Corazón y Miel: Yet Another Powerhouse in Bell

Revolution XPA and Botanas in Bell
Revolution XPA and Botanas in Bell

As if the city of Bell needed another Mexican powerhouse, they got one. Though, this one isn’t your traditional Mexican cenaduria and has craft beer on draft too. I first caught wind of Corazón y Miel when I covered it for Grub Street last month. Besides that it was a spinoff from a former Salvadoran American chef at Animal named Eduardo Ruiz, I didn’t really know what to expect, because well, let’s just say that, that part of L.A. isn’t exactly known for their thriving food scene. But after my meal there, it is my civic duty as a born and bred Eastside resident to report.

It is made clear that the meal will be something different when you are served a bowl of chile-lime fried peanuts, peas and chickpeas instead of the usual totopos and salsa. Whenever I visit Mexico, snacks or botanas such as these are the things I look forward to the most, they are usually complimentary and can range from things like sliced jicama fruit to shrimp broth, as long as you keep drinking. And that’s exactly what these salty, addictive treats do: pique your appetite and make you want to order a lot more food and drinks. The menu filled with almost too-good-to-be-true underpriced innovative takes on Latin classics will confirm that yup, this will pretty much be one of the most memorable Latin restaurant meals that you will have in Los Angeles.

Ambiance at Corazón y Miel
Ambiance at Corazón y Miel

We visited on one of their opening days, so most of the eating customers that night were close friends and family. Including a worried mom of one of the crew members who saw us snapping photos. “I’m sure everything will be successful,” my girlfriend Paola assured her.

The bar
The bar
Entrees Menu
Entrees Menu
Antojitos Menu
Antojitos Menu
Cocktail Menu
Cocktail Menu

We started off with some of their cocktails, okay, a lot of their cocktails.

new experimental cocktail not yet on menu, with habanero, carrot juice, campari. bomb.
An Experimental Smooth Cocktail with Habanero and Carrot
Mientras Me Caso
Mientras Me Caso (While I get married): Their Take on The Classic
Don't Fear the Piña
Fear the Pineapple: Mezcal
Homemade Sangrita
Homemade Sangrita

I’m proud to announce that each and every one of them was extremely nice, rivaling the complexity and easy drinkability of other popular Mexican themed bars, maybe even better.

Along side these drinks, we were served a bunch of their appetizers.

Carnitas
Carnitas
Patatas Fritas with "Scallion Ash" Dip
Patatas Fritas with “Scallion Ash” Dip
Jalapeño y Tocino: Their Ode to the Mexican American Street Food
Jalapeño y Tocino: Their Ode to the Mexican American Street Food
Ensalada de Cueritos, served with a taster of Coronado Brewing's Wit
Ensalada de Cueritos, served with a taster of Coronado Brewing’s Wit
Fried Avocado
Fried Avocado

Who would have thought that the city of Bell would be responsible for a deconstructed Carnitas plate? A good one at that, crispy with a thick layer of browned bread crumbs and a tender inside. It’s what a traditional french forcemeat would look like if it took a vacation in Mexico and ended up falling in love with a Milanesa Poblana. Then there are the little things, like the “scallion ash” dip that accompanies their potato chip like Patatas Bravas. It’s nothing too crazy, but the smokey, powdery, intensely oniony charcoal-colored dip is cool enough to keep you slightly excited about their food in general.

Lamb Burger on homemade Cemita Buns: Yup
Atlantic Burger on homemade Cemita Buns: Lamb Burger, Yup
Vegetarian Mole with Fried Hominy
Vegetarian Mole with Fried Hominy
Pan con Chompipe: Chef Eduardo's Tribute to his Grandma
Pan con Chompipe: Chef Eduardo’s Tribute to his Grandma

Main courses are on another level as well. For $10, you will get a whopping fistful of a burger with Mexican, Salvadoran and American roots. The patty is thick, medium rare and it’s lamb. The bright Serrano curtido topping will remind you of the stuff that you pile on top of your favorite greasy pupusa, and the sturdy, slightly sweet sesame seeded cemita bun will not fall apart. The main star of the menu–that also happens to be the most expensive at $16–is the Salvadoran classic known as Pan con Champipe. A turkey leg that is braised until it falls apart, topped with a gravy boat full of tart, tomato salsa, pickled stuff and then disproportionally placed atop a fluffy bolillo roll smothered with mayo. It can feed two, easily.

