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Dec 29, 2006 11:31 PM

Chefs with balls (pehaps quite literally) in LA.

I moved to LA not long ago from the [only slightly] more cultured east coast, and I'm having a terrible time finding restaurants that serve any kind of interesting game or secondadry cuts of meat. Everything seems to be filets and chicken. I think T.K. said it best; that making boring food like that isn't cooking, its just heating (wait a minute, he lives in California). So what's the deal with the rest of them. Is it just LA? Then again, I can't imagine getting anything other than a quinoa colon-blow nine times out of ten in northern califonia. It seems like almost monthly there is some new asian vegetable that is all the rage in every trendy restauarant in town, but when it comes to substance, the meat, nobody seems to be able to get away from the basics. Who cares about a shiso salad if your serving it with seared salmon? I want wild boar, phesant, woodcock, sweetbreads, even rabbit is hard to come by... The closest I've come are at some of the fine taco trucks in town (I'm thinking especially of "Taco Zone" on Alvarado and Montana in Echo Park) who make some awesome Lengua and Cabeza tacos. Where should I go?


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  1. Saddle Peak Lodge was always known for its game menu; plus all the dead animal heads hanging on the walls. It's away in one of the Canyons near Malibu State Park. Very rustic, great for cold weather (Fireplaces, cozy, etc.).

    I often see wild boar this or that (ravioli, ragu) at some of the Italian places, and sweetbread I swear are (at least were) on just about every upscale seasonal restaurant in town; i'm thinking Grace, Sona, and the like. I can see Josef at Opus doing something with rabbit and sweetbreads; you should check to see what his menu is right now. I had an awesome tagliatelle with wild boar ragu at the now defunct Rocca; the chef is working at Matteo's now. I know I just saw phaesant on some menu, but I can't for the life of me remember what.

    Now, as far as offal goes, someone else will have to answer.

    1. Saddle Peak Lodge has excellent game meats.

      And all the fine restaurants are serving sweetbreads these days as some sort of bedding to help showcase some protein on the plate.

      1. LA serves lots of game and odd bits-- you just need to know where to look.

        Lucques currently has a rabbit on the menu and Spago frequently serves it. Grace almost always has at least one type of wild boar. Vension pops up all over town including at Josie and Saddle Peak Ranch. Campanile frequently has sweetbreads. Opus too. I think the season for woodcock is over. All of these restaurants frequently serve at least some type of game or "other" and yes, all of them are higher end. If you want to cook yourself the bison at the Hollywood Famer's Market is superb.

        Of course, chinese, vietnamese, and Mexican restaurants all offer abundant options.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JudiAU

          Venison, right! I just had a nice venison loin dish, perfect actually with oxtail ragu and what may have been cippolini onions, at Blue Velvet downtown. Great dish!

        2. It seems venison is on all higher priced menus these days as you get consumer interest, get it at affordable costs, and provide your customers with something different, instead of the usual, per the basis of your post.
          That said, the Boneyard Bistro has had elk, boar, venison among other game on its menu, depending on time of the year, in its first year of operation, and all very tasty I might add.
          Bunny is a hard sell in many places, yet Jar seems to have had it a coupla times I was there, meaning I had it once and it was very good.
          The San Gabriel Valley's Chinese restaurants serve more off the wall items than your vocabulary can handle. On your mark, get set,...

          4 Replies
          1. re: carter

            Don't get me started. I'm a fairly adventurous guy when it comes to food but hands down the worst thing I ever ate in my life was cow spleen.

            Lengua and cabeza make for great tacos. You'll find tendon and tripe as a special in almost all pho joints. Menudo is uniquitous in the city on Sunday mornings.

            1. re: SauceSupreme

              What was the texture of spleen like? I'm trying to figure out what this one nasty organ was in a tripe soup I ordered in a Thai place was. It was all rubber on the outside and tasted like overcooked liver on the inside...

              I like tripe, liver, and kidneys, but this one was GROSS.

              1. re: therealbigtasty

                I describe spleen as having the iron-filled metallic taste of liver while trying to chew on a wet sponge that just won't tear, and so the metal just lingers in your mouth.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  It must've been spleen that I ate then.

                  Nasty. Dammit, and I was hoping to like ALL the organs!

          2. Bistro K in South Pasadena. Duck hearts, gizzards, duck tongue, pork tongue, veal sweetbreads, venison tartare wild boar, woodcock, pheasant have all been on the menu, which varies by season. Check out their current menu and past menus on the website and search this board for reviews. The place is tiny, service is slow (I think of it as leisurely), and it's strictly BYOB, which is great (stop by Mission Wine in South Pasadena).

            Bistro K website:

            J. Gold's review from LA Weekly: