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I’m praying for Saint Martha

July 17th, 2014 No Comments

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Martha, the patron saint of cooks and servants, was known to have had the company of Jesus in her home and served him meals on several occasions.  In my mind, her food must have tasted heavenly.  I mean, the man came back for more! As for the modern Saint Martha, her dishes only appear to be divine.  Their flavor unfortunately is lacking.

But, let me explain to you why I think this little nook tucked away in a Koreatown strip mall will draw a righteous foodie crowd.

When you see the pictures and the presentation, you’ll understand that the people who work here take so much pride in creating and serving what they believe to be THE BEST. 

If they hear their critics cry, they will create better food.  It’s only been open a month.  So much time to grow!

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When you walk in, you are greeted by the #CooksAndServants themselves at this open kitchen.  Chef Nick Erven (of The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and Tart) has gathered a band of heavily-bearded brothers that are too focused to be friendly.  That was not quite as jarring as the BLAZING light behind the counter that would unfortunately flood into the dining room.

Most people don’t care as much about atmosphere if they are going to be served phenomenal food.  I’ll capitulate to that every so often.  But if I don’t like my experience in the restaurant, my focus is disturbed.

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I didn’t get an exact count, but there are probably about 18 tables in the whole place.  I LOVE spots like this.  Instantly I thought about one of my favorite NYC Greenwich Villages cafes: The Little Owl.  You have to wait for at least an hour, that is, if they had availability at all!  Here, the eating area is close quarters and the tables seem small by LA dining standards.  No matter for most foodies though.  If it’s good, we’ll sit wherever.

After about a minute of looking around, I sighed.  As there are no windows, the lighting would stay exactly the same all night.  If that’s the case AND the kitchen light leaks into the dining space, they should really turn down the lights.  That’s an easy fix!

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The wine list is IMPRESSIVE.  Fifty wines from all over the world by the glass that you can order by the Taste, Glass, Piche, or Bottle so you can pair accordingly with the course.  Prices vary as much as the flavor profiles.  My waitress was properly educated and more than happy to discuss our preferences and bring samples.

As for the food….

We were instructed to order in courses and share what came out.  The menu lists the main ingredients of each dish which doesn’t prepare you for what is about to be served.

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Oh my goodness, the presentation was breathtaking.  I would have never guessed raw panacotta and tomatoes could be so beautiful!  Unfortunately my excitement for the dish diminished instantly after one bite….The amuse bouche of melon and flowers with a honey drizzle was so much more fun.  How could that be?!!!  Let me try another bite, this time with squash. The flowers were surprisingly tasty.  But still, overall terribly bland.  Ugh. I dared not ask for salt because I didn’t want to insult the bearded boys who had put so much effort into this.

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The grilled octopus that the waitress raved about “being crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside” was not, although thankfully tender (a feat in itself). And…it tasted like a salt lick.  Even my companion gaged.  As for the rice….Perhaps rice usually isn’t prepared like risotto because the grain gets too sticky instead of smooth.

Third plate’s a charm?

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Nope.  The “Summer Corn” was not the sweet white juicy kernels I as expecting.  This baby corn was covered in flowers, radish, crispy chicken skin, and a seasoning that tasted like Cheetos.  (I’m undecided whether that’s a good or a bad thing.)

At this point, I’ll be honest, we paid the bill and left.  What should have been a farm-to-table roller coaster ride was a more like a float down the sleepy river.  After an hour of nibbling, I was STARVING.

Like I said when I began this story, I’m hopeful for them.  Koreatown is booming and cool kids LOVE hideaways like this.  The whole experience drew my mind to Uchi in Austin, one of the best restaurants in the country.  Saint Martha has the same vision, passion, and soul to be a stand out, desirable farm-to-table like Uchi with Japanese.

Saint Martha 740 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 387-2300

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Westside LA welcomes two new restaurants

April 25th, 2014 No Comments

Living in Santa Monica, I really don’t have a TON of restaurant options west of 26th street and north of Wilshire.  On a regular basis, you’ll find me at:

  • Rustic Canyon (best seasonal f-t-t on the westside)
  • R+D kitchen (I call it my “Cheers bar”)
  • Hillstone
  • Kreation (healthy Persian and juice bar)
  • Milo + Olive (casual pizza)
  • FarmShop (seasonal delicious f-t-t)
  • Mercado (light Mexican)
  • BluePlate Taco (best Tex-Mex)
  • Fig (Best Happy Hour: 50% off from 5-6pm.  In the Fairmont Hotel)
  • Marmalade (Diner meets deli on Montana)
  • Toscana (Italian restaurant with “fun” westside bar scene)
  • Villetta (hand-crafted Italian that is often worth the expense)
  • Via Veneta (small, special occasion, authentic Italian on Main Street)

That covers Santa Monica and Brentwood. Please note Sawtelle and Venice are not included on this list. Thankfully in the last month we’ve had two new restaurants open and I love them both!