By this point, we were stuffed beyond belief but realized that we still hadn’t sampled the Ceviche, and when you have a significant other that was raised in Puerto Vallarta, this is unacceptable.

Ceviche de Corazon with Soy, Ginger and Fried Peanuts
Ceviche de Corazon with Soy, Ginger and Fried Peanuts

Their Ceviche is $9 and comes packed with fork-tender octopus and satisfying large shrimps, despite that they add the flavors of soy, ginger and fried peanuts, it still stays relatively true to ceviche and doesn’t lose the battle with sashimi. I’ve always loved the toasted Peruvian corn element on ceviches too.

When it comes time for dessert, you will probably be stuffed beyond belief. But alas, do not skip and just go for a run later in the week.

Niños y Buñuelos
Niños y Buñuelos
Pastel de Leche
Pastel de Leche

Specifically, the Niños y Buñuelos dessert, fried puff pastry stuffed with perfectly ripe bananas and served with caramel and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It sounds like a lazy afterthought and tacky as hell but actually awesome, flaky, almost like phyllo and barely sweet. The Pastel de Leche is cool too, but not as unforgettable as the former.

I’m really happy for these dudes and wish them all the best on their first brick and mortar endeavor. I know it’s quite a leap from their past catering career, especially in the area. A lot of people probably told them it was a bad idea but I’m glad they didn’t give a fuck and decided to open up.

Corazón y Miel
6626 Atlantic Ave
Bell, CA
90201

(323) 560-1776

La Cuevita in Highland Park: A Tequila & Mezcal Bar for the rest of us

la cuevita signage

The ghetto hipsters of Highland Park have a new place to get shitfaced. La Cuevita opens up Friday night (May 4th) and it is just what this lovely city needs: An agave-spirit centered bar where we don’t have to spend a week’s budget. The Glutster was invited for an early tasting this last Tuesday and this is what that fucker drank.

La Cuevita bar
The bar, all new and shiny.

 

la cuevita  cocktail
La Cuevita cocktail

 

Fidencio Mezcal

 

Mezcalada at La Cuevita
La Mezcalada


Mole Manhattan
Mole Manhattan

 

la cuevita drink menu
Cocktail Menu

 

Mezcal Los Nahuales at La Cuevita
Mezcal Los Nahuales

 

La Cuevita Tequila Menu
Tequila and Mezcal List (for now)

“We want this place to be more of a sipping establishment” Jared Mort, the 1933 Group’s bartender that was called into action for La Cuevita tells me as I am the first and only of the night to ask for the pure Tequila and Mezcal menu. And by the looks of the prices for the agave libations, it looks like they actually mean it. There are only a a couple that break the $15 mark and the rest are all ready for working class enjoyment. The cocktails are still in the works, the Mezcalada sounds better than it actually is with only a 1/2 ounce of Mezcal used and probably even less of the roasted poblano tomato cocktail used to flavor it (think of a watery beer-y Mary). But then again, it’s only $8 and there are free AYCE tacos to make up for it if you are there on a Tuesday night.

But if you must cloak your poison with a bunch of sweet syrups and flavors, go for the Mole Manhattan. A bit sweet but still bitter and fully brute with cacao flavored booze.

The ambiance is definitely better than the old Gothic-y Little Cave days. They opened up all the windows and the image of Emiliano Zapata will gaze deep into your eyes as you imbibe Mexican history. Just hope that the live agave crops hanging off the patio walls as you walk in won’t fall on you.

la cuevita art
ambiance
agave wall

 

La Cuevita gets bonus point for playing a steady flow of Ramon Ayala and other corridos through out the night though.

La Cuevita

5922 North Figueroa St,

Highland Park.

323-255-6871.

 

Watch Me On Sundance Channel Tonight! (Ludobites America: Redondo Beach)

Give a chef some Mole Zacatecano and you feed him for a day. Teach a chef to make Mole Zacatecano and you feed him for a lifetime! Everyone remember “Mexican For A Day: Teaching Ludovic Lefebvre the Art of Mole Zacatecano”, that story I wrote two years ago telling the story of how my mama and I taught Chef Ludo how to make our ancestral mother sauce? Well, watch the next best thing to making that post into a feature-length movie tonight!

ludo and me
The French chef & I two years ago

Enjoy the debut of my dramatic acting career on Ludobites America! as I join Chef Ludo in the mean streets of East LA….nooooot!

