“Chef”, Sherman Oaks Galleria, ArcLight & Dinner at Versailles

“Chef” (the film) at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria and Dinner at Versailles Restaurant in Encino!

Memorial Day Monday! It’s a national holiday!

USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day! – USA! The United States of America!

I hung the American flag out front first thing in the morning, then changed my facebook cover and profile photo to reflect the patriotic nature of the holiday. I had bacon and coffee for breakfast, and then fried chicken, watermelon, strawberries, avocado, and an iced espresso for lunch. Later I munched on some popcorn and then went to the movies and saw “Chef” at the ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (it was very good, but don’t see it on an empty stomach). Then we went for dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino and had a great meal.

There are four parts to this Blog:

1. “Chef” (the film) starring and directed by Jon Favreau, with John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and “the kid”. Great supporting roles performed by Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlet Johansson, and Oliver Platt. There’s also a small but memorable cameo appearance by Robert Downey Jr.

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film

“Chef” – My Review of the Film: I liked it! It was a very good story, it was well written and well acted with interesting characters to care about. There was almost no CGI and no one got assaulted, murdered or blown up. It was well directed with a straightforward and low-budget “indy film” quality. It’s a feel-good, buddy movie/romance/father-son bonding story,  with (spoiler alert) a happy ending. The story was fun! It was made up of a series of both comedic and dramatic vignettes, about a middle-class, hard-working chef trying to manage both his career and his fractured family. There were several very clever creative choices both in plot and direction that explore social media (Twitter, facebook, vine, etc.) and it’s influence on our culture and society.

"Chef" the film

Exploring the Influence of Social Media and Twitter in “Chef” the film

Jon Favreau does a great job as the title character, Chef Carl Caspar, including performing difficult knife tricks and cooking tasks with practiced skill. John Leguizamo is great as his sous chef, buddy and comic relief. I’m sure sales of corn starch are going to spike. Bobby Cannavale is good as the other sous chef, playing the wasted but capable second fiddle with his usual almost over-the-top “New York theatre trained” style. Scarlet Johansson plays the restaurant’s beautiful hostess and the chef’s “friend with benefits”, and in this case the benefit is pasta! Dustin Hoffman is terrific as the intractable restaurant owner. Sofia Vergara is gorgeous and shines as the chef’s ex-wife and romantic interest, remarried and divorced from a sleaze bag investor played by Robert Downey Jr., but sharing custody and co-parenting of their adolescent son. “The kid” did good job, and I gave him a pass on the few times he was “acting” it, because he was cute and his performance was both capable and pivotal to the storyline. And a tip of the hat to Oliver Platt for his performance as the food critic Ramsey Michel. There’s a lot of music, both soundtrack and live performance, in the film. I enjoyed the ethnic Cuban beat (made me miss Tito Puente), Gary Clark Jr.’s Texas blues, working in the kitchen, cooking good food, road-trip playlist and even enjoyed the sing-along to “Sexual Healing”. From the opening cooking sequence accompanied by Aiko-Aiko I found myself tapping my feet along with the music. And of course, as a film titled “Chef” necessitates, there was a lot of cooking and good food involved, so my advice is to go see it, but don’t see it on an empty stomach, because you’ll be hungry for something good (maybe a Cubano sandwich) by the time the credits roll at the end.

————————————————————————————————–

The holiday adventure began with a drive down Ventura Boulevard at 4pm. Normally on a weekday, there would be a lot of traffic. Everyone must have left town or stayed home to barbecue, because there was hardly anyone on the road.

Ventura Blvd east going to Sherman Oaks (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

No Traffic on Ventura Blvd going east to Sherman Oaks! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

A short drive down the nearly deserted street brings us to the world famous SHERMAN OAKS GALLERIA (the second incarnation). Parking is available in the structure under and next to the Galleria Complex. Valet parking is located under the main mall structure and self-parking is located in the structure next to the bank, offices, restaurants and retail shopping. There is a charge for parking, but there are validations available at the theatre, the Starbuck’s, and in the restaurants. Parking in the structure can be crowded and difficult at times, so be sure to allow for traffic and a long wait to exit the parking structure and/or get your car back from the valet when there are a lot of people at the Galleria (or when all the movies let out at the same time).

