Corazón y Miel - Bell
I definitely am.
Weird location and the prices are less dear than Animal so that is a promising sign. The chocolate cake with the chili cream sauce sounds good.
Went last night. Very impressed by the food. Highlights include: ensalada de cueritos (pig skin 2 way - salad & chicharron), pan conchompipe (turkey leg sammie), and boca negra (chocolate cake). But everything we had was very good. And the bar program might be even better. Most importantly, it was all very affordable. The 3 of us ate & drank ~$80 before tax & tip.
Felt...odd to be in Bell, but it's as far as the SGV for most, so not that much out of the way. Not a big restaurant, and not packed (although we went after 9pm), but a fairly lively atmosphere. Seemed like the vast majority of patrons were locals (they were a bit surprised we can from West LA and Fullerton, respectively - we actually chose the restaurant because it was kind of a midway point), so maybe even J. Gold & company can't help pack restaurants when they're located in Bell. But that's a shame, because I really enjoyed my dinner there. Plus, parking will never be an issue here.
Tip from the restaurant: happy hour from 5-7 and 9-closing at the bar, which actually has a dozen+ seats (doesn't apply to tables). Full menu served there, and you can actually make reservations at the bar. And you get to interact and sample stuff from the pass, etc too.
Definitely on the menu - and a good deal with a group!
My lone trip there was as a party of two so we asked if we could just "fire the Antojitos" which was not a problem for them. Tremendous variety of food; Very similar experience, in fact, to dining at Animal when trying numerous small plates. Total cost - with cocktails - less than $100 total. And it was just as good as many of the dinners we've had at 3x the price in LA proper...
"Seemed like the vast majority of patrons were locals (they were a bit surprised we can from West LA and Fullerton, respectively"
What? This must be some mistake... I went when they first opened, and again last night. The bar manager that chatted with us said they JUST started getting locals in, and said that tons of people come from tons of crazy locations. He said one table was from San Diego that night, one from Orange County... our table was West LA, Downtown LA, and OC. He seemed to suggest that was pretty typical. It was DEFINITELY true back when they first opened. There was no one that looked even remotely local on my first trip there.
Frankly, and maybe this is kind of in bad taste, but who even are the locals that are eating there?... What are they even competing with?
When they first opened I remarked that I thought it was insane to have a business model 100% dependent on people driving out to you, but I guess it worked out for them.
I actually have had a lot of fun both times I've been though. Probably more the first time because of the pan con chompipe. That's still on the menu apparently, but they just don't print it...very weird, and wish someone had told us that BEFORE we had eaten, but oh well.
It was pretty much full on a Saturday night, so they're at least doing ok it seems like.
For my part, I think it's a really nice place, and hope it sticks around. I am not sure how you guys got out for $80 with drinks though... We just got a bottle of wine, and a cocktail between 3 of us and our bill was $186 (including tax and tip).
I guess if you don't get that many appetizers, and the pan con chompipe maybe you don't need as much food (that dish is particularly huge and is equal to 2 of the normal entrees I suppose).
They added a bunch of stuff (and removed some things, like the arroz con pollo, which was incredible).
The asado negro was a fantastic shortribs dish. The fatty meat worked wonderfully with the grits and slightly sour heat of the chili paste; it was quite a subtle dish.
The adobo ribs were perfect. Ruiz definitely learned how to make high-end ribs perfectly at animal. In terms of texture of the meat they were just like Animal's balsamic ribs. However, they had a beautiful heat to them. Also, they come with blood sausage, which is something not seen nearly often enough in LA. It was a very good rendition, too. The dish came with the best slaw I have ever had as well. Apple cilantro slaw, a big plate of it that balanced the hearty flavors of the blood sausage and fatty heat of the ribs perfectly.
The pork shoulder is wonderful. The raspberry jicama slaw is fascinating, and the pork shoulder is cooked perfectly. They give you a knife with it, but it's almost a joke since it melts at the merest caress of your fork... (and it's covered in duck gravy...). It comes by the pound. If we had ordered 2 pounds of this stuff + that pan con chompipe we probably could've had dinner for $60 haha
Other than the entrees... hmm... the house potato chips were very tasty. I liked the tarragon dip, but was sad they had taken the ash dip off the menu. I always like tarragon though. The chips and dip are as good as chips and dip get. Not sure how much that is saying, but there you go.
The bacon wrapped dates with cojita and caramel are so beloved by one of our party that we got two orders. They're pretty great here, though I rarely eat the dish outside of here, so I don't have much of a frame of reference. My other friend felt they were at least as good as AOC's though.
We had the soup on the menu sort of by accident, but it was pretty tasty. Chorizo was tasty, and poached egg was pleasant. Not mind-blowing, but pleasant. Ok with the chips, too.
The burrata plate CYM does is really something. I don't know if it's good, but it's an ultra-composed burrata plate. Usually you get something like figs + burrata, but at CYM there are a bunch of herbs/spices, and peppers + salsa. You get all kinds of differing heat levels, toasted herb and spice, smokiness, pepperiness, salsa tang, brightness, with woodiness, with the creaminess of the cheese... it's definitely the strangest plate of burrata I have had, and a very "complex" set of flavors. Neither of my dining partners really liked it, as it was too intellectual, but I appreciated the intellectuality of it. Maybe I also like heat more than they do though.
After, we had the fried banana's and bread pudding for desserts. The fried bananas are fantastic and shouldn't be missed. No one liked the bread pudding, and found it too bland in comparison.
I had the boca negra last time, and found it to be pretty good, though somewhat like the burrata, a bit overly intellectual as a dessert. The fried bananas are the simplest dessert, but sometimes that's all you want.
I really like CYM. I think they will only get better with time. I would love to see how they do breakfast one day. I'll get the wild boar chilaquiles next time. We tried last time, but they ran out because they are so popular. I would just like to see how Ruiz would do huevos rancheros haha
In terms of wine selection, I love their simple selection. Our red bottle was from Baja, a mere $30, and went great with everything. I am rarely so pleased with wine at a restaurant, and I liked the simplicity of it. The beer selection is not bad either.
The cocktails are also not bad. My friend got the paleta one, which actually had a paleta in it. It took about 45 minutes to get the cocktail though. And you had to sip it and then lick the paleta (which the bar manager only told us after dinner...no one mentioned it when it was served). Kind of weird.
The service was a little iffy/sloppy overall, but not enough to detract from the food.
I'm going to go back again for the turkey leg for sure. I hope it becomes an iconic LA dish. Ruiz has learned very well from his tenure at Animal I would say. I enjoy eating at CYM at least as much as Animal, and it's far easier to get in there.
Final random note: I'm surprised they took the fried avocado off the menu, too...seemed like a show-stopper haha
We were there a couple of weeks ago. It was a great meal, though maybe not worth the trip. Bell is not close to Pasadena, and traffic can be bad. Bar is great! Pelon y Beso, Salsa Verde, and El Bombero were really wonderful. The food was uneven - some of it just good, other dishes amazing. The Avocado Frito is absolutely wonderful. The steak and fried chicken were not anything special. Ceviche was fantastic. Desserts - we had them all - were good but not great. It's a wonderful place, great atmosphere, and a lot of fun. +
Had all the desserts, fried avo, had some heart, some corn, some burgers, but didn't get the skins.
I do not get this place, at all. And majority of one meal was horrendously oversalted. Will go back a couple more times, but in the neighborhood, currently defaulting to Mole de Los Reyes (which, obviously, serves different things).