Kidding, kidding! No but seriously, check out the episode if you have cable and get a chance. I got the opportunity to personally guide L.A’s, revered pop-up French Chef through an East Los Angeles Mexican landmark! For what? Well, watch it tonight and find out!

The episode airs on the Sundance channel tonight at 9 PM (regular cable) and 6 PM (satellite) in the west coast.

Cheers!

The Glutster Burger Featured as Best “Fusion” Burger in Los Angeles Magazine!

best ethnic inflenced burger
Not a bad way to be welcomed back to your hometown, right?

Home, sweet home…kinda. Ok, so I left my heart in el rancho, drenched in freshly-extracted pulque along side thick, homemade tortillas. But until I man up and realize my subconscious dreams of moving to el rancho myself. Me tengare que aguantar! (I’ll bite my maseca-based tortilla tainted lips!)

In other news, I broke my five day internet fast to find out that the burger that has been cursed with my title actually won “best fusion burger” on LA Magazine!


Our favorite ethnic-influenced variation is The Glutster burger at Biergarten in Koreatown. Cocreated by blogger Javier Cabral (aka the Glutster), the all-pork slab is joined by guac, pickled onions, epazote aioli, chipotle black beans and fried green tomato slice on a King’s Hawaiian sweet roll.”

Yees! Pretty awesome right?

But none of this would had been possible without the excellent burger’ing skills of Eddie Hah, so a huge thank you to him!

Eddie and his Chosun One
Eddie Hah: The Burger Maniac

Now, to go celebrate by eating one, or two with a beer or five.

the glutster money shot
The Glutster Burger

The magazine is out now so go out and buy one! Or else, just wait until the internet version is available on the Los Angeles Magazine website

cheers!

The “Glutster” Burger Now Available in New Menu at Biergarten Tonight! Eat Me Now!

menu shot
Outta Nowhere!!!!!

1. Have a burger named after me.

Well, I can now scratch “having a burger named after me” off my bucket list. Yup, I can pretty much die a–very satiated–happy man now. There is now A BURGER NAMED AFTER ME at Biergartenahhhhhhh raaaaaza!

I’ve met some pretty awesome people along this long and winding journey of food writing self-discovery I took up back when I was 16. Although, I have learned–the hard way–that this industry thrives on fake and thirsty personalities, I have made some genuine lifelong friends that have all taught me so much. Eddie Hah is one of those homies.

Some of you may remember him from the post I did on him last year, hyping up his very own special burger at 8 oz Burger on Melrose. He comes from the lineage of the late Korean restaurant Sa Rit Gol, what many touted to be the best Korean place in L.A. And well, thanks to him, what started out as jocular late night texting is now…a full-fledged, meaty and balanced reality.

the glutster money shot
The Glutster Burger: Pickled Oregano-Onions, Epazote Aioli, Fried Green Tomato, Guacamole, Chipotle-Black Beans with an ALL-PORK Patty.

I present to you The Glutster: Eight juicy ounces of 100% pure charred ground pork loin, stratified with oregano-spiked, crisp-pickled onions, a thick and creamy Epazote-scented Aioli, a spread of Chipotle-laced black beans, two slices of fried green seasoned tomato and to finish the 2nd generation Mexification of it–a scoop of chunky, fresh Guacamole. All sandwiched between two toasted, soft, sweet and King’s Hawaiian burger buns.

For those of you that know me, you all may be smiling right now because you know that this is indeed a DIRECT homage to the way I eat. I didn’t call myself the GLUT-ster for nothing eyyy. I found out of my freakishly fast metabolism at an early age in life so basically, everything I cook for myself at home usually ends up being something stupidly ginormous like this, haha. Yes, with a giant mishmash of flavor-intensive simple ingredients like this as well.

And the bottom line? Well, bomb of course! I thought up of it! (burgers named after you do wonders for your low self-esteem apparently). Think of a glorified torta, one made with perfectly-balanced quality ingredients. In true nostalgic fashion, this burger reminds me of my fast-food driven childhood. I was skeptical at first, but the sweet buns really work awesomely with the burger. It reminds me of that flavor when the sweet ketchup adhered to the bread, remember?

