Posts for January 23, 2013

Junior's To Be Replaced By Less Famous Lenny's

Junior's, stripped of its signage

Sadly, there will be no last stand at Junior's, the time-worn delicatessen in Westwood that shuttered last month thanks to the latest craze in closing L.A. restaurants: mean ol', unsentimental landlords (see Henry's, Mac & Cheeza, Savory, Jin Patisserie, Yujean Kang's, and Campanile to start). Despite the loss of this 53-year-old legend paving the way for something really radical to arrive in its place, Eater announces the space is being snapped up by Lenny's, the considerably less-famous deli, possibly less good deli that closed in The Palisades last year after earning a not-so-scintillating two out of five stars on Yelp.

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Your Cheap Olive Oil May Be Filled With Fake Crap

Not a virgin!

If that $5 bottle of extra virgin olive oil seems too good to be true, it probably is. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a scientific nonprofit, discovered a 60 percent increase in food fraud this year. Pomegranate juice, olive oil, lemon juice, and tea are often diluted with cheaper products such as grape juice, water, and filters like lawn grass (gross!). Milk, honey, coffee, and seafood are also frequent culprits — but you already knew the unnamed "fish" in your favorite $3 taco was dodgy.

So, how can you fight food adulteration? »

Son of a Gun, Akasha, and BLD Help Change Hollywood's Power-Lunch Landscape

Money, Power, Respect: Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Son of a GunPhoto: Son of a Gun

The N.Y. Times may have had some weak sauce suggestions for grabbing both power and lunch in Manhattan yesterday, but today The Hollywood Reporter nails the same subject in L.A., leaving a few surprises in the wake. Asking high-caliber CEOs and executives where steak sandwiches and major figure dotted-lines are crossing these days, the industry trade updates the city on 25 of its juiciest midday hangouts, a list that veers a little cooler than one might expect, specifically thanks to the industry's younger suits.

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Restaurants Fight Back Over Credit-Card Fees

Debit or credit may mean the difference of a couple dollars.

Since dinner out can often top $100 for two people, it's not surprising that most customers demand restaurants take credit cards. Restaurants, of course, are obliging, but that means credit-card companies can charge ever-higher fees, for which restaurants must bear the burden. Now the National Restaurant Association is lobbying Congress to get those fees lowered, much the way debit-card processing fees have already been capped under the Dodd-Frank Act. They've posted this fee calculator for restaurant owners so they can figure out just how pricey all this is — even small restaurants are likely paying tens of thousands a year in fees alone — with the hope that they'll make more noise. But barring any immediate changes at the federal level, restaurant customers in 40 states may soon start seeing those processing fees passed on to them as a line item on their bill.

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No Patience For Pliny? Hangar Unleashing Its Rare Pugachev Cobra at Tony's Darts Away

Pugachev's Cobra, from Hangar 24 in Redlands

Pliny the Younger season is almost upon us again. But if you can't wait for the day or just don't posses the sea legs to stand in a line for the privilege to sip an extolled, once-a-year brew, you may want to check in with Tony's Darts Away this Tuesday. That night, the Burbank beer bar is opening its arms to Redland's esteemed aviation-themed Hangar 24, which will take command of seven taps until closing. In addition to its readily available Orange Wheat, Chocolate Porter, and Alt Bier, the beer-maker will also have kegs of its rare Pugachev's Cobra. Named for an acrobatic aviation stunt that is itself dubbed after an18th-century Cossack invader, an eight-month bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout that comes in at 16.5% ABV and only rears its end in limited quantities every winter. Opening at 5:00 P.M. that evening, Tony's will offer Hangar's beers at $5.50-6.50 per glass, as well as flights of the ales.

Tuesday, January 29 at 1710 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank.

Drunk Guy Holds Pizza Deliverywoman Hostage, Asks Her to Be His Wife

A Boston-area man allegedly held a Papa Gino's deliverywoman against her will because he wanted a wife with his pizza, reports the Boston Globe. Jonathan Quinlan, drunk at the time and having clearly misinterpreted the whole "you ring, we bring" concept, was arrested for kidnapping.

