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Dec 15, 2006 05:45 AM


Another trip to Canele in Atwater and another great meal! Thought that after Irene's review that it would be packed, but got seated right away. The staff are just great: sweet, professional, and knowledgeable. Tasted three appetizers: the beet salad, a celery root salad, and the brandade. The celery root was very special - crisp and tart against the spice of red onion and shaved garlic and balanced with big leafs of parsley. The brandade was restrained yet fun and the beet salad was fine but unremarkable. Entrees included a great seared trout with roasted leeks that made me forget about going fishing and cooking over a campfire. Just exquisite! The leg of lamb was nicely done with large pearls of Israeli couscous that just shined. The snapper was simple and elegant. I still adore the chocolate-almond torte that is redolent of a fine fresh chocolate covered marzipan candy - not too sweet, but definitely a dessert that can help you finish the last of your red wine. This is definitely my new favorite place!

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  1. I couldn't agree more. The celery root salad is my favorite of the salads. The beet salad is good, but the celery root is amazing!!! We got there early Sunday night (5:30), but by 6:30it was packed and stayed that way until we left at 8:00.
    The portions seem really generous for the price too!
    I'll be there once a week !

    1. I admit that for purely selfish reasons, I've hesitated to comment on Canele; out of fear that everyone would flock to the best addition to the Eastside! As a native to LA and resident to Los Feliz, I'm proud to say we have excellent dining choices. If you're into good food, fresh, quality ingredients and a warm atmosphere, you'll have no complaints. Show up with your favorite vintage (corkage 10 bucks) or pick from their well-rounded, reasonably priced wine/beer list and take a seat at the window-side community table or a table-top at the rear of the place, either way it's cozy. The seasonal squash appetizer is the perfect treat for a chilly night. It's served warm, but the fresh baby arugula is refreshing and spicy, perfect with red or white wine (I'm typically a red wine drinker, but my husband drinks white, so I indulged him and it paired perfectly with this and the rest of our meal...shall i continue, ok)...as a major food addict by night and yogi by day, I'm in heaven with the beef bourguinon with buttered pappardelle pasta. OMG! I love fish so I tried the trout and it was yum! Although I die for good authentic Middle Eastern food, I usually order my fish filleted. On this occasion, I went for the real deal (head on, etc!). It was to die for! BTW, chocolate almond desert, ice cream, coffee, the perfect finish to the perfect meal. Dinner for 2 $70 + tip.

      1. Canale is good, imho. It serves our hood very well and the food is more consistent now. The salads and staters are very well done. I do think some of the mains have room for improvement. The beef bougogne had too much pancetta and the smokieness was overpowering rather than complimentary. The leg of lamb was over cooked on my last visit served medium rather than the kitchen recommended medium rare. The lamb portion size was 2 small pieces of meat on the bed of cous cous. Another slice would have been nice. I think the filet of beef suffers the same portion problem. The trout is terrific and my wife loves it. The snapper is very good. Desserts could improve. The almond chocolate cake tastes of almond liqueur rather than fresh almonds, whcih detracts from the focus. The cheese cake needs some fruit or coulis to add depth. The wine list is still poorly thought out with very little excitment. The floor staff knows very little about the wines other than the label contents. As long as corkage remains $10, this problem is easily remedied. The Riedel Os are a very nice touch. The communal table is where we often sit and adds a nice element to dining.

        Canale is a great addition to the hood. While my comments may come off as somewhat critical, I think with some improvements, Canale will become a very fine bistro worthy of a top billing. I would rate (using the LA Times system) Canale ** right now with the potential for ***.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Grog

          I went to Canele again recently and they have definitely increased the portion sizes. I adored the beef tenderloin entree (served with a divine roasted broccoli/broccoli rabe and potatoes anna), so I ordered it again. On the first visit, it came with two slices of tenderloin and one little wedge of potatoes anna, and on this latest visit, it came with three slices of tenderloin and two wedges of anna. Almost everything was just as good as the first time, although the service suffered a little bit -- the waitress we had was new, and with the crowds she was a little slammed. Other entrees my table ordered included the beef bourguinon (delicious), the trout (one picky eater at my table found it too oily, but the other two who had it loved it) and the pork (the recipient licked his plate clean). Beet salad and celery root salad were both delicious. I ordered the green salad with the creme fraiche vinagrette, and while I had this my first time there and loved it, this time I found it a little under-dressed. Oh, and they were out of the snapper, which disappointed the two people at my table who don't eat meat -- it left them with only one fish option, the trout.