My immortalization between two buns–along with many other interesting German-Korean bites–is part of the revamped new menu at Biergarten launching tonight (soft opening). Its a collaborative burger-fueled effort between Eddie Hah and Jacob Wildman (equally-abled burger bad ass formerly of 8 oz as well, Spago). Other chingon dishes include “German Fried Rice” (Kolbasa Sausage, Sauerkraut, Fried Egg, Dunkel Gravy; $9), “Pig Frites” (Korean Marinated Pork Loin, Fries, Celery Root Slaw; $14), grilled-chilled shrimp in Remoulade sauce, a new spin on the Korean classic Gol-bang-ee Muchim (Snail-Rice Noodle Salad with Chili but with fried snails instead!) and yes of course, the return of Eddie’s own “Chosun One” tasty Korean-fangled burger.

So come by and eat me tonight!

Biergarten
206 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Neighborhood: Wilshire Center
(323) 466-4860

New burgers all available starting at 5 PM tonight for $10-$11 each.

Disclaimer: Money cant buy you real burger love! I DID NOT PAY Eddie Hah, Biergarten or any one to make this happen!

Red O: Rick Bayless Stamped Mexican-esque Cuisine In L.A

It finally came, the highly anticipated L.A expedition of the Mexican-cuisine Top Chef Master himself–is here.

Red O Gift Wrapped Facade
Red O: Mexican Cuisine By Rick Bayless

I’m not going to lie that I almost did a back flip when I received an invitation to eat here. I remember one a many Saturdays when I wouldn’t go out just to catch Mexico: One Plate At A Time, his show on PBS. His passion for Mexican food culture seemed so genuine, so ardent. And the way he strived to recreate regional dishes himself as traditional as he can was truly inspiring. I learned stuff about my culture’s food that I didn’t even know about.

I remember I would try to cook up what I saw on his show on a daily basis at times, the only food show that has ever made me do that.

Although I heard that its technically not his restaurant and he will not really be cooking there, his name is on it and he did consult with the menu. Well, better than nothing. The actual executive chef is Michael Brown, a veteran from Wolfgang Puck catering and the Patina group.

With a web like metal facade, the unique looking building catches your attention. It was designed by Gulla Jonsdottir, a respected architect who was in the team responsible for The Getty Center. She wanted it to look like it was ‘wrapped’ kinda like a present.

I’d never seen this before at a restaurant but there was a bouncer type guy in front making sure no unreserved shmoozers got through. Pretty harsh I thought, but could only imagine the hotness of the seats inside.

ritzy ambiance
Suave Resort-esque Ambiance

Inside, the place is pretty nice. Lit mostly by natural light, the main dining area looks like an indoor patio but with long chandeliers that drop in from the retractable roof. There is a bar on the side with seats and a pair of beach resort style swings. And of course, there is the “Tequila Tunnel” that takes you to a ritzy Tequila lounge that is built around real tree.

Tequila Tunnels!
Yup, A Tequila Tunnel

I was rather surprised by the menu, it was not the signature Southern Yucatan slanted Bayless specials that he is known for back in his restaurants in Chicago. Instead, the menu highlighted his contemporary radical approach to more Northern and Central style Masa-based Antojitos dishes, things like braised duck Taquitos and pork belly topped Sopes. Only seven renditions of Mexico’s traditional dishes are available, he calls these “Mexico’s Celebrated Seven” and they are the more pricier options. Overall, the rest of the menu is pretty affordable actually.

Red O Mexican Mojito & Tamarind Re-Fashioned
Just A Couple Of Cocktails: Mexican Mojito & A Tamarind Re-Fashioned

We started off with some mixed drinks. Matt opted for the Tamarind Re-Fashioned, a Don Julio Añejo Tequila based drink with Luxardo Cherries, orange bitters and tamarind syrup + soda. It ended up being too sweet for its own good, got a little better–but flatter–as the ice melted. I settled for the Mexican Mojito, a lighter cocktail that used the swanky Arrete Blanco Tequila mixed in with the popular Serrano + Cilantro + Agave preparation with a little mint. Again, that dang ice doing its thing. Watery. After voicing my concern, I was told that the cocktails are still “a work in progress”.

Topolo Margarita Straight UP
Topolo Margarita: Served Straight Up

The best drink ended up being Bayless’s signature Topolo Margarita that everyone else on the table ended up getting. It consisted simply of the Conmemorativo Sauza Tequila, a decent low- note Tequila that works fine when mixed. Along with Gran Torres Orange Liqueur and fresh Limonada it was clean and smooth.