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Waiter Who Defended Special-Needs Child Becomes Local Hero

Oh, happy day: Michael Garcia, the Houston waiter who refused to serve a customer who criticized a boy with Down syndrome, is earning widespread praise. Customers are flocking to Prime Rib to shake his hand, and kind commenters (they exist!) are showing Garcia some love on the restaurant's Facebook page. Well-deserved. Now, about that raise. [Earlier, Today]

Palihouse Chef Jonathan Peters Teaming Up With Short Order's Christian Page For Hunter's Weekly Pop-Up

Palihouse executive chef Jonathan Peters writes Grub Street to announce Hunters Weekly, a new Downtown pop-up he's leading at Eat.Drink.Americano. This Sunday at 11:00 A.M., Peters is teaming up with Short Order's Christian Page to cook a three-course prix fixe priced at $36. Menu options include crispy duck confit with waffles, eggs benedict with smoked chili hollandaise, and corned beef and cabbage, with one included cocktail from a list of four made by Bestia's Karen Grill and Tim Heller of Tony's Saloon. Check out the chefs' full menu below and find reservations for both an 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. seating online.

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Newsflash: Angelina Jolie Is Kinda Weird

The L.A. Times' Daily Dish blog reports that Angelina Jolie's kids are munching on crickets like they're Dorito's, a snack the actress introduced them to in order to get in touch with their Southeast Asian heritage. Perhaps it's not the most surprising tidbit, considering the star is famous for wearing a vial of her ex-husband's blood and eating cockroaches. More to the point, the whole story stretches way back to an E! News post in July 2011, so it's not exactly a la minute. Oh well, we're sure the paper still nailed that recipe for Nordstrom's chicken salad and that S. Irene Virbila is really enjoying her pizza in New York. [LAT]

Ranking People Magazine’s Paula Deen Puff Pieces

Puffy.Photo: People

Diabetes opportunist crusader Paula Deen hams it up on the absolutely-not-Photoshopped-we're-sure cover of People this week flanked by her newly svelte sons, touting her family's amazing weight loss (they shed a total of 178 pounds and proclaim, "If the Deens can do it, anyone can!"). But it's really no shock that People got the inside story on her dieting habits: They write about her all the time. Suspicious? Ahead, we rank the puffery possibilities (up to 100 points each) of each hard-hitting scoop.

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Southern Comfort Meets Southeast Asian Twist at Starry Kitchen's Fried Chicken and Pandan Waffle Wednesday

OKinawan sweet potato garlic fries, served alongside the restaurant's new fried chicken and pandan waffle dinnerPhoto: Starry Kitchen

We've explored our city's fascination with chicken and waffles before. The Southern comfort specialty, popularized with a Presidential seal at Roscoe's, has risen to the status of a famous riff for contemporary chefs and popular labels, making it on to the menu at Bouchon, placed into a panini at Surf City's Zimzala and sandwiches at The Six, and seeping into a most-disturbing cocktail serum made by Torani. Now comes Starry Kitchen's turn.

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The Taste Is Off to an Appetizing Start

A healthy number of viewers chomped down on the two-hour premiere of Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson's new culinary competition show last night. The Taste had 6.04 million viewers, beating comedies on Fox and NBC. In adult viewers 18 to 49, it averaged a 2.2 rating, beating CBS, NBC, and Fox. So, shazam! "The 18 to 49 range is what counts," Vulture's Josef Adalian tells us, "and while it's not a monster hit by any means, the show is off to a solid start." By comparison, America's Next Top Restaurant debuted in 2011 to 4.57 million viewers and a 1.6 share of viewers from 18 to 49. Adalian also notes The Taste had four times as many viewers as last month's most-watched episode of Top Chef Seattle. [Zap2It, Earlier]

Dog Haus Dominates Pasadena Cheeseburger Challenge

Dog Haus' fry-stuffed "Freiburger"Photo: Dog Haus

When it comes to online restaurant competitions, you never really know how much the results are driven dubiously by aggressive marketing or by a genuine passion for a place, but nonetheless, there are some surprising outcomes to be found in Pasadena's "Cheeseburger Challenge." The contest was launched as part of the city's Restaurant Week/Cheeseburger Week, with voting coming to an end this past Monday. Clear first-place winners in multiple categories include The Counter and newly opened Slater's 50/50, both of which consistently trounced local favorites like the iconic Pie 'n Burger and ever-budding Umami Burger.

