Q&A: Harry Morton Talks Pink Taco
Restaurant scion Harry Morton does the strip.
November 13, 2012
Why open Pink Taco on the Strip?
HARRY MORTON: Because it’s one of the most famous streets in the world. The history, the rock ’n’ roll, the venues on and around it—there’s always action, energy.
How do you keep your venues continually cool?
HM: A lot of hard work and just constantly trying to improve. It’s just being in the venues, talking to the customers, and constantly working it.
What have you learned about the biz from your dad [Morton’s The Steakhouse, Hardrock Cafe]?
HM: Taking great care of your patrons, great service, great environment, and delivering value.
What’s the secret?
HM: Staying power is delivering great food, service, and constantly trying to improve. We don’t worry about what our competitors do so much as focus on our places, our mission, and always doing your best.
Any new concepts?
HM: I’m working on my version of Morton’s. It’s going to be small and intimate. The second project will be the top floor of Pink Taco Sunset Strip—we are going to build a sports bar concept LA hasn’t seen.
Shrub Cocktails Come to the City
Have an adventurous palate? Sip a zesty shrub cocktail.
November 01, 2012
The bar at Wood & Vine features inventive cocktails, including shrubs.
Joining rye, elderflower, and vermouth, vinegar-based shrubs are the latest pre-Prohibition cocktail staple to make a modern splash. Yet unlike the days of yore, when vinegar mostly served as a preservative, today’s shrubs act as a tangy, acidic—and distinctly different—alternative to lemons and limes.
“Shrubs are emerging as a very boutique type of cocktail creation,” says Dave Whitton, co-owner of Villains Tavern, which debuted a well-received “Shrubbery” menu this summer. “It’s such a different style of making cocktails, and everyone has his or her own spin on it.”
Indeed—at Wood & Vine, bar manager Bayardo De Murguia pairs an heirloom tomato and strawberry shrub with gin and smoked sea salt for the new fall cocktail, Bring Me a Shrubbery!, while at The Tasting Kitchen, Justin Pike labors over house-made shrubs as varied as rhubarb, pear, ginger, watermelon, sweet potato, and apple fennel. Shrub cocktails are also served up at Drago Centro and a slew of other mixology-forward stops.
The formula is relatively simple: one part vinegar, one part fruit or sweet vegetable, and one part sweetener (like agave, honey, or sugar). Opportunity for creativity abounds—with balsamic, rice, champagne, red raspberry, and other vinegars being fair game. Once a mixologist pinpoints the perfect combination, the shrub is then reduced and refrigerated for anywhere from one to 14 days to soften its pungent aroma and taste.
“Shrubs are very interesting, but you have to like vinegar,” says Pike. “They give a refreshing quality that really brightens up a cocktail.”
The Parish Elevates Pub Fare
With The Parish, executive chef Casey Lane has turned so-called pub food into high art.
October 09, 2012
“Eventually, people will think of gastropubs as just another category of restaurant, like bistros or brasseries,” says executive chef Casey Lane of The Parish. “Above all, people come to a restaurant for what it has to offer, not because of the concept.”
When Lane creates dishes like his take on the classic French Canadian dish poutine, which he dresses up with spicy jalapeño gribiche, smoky bacon gravy, and massive deep-fried oysters, instead of the usual fries, cheese curds, and gravy, it’s no wonder people have been flocking here since it opened.
The restaurant takes over the former Angelique Café space in a 19th century flatiron-shaped building where Main and Spring Streets diverge, and provides a sharp contrast to the open, beach-driven feel of the other restaurant he heads up, Venice’s The Tasting Kitchen, and his forthcoming Italian-focused pastaria, Itri, which will soon open on Melrose.
Downstairs there is a cheery open kitchen and a bright café space where breakfast will be available (lunch service is to come at a later date). Upstairs, the bar and dining room, designed by the Bishop Pass firm, feels like a cross between an early-20th-century club car and a society doyenne’s parlor, complete with cameos on the wall and a Spanish-tiled fireplace.
The showstopping starter has to be the wood-grilled bone marrow with toast and celery salad. Guests are encouraged to order a glass of Pedro Ximénez sherry and “luge” it down the dug-out bones to experience the wine’s sweetness in contrast with the oily texture of the marrow.
Though the wine list is mostly Germanic in origin, the artisanal beers and ales are Californian, and head bartender John Coltharp’s drinks include the Historic Core Cocktail, made with applejack, rye, sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse, and bitters. True to The Parish’s gastropub concept, Lane says, “My menu complements the drinks we serve, rather than the other way around.”
Dessert? The Nightshift cocktail—a heady mix of bourbon, Czech Fernet, espresso, Pu-Erh tea, chocolate syrup, and milk—is the perfect sip-worthy alternative. 840 S. Spring St., LA, 213-225-2400
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA SAMPLE
The Sycamore Kitchen Keeps it Casual
The Sycamore Kitchen is Hatfield’s cool, casual cousin.
September 05, 2012
The Sycamore Kitchen’s past as a 1950s print shop is evident in its exposed-brick walls, metal stools, and wooden rafters.
Hatfield’s has been one of LA’s go-to gastronomic destinations thanks to husband-and-wife chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield’s impeccable combination of fresh ingredients prepared with sophisticated techniques and plated with an artist’s eye.
Finally bringing to fruition a more casual concept they have been contemplating for years, the dynamic pair opened The Sycamore Kitchen in June—a laid-back daytime spot on a gentrifying strip of La Brea. The buzzing new restaurant is already drawing droves of drooling devotees from the fashion-forward Melrose district, as well as the more staid streets of Larchmont, with a dose of Hollywood who’s who thrown in.
