Eating Adventures in L.A.
I live in the SF bay area, but like to read this board occassionally just to see what's up in the LA area. I spent several days in Hollywood last week, so thought I'd post a bit about what I ate. I was tagging along with my husband while he attended a professional convention, which opened on Sunday with a reception catered by Wolfgang Puck catering. While the food was good, I was expecting to be a bit more impressed by a business that bore the name. Appetizers were vegetable spring rolls, which were fine, but no better or worse than I'd expect to get at a decent Chinese restaurant; slices of miniture bbq'ed chicken and pepperoni pizzas, which did have perfect crust but with toppings that were about what I'd expect from a decent pizzeria; and spanakopitas that tasted like Trader Joe's frozen, which again is not bad but not great. Dinner was miniture burgers, choice of turkey or beef. I chose turkey, and it was so bland that I didn't bother eating any more after the first bite. But, the accompanying shoestring fries were wonderful and somehow they managed to keep them crisp even though they were serving several hundred people buffet style. I'm afraid I don't remember anything else on the menu.
On Monday I took the Metro to Union Station to go to Olvera Street (I like your metro!) for taquitos at Cielito Lindo. I grew up around LA and have fond memories of eating taquitos there. I was delighted to find that they were just as good as I remembered. Oh my goodness they are good! Probably most of you are familiar with them, they're nothing fancy, just a good crispy shell, nice stringy beef, and the most delicious avacado salsa you ever put in your mouth. I liked them so much I went back on Tuesday and had more.
Monday for dinner a bunch of people from the convention went to Pig and Wistle for dinner. It's a beautiful room with high ceilings, carved wood, very old Hollywood. My cobb salad was fine, and I don't know what could be done with a cobb salad to make it better. The service was top notch. Even though there were seven of us with no reservation, they seated us right away and brought drinks quickly. Dinner was served in a short time, and all the orders were correct and placed in front of the right person (I know this sounds like it should be obvious, but my experience is that generally the larger the group, the more likely there will be confusion). Overall, it was a fun dining experience and everyone seemed to like their food.
After more taquitos on Tuesday, I attended another dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck catering, and had a similar impression. There was a few standouts: the bbq'ed riblets were irressistable, the roasted vegies were outstanding and not overcooked, and the macaroni and cheese was rich and creamy (although after the first tray, there was no crust on top). But the chicken wings were too bland to be worth eating. I will say that the servers worked like a well-oiled machine, and seemed to be very proud to be associated with Wolfgang Puck.
My discovery of the trip was Beard Papa Sweets cream puffs. I know this is a chain, but we don't have it in the bay area, that I know of. I had read an article describing them as the best cream puffs ever, and I have to agree. I'm not a great expert on cream puffs, but these were incredible. Apparently the secret is that the puffs are baked frequently throughout the day, but not filled until you order them. Well, the outside was the most delicately crunchy pastry that shattered as you bit into it, and the filling was creamy, not too sweet, and flavored with real pure vanilla. This was another treat that I tasted on Tuesday and went back as soon as the shop opened on Wednesday to have another. I could have eaten more, but I suspect there may be a few calories involved. The problem is, if you get them to go, you defeat the whole idea of the fresh filling not soaking into the pastry. It's probably a good thing these aren't available where I live, I'd probably eat at least one a day!
You have a fun town, it was great to be a tourist there for a few days!
Thanks for your report, and for your willingness to try the Metro! Wolfgang Puck's catering is a huge operation that caters at many price points; what you get at a reception for 100 people is not likely to resemble anything from Spago unless the hosts pay what you would pay at Spago. His company is just a big corporation at this point that supplies lots of museums around town with pre-made food and such. I've had those riblets and they are good though. I think the most you can say about Puck catering is that the quality is probably fairly consistent. The Pig 'n Whistle isn't know for its food but it's very historic so I'm glad your dinner was ok.
Next time you are staying in Hollywood you should definitely get over to Thaitown (along the Eastern edge of Hollywood) to sample some of the local Thai flavors and just generally see the sites over there.
Thank you for your report, Kathleen. I'm glad you enjoyed your stay. I'm also glad your reminded me about those taquitos. I haven't had them in years. I'm considering a trip this weekend.
We were in S.F. last weekend staying at the Westin at 3rd/Market. Walked over to the Westfield whatever-they-call-it where the Nordstrom around 5th/Market is and noticed there's a Beard Papa in there. Actually I was surprised there's a Bristol Farms in there too, I thought that was only in L.A. but obviously I was incorrect.