food

Local Connection

Come one, Come all to Catalina Coffee Company

In 1999, Jeff Sallee and his mother, Ellen Brown, set up their coffee shop in a building along Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach. Roomy and filled with character, the historic building was the former home of a dry cleaning business, ideally positioned near the water and a growing residential area. These days, the unwavering popularity of Catalina Coffee Company, especially in the bloom of popular coffee chains, is testament to what Sallee and Brown originally had in mind when they opened the concept: “We call it the ‘Community Gathering Place,’” says Sallee, who’s run the place as sole owner since his mother’s retirement in 2012.

Stop by and you’re bound to find an eclectic yet authentic reflection of the local community. Groups of bicyclists recharging next to tables with mothers chatting over children in strollers. Students deep in study over books and laptops. And ladies playing cards over la

ttes. (As a local, I wrote a good deal of my first book there over iced coffees.) The interior is spacious and cozy with lots of couches and deep armchairs, plus a flagstone fireplace and library room filled with books. Head outside and there’s a patio to congregate year-round under the California sunshine.

Catalina offers a full spectrum of coffee drinks— from iced and whipped to foaming and hot, all sourced from small-batch, shade-grown beans they import and roast on-site and sell by the pound. A current customer favorite from the coffee menu is the house cold brew.

“It’s a secret mix,” says Sallee. “Two kinds of beans that we import directly. It’s about three times the caffeine of a normal cold-brew coffee.” But you don’t have to love or even like coffee to enjoy the menu. Catalina Coffee Company also offers a mix of just-baked cakes and pastries, from fruit muffins and buttery croissants to creamy chocolate brownies and tangy lemon bars. There are popular breakfast and lunch items too. Morning favorites include the hearty Egg-al Sandwich with cheese and tomato served on a toasted bagel. That and the breakfast burrito—with egg and roasted potatoes wrapped in a tortilla with onions, peppers, and cheddar—and a more calorie-conscious version, the Healthy Black Bean Burrito.

Lunch is when fresh soup is served—Italian wedding, split pea and minestrone are varieties often on the board—along with a lineup of sandwiches. Standards like roast beef and turkey are available, along with distinctive offerings like the curry chicken salad sandwich, with shredded chicken breast that’s spiked with subtle curry, plus slivered almonds and chopped carrots added in for texture. From the panini section comes the Jolly Spartan—thin slices of ham are nestled with apples, crispy bacon and cheddar cheese between sourdough bread.

In the end, the special lure of the place for nearly two decades is neither its coffee nor food, though both get high marks. It’s the unique draw of a friendly, laid-back place where Beach Cities folks can happen upon others they might not otherwise congregate with in the normal course of their day. “It’s all about the community,” says Sallee, describing the wide-ranging groups that come together under Catalina’s roof, from representatives on opposing sides of a local election initiative, to hosting Coffee with a Cop events, school gatherings and even water-lover events with Dive’n’Surf, which is headquartered down the street.

“It’s the reward we get from being here.”

CATALINA COFFEE COMPANY

126 NORTH CATALINA AVE.

REDONDO BEACH, CA 90277

310.318.2499

CATALINACOFFEE.COM

Cozy Curation

The newest cafe to hit the Mid-Wilshire area is better than brunch

Written by Alisha Henson

Opening this month, the cleverly named café Met Her At A Bar makes one wonder: “Who is he, and did he actually meet her at a bar?” (Whoever she is.) The mysterious players in this scenario are owners Vincent Kinne and his fiancé, Mindy Voranartsomdee, who, having crafted a concept with a modern meets rustic appeal, bring a neighborhood vibe to the busy streets of La Brea. And, as it turns out, he actually did meet her at a bar. “When thinking about the name, the atmosphere, and the food, I wanted to be able to tell our story,” says Kinne. Perfectly situated for cozy conversation and warm welcomes, the cafe is surrounded with at-home aesthetics from carefully placed greenery that lines exposed beam ceilings, and industrial lighting throughout, to a selection of books and potted plants arranged on wooden cafe tables accented with black lacquer chairs. Whether in the mood for a brilliantly concocted Belgian waffle or a quick chai tea latte, the possibilities are as delicious as they are picturesque. “As a former food scientist, Mindy is talented at creating new flavors that have that wow factor, and we want that experience for everyone,” says Kinne.

