich will invariably be missing one ingredient, like pepper jack cheese. And sure. your sandwich is pretty good, but you just can't get your mind off of that missing cheese. How good it would have those peppers would dance a flavorful tango of lust with your taste buds. That would have been so good, that cheese. Sitting on that sandwich, cheesing it up. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.

It's downright murder. You don't have those horrible feelings of frustration those first couple days after grocery shopping because everything is there. You might as well have two dinners, with dessert.

Name: Kitchen (+ pantry)
Genre: Gastronomy
Value: Dependent on ownership of Ralph's Club Card.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A fridge that won't run away


Sunday, May 29, 2011

VIDEO - Magic Milk

Because regular milk is stupid.

16. 1739 Public House

It was hipster Sunday Funday, ironically taking place on a Saturday, because Sunday's are too mainstream. And of course it wouldn't be a hipster Sunday without massive (literally gallons) of sweet, unadulterated irony.

"Soccer" Brian told me over the phone, "The UEFA Championship League Final, it's on today and we're watching it at Public house in Silverlake."

I furrowed my brow in a lame attempt to grasp the situation. "Soc.....cer?" I replied bewildered. "Yooo ayyyyyfuhhhh?"

After being called a random slew of things such as, "jankster" "turkey" and "honkey" Brian reluctantly agreed to pick me up. A trip to Silverlake means I can't just wear a t-shirt, jeans, and some Nike's, lest I be laughed out of the neighborhood. (Note: It is acceptable to wear a T-shirt, jeans, and Nike's if, when accused, you reply "Yeah, I'm just SO over the wannabe hipster scene." This trick is known as Pointing out the Irony of Being Ironic and should only be used in moments of true duress.)

The real foundation of Hipster-casual is your ironic T-shirt. I had the perfect weapon, a vintage, slightly too small San Francisco 49er's T shirt with football player Dwight Clark leaping over the golden gate bridge making a catch with the words "THE CATCH '82" printed across. It was true Hipster gold. It had all the ingredients: a) Too small, b) A date prior to 2000, c) a universally recognizable city or landmark, and d) it was a football shirt when going to a futbol match. Solid gold, baby.

I topped it off with my Father's Safe School Bus Driver Award jacket which he gave me because it's horribly ugly. I would normally agree, but when I go hipster, I go hard. Wait until those 1950 greaser throwbacks get a load of my sweet ass jacket which indicates I'm a safe school bus driver only to find out that *gasp!* Not only am I not a safe school bus driver, I'm not a school bus driver at all!! Suffice to say, I was ready for soccer.

Brian and I met up with a large group of friends at 1739 Public House in Silverlake. I was genuinely impressed with their ample placement of many large television sets placed unobtrusively around the entire dining area as to let every have an adequate view of the game. I sat down and was quite disappointed to see that there were minimal hipsters proliferating the premises. I was quickly reminded it was 11:00am on a weekend and I would need to wait until at least 1:30pm to being seeing the Ironic Army. Fair enough.

These people are cooler than you.

1739 Public House, I would soon learn, had an ironic idea of customer service that "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if the customers wait on themselves?!" I sat patiently for about 10 minutes before realizing that I needed to grab my own menu from the front, bring it back to my seat and figure out my order. Normally not a problem but the place was littered with Soccer fans so getting up and down was a real pain. After you wedged your way back to your seat, you had to wedge your way back out again and place your order at the bar. They gave me a number and was instructed to sit back at my seat and wait for my order, but not before asking for a tip.

I'm sorry, but what am I tipping you for? Entering my order into the cash register? That's literally all you did. And how do I know the food will be up to snuff? What if it was terrible and brought out over an hour after I ordered it?

Well, surprise surprise... After tipping. I returned to my seat and literally waited over an hour for 1 hamburger. It finally arrived, cold, small, and with soggy fries. I opened my mouth to complain but the server had scooted off without even offering me ketchup. I didn't see another waiter that day.

The service was TERRIBLE. Like, it wasn't bad, it was godawful. Even buying a beer was a laborious feat. Here 1739 Public House was, choked full of ready-to-drink soccer fans and they were making them all stand up and return to the bar to buy drinks. I'm no Donald Trump, but I'm business savvy enough to know that when well-to-do soccer fans are ready to shell out money on premium beers, you make every attempt to eliminate the steps between collecting money and serving a beer as humanly possible. The good news was, at this point I had my first hipster-spotting. (It was a girl with thick black frame glasses, a terrible haircut - with bangs of course, bright red lipstick, and a dress from the 1950's.)

I wish I thought of this.

I estimate 1739 Public House probably missed out on at least 50-75 extra beer sales by not having servers available for the event. Seems silly to me, but I suppose to irony of NOT wanting to sell beer is not lost on me. If you're a recovering overweight alcoholic who likes non-mainstream sports like soccer, rugby, Aussie Rules football, or *shudder* cycling, then 1739 Public House is the place for you. If, on the other hand, you like to get actual service and good food and beers brought to you by a waiter, then try every other restaurant in the world.

PS: I don't know who won the soccer game.

