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FTM thanks Blackboard Eats for the especially kind mention today!
Valentino. Almost forty years strong (which in Los Angeles is quite remarkable). A venerable Italian stalwart with a wine list that makes oenophiles weep. The Monster hadn’t been in almost ten years.
Upon walking in the first thought is has this room been redone since it first opened? Red and powder blue alternating walls, “almost” art deco light fixtures, uncomfortable (and ugly) chairs. At least it’s dim and a cozy room so it radiates energy. Still, the ambiance is circa 1970’s cruise ship. The Monster has to stop himself from singing the Love Boat theme. Probably will not ingratiate him with the waitstaff.
Like a Phoenix rising, Axe is back from whence it came. Week one post fire opening and for all intents and purposes little has changed. And that proves both fantastically awesome…and awesomely annoying…
Still filled with beautiful people. Still a slightly crunchy, granola menu. Still in need of air conditioning and ice in the water. Still maddening table/bench combos that are a Sisyphean task to get into and out of. Still an excellent back patio. Still dreadful parking and worse valet. Still deafening noise and shadowy lighting with a hip vibe and open kitchen. Still delicious. Still disappointing.
On a forgotten stretch of Robertson far from the pretty masses (its neighbor is the freeway) is The Ivy’s bakery, gelateria and Italian café, Dolce Isola. A cute little slice of Italy, it is a civilized outpost for scrumptious treats where the other nearby offerings are Taco Bell and the high school cafeteria a block away. The Monster chooses to skip being shot at the Taco Bell and having to navigate high school politics for a take-out lunch from this spot he has frequented quite a few times.
With a smattering of tables inside and out, and done up like one would find in Capri, DI’s gelato, baked goods and pizza are on view in display cases. On offer are simple soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta and pizza that hit the spot when time is tight but quality will not be sacrificed.
Abbott Kinney, that cornucopia of a boulevard bewitching any and all who walk its length with its boutiques, specialty stores and high end restaurants and bars. The Monster loves it. And one of the reasons is an incongruous little corner known as Glencrest BBQ.
A holdover from when Venice truly was dangerous (and sure, pockets of it still are), Glencrest is a sliver of a joint around for over thirty years with barely enough room for the food to be prepared, a stool or two to sit inside and a table or two to snake out the door. On a stretch known for hip and cool, Glencrest is unabashedly simple, unpretentious and downright awesome for surviving amidst the washed and tanned and buffed masses. So when the mood strikes for catfish, fried chicken, pulled pork or hot links at a ridiculously low price, The Monster says head to Glencrest.
Pico Rivera is home to final Zagat restaurant, #11 Dal Rae! And absolutely nothing else worth mentioning. Southeast of downtown, the drive to this haunt established in 1958 will see you passing local unions for plumbers and welders, block wide stores selling palettes, meat distributors and a twenty-four hour adult bookstore. If any of this is of interest to you The Monster assuredly believes you’re on the wrong site. Pretty country this is not.
First blush of Dal Rae from the street. Awesome. Time machine. Classic building, old school sign, valets at the ready. This portends for greatness. First blush of Dal Rae from inside. Oh lord. Help. Wow. Clientele from 1958, menu from 1964, a room straight out of 1973, a soundtrack wreaking of 1986 (please turn off the Toto), horrid plants from 1994 and prices reflective of today. How this will end is anyone’s guess.
Jin is that wonderfully grating paradox that Los Angeles uniquely engenders. A place by every right The Monster vehemently dislikes (calling you out Whole Foods in Venice, the lack of anything comparable to the Ferry Building and that we have no Autumn) but finds despite higher than necessary tariffs, snootier than comfortable service and disappointing (at times) food and tea – a return is soon in the works nonetheless.
A converted house on Abbot Kinney turned patisserie, Jin boasts a small, cramped inside nook housing the day’s cakes, chocolates and macarons one can examine behind the glass and a more roomy, partially shaded outdoor area from which one can enjoy their purchases. Outside is teeming with insufferable hipsters engaged in ridiculous conversation and invariably one twenty-something reading a book whose pages never get flipped for an entire hour.