MET HER AT A BAR

759 SOUTH LA BREA AVE

LOS ANGELES, CA

 

Local Gem

Written by Joclene Davey

When dining at Lou and Grace Giovannetti’s Southern Italian outfit PRIMO, it’s as if one is home for dinner. First- and second-generation Italian Americans, the Giovannettis’ roots stretch from the Campania region to Sicily, which their restaurant’s cuisine reflects. “The menu is a culmination of our two family[’s] recipes and the talent of chef Michelangelo Aliaga, who is ardent about Italian cooking. It’s an amalgam of our Nonno’s and Nanna’s recipes, coupled with the highest grade of fresh ingredients available,” Lou explains.

As always, the perfect accompaniment to a great Italian meal is a well-paired wine. PRIMO’s thoughtful and concise wine list is compliments of sommelier and co-owner Grace Giovannetti. The well-balanced list offers delectable Barolos, Brunellos, and Super Tuscans for even the most cultured palate. “As a sommelier at PRIMO, I get to take it to another level by sharing wines that showcase varietals from all over Italy that pair perfectly with our food,” she says. “Through our wine dinners we can extend more knowledge to our guests, especially when the Italian winemakers join us to tell their stories and how they capture the love of their land and history in a bottle for us.”

The restaurant’s dynamic, bespoke interiors come together in an elegant manner that is comfortable and inviting. Reclaimed wood touches, statuary Italian marble, exposed ceilings and custom-designed furniture set the stage for an enjoyable experience.

“Everything in the interiors [is] based on relationship,” confides Lou, referencing sketchbook pages from a friend whom traveled Italy and handwritten recipes from Grace’s grandmother. Meanwhile, there is a mélange of personal artifacts from New York, Sicily and Cava de’ Tirreni, where the Giovannettis made a pilgrimage to retrieve a family heirloom of Saint Rocco that overlooks the space. All tell a romantic story of Italian heritage in an updated atmosphere that is just trendy enough.

Noteworthy are two private areas for entertaining. Rocco’s Room is a large private dining space with banquette seating for up to 35 guests. The tech-savvy space contains a massive satellite TV for a variety of uses, from board meetings to personal parties. The second room is suited for more intimate occasions. Called La Cucina Del Nonno, it was inspired by a family owned cottage in the Montepulciano region of Italy and is fit for parties of 12 and under.

A must-see is a feature wall in the main dining room dedicated to Frank Sinatra. It serves as an homage to Lou’s personal history of singing on Broadway. A born entertainer, he has been known to perform around the South Bay over the years. In fact, on Friday and Saturday nights, one might be lucky enough to hear him serenade patrons with a block of big band hits. On a final note, Lou shares, “Our angle is simple. If you want to enjoy the weight of what Italian family and food is, come in, enjoy, take your time, visit with your friends. We aspire to be a true dinner house. When you are here, you are coming into my house for dinner.”

 

PRIMO ITALIA 24590 HAWTHORN BLVD, TORRANCE, CA 90505 | 310.378.4288 | EATPRIMO.COM

digstv, digs tv, Barran's 2239

DIGStv | Innovation and Comfort at Baran’s 2239

DIGStv | Episode 13

Innovation and Comfort at Baran’s 2239

Read the full article: https://digs.net/innovation-and-comfor…

In this episode of DIGStv we talk to Tyler Gugliotta, Torrance-born head chef of new Hermosa Beach restaurant Baran’s 2239. Tyler cooks us a new dish on their menu and gives us a few tips along the way! Come with us to see a little behind the scenes at Baran’s and what makes their homemade pasta so delicious.

Food Photographer — Lori Hirsch Stokoe

BARAN’ S 2239

502 PACFIC COAST HIGHWAY
HERMOSA BEACH, CA 90254
424.247.8468 | http://www.barans2239.com

Foodies Unite!

Featuring more than 300 restaurants offering multi-course deals for lunch and dinner, Winter dineL.A. hosts the ultimate feast

Written by Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Stella Yeo & Stacey Sun


Forks up, L.A.! Many new and established culinary outposts are granting enthusiastic gourmands the chance to indulge in their flavorful fare during this year’s expanded

Winter dineL.A., the city’s culinary event running through January 27.


Among the tantalizing treats and tastes on the menu? A wide variety of cuisine—including modern American, Japanese,

Thai, Italian and Mexican—offered at 340 restaurants from the Westside to Downtown, as well as the neighboring communities of the South Bay and San Fernando Valley.

