Posts Tagged ‘Tavern On 2’

Over time, human tastes change due to exposure to new things, new experiences, and new knowledge. Starting off as a child, we consumed basic foods mainly for nutrition, not for enjoyment. Once we left our toddler stage, we start to eat common foods like hot dogs, pizza, and hamburgers, as well as crave sweets. From that point on, we would slowly start to like new and different foods and different tastes. For example, most kids and teenagers love ketchup, but cannot stand mustard. Conversely, adults tend to prefer mustard over ketchup due to its flavor complementing meat products, as well as having no sugar. Once we get older, we tend to stick with what we have come to eat on a regular basis. Sometimes, we start to crave what we once had as children. This concept of eating what we did as children, known as comfort food, has recently gained popularity with today’s society, but with gourmet twists to satiate our adult needs. Sure we may want basic macaroni & cheese sometimes, but order it while dining out, and you may receive it with bread crumbs, truffle oil, and/or some kind of meat in it, like bacon. Sometimes, you just want the original thing, and you want it to taste good. Whether you want the original or a rebooted original, comfort food will always have a part in our lives. If you desire comfort food, check out these five comfort foods that you can find in the greater Los Angeles area.

5. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop‘s Chicken Pot Pie

Longevity of a business typically indicates that any business does their job well at staying in business. If a business can remain open for years in a highly competitive industry, that business deserve to remain there. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop has existed in Anaheim for so many decades that nobody can truly claim local status without having heard of this place. Since their inception in the 1950’s or whenever they opened, they have done their thing and have not changed a bit. Find all your typical comfort foods here, from the turkey sandwiches to the chicken noodle soup to all the delightful pastries and baked goods here. Of course, anyone visiting this quaint shop must try their namesake, the Chicken Pot Pie. For less than $5, you can order a smothered chicken pot pie a la carte. This pot pie contains nothing extraordinary – just your typical chicken meat, peas, carrots, and gravy. When you order it a la carte, they smother it with more gravy. Sure it may not contain anything unique, but it tastes exactly as how you would imagine it. No reason exists to fix something not broken.

4. The Crooked Duck‘s Duck Chili

Do you occasionally drive down a busy street and see businesses to the side that makes you wonder what they have? Some major roads have plenty of great local businesses along the path, but the majority of everyone driving on that road simply zooms past these businesses and never take time to discover what awaits if they stop to visit. Slowing down may lead you to discover interesting places, such as The Crooked Duck in Long Beach. I feel that its location hinders its popularity, as the speed limit in front of The Crooked Duck clocks in at over 50 MPH, so most people zoom past this place and never know what lies here. I can tell you now that if you stop to visit this place, you will discover amazing comfort food prepared with local ingredients. But since they have duck in their name, you can expect some of the greatest duck dishes here, such as their Duck Chili. This black bean chili has 5-spice duck in it, with wonton chips and a hoisin sauce drizzle on top. Despite the presence of a strong sauce, the duck boldly stands out. For just $5.25, you can get this duck on and satisfy your hunger with a right portion.

3. The Viking Truck‘s Nemesis Corn Dog

In recent years, Disneyland has stepped up the quality of their food in regards to ingredients. Unfortunately, the price increases of everything including the entrance ticket does not justify visiting this theme park for a mere bite. For years, I have sworn by the corn dog from the Little Red Wagon in Disneyland, but could not afford to visit the park whenever I craved it. Fortunately, the discovery of The Viking Truck in Orange County has nullified any reason I have to go into Disneyland for a corn dog. The Viking Truck, which roams Orange County in their food truck, specializes in gourmet sausages, and utilizes them not only in sandwiches, but in corn dogs. Using a homemade batter, The Viking Truck uses their gourmet sausages for unique corn dogs not easy to replicate. Their signature corn dog, the Nemesis Corn Dog, contains their smoked bratwurst. This combination works so well because of the batter’s sweetness matched with the bratwurst’s smokiness and meatiness. The flavors contrast so well, but the addition of spicy brown mustard adds an additional sour flavor, completing the full taste bud spectrum. This brilliant corn dog costs just $6.50 (when not at special locations such as a convention center), slightly more than a Disneyland corn dog. But when you consider the freshness of this corn dog, and the fact that you do not have to pay to visit this food truck, who cares about which one costs less?