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

2. The Sherman Oaks Galleria at the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards is a San Fernando Valley Landmark. Used as a filming location since it was first built in 1980, and featured in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “Commando” and many other films and television programs. The original mall was damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and then repaired, but never fully recovered. It closed in April 1999 for a major renovation and remodel. It reopened in 2002 as a mixed-use open-air center, it’s second and current incarnation, a collection of office space, retail shopping, a few familiar chain restaurants, a Starbuck’s, a Ben & Jerry’s and the ArcLight Cinemas.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – “The Wind Tunnel” Patio Area (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Fuddrucker’s Hamburgers (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Water Wall in “The Wind Tunnel” (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria - P.F. Chang's Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Chinese Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – P.F. Chang’s Horse Statue (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – The Cheesecake Factory (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – El Torito Grill Mexican Restaurant (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The walk from self-parking (once you’ve found a space) takes you past the restaurants, retail shops, patio, courtyard and fountain. Continue through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, to the rotunda and the escalator and elevator. And be sure to leave enough time for parking and the walk if you’re going to the ArcLight Cinemas!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Ride the escalator or the elevator (past the DSW Shoe Store) to the third floor and the ArcLight Cinemas lobby. There’s a fitness center and membership gym on the second floor, so just expect to see people in workout clothes anytime of day or evening and there may be a funky smell in the elevator.

NOTE: If you Valet Park, you can ride the elevator or the escalator up to the third floor without walking through the “wind tunnel” and covered walkway, but all you’ll see of the Galleria is the rotunda. There is an additional charge for Valet and as previously noted, you may have to wait awhile to get your car back. But on a positive note, you might meet a celebrity while you’re waiting! I said hello to Ice Cube last time I used the Valet.

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – rotunda, skylight & glass elevator (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The ARCLIGHT CINEMAS in the Sherman Oaks Galleria

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

3. The ArcLight Cinemas in the Sherman Oaks Galleria was originally the Pacific 16, but was rebranded, renovated and upgraded in 2007 (with further improvements made even more recently). In addition to the traditional popcorn, candy & soda concessions, there are better food items available. They have a coffee, tea and espresso bar and a gift shop that sells Hollywood “movie-related” knick-knacks and other souvenir items.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Box Office is inside the theatre, in the lobby, and you don’t need a ticket to visit the espresso bar, gift shop, concession stand, lobby exhibits or cocktail lounge.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Concessions Stand (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marvel Merchandising! Get your Spider-Man 2 lunchbox and Wolverine sippy-cup here!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Gift Shop (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 “Double espresso with whipped cream, please.”

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Coffee, Tea and Espresso Bar (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And there’s a BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE AREA with a full liquor license in one corner of the lobby! Cocktails, beer and wine are available of purchase but can only be consumed in the lounge area!

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – THEY HAVE A BAR & COCKTAIL LOUNGE! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They had a large promotional display for Disney’s “MALEFICENT” with Costumes & Artwork in the lobby. (see my next blog with more pictures and details)

Maleficent! Costumes at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Maleficent! Costumes & Artwork at the ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The film was showing in a theater adjacent to the Bar & Cocktail Lounge Area, and it was a full house for a 4:30pm showing on Memorial Day Monday.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – Full House for “Chef” the film (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I wandered past the X-Men Days of Future Past lighted wall of marketing, and it was cool.

ArcLight Cinemas (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ArcLight Cinemas – X-Men Days of Future Past wall of marketing (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Going Down at the Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sherman Oaks Galleria- covered walkway (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Usually we like to hit the Cheesecake Factory after a film, when it’s not a total madhouse. The food is good and you get a lot of it, and the cheesecake is THE BOMB. It gets pretty slammed when the Galleria is busy and a there are good films showing, but that’s true of all the restaurants in the complex on high traffic days. I don’t care for the El Torito Grill, and P.F. Chang’s is pretty expensive for Chinese food. Fuddrucker’s is an okay burger, but it’s almost “buffet style”and there’s a FatBurger and In-N-Out not too far away if you want a real good burger. There’s a Sisley Italian Kitchen and an upscale Denny’s across the street within walking distance, or any number of good restaurants on Ventura Blvd just a short drive away. I recommend Cafe Bizou (east of Van Nuys Blvd) but you should make a reservation well in advance for dinner.