Art’s Table

Art's Table Santa Monica

On the corner of Montana and 10th Street, the old Babalou was totally renovated to be a modern, rustic wine bar and gastropub of sorts.  A month or so ago, the doors opened and the “tired of the same old food” neighborhood flocked into Art’s Table named after Art Verge, a Santa Monica local historian and business man, also father to Mark Verge (founder of Westside Rentals).  My gratitude goes to chef Mark Middleman who gives character to a very safe menu of  American classics.  They’re known for the burger, kale salad, and veggie sides.  You won’t recognize many of the wines, which I have found to be a good thing. Dinner is busy and you’ll see a line around the block for brunch.

Sloppy Joe Fries

Sloppy Joe Fries

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

Art's Table Burger

More pics on their instagram @ArtsTableSM.

Adoteca

Adoteca Brentwood

In the coming weeks, my peeps at Villetta and Toscana will discover they have some serious competition for best Italian fare with Adoteca on the block.  Literally all three are in Brentwood a stone’s throw from each other. When I saw this picture on Adoteca’s homepage, there was no question where our group was going for dinner. Adoteca scallops   It was no surprise the Michelin starred chef Antonio Mure and front of house manager Paolo Cesaro from Ado in Venice are the duo behind Adoteca.  Every dish delivered on our expectations.  Unfortunately, as a measure of etiquette, I kept my phone in my purse so I don’t have pictures to post. If you go, we all  insist you order the beet pasta with a quail bolognese.  It was hands down the fan favorite along with the creme brûlée.

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How drunk do you have to be…

January 9th, 2014 No Comments

Burrito Box

 

To eat a burrito that comes out of a vending machine?

I don’t think I could EVER eat a burrito that comes out of a machine.  I barely indulge on the ones that are hand-made.

So, this is the BurritoBox kiosk located in a Mobil station in West Hollywood.  You put in $3 and it gives you a hot burrito in 60 seconds.

You have 6  pre-made options (all of which are apparently made with natural ingredients, animals not treated with hormones, and free range chicken)  a few sauces for an additional fee. It looks something like this:

Burrito Box burrito

 

Um, gross!

To my shock and dismay, Taco Bell still exists.  Is that not fast and cheap enough for taco-lovers?  Club hoppers? People on a budget?

I think I’d just rather eat dirt.

 

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Holiday Survival Guide: Best New Bars of 2013

December 15th, 2013 No Comments

Mary Rambin Drinking a Beer

When I go home over the holidays, I like to try the new hot spots all of my friends have been raving about. Thrillist just posted this list that includes bars from all over the country.  They rarely lead me astray, so if you see your city, give their rec a shot!

Click here to read the full article with descriptions of each place.

Atlanta

Austin

  • CRAFT PRIDE
    What you’re getting: A Jester King seasonal
  • WHISLER’S
    What you’re getting: The Dealer’s Choice

Cambridge, MA

  • BEAT HÔTEL
    What you’re getting: A VFW Old Fashioned

Charleston, NC

THE RAREBIT
What you’re getting: Moscow Mule with homemade Sweatman’s ginger beer

Chicago

  • BILLY SUNDAY
    What you’re getting: Fernet & Cola
  • THREE DOTS AND A DASH
    What you’re getting: Poipu Beach Boogie Board; a Treasure Chest (if you’re a baller and/or shot-caller)
  • PUNCH HOUSE
    What you’re getting: Dusek Punch

Dallas

Houston

Las Vegas

  • VELVETEEN RABBIT
    What you’re getting: The Crucifix in a Deathhand; the Burning Bush

Los Angeles

  • NO VACANCY
    What you’re getting: A delicious gin cocktail
  • HONEYCUT
    What you’re getting: Any drink on their extensive list; the Toucan Sam if they’ve got it

Louisville

  • EL CAMINO
    What you’re getting: Whatever sweet tiki drink Susie Hoyt wants to make you

Miami

  • DROGERIE
    What you’re getting: The Pain Killer

Milwaukee

Minneapolis

Nashville

  • PINEWOOD SOCIAL
    What you’re getting: The Honesty of Constant Human Error

New Orleans

New York

  • TØRST
    What you’re getting: A beer you’ve never heard of before that’s probably been barrel-aged
  • DEAD RABBIT
    What you’re getting: Morning Reviver
  • AMERICAN WHISKEY
    What you’re getting: Remember the Maine