2. Beer Belly‘s Beer Belly Grilled Cheese

If something does not fit in with the others, do you call it a black sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You probably answered black sheep… but what if the black sheep holds power over the herd? Enter Beer Belly, Koreatown’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. A random gastropub tucked away in the urban sprawl of Korean businesses… no one would believe a hidden gem like this exists in such a town. Once you discover it and venture inside, you will discover that you may fall in love with Beer Belly. For a place so small, Beer Belly offers a vast variety of not only food, but beer as well. Their reinvention of classic comfort food into a fine dining experience will leave you craving more, especially their Beer Belly Grilled Cheese. At $12, this one-of-a-kind grilled cheese basically takes two grilled cheese sandwiches and utilizes each of them as a bun, resulting in a sandwich containing four slices of bread. Playing along with the power of Four, four cheeses play into this sandwich: cheddar, asiago, gruyère, and goat cheese. As if four cheeses did not appear enough, the center layer contains applewood-smoked bacon, and the entire sandwich receives a drizzle of maple syrup. I sincerely hope that if you plan to tackle this beast of a sandwich that you do not follow any diets. As they say about comfort food: good for heart, but bad for your heart.

1. Tavern On 2‘s Rosa’s Chilaquiles

I love to watch the evolution of local establishments. New businesses mostly start out small, and with the growing fan base, the business must grow too. When Tavern On 2 finally unveiled the doubling of their dining area, business boomed for them, as expected. One of two gastropubs in Belmont Shore (the other one counts as a chain), Tavern On 2 understands their loyal customers, and constantly adapts to the changing times of not only the local community, but to the frequent visitors from out of town. Those who have not visited Tavern On 2 within the past few months ought to return to gaze upon the new menu curated by Tavern On 2’s new chef. Many of the old favorites remain on the menu, such as their Oxtail Poutine, but the brunch menu has received a complete overhaul, which now lists some interesting dishes, such as Rosa’s Chilaquiles. This modern reinvention of a classic starts with a traditional chilaquiles base of egg-washed tortilla pieces smothered with chile verde. This dish receives a generous helping of avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, queso fresco, crema, and roasted pork belly. Wait, what? Looks like the chef decided to place a spin on this traditional dish. Although the pork belly represents a small portion out of the entire dish, it brings enough porky undertones to make its presence felt during the course of devouring. Score this rad dish during brunch on the weekends for just $12. Do not forget to pair this with some great craft beer that Tavern On 2 changes weekly!

In recent years, the influx of gastropubs have many people around the world searching for the next best place to grab a bite or a drink. Much like how craft still only accounts for less than 10% of the world’s total beer consumption, less than 10% of the world understands the meaning of a gastropub. In short, we call a restaurant a gastropub when they focus on higher quality in the food and beer. If a restaurant does not serve beer and food, that restaurant cannot claim the title of gastropub. Although gastropubs have existed as early as the early 1990’s, many more gastropubs have surfaced within the past few years thanks to the public’s desire for better quality than the standard corporate business. Today, gastropubs exist in every major metropolitan area and in many rural areas as well. With this, a handful of them sadly do not live up to the expectations of a gastropub. To eliminate any doubt about gastropubs, check out five in the greater Los Angeles area I highly suggest visiting this season for various reasons.

5. The Rusty Monk

Opening less than a year ago, The Rusty Monk comes forward with a old-time Belgian theme. Located in Uptown Whittier very close to another popular gastropub, The Rusty Monk makes you feel like dining in a traditional European establish, what with the interior decor and the snazzy outfits of the servers. The food menu resembles typical pub grub, which includes various sandwiches, entrées, and many Western-Central European dishes, such as schnitzel, shepherd’s pie, Bavarian pretzels, and more. The true delight lies in their beer selection, which contains a plethora of imported Belgian, Austrian, and German beers. Fans of Western-Central European beers ought to visit The Rusty Monk now while we wait for Oktoberfest, because we can only imagine how busy The Rusty Monk gets during the Oktoberfest time.