Well, after seeing “Chef”, the decision was made to have Cuban food. So, after the walk back to self-parking and a short drive back down Ventura Boulevard, we arrived at our dinner destination, VERSAILLES CUBAN FOOD RESTAURANT in Encino.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

4. Dinner at Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant in Encino

If you want Cuban food, Versailles is the place! We’ve been eating here since they opened the Encino restaurant. The original space is in West L.A. at Pico and La Cienega, and there are also Culver City and Manhattan Beach locations.

Versailles Cuban Food

Versailles Cuban Food – The Dining Room (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Encino location is a large storefront dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows tucked into the corner of a small strip mall on Ventura Boulevard. The parking lot is small, but there is always metered street parking (8am-8pm) available nearby. They have a small bar area and there’s usually a sporting event on the television. It’s pretty much “no frills”, just good food, and when the dining room is full at peak dining times, it can get very loud.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Menu (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

They have an extensive menu of classic Cuban food, with a wide choice of chicken, pork, beef, fish and vegetarian options.  The food is consistently excellent! We usually pick up “take out” and our regular order is the house specialty, the garlic roast chicken served with steamed rice, black beans (or moros, a combo of dirty rice and black beans), onions and plantains. The roast chicken (and also pork, beef and fish) is marinated in their special Cuban garlic-citrus-vinegar sauce, which is also sold by the bottle at the bar.

Versailles Cuban Marinade - sold by the bottle at the bar

Versailles Cuban Marinade – sold by the bottle at the bar

Start with a glass of sangria and the bread with butter and garlic, choose an appetizer, an entree and later, if you are so inclined and not too full, a dessert. The entrees are large and easily shared by two people (or more), so bring friends and order a few different things.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Sangria and a Coke (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food- Bread w/chopped garlic & melted butter (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

ON THE MENU: I had the Bistec Empanizado (seasoned & breaded steak) and plantains served with steamed rice & black beans! Also had to have the bread with garlic and melted butter, a taste of pork tamale (with garlic sauce which I also drizzled on my rice), a glass of sangria, and a coke.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Pork Tamales in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado with Plantains (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Bistec Empanizado, the breaded steak (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – The Roast Chicken in Garlic Sauce! (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I also recommend the roast pork in garlic sauce and the oxtail stew in tomato and wine sauce, which were also on the menu at our table.

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Versailles Cuban Food – Oxtail Stew in a Tomato & Wine Sauce (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The prices are very reasonable, and they have lunch and dinner “specials” with discounted prices on both food and drink items. You get a lot of good food for a decent price. The service is usually fast and efficient, but it can get a little chaotic in the dining room when the waiters are slammed or serving a couple of large parties at the same time.

We all enjoyed the food and drink, had a really good time, and when we finished the place was packed. So, if you like Cuban food, definitely try Versailles. It was a great dinner, but no one ordered a Cubano sandwich (see “Chef” the film).

"Chef" the film

“Chef” the film – Russell Peters and Jon Favreau recreate a scene from “Lady & The Tramp”

Versailles Cuban Food Encino – 17410 Ventura Blvd., Encino http://www.versaillescuban.com  818-906-0756 (and 3 other locations in L.A.)

Sherman Oaks Galleria – 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91403 (on the northwest corner of Ventura Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd) http://www.shermanoaksgalleria.com ArcLight Cinemas (same address) – https://www.arclightcinemas.com 818-501-0753 

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Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown L.A.

My Sister’s Birthday Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown Los Angeles

My little sister is a bigger “foodie ” than I am, so for her birthday we decided to take her to the hot spot restaurant downtown. We tried to get a reservation at Alma, but we were denied (and they won’t take a reservation for a party larger than four people). You might think that’s unfortunate, but I don’t like restaurants where the chef cooks what he likes and serves it to you without a choice. You eat what he serves, that’s it. No thank you.

So, we made a reservation for six at FIFTY SEVEN in the industrial arts loft neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles, which is now gentrifying as fast as it can. I wasn’t driving and we took the surface street route through the Skid Row neighborhood, which has moved east now that 5th Street has been rehabilitated. It’s a strange feeling when you’re going for an expensive luxury meal and there are people living on the streets and tent encampments line the sidewalks for entire city blocks just a short distance away.

