4.17.2012

Another Walk on the Wild Side...



I have a bit of a wild side. I guess I always have. I think I get it from my dad. There have been times it’s been more prominent and times when it’s been more dormant. Admittedly, this side is in a welcomed dormant stage, and has been for a while now. This current stage was preceded by a particularly wild, wild streak. I can attribute that period, in large, to The Coach and Horses. I can attribute the current, dormant, period, in large, to the closing of The Coach and Horses almost two years ago.

The Coach, as we regulars called it, was an LA landmark. It had been around since 1931 (!!). Alfred Hitchcock and Richard Burton (not together) frequented the place. Quentin Tarantino and Tim Roth (together) scrawled scenes for Reservoir Dogs on the bar napkins there. James Gandolfini sent me a glass of wine across the bar once... 

It was a sad day when it closed. Sort of.

I drive down the stretch of Sunset where The Coach was almost daily (hence the main reason I was such a regular), and I have watched with anticipatory curiousity as the cold-molasses-running-uphill progress was made on the exterior of the building. It was like, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, a little something, a little more – wait – it looks open! It’s true, Fred and I were driving to my house after dinner about a week and a half ago, I saw lights and people and made us pull over. Turns out they were having their friends and family night and were not open to the public. But we were given a brief tour. I was excited. It looked beautiful. They told us they were to have a week-long soft opening beginning that Sunday.

So I called Maggie and we made a date (Maggie was with me a great deal during the last wild streak at The Coach).

And so, last Monday night Maggie and I called a cab (yes, we knew) and headed back to The Coach and Horses, newly dubbed The Pikey, headed up by bar owners and restaurateurs Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson (Il Covo, Roger Room, Swingers, Good Luck Bar, El Carmen, Jones, Bar Lubitsch). Broken up into three spaces, each with their own vibe, The Pikey features a dining room (where the Curry Palace was), a dimly lit pub room with bar stool and tall-back booth seating (The Coach), and a smaller Maharaja room with another bar to be open most nights and available for private events (used to be storage as best I can recall).

Restaurant side.
I explained the set-up to Maggie and we decided to make a whole evening out of it: have dinner on the restaurant side and then amble on over to the Coach bar side and have drinks. Upon exiting the cab we immediately spotted one of the old Coach regulars standing right outside the door. We were somewhat bemused, but not sure why. We exchanged pleasantries and went in to have dinner.


The menu of classic British fare (served in all rooms until 2am) offers the culinary creations of Ralph Johnson, former Executive Chef of The Spotted Pig who twice earned the restaurant Michelin stars. We each began with a glass of Lambrusco, Lini, Emilia-Romagna, NV, ($10/36) and the Welsh Rarebit ($5), though confidently ordered (by me), I humbly admit to knowing nothing about the dish. It was good. It was melty, cheesy, mustardy bread. What’s not to like? (And I had nothing with which to compare.)


Then we moved on to a bottle of Entre deux Mers, Tetre de Launay, Bordeaux, 2010 ($10/36). We both kind of wanted red but their list of whites was infinitely more appealing. With this we ordered the Papardelle with Braised Oxtail ($15) and Mary’s Vinegar Chicken with Thrice Cooked Chips ($18). We then noticed two other old Coach regulars in the dining room (not together). 


Brass tacks: the papardelle was nice. The ragu was a little sweet, which Maggie appreciated. The pasta was fresh and very nicely done, which I really appreciated. But we both agreed that it should really be an entrée rather than a small plate. The chicken, which I was the most excited about, was stellar. It was moist as can be with an expertly crisped skin (it reminded Maggie of eating the marshmallow, with its perfectly crispety crispeties at a campfire) and its flavor was deftly enhanced by the vinegar. The thrice baked chips were amazing as well, crispy, salty, potato-y goodness. Maggie loved that the chips on the bottom were swimming in the rich juice from the chicken. We had fully intended to order the fish and chips, but we were absolutely stuffed. We actually even took a chunk of the chicken home – which they returned to us, ready to go in foil, artfully shaped like a swan!




We both felt that nicer wine glasses would be preferred. The catering world’s wide stem tulip glasses don’t work in an environment next to $14 artisinal cocktails. And while they get big ups for having lambrusco by the glass, someone should mention to them that it need not be served in champagne flutes.

We then changed-up our evening by moving over to The Coach side, where we immediately were greeted by about half a dozen old faces, occupying their half dozen old bar stools, PBRs in hand, in a room that looked shockingly the same as it used to (they did a really great job). Again, we were bemused. Until we realized we were there too, right? At least I didn’t have to drink the same "red wine" I drank back at The Coach. We continued with our glasses of Entre deux Mers. I think Maggie had a scotch at some point. But by then we had traveled down the rabbit hole - again.

No, I wasn't up until four in the morning doing that or that. Yes, it's true, perhaps I've been the last man standing more than most ladies would admit, but I do have unending energy. And an amazing constitution for wine drinkage. But, though Fred asked, we did not, in fact, close the bar down. I'm pretty sure we took the second cab home that we called and made it there by one thirty in the morning. Take that!

Coach side - with Regulars.

The next morning, as we attempted to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, we reminded ourselves of the relief of this appreciated dormant period. We cursed The Coach.

The next night Maggie returned and had the burger. She wanted the fish and chips but it was not available for some reason. And a glass of the Entre deux Mers. I love that girl.

The night after that I dragged Fred in.  We ordered a bottle of the Entre deux Mers, the Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad with Young Kale & Mustard ($14), the chicken (again) and I finally got to try the Fish & Chips with Tartar Sauce ($15).



Oh, and Fred made it a point to order THE COACH AND HORSES: Shot of Ancient Age Bourbon and PBR “Tall Boy” Can ($8). 
*Picture at top of post.

