Archive for May, 2009

Tavern, (Brentwood) – Los Angeles

Friday, May 8th, 2009

11648 San Vicente Boulevard
Los Angeles,  California  90049
Tel. 310 806 6464
Fax. 310 806 6466
Opening Hours: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards: All major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

The former Hamburger Hamlet space, after a complete architectural reincarnation, emerges as Tavern by chef Susan Goin along with Caroline Styne. It is divided up into three rooms: the larder (the casual take-away area), the bar and the atrium that are less casual.

Menu: Dinner
beluga lentil soup with yogurt and green harissa
roasted asparagus with polenta, fried egg and parmesan
spring vegetables with burrata, olives and meyer lemon
green goddess salad with dungeness crab and avocado
duck sausage with frisée and kumquat marmalade
diver scallops with green garlic soubise and tangelo
simple green salad with soft herbs
wild mushroom ragoût with farro and walnuts
torchio carbonara with english peas and parmesan
market fish with green rice, crème fraîche and pistachio
tasmanian salmon with fennel, orange and cucumber
west coast bouillabaisse with rouille toast
the devils chicken with mustard breadcrumbs
slow-roasted pork shoulder with red cabbage and abbamele
beef daube with carrot purée, tomato confit and olives
grilled lamb with white beans and feta salsa verde
niman ranch steak with creamed spinach and duck-fat potatoes
the tavern burger with salad, fries or onion rings

This is the menu that should peak interest in this section of the city as take-out has always been popular in Brentwood:

Larder Direct
310 806 6460

CHEESE AND CHARCUTERIE (sold by the pound)
european and american cheeses
alps salumi
lomo and chorizo
leporati prosciutto di parma
prosciutto di san daniele
jamon serrano, 18 month-aged
chicken liver with pancetta
pork rillettes
arugula salad with citrus, dates, walnuts and parmesan
farro tabouleh, beets, carrots, chickpeas and feta
shrimp, crab, avocado with buttermilk dressing
chopped chicken, apple, bacon, mustard and blue cheese
The Angeleno –burrata, artichoke, cavolo nero
The American in Paris –iowa ham, oregon butter, mache
The Niçoise- tuna, cucumber, black olive, tomato, egg
The Pilgrim-turkey, cranberry, stuffing, mayonnaise
DRESSINGS & Sauces (sold by the half pint)
green goddess
meyer lemon cream
cumin vinaigrette
mustard vinaigrette
feta salsa verde
little gems with radishes and buttermilk dressing
green rice salad with pistachios and ricotta salata
spring vegetables with meyer lemon cream
AOC bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with parmesan
gulf shrimp with horseradish cocktail sauce
seared albacore with tapenade
slow-roasted tasmanian salmon with cucumber yogurt
chicken saltimboca with parmesan crumbs
roasted chicken with preserved lemon & green olives
the devil’s chicken with dijon mustard
liberty duck confit with kumquat marmalade
herb-roasted lamb with provençal breadcrumbs
braised beef short ribs with horseradish cream
peppered niman ranch steak with salsa verde
mac n’ cheese with gruyère and aged cheddar
roasted beets and carrots with cumin
italian broccoli with garlic and chili
wild mushrooms persillade with breadcrumbs
curried cauliflower with red vinegar
long cooked cavolo nero
mashed potatoes
jerry’s carrot purée
seasonal market fruit
market berries
pickled golden raisins

Sui Sian Restaurant, Landmark Hotel – Bangkok

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Sui Sian Restaurant
The Landmark Bangkok Hotel,
138 Sukhumvit Rd,
Phrakhanong Nua, Klongtoey
Bangkok 10110
Tel. 662-2544040
Fax. 662-2534259
138  Sukhumvit Road Phrakhanong Nua Klongtoey
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Dress code: Smart Casual
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

The menu, true to form for most Chinese restaurants, is voluminous. The cooking in this restaurant is predominantly Cantonese and the lunch menu is priced reasonably and contains a variety of  dim sum, which are essentially various mixtures or ingredients enclosed in a dumpling, such as: deep-fried crab claws filled with shrimps 90 baht, deep-fried mashed taro filled with assorted meat 75 baht, steamed rice noodles rolled with BBQ pork 75 baht, deep-fried prawns with mayonnaise sauce 90 baht. They are also known for their deep-fried salmon spring rolls. As is common in this type of restaurant, they offer live fish and crustaceans that may be chosen live from a tank and can be prepared in a myriad of different ways.

Marion Davies “Ocean House” Opens as Annenberg Community Beach House – Santa Monica, California

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Photo above: Marion Davies’ “Ocean House” Santa Monica. The main house as it looked while being operated for a brief period as a hotel.

On April 26, 2009, the $29 million Annenberg Community Beach House opens, at the recommendation of Wallis Annenberg and in partnership with the City of Santa Monica and California State Parks, at 415 Pacific Coast Highway.
It will be open every day including Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to sunset.