Welcome to Fifty Seven. There’s street parking and they have valet parking available.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It’s INDUSTRIAL! Enter on the alley through the tall glass doors. It’s a beautiful space with wood floors, red brick walls, metal railings, retro wall sconces, exposed ceiling and stainless trim and duct work.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There’s a huge rectangular bar, and you walk up a ramp past the open kitchen, to the raised dining area upstairs.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking down on the huge rectangular bar at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking at the front door and open kitchen area across the huge rectangular bar from the raised dining area at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Open Kitchen – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Raised Dining Area Upstairs – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The raised dining area is a little too “close quarters” and the aisle between the seats is only wide enough for one person. And of course it’s LOUD! The hard wood and brick with the low ceiling over the dining area amplifies the sound to a level that make conversation difficult. Also, there’s music playing in the bar area and there’s a performance space downstairs. Did you hear me, it’s LOUD!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Tiny Chair! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The chair was tiny and the back was just too short, there’s no way to hang a jacket properly, and it’s hard to sit in for a long time (a warning for people with bad backs). The meal, if properly done takes about 3 hours. That’s a long time in that chair.

We started with still and sparkling water, a Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine, and the Chef sent us a complimentary order of deviled eggs to get the birthday party off to a good start.

We ordered a few shared plates for the table, all of which were excellent, and everyone decided to take advantage of the Prix Fixe Menu (Great Deal! See Below.).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sparkling or Still Water? – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Marsannay 2009 was a really good wine choice.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The restaurant concept its to have a Chef in Residence, and then change that chef every six months or so. The current Chef in Residence is David Nayfeld.

From the Fifty Seven website: “Nayfeld’s cuisine can best be classified as Progressive American, harmoniously combining flavor palettes from around the world with a broad range of techniques to create food that is refined, distinctive and satisfying – all while using ingredients that are grown, harvested, and foraged wild from the land that surrounds us….in Europe, David worked with such distinguished chefs as Mauro Colagreco, Albert & Ferran Adria, Philip Rochat, David Toutain, Clare Smyth, Gregory Merchand and Jacques Genin. In New York, he spent more than three years at Eleven Madison Park, where he served as the senior sous chef. While there, the restaurant received three Michelin stars, six James Beard awards, and four stars from the New York Times”

THE SHARED PLATES:

Deviled eggs (compliments of the Chef), Fried Chicken, Pickled Garden & Veal Liver.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Deviled Eggs Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The deviled eggs with stuff inside were an excellent beginning to an awesome meal. We chose two orders of the Fried Chicken shared plate and it was perfectly cooked. The skin was crunchy and flaky, the inside was warm and juicy. It was served with pickled veggies and a brown mustard sauce. WINNER WINNER! Fried Chicken to start your dinner!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Fried Chicken Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We had to order a Pickled Garden shared plate, just based on the name. It was exactly what it sounds like, a combination of pickled vegetables. Each had a distinctive taste, different than you might expect. My mother said about the pickled cucumber (dill pickle) piece she tasted, “That’s the best pickle I’ve ever tasted.” I enjoyed the pickled carrots and pickle, they were tasty and not a typical appetizer, but I wasn’t quite that enthused about this dish.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pickled Garden Shared Plate: pickled cucumber, carrot, squash, cauliflower and baby beets with red miso – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Now the Veal Liver is a different story. Winner! Winner! The Veal Liver was truly excellent! The smell and taste brought back memories of my Great Grandmother’s chopped liver, and the texture was similar to a fine foie gras. It was served with an onion jam and toasted rye bread. I spread a big chunk on the warm bread and topped it with the jam. It was a really great combination of flavors with a taste that took me right back to my childhood!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! WINNER! – Veal Liver with Onion Jam and Sweet & Sour Nebbiolo Shared Plate! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We all enjoyed the shared plates and the wine, which were served at a very nice pace. Our waiter was attentive and took our order in a timely fashion. The servers brought the food out and presented it properly, again in a timely fashion.