Brass tacks: The salad was missing some component to bring the delicate greens and the crude texture of the pig ear together. The chicken was, again, awesome. The fish and chips, the main reason for this visit, was merely fine and not tremendously memorable. The chips were not of the thrice baked variety, but rather more in the wedge-cut arena. These fries were fine but pale in comparison to the thrice baked ones with the chicken. The fish, which, admittedly, I doused with malt vinegar and lemon upon its arrival was not confident in its identity of a good ole’ greasy London street style, or bougied American gastro pub style. But lest we forget: this is all still the soft opening, where, in my humble opinion, all is fair.

The portal between the two main rooms.

Which reminds me, The Pikey opened for reals yesterday. I, for one, dig it. I will return and, I imagine, eventually sample everything on the menu (which is not that huge (which is nice)). I imagine I will stop in for a glass of wine on my way home every once in a while. I imagine, every so often, I may have one of those nights there. But I no longer fear The Coach will carry me back to a wild phase. You see, it would appear that it’s grown up now. 

And so am I…


One year ago: Meyer Lemon Relish
Two years ago: Ludobites 4.0


Pikeys Pub on Urbanspoon


4.08.2012

Egg (on) Thy Neighbor


Borrow an egg from my neighbor? Apparently not. My neighbor, Meg, happens to live within spitting distance of my house--yep, right next door, up close.  Perish the thought; I would never , nor have I ever, spit at Meg or her house. I do, however, think Meg has given some thought to spitting at me.

I grew up in a row house, I shared walls in dorms in college and even had a few dorm-mates at certain points, I have lived in a dozen apartments, surrounded on all sides by other apartments, and I have lived in three different houses in my canyon, a whisper's whisper from numerous other houses, and I have never had any real problems with any of these neighbors. When I moved into my current house, my landlord advised me to meet my soon-to-be next door neighbor, Meg. He told me she had some “issues” with the prior tenants.

So I went over and introduced myself. I explained to her that I had a small dog and that, more often than not, other dogs would also be at my house. She told me she had two small dogs as well. She was genuinely pleased that I bothered to come by, introduce myself and explain my situation to her. She even threw a little neighborhood meet and greet at her house when I moved in. Two other women from our block showed up. My dad was with me as he had come out to help me move. They flirted with him.

Meg had told me all about her “issues” with the couple that occupied the house before me. They had two small dogs that barked at all hours. They were swingers and had “wild parties”. The woman had fake breasts, Meg told me. The woman with fake breasts and Meg would yell at each other and apparently the whole neighborhood knew about their rift. Meg took the woman with fake breasts to dog court four (4) times.

Dog Court?

I think she genuinely appreciated the gesture I made by coming to her first, introducing myself and preemptively mentioning the potential animalia at my house. Things were good between us. I used her wi-fi network, she used my printer. Every once in a blue moon she would kindly ask me to keep it down if I was out on the patio super late, with music and company. We were kind and chatty and cordial. Things went on like this for about a year and a half or so.

Then the winds changed.

I’m honestly not entirely sure what happened. I’m really not.  But something sure did. Suddenly she imposed a curfew on Maggie and me. A curfew. We were told that by midnight (each night) we were to be sealed in our house with all noise at a minimum.  If she heard the TV after our midnight curfew, I'd get a phone call or a text message. If I had company, having dinner and drinks out on the patio on a Saturday night, I’d get a text at 12:01am telling me to keep it down. I kept waiting for the citizens' arrest.

Stranger than fiction; I decided to take the kill-her-with-kindness route. So I sent flowers. Every text and email I send to Meg is littered with smiley emoticons (which I, otherwise, never use), exclamation points and phrases like super duper.

Yes, it's exhausting but so much fun in the most perverse of ways. 


Well, it’s Easter and Fred and I wanted to make a special Easter-y brunch. But we were short one egg. What could be more neighborly than to borrow an egg from a neighbor? (I’m such a brat) Of course Meg did not respond to my neighborly request (with a winky face and, like, two exclamation points), so we zipped down to Lindy Grundy to get some eggs and some of their bacon, thick-cut. Brunch was great. I would tweak a few things here and there about our approach to the dish below and the recipe reflects those tweaks.

I’m now considering dropping off one of these beauties on Meg’s doorstep with an Easter card with bunnies and smiley faces all over it. Little baby Jesus would be so proud. He comes back to life today, right?

Happy Easter! And Passover!


Eggs in a Basket with Maple Bacon, Fontina & Chives

Ingredients

Serves 6
3 large russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
6 slices bacon, about 2 1/2 ounces, chopped
2 tablespoons sorghum (or maple syrup)
6 eggs
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Directions
Special equipment: jumbo sized 6-cup muffin tin
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor fitted with the grater attachment, push chunks of the potato through the chute to grate. Once all the potatoes are grated, put them into a piece of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove the moisture. Add the potatoes to a large bowl, stir in the melted butter and season well with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spray the muffin tin lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Press the grated potatoes evenly into the muffin cups being sure the potatoes go up the sides and a thin layer and covers the bottom. Bake until the top edges turn light golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together the bacon with sorghum (or maple syrup) and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and gently crack an egg into each cup. Bake until the egg whites set but the yolk remains runny, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set the oven to broil. Top the eggs with grated cheese and put the maple bacon on another sheet tray. Broil both until cheese melts, and bacon crisps slightly, about 1 minute.
Top the eggs with chives and crispy bacon, sprinkle a little salt & pepper to taste and serve immediately.


Printable recipe.


One year ago: Lamb Chops with Cumin, Cardamom & Lime
Two years ago: The Perfect Steak