This year, several Westside newcomers such as Erven, Rose Café-Restaurant, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (Santa Monica), and .e Cannibal Beer & Butcher will participate alongside beloved mainstays from Water Grill (Downtown and Santa Monica) to A-Frame and Chinois on Main.

“What is great about Winter dineL.A. is that diners can eat their way through the city. at an approachable price point at all restaurants,” says dineL.A. Director Stacey Sun. “The event showcases what makes this city’s culinary scene so dynamic, and best of all, lets diners support our local culinary scene in a fun and exciting way.”

How does it work?

Restaurants will offer special discounted menus for lunch (starting at $15) and dinner (starting at $29). Diners can also enjoy more savings through dineL.A. sponsor American Express just by signing up and using the card at all participating restaurants to receive $5 off a final bill of $21 or more.

Further upping the food factor, the Exclusive Series, presented by American Express, gives diners a chance to enjoy some of L.A.’s most luxe restaurants (think Providence, Spago Beverly Hills and ink.) at a reasonably priced $95-plus for dinner. Bon appétit!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, NEWS AND UPDATES, VISIT DINELA.COM

A Bit of Naples, South Bay Style

Stylish pizza eatery Locale90 opens a second location in downtown Hermosa Beach

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason

A few years ago, a pizzeria popped up in Riviera Village that was special for the fact that it had people buzzing soon after its doors opened. Strange for a pizzeria, but not for this new-style one, which serves Neapolitan-style pizza neatly aligned with current South Bay dining sensibilities.

Pizzas are cooked in a giant bulb-shaped oven from Naples, Italy (said to be the birthplace of the stuff), and topped with health-conscious delights like shaved Brussels sprouts and pancetta. There is pizza rossa (red pizza) topped with Calabrese peppers and honey drizzle (entitled the Spicy Salame), and a Prosciutto & Arugula variety with lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. There’s also a concise list of imported wines and beers; a bevy of creative starters (imported cured meats and cheese boards; small dishes of savory eggplant, ricotta and olives); and fancy salads, from the kale with dates and ricotta salata (a salted, somewhat firm type) to a salad of Italian tuna and white bean. And the design of the place is casual, roomy and smart. 

“We struck a chord with the South Bay,” says Jennifer Mentesana of the success of Locale90, which she owns with her husband John, whose Italian ancestry and culinary/food service skills proved a perfect match for her hospitality background. “I think there was a void, a place where you could come and have a delicious meal that was fresh and authentic, and also not spend a fortune. But still feel at home and comfortable and elegant.” 

With the original location well established, the Mentesanas recently opened another Locale90, this one in downtown Hermosa Beach, just steps from the intersection of Pier and Hermosa Avenues, with the kitchen helmed by Sicilian native Michele Galifi. It has the hits of the first concept, from its earthy-chic decor and elevated pizzeria menu to its relaxed atmosphere that caters equally to couples on a date, groups of friends or families with children. “We have young kids,” remarks Jennifer, “and we wanted a place where people could bring their families, but also enjoy a delicious glass of wine and an amazing meal and not have to sacrifice quality for a place where their kids could eat too.”

Though consistent with the original Locale90, the new location features a few tweaks that take its new neighborhood into account, including a convivial bar. “Our core menu will be the same as Redondo Beach,” says Jennifer, “but we’re going to try a few things here that are a little different. We know that Redondo and Hermosa have different personalities, even though it’s South Bay. .ere’s a little bit of a different lifestyle going on, so we want to be true to the community we serve.”

LOCALE90 NEAPOLITAN PIZZA MARKET

1040 HERMOSA AVENUE

HERMOSA BEACH, CA 90254

310.372.9090 | LOCALE90.COM

 

Born Again

Kali on Melrose combines years of industry know-how to offer a new style of dining to LA

Written by Wendy Bowman
Photos courtesy of Kali on Melrose

The name Kali—a Hindu adage meaning “that which brings all things to life”—could easily be used to refer to this Melrose Avenue hot spot that took over the former site of Midtown Bar & Kitchen almost a year ago. But the founders of this passion project instead chose the moniker to reflect their nuanced twist on the contemporary Cali cuisine—a mix of fresh ingredients and industry know-how that has garnered them praise from critics and food bloggers alike since the restaurant’s opening in early 2016.