In 1928 Will Rogers sold a parcel of land on the beach with two large houses on it to William Randolph Hearst, who then gave it to his paramour actress, Marion Davies. He commissioned Julia Morgan, the architect of the Hearst Castle, to design and build a three-story, 118-room, 34-bedroom, 55-bath Georgian mansion on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. It was accompanied by three guesthouses, two swimming pools, tennis courts and dog kennels and was called “Ocean House” and cost over $7 million, a staggering amount at the time.
Marion Davies retired from the film business in 1937 and, in 1947, she sold the property to the state of California who leased it to the City of Santa Monica, which, leased it to a hotel, Ocean House, whose owner, Joseph Drown, after operating it for a period of time, incomprehensibly, demolished the 118-room main house.
The hotel was followed by Doug Badt’s Sand and Sea Club. Badt added cabanas and dressing rooms for club members.
As a child, I was fortunate enough to have dined in the Ocean House Hotel in the main house before it was demolished, on several occasions, and subsequently, my grandparents joined the Sand & Sea Club and I remember spending summer day’s splashing around in the long, marble pool.
Most of the property was torn down in 1958. By the time the City of Santa Monica and the Annenburg Foundation and Wallis Annenberg, who spearheaded the idea and supplied a great deal of the financial aid through the foundation started the resurrection, only one of Davies’ guest houses and the 110 foot swimming pool remained.  That building has been, to put it more gracefully, “retired” and supplemented by new buildings.
In the late 1980s, restaurateur Michael McCarty (Michael’s) proposed replacing the Sand and Sea Club with a new “luxury hotel.”  The City loved the idea but residents did not, and put a measure on the ballot that would ban any new hotels on the beach. The residents won the battle over City Hall and McCarty.

From The Past: The Famous Marco Polo Hotel – Singapore

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The Marco Polo Hotel, also known as the Omni Marco Polo Hotel after 1989, was built in 1968 on Tanglin Road, and it was one of Singapore’s famous landmarks and my favorite hangout at the time I was living there. It had the fine dining restaurant Le Duc and the more informal La Brasserie both good in their particular category. It was also home to Le Club, which I joined in 1989 or 1990, a private “members only” nightclub that was very popular and attracted an elite crowd. It had a separate entrance from the hotel’s main entrance slightly hidden to the right on the ground floor. The hotel was torn down in 1999 with barely a second thought, the excuse given was quite obscure, related to a downturn in business caused by the recession of the late nineties, and perceived competition from an adjacent hotel called the Trader’s; on its site now sits yet another boring condominium called the Grange Residences and a big chunk of Singapore’s history is gone forever.
According to details from the archives of the National Library Board (the National Library Building has since succumbed and it has also been scraped):
“The Marco Polo Hotel, at the junction of Tanglin Road and Grange Road, was originally known as Hotel Malaysia when it was first constructed in 1968. Designed by Alfred Wong Partnership, it was a 10 storey building with 300 rooms built in contemporary architectural style. It was owned by the Goodwood Group and the hotel interiors boasted jade, green onyx, marble and teak carvings. It also had a roof-top restaurant. Lobby lounge girls dressed in cheongsams added to the exotic look of the hotel and it was well-known for its high quality service. The exterior was simple with a broad sweeping facade and little ornamentation. Big trees, birds and a water fountain however added charm to the hotel’s grounds. Additions and changes were made to the hotel in 1981, again by Alfred Wong Partnership. The hotel’s architecture won it the 1983 Singapore Institute of Architects’ Award for Outstanding Building. In 1988, the hotel went through a $30 million redecoration programme, adding a new coffeshop and shopping arcade and an enlarged lobby. From 1983 to 1988, the hotel was consecutively voted as one of the top 10 business hotels in the world by the British-based magazine, Business Traveller. The hotel was so popular in the 1970s that many famous personalities chose to stay here during their visit to Singapore. They include British pop singer Sir Cliff Richard, Hollywood actor Roger Moore, Prince Sufri Bolkiah of Brunei and former British Prime Minister Edward Heath. The hotel was selected as the runner-up in the Overseas Best City Hotel category in the Hotel of the Year 1990 presentation in London.”
“Its success notwithstanding, the hotel’s ownership changed hands twice. In 1973, the Goodwood Group sold it to the Hongkong and Kowloon-based Wharf and Godown Company Limited, and in 1986, it was taken over by Marco Polo Developments, a group which is 75 per cent-owned by Hong Kong’s Wheelock Group.”

It is staggering to think of how many stately structures and historic edifices have suffered this same fate in Singapore, due in part to greed or corruption—and how many more will follow. I read somewhere, that even the famous landmark The Singapore Cricket Club might fall victim to demolition if people continue to allow this to happen.

Oak Bar, Plaza Hotel – New York City

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Oak Bar
The Plaza Hotel
10 Central Park South at Fifth Ave
Tel. 212-758-7777
Subway: N, R, W to Fifth Ave–59th St.
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Reservations: No
Opening Hours: Open Daily : Noon – 2:00am
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Expensive

As of the latter part of 2008, The Oak Bar is once again open for business with the original bar and wood paneling along with artist Everett Shinn’s original murals of Central Park on winter evenings, still intact; in spite of the trouble-ridden reopening after the Plaza Hotel’s major renovation, and is once again buzzing with activity. Gone are the confident, knowledgeable and time-hardened staff and along with them the deft mixologists of the past, this is unfortunate, although not unexpected! In the past, I frequently had a drink in the early evening at the Oak Bar, which in those days was a smoky, predominantly male, after-office meeting place or in later years, I walked across the plaza to the small and crowded Harry Cipriani bar that offered a more cosmopolitan and international crowd in addition to the excellent Italian dishes available.
For dining, The Oak Room was never an option, as it offered mediocre hotel-food at over-inflated prices and that trend has only worsened since kosher restaurateur, Joey Allaham entered the picture as it’s guiding hand although, a new chef, Eric Hara, started on March 18th, 2009.