Name: 1739 Public House
Genre: Craft Beer Bar and Grill
Value: Waste of money and dignity
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Prior experience as a waiter or waitress as you'll be serving yourself.
Rating: 2 / 5

Monday, May 23, 2011

15. Phillipe

It was one of this Sundays where you slowly open your eyes, picking out flecks of regret and remorse as you feel the impending hangover settling in. I awoke on my friend Brian's floor at noon realizing that the prior nights activity's had left me in a place of contempt for life, friends, and fun. I located my pants and rolled to the couch to play Xbox baseball. 

Saturday nights fit of hedonism left my stomach full of beer, whiskey, vodka, and Zima. Unfortunately, no food. So even in my putrid state, food was tantamount. Visions of pizza dancing merrily in my head and began to make me salivate.

Brian came out of his room and I greeted him. "Man, what a night. We should get Pizza."
"Yeah," he replied, "Last night was nuts."
"I feel like pizza."
"The Sharks game is on." Brian remembered.
"Hey we should just order a pizza and watch this game." I tried again.
"Nice," he stated, Giants are up 1-0."
"Are there good pizza places in Brentwood?" I asked.
"Adam McKay is one big ass dude" was his response.

At that point Brian's Roommate Billy arises from bed to greet us in the living room.
"Man, what a night, "Billy said. "Brian can you give me a ride to downtown to get my car? I'm super hungry too, we should eat at Phillipe."
"Good idea," Brian said. "Let's go there."
"Fuck." was all I could think.

And that's the story of how we ended up at Phillipe. A staple of downtown Los Angeles located adjacent from Union Station. Phillipe (not Phillipe's) is famous for it's French Dip Sandwiches and boasts that it even invented them. Their story is that a police office named Officer French ordered a sandwich and the worker accidentally dropped the bread into a conveniently located open bucket of Au Jous sauce. French said it was fine and to make the sandwich with the same bread. The rest was supposed history. Bill, Brian and I all deemed this story to be marketing hogwash and proceeded to hypothesize what actually happened. (I suggested that Officer French was actually the local pedophile.)

Inventor of the French Dip Sandwich.
Anyway, not unlike most landmark restaurants, this place was packed. The offered mainly French Dip sandwiches with a small selection of alternatives. Meat choices included pork, beef, ham, lamb, and turkey with like 4 or 5 cheese options. I went with turkey because I'm trying to passively lose weight while Billy got lamb and Brian got pork. The Sandwiches were reasonably priced around 6 bucks each. I only say reasonably because I didn't feel entirely full at the end. But they offer lemonade for 45 cents, iced tea for 65 cents and coffee for 9 cents, so that was an absolute steal.

They also offer a super spicy mustard to douse your soggy ass sandwich in, which I deemed fantastic. This place is cash only which  normally isn't a problem, except I'd emptied my wallet drinking the night before so my whole meal cost an extra $2.50 per the ATM surcharge. I just don't understand how a consistently packed, world famous restaurant still  tries to duck the IRS and not take cards. This was a major issue for me on principle. 

Overall this place is good, but plan on waiting in a long ass line. Also, you can order double meat, or betteryet just play it safe and order two sandwiches to genuinely feel full. But police officers and pedophiles agree, this place is pretty good. Also, parking is ample.

Name:  Phillepe
Genre: Sandwiches
Value: Great!
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal:  Cash money, baller.
Rating: 4 / 5

Sunday, May 22, 2011

14. Coors Light

Yes, I know Coors Light is about as classy a beverage as Jersey Shore is poignant. But as I sit here typing this with a cold frosty at arm's reach, watching the mountains slowly lose their frost-blue hue, I take a sip from the "ultrawide mouth" accentuated by the "drinking vent" and think....who am I to judge? The shit gets me drunk.

Here's the thing, I'm pretty sure there's no Coors Light drinkers out there who appreciate it's fine-craftsmanship, refined hops, and punctuated barley accents. People tap the Rockies because you can get drunk really easy and not feel bloated while doing so. Also, with all the aforementioned features that Coors Light offers: Blue Mountains, Wide Mouths, Drinking Vents, etc, the good people at Coors are making it abundantly clear: Drink this, and drink lots of it quickly. Anyone who thinks they're better than binge drinking at social events needs to remind themselves what got them into drinking in the first place.

If I finish a hard day of work, I honestly would NOT want to cap it off with a Coors Light. I'm more of a craft beer drinker, but that doesn't mean that the bottom section of my fridge isn't stocked aplenty with upwards of at least 12 Coors Lights at any given time.

One of the many things you can buy if you drink Coors Light.
Why? Plenty of reasons. 1) What if friends come over? I don't want them running a drinking train on my Chimay's and Boddingtons - they get Coors Light and lots of it. 2) What if you spontaneously get invited to a Dodger game? You certainly can't do that sober, and you don't want to chug beers that are too heavy and full-bodied. You'll end up puking more than just watching the Dodgers in general. 3) It's cheap, so you can spend your money on hair gel...or you know...whatever.

Plus, let's be real here. You drink it and it's gone. Hopefully between those two points it will get you drunk and you can make inappropriate phone calls or something. My friend Brian says he's too good for Coors Light but I think you look more like a buster if you turn down a Coors Light then you do by actually drinking one. It's free beer and drinking beer is fun. So is hair gel.

PS: Rod Beck drinks Coors Light. 'Nuff said.

Name: Coors Light
Genre: Party Beer
Value: Great, and you can recycle the cans for even more added value.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: 

Rating: 4.5 / 5