kali-interior-table-shots-1

Situated in the Larchmont district—between Hollywood and Hancock Park, mere steps from the iconic Paramount Studios film lot—the restaurant was formed by longtime friends and professional colleagues, chef Kevin Meehan and wine aficionado Drew Langley. An outgrowth of Meehan’s roving private dinner party series, Kali Dining, the venture pairs acclaimed food with ingredient-focused cocktails and a curated wine program.

kevin-drew“Kali was born out of Drew’s and my desire to offer a new style of dining in Los Angeles—Michelin-level cuisine, wine and hospitality, re-imagined and stripped of the white tablecloths and tension of a formal environment,” says Meehan, who first met Langley at the legendary L’Orangerie in 2001 and went on to work with him at the now-closed restaurants Bastide and Citrine.

“We envision Kali as a neighborhood haunt for the everyday,” adds Langley. “It’s as appropriate for an impromptu weeknight meal with friends as it is for a business dinner, date night or post-work drink.”

Visitors to the restaurant will find an à la carte menu of first courses, entrées and desserts served in a modern yet comfortable environment. Like the restaurant’s culinary offerings, the design also was conceived by Meehan and Langley to reflect a shared vision—complete with slate stone flooring, high-arched exposed ceilings, beige-cushioned banquets and paneled oak tables simply dressed with minimalistic wire Banzai trees. A moss-covered wall at the front entrance and an open kitchen rimmed with an exposed refrigerated cooler of hanging ducks add a playful touch.

beet-tartar-kali-1As for Meehan’s succinct à la carte and drink menu, expect offerings rife with locally sourced ingredients—including pistachios from a Santa Barbara farm and black garlic fermented in house for more than a month. Among the favorites are Meringue Gelato with candied yolk shavings; Black Barley Risotto with black garlic and toasted cheese; and the New Pad Thai cocktail made with St. George Green Chile Vodka, Aqua Perfecta, lime and coconut ice. This fall, diners also can expect more local seasonal ingredients (such as red kuri squash Romanesco broccoli), along with fennel sauerkraut, added to the menu.

What’s next for Kali and its crew? The team is considering ideas for a potential Kali cookbook, in addition to—perhaps—the creation of a new more casual dining concept. The air is thick with anticipation as to exactly what these restaurant vets will bring to life going forward!

KALI ON MELROSE
5722 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.871.4160
KaliRestaurant.com

img_4011

East Meets West

Eastern Europe gets California fresh at Doma Kitchen’s new location in Marina del Rey

Written by Constance Dunn
Photography by Paul Jonason

In Russian, doma means “home.” It’s a fitting name for the new eatery tucked in a Marina del Rey shopping center that serves hearty Eastern Euro-inspired dishes like Chicken Kiev, beet-filled borsht and homemade dumplings. If the name Doma Kitchen sounds familiar, it’s because the restaurant has been around for a spell. Its first incarnation was as a pop-up in Redondo Beach before it became a Manhattan Beach mainstay, where its kale salad spiked with feta, cranberries and edamame was a hit with local residents.

img_6442

For owner Angie Corrente, who’s a welcoming fixture at her restaurant’s new digs, the decision to move to the Marina was a mix of pragmatism (they wanted a bigger space) and a desire to spread Doma’s unique brand of health-crossed Euro comfort food deeper into Los Angeles. “On the West Coast, Eastern Europe and modern European cuisine is hard to find,” says Corrente, sitting at one of the communal tables in the restaurant’s cool, airy new space. “We wanted to offer something that was familiar, yet new and healthy.”

img_6404That’s the unique draw of Doma Kitchen. The menu pulls principally from the kitchens of Eastern Europe, then tailors those dishes to the health-minded, fresh-fare tastes of today’s Southern California consumers. “We look to different regions for our menu that either we’ve been to, or we’re from,” notes Corrente, who was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. with family at age 10. (Doma’s chef, Kristina Miksyte, is originally from Lithuania and hails from a family of cooks.) “I wanted to bring something from my family tradition,” Corrente adds. “Some of the recipes, but modernized, making them relevant to our weather and our culture here in California.”