RED O guacamole artsy shot
Guacamole: Fresh, Tasty, Fail Proof

Some food was ordered for us. First up was the essential classic of Guacamole served with thin, warm tortilla chips. Guacamole is one of those minimalist dishes that almost can’t be messed up, especially if the ingredients used are exemplary like here. Props for choosing to fly in Aguacates from Michoacan, this variety has an unparalleled creaminess with a neutral taste. Not like local ones that often times imparts an unwanted semi-rancid/light anise flavor when used to make Guacamole.

Red O sole ceviche
Pacific Sole Ceviche: Not Your Everyday Ceviche

With sun-dried tomatoes, Manzanilla olives, serrano chiles, and jícama. This was not your basic Mexican Ceviche, not to say that was a bad thing when the opt in ingredients make as much as sense as the traditional. Firm to the bite, the bland jicama crunch was a pleasant one against the acidity of the small pieces of olives.

Salmon "Tostadita"
Goat Cheese, Tomatillo, Arugula & Wild-Caught Salmon On Grilled Baguette ‘Tostada’: Why Not?

Its hard not to like any combination of tangy Tomatillo with some sort of creamy agent, its just one of those food matches in life that cause swoon no matter what. And a beautiful fish too, with its different hues of crimson flesh. Peppery Arugula was the final touch. Of course, the La Brea Bakery designer Baguette was chosen for this.

Red O Mushroom Ceviche
Woodland Mushrooms, Grilled Knob Onion, Sun-Dried Tomato, Serrano Chile

I was fascinated to see this on the menu. A ceviche made out of mushrooms is not that nouveau in the Central-Southern parts of Mexico. I once had some after spending a long, brazen day walking climbing the pyramids of Teotihuacan after our Taxi driver took us to a nearby town to eat. The version here is served on tasty sweet plantain chips which added a nice touch, we just couldn’t get over the acidity of this ceviche. It tasted of that artificial “Limon 7” lime flavored salt Mexican candy, I didn’t mind it as much as everyone else did though. But I basically snorted it back then.

Flight Of The Red O Tequilas
Flight Of The Red O Tequilas: This is L.A, Not Chicago

It was around this time that we finally received a flight of Tequila that I had requested. Although Tequila is not the most ideal drink to be had with food, I wanted to see what they would serve us. My appreciation of Tequila has recently been growing fast since I started hanging out with a certain Tequilero recently.

The chosen flight was:

(From Left To Right)

Oro Azul
Tequila Blanco:
Highlands, Aged Less Than 6 Weeks, Somewhat Vanilla Notes,

Corralejo Reposado
Tequila:
From Guanajato, Aged for 6 Months, Peppery

Don Julio Añejo Tequila
Highlands, Aged for 2 Years, Ripe Apples, Whiskey Like

Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Extra Añejo
Highlands, Aged For 3 Years, Cognac-Like, Smooth

I will not try to front and romanticize about each one of these, my tequila knowledge–and wallet, ha ha– is not of that much experience yet. But I will tell you that with the exception of the pleasant Whiskey-like añejos, most of these were kind of harsh. Harsher and not as clear tasting as other Blanco’s and Reposado’s I’ve been having lately. It seemed like most of these Tequilas are under the Diageo, a British multi national corporate company who has bought a lot of independent Tequila companies lately, including Don Julio and Jose Cuervo. It seems as if no real consultation for the Tequila list was made upon opening up in Los Angeles since many of great locally distributed Tequilas that are around every other Mexican food restaurant…were not found here.

Now, back to the food!

Red O Pork Belly Sope
Gleason Ranch Pork Belly, Black Beans, Salsa Negra, Sesame: Sopes

I’ve had one a many Sopes in my life, but never with pork belly! Sopes are usually a special occasion food in my family, a church fair food favorite too. Its basically fried corn masa that is formed into a little fluted platter of sorts, then topped with usually a smear of beans, meat, crispy garnish and a dry cheese.

Here it was black beans, and the crispy thing was pork belly that was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. With that black mole like Salsa Negra, Ay Guey! Me chupaba los dedos! Good quality, white corn masa too.

Red_O Duck Taquitos
Slow-Cooked Sonoma Duck, Tomato-Arbol Chile Sauce, Arugula: Taquitos

It would not be a Mexican American restaurant without Taquitos, some moist duck was the filling of choice. The tomato-Arbol Chile sauce had a stunning color and nice viscosity, all the better to coat the crispy Taquitos with. Peppery Arugula was a way better garnish than the usual shredded iceberg lettuce.