The tabletop was a little small for all the food plates, silverware, and wine glasses.  I ordered a coke and an extra glass of ice, and I received only a flat “bar coke” which I sent back. Again, it was a little close quarters at the table with six people. The narrow aisle, the waiters taking orders, the servers trying to serve and bus dishes, and the hostesses trying to seat incoming parties. Not for people who can’t handle being close to other people.

We were given a short break in service, then they brought us bread course: Rye and Brioche Buns with “House Made” Butter. The rolls were baked to perfection. The brioche bun was topped with salt and anise (I think) and the butter was smooth, creamy and a little bit better than store bought.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rye and Brioche Buns – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“House made” Butter – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

HERE’S THE GREAT DEAL!

CHEF’S PRIX FIXE MENU! CHOICE OF STARTER, MAIN, & DESSERT FOR $48!

I chose the Vegetable A La Grecque, the Heritage Pork, and the Chocolate Dessert for my meal. Other choices at the table were the Brassica salad and the Jerusalem Artichoke starter plates, and the Muscovy Duck and Halibut “main” entree courses, and the Cherry dessert. I tried a little taste of everything except the halibut (which got a positive review from my step-brother).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Brassica Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Jerusalem Artichoke Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Vegetable A La Grecque Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The three starter courses were good. My vegetable plate was similar to the pickled garden, and the pickled vegetables on the fried chicken shared plates. The brassica was probably the best of the three, although the Jerusalem artichokes were very well received.

The restaurant started getting busy, the bar filled up, the noise level rose, five very muscular men from West Hollywood were seated at the table next to us (and they all pulled out their phones and started texting), and they brought us the “main” entree course.

The Heritage Pork was beautiful. It was perfectly cooked and the spaetzel mixture was a great complement to the meat. I enjoyed it, but was getting full and wanted to have dessert, so I had most of it packed “to go”.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Heritage Pork “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Muscovy Duck for Two was presented to the table for our approval and they requested we name it. I wasn’t having any part of it and just wanted to get a good picture. Alas, the sun had set and the light level inside had dimmed, so this is the best shot:

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Whole Duck for Two Shown Tableside – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: There’s a $45 upcharge for the Duck on the Prix Fixe Menu! (but it is for 2 people)

The duck was returned to the kitchen and returned to the table as a plated dish. Again, it was perfectly cooked, tangy and delicious, and complemented by a duck confit.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Muscovy Duck “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert: Cherry, Chocolate, Lemon or Strawberry? I’ll have CHOCOLATE!

And the Chocolate was terrific! It was a dark and rich chocolate-covered-creamy-mocha mousse on a cookie crust with an edible gold leaf flourish, served with salted caramel ice cream, crunchy and crispy wild rice, and a little splash of Laphroig 10 year old Scotch . I enjoyed it completely!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Chocolate Covered Mocha Mousse with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Crispy Wild Rice, and a little Laphroig 10 year old Scotch – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Cherry was also yummy. It was a tart cherry served in a warm cobbler with whipped cream. It was a little too tart for my taste (slightly reminiscent of the Swanson hungry man cranberry sauce from the frozen turkey dinner) but it too was a great dessert.

My sister got a candle in her cherry cobbler, but they didn’t make a overt show of her birthday. The other table next to us (not the guys from WeHo) was also having a birthday party, so it’s a great place for a small party and a special occasion.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Everyone in my party really enjoyed the meal. The service was good and timely, although it did slip a little as the restaurant got busy and that’s all I’m going to say about that. The Chef came out during the meal and visited our table twice, so we got to meet David and have a little conversation. Because I didn’t eat a lot of the pork, he wanted to make sure I enjoyed it and even offered to get me a different entree. I expressed my admiration for his cooking, and the pork, and declined another plate. It was a great moment and made the meal even more personal. We discussed the concept and he told us he was looking for a permanent space to open a new restaurant.

The meal was great! It was an expensive dining experience, but you get what you pay for. I would definitely go back, and I suggest you put this on your list of restaurants to try while Chef David is still in residence.

Fifty Seven712 S. Sante Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021  http://www.fiftysevenla.com

UPDATED JANUARY 13, 2017: Fifty-Seven CLOSED in September 2014!
The space is currently For Lease in the Arts District next to Bestia Italiano:
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/19913503/712-S-Santa-Fe-Ave-Los-Angeles-CA/

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