Lithuanian-style potato vareniki (dumplings) are made with healthful shiitake mushrooms. Hearty Bavarian whole-grain bread accompanies the borscht, a house specialty, and the Chicken Kiev is served with pearl couscous and a menagerie of sautéed vegetables. Breakfast and lunch are also served at Doma, with hits like a Brighton Beach Benedict (it comes with potato latkes) and Euro Tacos. Not exclusively Eastern European in its focus, the menu also includes Italian pasta with chicken meatballs, a vegetable and noodle stew from central Asia (Lagman) and a Belgian Bistro moules frites (mussels with potato fries).

img_6414Corrente, a lifelong creative who spent years in the fashion world, has been happily sculpting the new Doma Kitchen location into a space that satisfies much more than mere appetite. The work of local artists hang on the wall, and the row of seating benches along the wall are clad in denim, a nod to her days as a designer at Levi’s. Her goal—from the handspun cuisine (nearly everything, down to the dill butter and ketchup, is made from scratch) and open kitchen to the live music and adjoining lounge—is to offer an experience of comfort, welcome and home. “We have gentlemen who are in their 80s who sit and cry over our borscht, our beef and cabbage soup,” she says. “It takes them back to sitting at their grandmother’s kitchen.”

Want a taste of Doma Kitchen? Head to Pavilions at Marina Marketplace. The restaurant is tucked in a courtyard, directly to the right of the store.

DOMA KITCHEN
4325 Glencoe Avenue #8
Marina del Rey CA, 90292
310.301.0582
DomaKitchen.com

A Welcome Locale

Wine and dine at Ocean Park’s new home away from home

Written by Michelle Lyn | Photography Courtesy of Local Kitchen + Wine Bar

For chef and entrepreneur Maire Byrne, the road to her latest concept began with a four-year home catering stint that spawned a devout L.A. following. Then came Thyme Café & Market—a gourmand’s delight—now, Byrne has established her second restaurant, Local Kitchen + Wine Bar, in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood.

A casual eatery that pairs small seasonal plates and hand-crafted Neapolitan thin crust style pizza with a notable wine list and small-batch cocktails, Local has hit a high note with its neighbors. “I have deep family roots in Santa Monica and Local Kitchen + Wine Bar has been a welcome addition to the Ocean Park neighborhood,” says Byrne. “Locals have told me that they love having a place to grab a cocktail and dine with friends in a more upscale setting, and it is so much fun being a part of this community.”

Byrne’s roots in the community date back to the 1880s, when her great grandfather, a dairyman, emigrated to the area from Switzerland and purchased Santa Monica Dairy. For the next 100 years, his dairy delivered milk all over the Westside. Byrne grew up cooking with her mother, then landed notable gigs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Ajax Tavern in Aspen, before heading home to establish herself in L.A.

Just a block away from Thyme Café & Market, Local takes a modern approach to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Sleek and modern, the open-air space is flooded with natural light and enhanced by an intimate copper bar, exposed brick, white subway tiles and wine bottles displayed all the way up to the ceiling. Industrial-chic decor and framed photos pay homage to Southern California, while butcher-block tables, potted plants and strings of dim, clear lights create an intimate extension of the restaurant.

A wood-burning pizza oven is the main focal point of the bar, demonstrating how serious Local takes making pizza. The kitchen is helmed by Stephen Paul Murray, whose culinary resume includes time at Pizzeria Ortica, Studio at Montage Laguna Beach and Bottega in Napa Valley. Local’s menu starts lightly, with “Bites” like Grilled Octopus Spidini with cucumber, chile and mint; Uni served over brioche with a farm egg and herb crème fraiche; and a not-so-simple Crostini with truffle ricotta, pickled shallots and basil. However, shareable plates are their hallmark, with dishes like Stonefruit Panzanella; Black Garlic Risotto Arancini; and Fig Pizza with crispy smoked prosciutto, mascarpone, vincotto and arugula.

Brunch is meant for lingering, featuring a menu that starts with a Pistachio Cinnamon Roll or Avocado Toast with smoked salmon, bruschetta, preserved lemon and herbs; then eases into a Bacon and Egg brunch pizza; and ends with Banana Budino with a biscotti crumble, caramelized banana and whipped cream.

Byrne has long felt that people who love to eat are always the best company, and Local is truly a meeting place for the community, as well as a destination for those who enjoy good food and great conversation. Lucky for Angelenos, Byrne isn’t going anywhere. She and her husband, Tim, live nearby with their two daughters, 500 cookbooks and an endless supply of chocolate chip cookies…of course.