The building’s past as a 1950s print shop shows in exposed-brick walls, metal stools, wooden rafters, and huge windows overlooking a sunny front courtyard partitioned from the street by an iron screen colorfully painted in geometric patterns. The whole effect is industrial yet welcoming as patrons debate menu items while waiting in line to order at the counter.
“We’ve taken the same culinary philosophy and sensibilities from Hatfield’s flavor and plating profiles and a fine-dining approach and simplified them for The Sycamore Kitchen’s more casual concept,” explains Karen.
Karen’s pastry program includes a service counter that looks like the best school bake sale ever, proffering specialties like mouthwateringly savory cheddar-rosemary croissants and gooey, dense, chocolate-hazelnut fudge cookies.
Quinn oversees the rest of the menu, which, he says, “is constantly evolving based on what’s in season. Freshness is so important to us.” For brunch, you might find fluffy buckwheat crepes with sweet summer strawberries, creamy ricotta, and honey butter; the Sycamore Benne, with crispy bacon, perfectly poached egg, fried rosemary, and hollandaise; as well as creative sides like deviled eggs whipped with smoked salmon.
The lunch menu’s tempting sandwiches include the Double B-LTA with unctuously juicy braised pork belly, butter lettuce, balsamic-laced tomatoes, and avocado on country bread; and salads like the fresh Mediterranean chicken salad with plump dates, hazelnuts, radicchio, kale, blue cheese, and tangy red wine vinaigrette.
It may boast a more casual setting and menu, but The Sycamore Kitchen is just as gourmet as we’d expect from a Hatfield’s follow-up. 143 S. La Brea Ave., LA, 323-939-0151
2012 Aspen Food & Wine Classic Highlights
We give you the most memorable moments of Aspen's 30th annual food and wine bonanza.
June 19, 2012
California Cooking at Jer-ne Restaurant + Bar
New chef de cuisine discusses restaurant's dishes and California cooking.
June 11, 2012
Farmers Market Spanish Rice at Jer-ne.
Javier Bravo, Jer-ne Restaurant + Bar’s new chef de cuisine, on California cooking.
How is California cuisine different from your native Barcelonian fare?
JAVIER BRAVO: Dishes in California have an exciting Mexican and Asian flair, whereas back home the cuisine is rooted in Spanish culture with French and Italian influences.
What are your favorite summer ingredients?
JB: Fresh seafood, rice, and locally grown tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
What is one of your signature dishes at Jer-ne?
JB: Santa Barbara spot prawns with squid-ink black rice and local farmers’ market artichokes. 4375 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Ray, 310-574-4333
Fuku Burger 'Sumo Sizes' Burgers for Hamburger Month
For the month of May, create your own two-and-a-half pound burger with all the fixings.
May 18, 2012
In celebration of National Hamburger Month, Fuku Burger takes its burgers to epic proportions with a “sumo-sized” option. The Japanese-inspired burger joint offers a mammoth two-and-a-half pounds of meat, cheese, and various toppings throughout the month of May.
For $40 each, you can choose any burger on the menu—creative options include fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, shiitake mushrooms, and their signature “crack sauce”—and amp up the size. To award those who can finish the entire patty in 20 minutes, Fuku Burger will pay back the burger’s cost, provide a complimentary t-shirt, and enter the champion eater into a raffle for a lifetime supply of Fuku Burger. 1634 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 323-464-3858
Photograph courtesy Fuku Burger
Pazzo Gelato's Seasonal Sweets
Artisan gelato maker whips up must-try spring/summer flavors.
May 08, 2012
As LA begins to really heat up, cool off with Pazzo Gelato’s homemade gelato/sorbetto. Known for farmer’s market flavors and natural, locally grown ingredients, owner Mike Buch releases a seasonal line of gelato that ranges from simple to adventurous. The new flavors center around peak, market-fresh ingredients, featuring California fruit, herbs, and single-origin chocolate and coffee.
Daily-produced batches served up from scratch include gelatos like rose petal with swirled candied pistachio and sea salt caramel lavender with white chocolate. Toasted coconut macadamia is a favorite sorbetto flavor, while summer-appropriate strawberry options run the gamut from custard, yogurt, and sorbetto. Look for these and other refreshing treats at both Pazzo locations in Silver Lake and Echo Park. 3827 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-662-1410; 1910 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-353-9263
Photograph Courtesy Pazzo Gelato
Glow Lounge Debuts New Spring Happy Hour
Glow's new happy hour features cocktails, draft beers, and small bites.
April 12, 2012
Experience Glow’s new happy hour when it debuts Thursday, April 12. The candle-lit outdoor lounge’s happy hour features specials on everything from expertly crafted cocktails, draft beers, and tasty small bites Monday–Thursday, 5-7 PM and Friday, 5-10 PM. Marriott Marina Del Rey, 4100 Admiralty Wy., Marina del Rey, 310-448-4815
At Bouchon: Gourmet Fried Chicken To-Go
The notorious fried chicken from Napa’s Ad Hoc is now available for take-out.
February 28, 2012
There’s no shame in bringing home a bucket of chicken. That is, now that Bouchon Beverly Hills is serving Ad Hoc’s fried chicken to-go. Made famous in the Napa Valley restaurant by chef Thomas Keller, the lemon-brined, double deep-fried chicken is worth staying in for. Keller's fried chicken will be available for take-out on select "Bouchon Fried Chicken Nights" (call for schedule) for $36 per bucket. 235 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-271-9910
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.