Red O Tamal Dulce
Sweeet Tamal With Tomatillo Salsa and Crema: Classic

The subtly sweet tamal was not too different from the ones you find in the roaming Tamaleros in the wee hours of East L.A mornings. Not as moist as homemade ones but not too dry and inedible as some. Again, you can’t go wrong with anything topped with cream and tomatillo.

Red O Queso Fundido
Sonoma Jack Cheese Queso Fundido: On A Cazuela

Props earned for serving stuff on cast iron cazuelas. First of all, really adds a home-y and rustic feel when eating off from them. Second, I swear that some Mexican food made on cast iron just tastes better somehow. This queso fundido was topped with a Sofrito type guiso, with only tomatoes, garlic and onion with a little cilantro. Simple, tasty and all the better to scoop up with the soft, steaming handmade tortillas.

Red O Tortilla
Tortillas: The Foundation Of It All

It would not be a true Mexican meal be without Tortillas. And these…well there were not the best ones in town. Tasting vaguely handmade, as they were on the flatter–machine made–side. Also, not as toasty as I would of liked them, a little bready and underdone. But, alas they did the job way better than any other machine made ones.

Red O Steak and Heirloom Tomato Salad
Steak & Heirloom Tomato Salad: [compressed]watermelon, red guajillo chile dressing, wood-grilled scallions, grilled Creekstone skirt steak, [añejo] cheese

I don’t know where the Mexican inspiration for this dish came from and didn’t care too much for it. Think it was made to appeal to those who can’t bear the guilt of eating anything less than a “salad”. Quality of beef was good and nice funk to that aged crumbly Queso Añejo that was sprinkled through out.

Enchiladas Suizas
Crab & Shrimp Enchiladas Suizas: creamy roasted tomatillo sauce, freshly-made corn tortillas, melted Sonoma Jack, black beans, ensaladita

Being a straight-up beaner, I was excited to finally see some jet black ones on the plate that were perfectly al dente and smeary to boot. This dish was easily, the tables favorite of the night. Comfort food in its zesty and wholesome finest with the folded and seafood stuffed soft tortillas. And really generous with that wonderful zippy yet creamy sauce of roasted Tomatillo and creamy cheese melted in the sauce too.

Red O Albondigas Al Chipotle (better)
Albondigas al Chipolte: beef & pork meatballs, smoky chipotle roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, Yukon Gold potatoes«

I’ve never had Albondigas in this Italian meatball style presentation, its usually a Mexican stew with lotsa veggies. Albeit, I didn’t mind these, they were not as tender as you would expect and the potatoes were a bit mealy. The tomato-based, smoky chipotle sauce and caramelized onions were this dish’s saving grace.

Red O Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita Pibil: Tortilla-Fed, Gleason Ranch suckling pig, achiote-marinated & slow-roasted in banana leaves, black beans, pickled red onions, roasted habanero salsa

The first the signature Yucatan fangled Bayless dish that he is known for of the night finally. The pork was pulled apart and re-formed into rectangular cubes for a more stunning appearance. It was pretty tender–probably because the pig knew what’s up and only ate tortillas!–but that was it. Very one dimensional and lacking in those stronger trademark exotic flavors of Yucatan Mexican cooking. Pickled red onions were bright and much appreciated though.

Red O Lamb In Chile Colorado
Sonoma County Lamb: Ancho & Guajillo chiles, roasted garlic, cumin, in Chile Colorado, black bean

Red O’s take on the Mexican classic of Birria I’m guessing, the quality of the lamb was the first thing I noticed. More on the friendlier “beefy” taste spectrum than actual lamb gaminess. The chile broth was smooth with very nice viscosity that adhered to the fork-tender meat generously. And you can’t go wrong with adding fried onion to anything, here it elevated the dish with its Funyun taste.

Red O Mole (The Moment of Truth)
Pollo en Mole Poblano: grilled Mary’s young chicken, homemade mole poblano, black beans, watercress salad

The moment we had all been waiting is here. I am no stranger to Mole Poblano, all my old punk band members were from puebla, not to mention all the surrounding poblano party animals neighbors in my complex! This means that almost every other weekend there will be a bowl of steaming hot, painstakingly made Mole from either the Tepeaca, Tepaclasco or Cholula region right at my doorstep. Neil of Food Marathon and Kat of Eater can attest to this as last time they happened to be around and taste the Tepeaca one…

And it was not that bad here. Super smooth in its medium body texture and…rather spicy surprisingly! But with great spice, comes great sweetness. As it was quite sweet too. The grilled chicken was charred and succulent with a high quality clean poultry taste . By this time in the meal, I learned to appreciate the fresh greens that came in almost every plate. The watercress here enlivened the dish and kept you going for more.