LOCAL KITCHEN + WINE BAR

1736 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405

310.396.9007 | LocalKitchenandWineBar.com

Stealthy Healthy

Cris Bennett has been bringing Good Stuff to the South Bay for over 30 years

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason

Some people avoid healthy food because they fear it will be anything but fun or tasty. But dive into a warm plate of Good Stuff’s brown rice, black beans and egg whites topped with grilled chicken and a dab of pico de gallo, and one realizes this belief is deeply mistaken. Under 650 calories, the Mexican Protein is part of the popular eateries’ “Beach Body Fitness” menu, and one of many dishes that demonstrates owner Cris Bennett’s knack for making health-minded dishes that are quite scrumptious.

“I think we were ahead of the curve,” Bennett says of his earliest menus. A native Angeleno, Bennett knew at a young age that the restaurant business was his calling. His first eatery, a little place he opened in West Los Angeles in 1979, was followed by Hermosa Beach’s Good Stuff in 1980. From the start, Bennett served health-minded items like veggie and turkey burgers on whole-wheat buns, salads and fresh-squeezed juice. Not standard-issue fare back in the day, he admits, but the restaurateur was catering to a California style of eating that would soon become mainstream. “It wasn’t super popular,” affirms Bennett, “but we were in the perfect area for it.”

Serving up fresh and healthy fare is a pillar that’s guided Bennett through decades of  success in a fickle business. There currently are Good Stuff branches in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, El Segundo and, most recently, at the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates. “My wife and I and the kids moved up here three years ago,” says Bennett of the new restaurant’s roots. Before that, they lived in Redondo Beach, and even though he and his wife would work at the restaurant all day, the family would dine at Good Stuff in Riviera Village all the time. Post move, he says, “We looked at each other and said, ‘Where are we going to eat? There’s nowhere to eat up here for a family with young kids.”

Identifying and fulfilling the local need for a restaurant like Good Stuff has yielded positive results for the restaurateur. Locals on the hill like the place for its all-access, something-for-everyone menu and pleasant environment, which includes a Good Stuff hallmark: a consistently cheerful staff. “It’s open all day and agreeable to all different age groups and demographics,” says Bennett. Anyone who’s lived in the South Bay for even a short spell has been to at least one Good Stuff, and knows that every restaurant is a bit different in design. For his newest branch, Bennett says, “We tried to make it really cool looking and kind of hip.” There are spacious booths, industrial roll-up doors and lots of soft blues, grays and sunlight. The look is tasteful, tame and modern.

Bennett credits designer Christine Vroom of Christine Kimberlee Designs for the look of the place. “She sculpted the way this place was designed, from the materials to the feel, everything.” The look might be different, and there might be a few more local craft beers on tap than at other locations, but the menu is consistent with other outposts, down to the universally popular Good Stuff California wrap—turkey, avocado, applewood honey bacon and Swiss cheese nestled in a spinach herb tortilla.

For Bennett, there might be something to all this health-minded eating. The hands-on boss, who knows all 150 employees by name and can usually be found working away at one of his concept’s locations, has been on a steady Good Stuff diet for years. This includes his current favorite, the 560-calorie Buffalo & Quinoa Scramble, a protein-packed menagerie of egg whites, red quinoa and vegetables that’s topped with a lean buffalo patty and a sprinkling of blue cheese. “I feel great,” says Bennett. “I feel healthy, and Good Stuff is a big part of that. I’ve been eating Good Stuff for 37 years now.”

It’s About Thyme

Cozy neighborhood cafe and market is a one-stop shop for gourmet treats

Written by Michelle Lyn | Photography Courtesy of Lehua Noelle/Thyme Cafe & Market

What began as Thyme Catering in 2004 has lovingly evolved into a cozy brick and mortar cafe and marketplace serving fresh gourmet food, including mouth-watering baked goods. Owner Maire Byrne grew up in a large family where food and convivial gatherings took center stage. Cooking alongside her mother, Byrne grew to truly appreciate both home-cooked food and the delicious memories it creates. So after attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Byrne perfected her techniques at acclaimed restaurants like Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, and Ajax Tavern, in Aspen. Her first company, Thyme Catering, earned Byrne a loyal clientele. Driven by its success, she opened Thyme Café & Market in the Ocean Park area of Santa Monica.

thyme-cafe-hr-011

“I have always felt that the simple act of bringing people together to enjoy beautiful food grown, raised and prepared with love is the most sincere act of sharing and showing someone that you care,” says Byrne of philosophy that the neighborhood’s many local regulars receive on a daily basis. Breakfast patrons go for the Roasted Tomatillo Breakfast Burrito  and the Fried Egg Sandwich on Pretzel Croissant, while the lunch set favor the Grilled Chicken and Fig Jam sandwich with manchego, red onion and basil. For dinner, Beef Short Rib Tacos with cabbage, cilantro and Chimichurri or Spiced Rubbed Lamb Sirloin with mint relish roasted cauliflower and Israeli couscous and dates are interesting enough to pique anyone’s interest.

