Monday, March 21, 2005
The hip, the trendy, the chic, the fabulous, my friend and I all have one thing in common. We all wanted to go to the same restaurant this past Saturday night, a new little spot called Beechwood (which, interestingly is not in Beechwood Canyon, or on Beechwood Blvd. But in Venice, about 10 miles from there. My guess is that the interior is decorated with a Beechwood bar? Who knows.) that has been getting rave reviews.
So, like the overly optimistic girl I can be, I called up at 3:30 that day to see if two of us could get in that night. What happened? Well, of course, I was shot down. But not by a person. No. I was shot down by the website site called OpenTable that I had been directed to. Have you heard of this? It is basically an online reservation system that can reject you with having to bother a hostess. Leaving aside the fact that having online reservation system only is mildly elitist, it is in fact a fantastic idea. (But I thought you said you were shot down?) Instead of getting in to the spot I wanted, it directed me to a abso-fana-glori-tastic place I had never given any thought to. Pacé on Laurel Canyon Blvd. Brought to us by my new favorite person, Head Chef and Owner Sandy Gendel Not only is it less than 2 miles from my house, but it is just a gem of a spot, in a slightly rustic (by LA standards) area. They are located underneath a canyon grocery store (think hippies with lots of money) and is small, bustling, romantic and comfortable. The menu uses only organic ingredients and leans towards Italian.
Even though we got there 15 minutes early a hostess who was absolutely charming immediately seated us. A basket of best bread I have had in ages was brought, along with a pureed red pepper spread (SO good) and a small bowl of almonds and large dry cured black olives. Water was brought, and we ordered a bottle of Pellegrino just for laughs. (Bubbles. Hee hee) We also ordered a Piedmont wine, but honestly, I forget what it was. It was from a terrific and varied list, but the boy was in charge of that, so I just sat back and enjoyed.
We started with the Minestrone soup, ($5.75) They brought it without spoons, which was almost instantly remedied by three different people. It was piping hot, and full to the brim with perfectly cooked vegetables. The broth was light and perfectly seasoned.
Next up, the Pollo Affumicato ($13.50) Described as "home smoked chicken breast on a bed of grilled leeks and artichoke" and it was sublime. There was quite a bit of chicken, beautifully presented on a bed of grilled vegetables that were meltingly good and cooked to perfection. I was overwhelmed.
For our entrees (can you believe two people ate this much? We actually took a lot home.) we split The Wheeler Plate“ Flank steak rolled with various coldcuts, arugula, provolone and basil, grilled and served choice of two sides” ($18.00) Sides were almost as hard to choose as entrees (the waitress had to come by four times before we were able to commit. She had also read us at least 6 specials, which didn’t help our indecision.) but from a list of 12 fantastic sounding additions we opted for sauteed Italian kale and asparagus. Both of which were a revelation. The flank steak itself was out of this world. It was stuffed with mortadella and soppressata, just the right balance of herbs and cooked by someone who understands tough cuts. Sublime.
As a seriously over the top decision we ALSO had the Mystic Pie ($15.00) Wild mushrooms, (See entree below about Wild Mushrooms. Sigh) tomato sauce, garlic and parsley. That all sounds simple, but is in fact the most supremely amazing pizza I have ever taken a bite of. Ever. It is made on cibatta bread, which is light and airy and outstandingly good. I was blown away. Being cibatta, it is an oblong shape, making 8 small irregular slices. The mushrooms burst with flavor and the garlic was very obviously present (I love my garlic.)
Needless to say, we were unable to have dessert. Choices which included banana-bread pudding and a chocolate souffle. Oh well. Next time for sure.
Reservations can be made online at OpenTable.
Overall, I am madly in love with this place and will be back.
Prices: Very reasonable
Noise Level: High
Patrons: Eclectic mix of Hollywood hipsters and soccer moms
Service: Top notch
Food: Simply divine
2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 323-654-8583.
Sopressata is salami made from cured-dry pork and flavored with and black peppercorns.Mortadella is a very large smoked sausage (usually pork) studded with cubes of pork fat.
Mortadella probably dates back to the 15th century, and the original recipes included myrtle,
'mortella' in Italian, hence the name.