          We skipped dessert since it was a birthday dinner and we were having cake and coffee at home.

          We went on a Thursday night (we arrived at 7 pm), and shortly after we got there, every table was full and LOTS of people were waiting.

          Overall, I am happy to have this option in the neighborhood, although I think they are still getting into their groove -- increased crowds have put pressure on the kitchen, and they still need to work on small variations in consistency (i.e. my salad). I really think they should consider taking reservations for at least some of the tables, which would help with both consistency and stocking ingredients.

        2. Neighborhood Osteria Nonni's congenial, elderly owner (who's name I don't know) but who for seventeen years could always be found at the far end of the open kitchen, apparently has retired and sold his friendly and familiar restaurant.

          According to the Times, Corina Weibel and (cute as a bug) Jane Choit have reopened the restaurant, as Canele. They have remodelled delightfully, but only slightly --- you'll still recognize the place. It's no longer Italian, but a sort of quirky California French. The clientelle has changed, younger and hipper. If you're middle aged, you'll love people watching for the girls in mix and match Barbi Doll modern (lots of torn jeans, leggings and cheap jewelry) and guys in plaid PJ bottoms and hospital greens are a hoot.

          Nonni's sublime male waiter (I'm blanking on his name right now) is still at work, so regulars will feel right at home and well-treated. The tables in the back, always less inviting at Nonni, now seem more comfortable, with a previous covered brick wall now exposed to add some warmth. The ubiquitous hot Italian bread that Nonni served every table is gone (you'll have to travel to the supreme Angeli on Melrose for that) but the brief menu is great! The herb-roasted chicken is great as are the tapenade potatoes that accompany it. While I shouldn't eat it, their cheese cake is a "ten". I recommend pretty much everything on the carefully planned menu. I think they violated a state law that requires all resturants to have a Caesar Salad, but Go Girls! Relatively inexpensive and a warm, inviting place with loads of street parking.

          My only mild criticism is the four tables right in the front window (always the best place to sit at Nonni) have sadly been replaced by one immense, communal table, shades of your high school cafeteria.

          Nevertheless, a great revitalized destination in Atwater, on the edge of Glendale and Silverlake. I'll see you there!

          1. After hearing about Canele from several trustworthy eaters, I finally met a friend for dinner on Wednesday night. I have to agree with most of the posters - it's a lovely neighborhood place - cozy, very friendly and the food was very good. I think that they have probably ironed out most of the issues they may have had with service at the very beginning, we had very friendly and attentive service, although it was early on a wednesday night and not particularly crazy busy. We had 2 special appetizers - clams with white wine, very flavorful and perfectly not oversalted, with garlic and thin slivers of chili that added a perfect bit of spice - and a roasted delicata squash salad - i believe it was served on a bed of arugula - the squash was perfectly roasted, slightly caramelized and oooh so tasty!

            i would definitely go back for the squash. my friend had the pork loin - it's her favorite and she apparently she can't bear to order anything else and i had the beouf bourginon. i love beef bourginon but i have to agree with one of the posters - the meat was very tender (perfect) and i did like the broth but the smokiness was a tad overpowering. i, however, loved the chunks of pancetta, because really, little jewels of smoky porkiness - how can that be bad? no, really? the pork loin was good but i think i was completely envious of friend's polenta and chard - i could have that every night in the winter and perfectly happy. except for the extra 50 lbs i would pack on.

            dessert - we had the flan and the biscuit w/ pears and creme fraiche; the flan was perfect!! omg - i'm a huge custard fan and i have to say they nailed the consistency of the flan - delicate and silky, floating on a light pool of caramel sauce. oh yes. the pears and biscuit - very good - the biscuits were light and flaky and the pears were quite good - not too sweet, but the delicate flavor of pear was quite nice.

            however, i have to say - WHAT IS UP WITH THOSE CANELES? i LOVE caneles, and have had some great ones - at Bay Bread Boulangerie in SF and Boule here in LA, but these were misshapen, crusty on the outside (and not in a good way), dry - like little hockey pucks! ideally, they should keep the shape of the mold, be somewhat dark on the outside, with a nice shiny crust (from the use of a beeswax coating on the mold), and have a moist, almost custardy center. i couldn't even detect any rum in the batter, which is key. these...caneles...i say not.

            i love the restaurant - atmosphere, food, service - i'm definitely going back, what a find! but if they are going to call themselves canele, they should nail those pastries at the end.