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Here’s What 27 Tons of Burning Goat Cheese Looks Like

A truck laden with about 27 metric tonnes (or, almost 60,000 pounds) of brunost cheese caught fire in a tunnel in Norway last week, causing a raging fire that burned for five days. The truck driver says he was about 1,000 feet into the tunnel when he noticed his cargo of dark goat cheese was aflame. Officials suspect the high sugar and fat content in the brunost and its arrangement on the truck caused a rapid spike in its temperature, leading to the fire, which badly damaged the interior of the hillside tunnel and left clouds of toxic gasses looming around the tunnel's entrances for days, the BBC reports. The driver escaped from the flaming cheese inferno unscathed, and the tunnel will be closed for a few weeks until it can be repaired. For now, at least, a small part of the country smells like raclette, and citizens are shocked. "I didn't know that brown cheese burns so well," says the director of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. Head toward the molten dairy center of Norway's fiery goat cheese tunnel of doom, just ahead.

Raclette! »

Jason Tuley Opens Anchor WoodFire Kitchen in Santa Barbara

Anchor Woodfire KitchenPhoto: Hadley Tomicki

Jason Tuley, the consulting chef behind the opening of West Hollywood's The Churchill, is now presiding over his own dream restaurant on State Street in his hometown of Santa Barbara. Anchor Woodfire Kitchen opened earlier this month in the city's Indigo Hotel, a snug dining room with a slim bar and doors swung wide to sidewalk traffic and ocean breezes. Smack in front of the kitchen sits a wood-burning oven, shelves stocked with split logs, marking the heart of Tuley and chef de cuisine Charlie Fredericks' vision.

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Mulberry Street Pizzeria's Marinara Breaks Into Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Mulberry's marinaraPhoto: Mulberry Street Pizzeria

Joining such retail break-outs as Phillippe's hot mustard, Umami's master sauce, Gindo's Spice of Life, and Homeboy Industries' tortilla chips, Mulberry Street Pizzeria is the latest to strike a coup in the genre of local restaurant-labeled product. Richie Palmer's marinara is now being sold on the shelves of Bed, Bath, and Beyond on Olympic in West L.A. Previously, the stuff was only found on the restaurant's website, before the housewares chain decided to take it on (granted, would you ever say no to this guy?). Currently, Mulberry will give anyone who brings a receipt for the sauce one free slice at any of the restaurant's four locations.

Kate Middleton Doesn’t Have Much of an Appetite

According to a (former) friend of the Duchess, Kate feels nauseous when she looks at food. She's living off avocados, berries, oatmeal, and broccoli, and is now undergoing hypnotherapy to disassociate the act of eating with morning sickness. But she did have a Starbucks cookie last week. Maybe that's why she lost her appetite. [International Business Times, Cut]

The Taste Premiere in 91 Seconds

Last night, ABC unveiled its Top Chef-meets-the Voice mash-up, The Taste, filled to the brim with close-ups of quavering hands over the yes/no buttons of destiny and pre-decision anonymity for the contenders. Anyway, the concept is that the judges — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and the other guy — build a team of cooks that they choose based on blind tastes of various dishes. But reviews say the premiere "drags," lasts for what "feels like forever," and "is confusing ... with humorless banter." So, we've assembled the best bits into a tidy, easy to watch minute and a half. Check it out straight ahead and decide for yourself if this cooking competition is for you, or if it's another mediocre show that should go the way of America's Next Great Restaurant.

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