Oakland

Portland

San Diego

San Francisco

  • TRICK DOG
    What you’re getting: Eye of the Tiger
  • MIKKELLER BAR
    What you’re getting: A crazy sour beer you’ve never heard of

Seattle

Washington DC

  • 2 BIRDS 1 STONE
    What you’re getting: The Daily Punch
  • BLUEJACKET
    What you’re getting: James & the Giant; the Stroppy pale ale

 

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New pics, new studios, new website for SOULCYCLE

September 16th, 2013 No Comments

SoulCycle Mary Rambin 1

First of all, I want to say thanks to those of you who voted for your favorite SoulCycle profile photo on my facebook page.  This one was the winner by far.

My favorite, along with the staff I surveyed, liked this one.  (The pants are Onzie, my new go-to for crazy pants and sports bras.)

SoulCycle Mary Rambin 2

Julie, one of the founders of SC, chose this one for the site.  I actually think it exemplifies who I am in class the most.  Take what you want from that :)

SoulCycle Mary Rambin 3

This week is exciting for us: today the Beverly Hills studio opens!

SoulCycle Beverly Hills Instructors

Left to right, clockwise: Roarke, Me, Edward, Jason, Nick Pratley, Charlee, Cole, Jenny C.  The boutique and locker rooms are both huge! (Photo via SoulCycle instagram.)

The location is pretty crazy: 9465 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

SoulCycle Beverly Hills

I’m honored to be one of the instructors to teach here.  Right now the schedule is small so if you want to be one of the first to ride, click at noon to reserve a bike!

My upcoming BVHL schedule:

  • Thursday: 6am, 7am
  • Monday: 6am, 7am

More Southern California locations coming soon.  Also, look forward to the launch of the new website.  We did a sneak preview tour of it last week, and I’ll say, it’s pretty sick.  Aside from the info and schedules, you’ll find there is so much more to do on it.  Music, photos, and lifestyle posts will be undated minutely so there will be something new and interesting every time you visit.  You can also connect with the instructors you love.  Booking bikes for the popular classes will be much easier as well.

 

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“Where should we go for dinner tonight?”

September 13th, 2013 No Comments

Thrillist iPhone App

 

When the questions arises, I can NEVER think of the places on my wish list or Eater’s hit list.  No more guessing or driving around in circles with the new Thrillist iPhone app.  

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What’s more important in a restaurant: food or scene? – RivaBella Review

August 23rd, 2013 No Comments

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This is not a new question, but one you should consider if you want to go to the new LA hotspot RivaBella. IDG (the group that runs Boa and Katana) and chef Gino Angelini took over the old Hamburger Hamlet on West Sunset to open this Italian outpost for scensters.   The interior design and decor is quite beautiful.  Cozy but chic.  The people are arguably even prettier.  But the food is average at best. Coming from Gino Angelini of one of my all time favorite Italian joints (Angelini Osteria on Beverly), this was a huge disappointment.

 

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Jonathan Gold from the LA Times says, “RivaBella makes ordinary Italian perfect.”  That’s a stretch for me, especially at those pricepoints.

Go for drinks; enjoy the scene; then get the H outta there.

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Miracle Moisture Spray: It’s A 10

August 20th, 2013 No Comments

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First of all, meet Max (@liolind on Instagram), the young little beauty I entrusted to do my highlights in LA.  Raphael Portet (my stylist for 5 years now who specializes in blonde) is thousands of miles away in NYC and Houston.  You know it can be exciting but also SOOO nerve racking to go to someone new, especially when color is involved.  But when I saw how meticulous Max was with other clients, my fears subsided and I gladly put my hair in her hands.  She did an AMAZING job; my highlights are truly flawless.  If you’re in LA, you can find Max at The Local Salon in North Hollywood.

Before she blew dry my hair, she spritzed it with It’s a 10 5  Minute Hair Repair for Blondes.

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This stuff is truly magical and made my hair feel like a baby’s.

Recently publicists have been sending me a lot of moisturizing products: that new Macadamia nut line, revamped Mane & Tail, Morcoccan Oil, etc.  I’ve been trying them out but nothing really blew me away like this spray.

It’s a 10 makes a whole line of products for different types of hair and needs.  You can find it in the drug store or buy it online (reduced prices at Walgreens and Amazon).  You’ll raise your eyebrows at the price, especially if you see it at CVS, but know it will last a long time.

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