It was finally time for desserts.

Crispy And Golden Empanadas
Golden and Crispy Empenadas: wild strawberries & mango, mojito sorbet

These ‘Empanadas’ were basically the Mexican Pan Dulce known as Ojaldras (puff pastries) with fresh and ripe fruit. These were light and tasty. But the best and most refreshing part was the Mojito sorbet.

Red O Buñuelos
Veracruz-Style Buñuelos: Salted cajeta ice cream, warm Kahlúa chocolate sauce

Only being used to the northern style paper thin, crispy Buñuelos that my mom pumps out by the hundreds every Christmas. I had trouble grasping the concept of these Sopaipilla-type donut things that the waiter poured hot chocolate sauce all over. A bit heavy. The best part was the salted caramel ice cream.

Red O Creamy Goat Cheese Cheesecake
Creamy Goat Cheese Cheesecake: caramel corn, Mexican “root beer” sauce

Last but definitely not least, my favorite part of this meal probably. These were ethereally velvety and rich without being cloyingly sweet. And of course….that unique goat-yness flavor that is loved by few and hated by many. Its’ a slightly gamy flavor…of fresh pastures and blossoming alfalfa sprouts. It seemed to be atop a Mexican cookie crumb crust–I think. And that single caramel popcorn kernel brought it all together with its sweet and salty crunch. The lush green “root beer” sauce tasted exactly like what it was called, lightly anise like at that.

And now for the low-light, out of focus, paparrazzi shot of Rick Bayless:

Rick Bayless Paparrazzi Shot!

He came out briefly during the dessert course to say what’s up to the table. The only time I saw him come out out the whole evening. He seemed winded and out of voice, I was buzzed and star struck. But it was now or never, so I poured my heart out to him from across the table and told him thank you for making Mexican food haute, and finally making it known in the American mainstream of food.

In conclusion, Red O is cool in my book. Acknowledging that I am coming back for classic Mexican rooted fare that is executed with lighter–arugula spiked?–flavors and rockstar meats/produce. This is not signature Rick Bayless but this is Los Angeles not Chicago, northern Sopes and Enchiladas will always prevail over southern Panuchos and Papadzules. But will the true enthusiasts score those 7:00 PM seats over the Hollywood-scenester-Rick Bayless-groupies who just want to be seen eating here?

Comments are now open…

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave
(west of Crescent Heights)
Los Angeles, CA 90046
323-655-5009

Prices:
$9 Apps. (Snacks) – $30 Entrees
$8 Desserts
$10-$12 Cocktails

Red O in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Part Time Food GPS: Rivera’s Honey Tasting

(Taken from Food GPS Website)

Curious I was when I was first asked to cover this event, I felt cloyed after having finished! A four course tasting menu sponsored by the National Honey Board took place at the super hip and happening Rivera Restaurant yesterday. Each dish celebrated—yup, you guessed it—honey and its various uses and effects on food. Only three restaurants around the U.S are chosen for this event every year, this year the chosen theme was Latino cuisine and what better representation in L.A. than Chef John Cedlar’s New Mexican fangled contemporary approach.

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Before the meal, Mr. Sedlar came out and spoke briefly about honey’s typical uses on Mexican cuisine as well as his earliest memories of the stuff, involving stories of how he used to smear his Sopaipillas generously as he was growing up. I added a couple of sweet childhood anecdotes myself as he had kindly asked me to do so earlier to add my own piece of knowledge.

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Without further delay, we were seated and plopped down with a wide cup full of iced Pineapple and Serrano Licuado with Honey Infused Tequila, a sweet and fiery beginning to the meal, especially after I bit the Serrano and muddled it with the already-spicy juice. Didn’t really pack a punch, but was certainly going to use all that bromelain to help me digest what was coming.

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Crostinis of Queso Cotija with Hierbabuena, [pink] Pepper Berry Infused Honey and Figs. Chef Sedlar went on to say how he used to always eat cheese with something sweet, you know…to contrast. He must have really had a sweet tooth back then, the combination of sweet figs and generous drizzle of honey was as sweet as reminiscing in a happy childhood, good thing that subtle pink pepper berry and mint was there to break me out of my sugar daze.

Finish reading rest of dinner at Food GPS