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two new Kosher eateries in Los Angels - a review

c
Cholent Fresser Dec 29, 2006 04:52 PM

Here you go I got this again:

You know the expression, “when it rains it pours”. It certainly
applies to
the kosher restaurant situation here in LA. Since the 2 new fish grill
opened, we have been getting a slew of new places including of course
Shilo’
s and finally Prime Grill. My sources tell me there are more places
set to
open in the near future and they sound very exciting.

My piece today is about 2 new lunch type places that recently opened,
Schwartz’s Circa and Berri Good.

Circa
A few months ago Schwartz’s moved from their old, cramped, dump of a
location to a beautifully renovated space that used to house the center
portion of Kotlar’s and later Kol Tuv markets. They placed the
bakery along
one side of the space with nice modern showcases and have set up a
“Circa”
on the other side. For those who don’t know, “Circa NY” is a
fast-food
place in New York that specializes in healthy lunch fare such as the
make-your-own-salad concept and soups. They also do customized
personal
pizzas and gourmet sandwiches. The Hecht brothers figured the concept
works
in New York so why not LA. My initial thought is that they have a
major hit
on their hands although it needs some work. I’ve been there twice
and the
salad concept, while amazingly simple, is fantastic. They charge $5.75
for
a bowl of lettuce (romaine or mixed greens) that includes 3 additions
from a
vast array of vegis and proteins. For 50 cents more you can keep
adding
things - and trust me you will add things - and you end up with a
delicious
albeit pricey salad made to your exact specs. What makes this concept
so
good (and hard to knock off I think) is the dressings that they offer.
All
9 choices are delicious. The only thing lacking on the dressing side
was a
low-fat choice and I assume that they’ll remedy that. I particularly
like
their balsamic and creamy garlic selections. Their soups are somewhat
unoriginal and not as good as the ones from the bagel factory but they
are
good. I ordered the onion but they also had vegetable, mushroom barley
and
a few others. The onion soup was too peppery the second time I had it
and
they put Parmesan cheese in instead of mozzarella. This is BAD and I
hope
they change it. I get that it’s cheaper but ground Parmesan does not
belong
in my onion soup.

They are set to expand to a full menu that will include omelets,
pancakes,
pizzas, etc. I’m a bit fearful that this will seriously drag down
their
service, which is not silky smooth to begin with but at least guys will
be
able to eat there without having to check their manhood. In closing I
have
a few recommendations for the Hecht brothers who have been very open to
suggestions from their clientele.

1) As mentioned, stop putting Parmesan cheese in the onion soup, step
up and
use mozzarella
2) Include a roll, bagel, olive stick or some sort of bread item along
with
a soup. The bagel factory does this and you should too, g-d knows you
should be able to get them at a decent price J
3) Make a buy-up to include a small soup with your salad kind of like a
combo deal at a burger joint. I am not satisfied with only a salad but
I
don’t necessarily want a large soup to go with it. Get the small
sized cup
(again check the bagel factory) and offer it for an extra few bucks.
4) Stay humble and don’t take things personally. I had a friend that
opened
a bakery café a while back who would take any criticism of the
restaurant as
a personal attack. You’re new at this so you’re going to screw up
but that’
s all part of the business and most of us want you to succeed.

If the last one sounds a bit personal, it is. The Hechts are young
guys in
our community and I hope this experiment works out. I think it will,
being
that all our wives will be eating there all the time and their very
successful bakery already covers a good portion of the overhead.
We’ll do
improvement suggestions for Schwartz’s bakery another time.

Berri Good
Berri Good is a new chalav yisrael, frozen yogurt place on Robertson
that is
run by 2 nice Israeli guys. They seem to have modeled themselves after
the
non-kosher asian yogurt chain called “Pink Berry”. Their fro-yo is
not what
you would be accustomed to if you ever ate at Toppers or TCBY (I have
never
been to either of those places, I’ve only heard...). Rather then
taste like
soft serve ice cream, this stuff actually tastes like yogurt that is
slightly sweet and has a hint of lemon flavor. They have a slew of
toppings
including many fresh fruit ones such as pomegranate seeds, blueberries,
pineapple, strawberries, etc. It is a healthy, refreshing treat that
will
be appreciated by women or others who like yogurt. Regardless of what
the
Israeli will tell you, it is not for kids. They will throw it on the
ground
and start screaming for Carvel. Personally, I’ll take the fat free,
chemical loaded (how else does it get so creamy???) vanilla soft serve
at
Carvel. My wife will be going to Berri Good.