Byrne’s Gourmet To-Go program, meanwhile, makes entertaining easy, with customers able to simply swing by and pick up a delicious dinner. During summer months, the market stocks an assortment of picnic boxes with everything needed for an afternoon at the beach, a night out at the Bowl, or a concert on the Pier, including cold beer and wine. Thoughtfully curated gift baskets are designed to offer non-perishable grocery items, freshly baked dishes from the cafe or a combination of both. For customers wanting to do something extra special to show their gratitude for a friend or loved one, bespoke options are also available.

Although Byrne may have put down roots with Thyme Café & Market, she still offers full-service catering, much to the delight of discerning fans all over Los Angeles.

THYME CAFÉ & MARKET

1630 Ocean Park Boulevard

Santa Monica, CA 90405

310.399.8800

ThymeCafeandMarket.com

 

Fresh Catch

Ocean-to-Plate Dining at the Hook & Plow in Hermosa reels in locals

Written by Michelle Lynn | Photography Courtesy of The Hook & Plow

The last few years have introduced a spate of notable restaurant openings in the South Bay, and although Manhattan Beach is leading the charge, Hermosa is not to be overlooked. In 2014, the Hook & Plow dropped anchor on Pier Avenue, bringing farm-to-table, locally sourced cuisine with an international flair to town. Four hospitality industry vets teamed up to open their vision of the perfect restaurant with a familial atmosphere. Rustic and reclaimed décor pairs well with local seafood, “fresh off the hook,” organic meats and housemade specialties. Chef Alejandro Arrieta infuses his Colombian heritage into every dish, evoking memories of cumin and coriander wafting through his grandmother’s kitchen. Proudly making all ingredients from scratch, Arrieta honed his skills under influential mentors like Thomas Keller (Beverly Hills Bouchon, The French Laundry) and José Andrés (Bazaar by José Andrés in the SLS Hotel).

From exploring the local variety of fruits and vegetables in Colombian markets as a child to bringing fresh, seasonal seafood flavors to the South Bay, Arrieta relishes the opportunity to showcase dishes and flavors in their truest form. Unique menu starters include a Roasted Peach and Burrata Salad with apple butter spread, hazelnut pralines and truffle oil; Panko Crusted Avocado with parmesan cheese, radish salad and a lime cilantro sauce; and Furikake House Fries with housemade seaweed seasoning, parmesan cheese and truffle oil. During lunch, the sandwiches shine.

The 30 H is a pretzel bun stuffed with craft beer, braised pulled pork, Napa house slaw and a peppercorn mango chutney; while the Fresh Catch Sandwich features a grilled fish of the day with jicama green papaya slaw and a cornichon remoulade on a brioche bun. Dinner highlights include Scallops and Pork Belly with summer squash, creamed truffle corn, sofrito and Peruvian corn nuts; Fresh off the Hook, a globally-inspired fresh catch served over Moroccan couscous with yogurt sauce, ras el-hanout, cilantro and a mint gremolata; and for dessert, a one-of-a-kind Bittersweet Chocolate Pot de Crème with crème fraiche, pistachios and olive oil.

Given the owners’ extensive experience in bar management, it’s no surprise that the beer and wine program is so thoughtfully crafted. Reflecting their local focus, there are 10 tap beers from breweries located within 15 minutes of the restaurant, as well as an invitation to “Tour the South Bay,” with a beer flight of four draught beers. The wine list, meanwhile, also showcases primarily California wines. Nightly specials like Clambake Mondays and Tomahawk Thursdays keep it interesting and easy, luring in locals looking to make the Hook & Plow a regular spot to gather and savor the elevated culinary scene in their own backyard.

THE HOOK & PLOW

425 Pier Avenue

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

310.937.5909

TheHookandPlow.com

Load More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 5