They also offer a make-your-own-salad concept like Circa and a
make-your-own-sandwich like... I don’t know. Skip it. Go to Circa
and come
here for desert if you want. Their salad choices are weak, the bottled
dressings are bottled dressings (someone needs to tell them that Walden
Farms Blue Cheese dressing is NOT chalav yisrael) and the sandwich idea
the
guy gave me - mozzarella, avocado, hard boiled egg and tuna, toasted
panini
style just sounded gross. Their whole-wheat baguettes are good but
that’s
about it.

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  1. d
    DeisCane RE: Cholent Fresser Dec 30, 2006 06:21 AM

    French onion soup? If so, it should have neither parm nor mozz, but rather gruyere or maybe ementhaler.

    1. s
      smartie RE: Cholent Fresser Dec 30, 2006 07:49 PM

      deiscane you took the words right off my fingertips. Gruyere is the correct cheese.

      1. s
        sig RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 3, 2007 01:32 PM

        Cholent Fresser,

        I am going to be in Beverly hills, LA on a business trip with my husband. Can you tell me the best kosher places near where I am staying? We are staying at the:

        The Tower-Beverly Hills Hotel
        1224 S. Beverwil Drive
        Beverly Hills, CA 90035

        SIG

        1. weinstein5 RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 3, 2007 02:36 PM

          You are very close to IMO one of the best kosher restaurants in LA - Pats - it is at 9233 W pico -

          1. c
            Clarissa RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 3, 2007 08:58 PM

            Was this review written in 1955? This stuff about having to check one's manhood and women like this, our wives will be eating there...since when is liking or disliking food gender- specific?

            1. c
              Cholent Fresser RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 4, 2007 05:13 AM

              Dear Sig;

              IMHO, the following are the best and tastiest.
              all are near the area you will be in, for the most part, on Pico Blvd.

              1) Pats
              2) Shilos
              3) La Gondola (Wilshire Blvd)
              4) Jeffs Gourmet
              5) Shang=Hai (Good Chinese)
              and if you want to take a long drive, a unique Kosher dining experience although I don't think much of the food, Tierra del Sur in Oxnard, part of the Kedem Winery.

              Above are all meat following are Dairy;

              1) Milk and Honey
              2) Delice Bakery (Breakfast)
              3) The new, Cow on the roof (or something like that...) on Rodeo Drive

              Enjoy!

              1. g
                ganeden RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 5, 2007 02:49 PM

                BS"D

                I just ate at Pat's last night (Thursday night) and it was packed. When I go to a restaurant, I always tray to order something I can't or won't make at home. They had a lamb tagine special, so I ordered it. Can't say I was impressed. Way too sweet, and no nuance. However, Pat's overall makes solid food. I haven't had the fish, but as far as meat is concerned, I'd stick with a steak or a chop, or maybe a burger, or some roasted chicken dish. They're things anyone can do well even at home, as long as they aren't overcooked, and Pat's does a good, solid job with food like that. I've not had anything even remotely exotic there that has been really up to snuff, but they do well with a hunk of meat. I will agree that it's some of the best food in LA, and that's a bit disconcerting. But at least they seem to care about doing it right with the old standards, and that's a plus.

                1. s
                  sig RE: Cholent Fresser Jan 10, 2007 05:15 PM

                  Thanks for the advice everyone, looks like there are plenty of kosher places in LA. I think we might cancel our reservation at the prime and go to Shilos or Pats. I will write reviews when I get back. Also, if anyone knows the area I am looking for places to take my 1 year old during the day.

                  Sara

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sig
                    m
                    msmd310 RE: sig Jan 12, 2007 11:08 PM

                    Shilo's is very good.
                    across the street from the hotel is a mini-mall with the Fish Grill- easy, kid friendly
                    and a Carvel's ice cream (kosher)
                    also, that Ralphs in the mall has a TON of kosher foods

                    for the baby- take him/her to Roxbury park on Olympic and Roxbury, a nice family park with a TON of frum families, especially on sunday. also, a development called The Grove- next to farmers Market- an outdoor mall, nice grassy lawn area, and a kosher hot dog stand.
                    (I have a 2 year old, and live up the block from The Tower)
                    kk

                    1. re: msmd310
                      s
                      sig RE: msmd310 Jan 18, 2007 02:49 PM

                      MSMD310- Thanks for the great information.

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