4. The Rookery

Downtown Pomona has really turned into a popular place for young adults in the past few years. Many stores now appear more alternative, almost giving off a hipster vibe without feeling so pretentious. Traditional restaurants and bars aplenty, new restaurants have slowly moved in over the past few years, such as The Rookery right there on the corner. This gastropub opened a while back, yet to this day, they still do not utilize a POS system; believe it or not, your bill and receipt come on a handwritten notepad, straight out of the 80’s. Tidbit aside, they have stepped things up since my first visit. The menu remains fairly small, possessing a few burgers, and even fewer entrées. I appreciate their use of local seasonal ingredients, evident most when you order the same thing a second time and it comes out different than the first. The Rookery also deploys a rotating taps system, changing up their beers whenever a keg blows to keep things fresh and spontaneous. Craft beer fans will want to visit The Rookery at night every third Wednesday of each month, when The Rookery hosts their monthly Bottle Share event. Not only does The Rookery have a great location on the corner of the main intersection of Downtown Pomona, but guests can find free parking just a block away (the lot adjacent to The Rookery costs a minimal fee). For a great space, The Rookery has great potential to turn into a thriving business, which may include a larger menu, more beer taps, and the installation of a much-needed POS system.

3. Tavern On 2

I love to watch the evolution of local establishments. New businesses mostly start out small, and with the growing fan base, the business must grow too. When Tavern On 2 finally unveiled the doubling of their dining area, business boomed for them, as expected. One of two gastropubs in Belmont Shore (the other one counts as a chain), Tavern On 2 understands their loyal customers, and constantly adapts to the changing times of not only the local community, but to the frequent visitors from out of town. Those who have not visited Tavern On 2 within the past few months ought to return to gaze upon the new menu curated by Tavern On 2’s new chef. Many of the old favorites remain on the menu, such as their Oxtail Poutine, but Tavern On 2 now finally serves entrée dishes, such as a Pork Belly & Octopus dish. With this new menu in place that continues to add new dishes, customers old and new will love to explore the wonderful culinary creations churning out of this kitchen.

2. Beer Belly

If something does not fit in with the others, do you call it a black sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You probably answered black sheep… but what if the black sheep holds power over the herd? Enter Beer Belly, Koreatown’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. A random gastropub tucked away in the urban sprawl of Korean businesses, no one would believe a hidden gem like this exists in such a town. Once you discover it and venture inside, you will discover that you may fall in love with Beer Belly. For a place so small, Beer Belly offers a vast variety of not only food, but beer as well. Their reinvention of classic comfort food into a fine dining experience will leave you craving more. Remember to visit on a Sunday morning to check out their brunch menu, where they offer some dishes that only exist during this time.

1. The Factory Gastrobar

Never underestimate places off the beaten path – awesome things go on outside of the populated areas, and could potentially generate its own populated area. While many young adults love to frequent “downtown” anything, some other cool places exist sporadically around the city. The best places do not necessarily have to exist in populated areas – if a business does well enough, they will attract the crowds to them, much like how The Factory Gastrobar does each and every day. Located in the heart of the Bixby Knolls community of Long Beach, The Factory never sees a dull moment in the kitchen, in the dining area, or on the street out front. With a menu that changes based on the availability of seasonal ingredients, customers of The Factory never get bored of the food here. Add to that their beer and wine offerings that also constantly change based on the availability from suppliers, and you have a place where you can not experience the same thing twice ever. The Factory’s calendar includes various events, such as tap takeovers, special multi-course dinners, cooking classes, bottle shares, live music, and more. With The Factory, you always get a brand new experience!

As we delve deeper into 2014, we look back on the previous year to learn and make progress for the rest of this year. Day by day, people live their lives, some by a set routine, others by thriving on new discoveries and expansions. The human race always seeks to progress culture by devising and adapting new approaches to existing methods. While not all humans share the same interests, all humans at least bear knowledge about food, as everyone has eaten food their entire lives. From the early days of basic meats, vegetables, and grains, food has evolved into a vast range of ingredients, tastes, cooking methods, and presentation. Innovative foods often make headlines as a new discovery, so as a result, many modern chefs tend to experiment more rather than stick to basics. Over time, many food trends surface, giving way to entrepreneurs to capitalize on those growing trends, such as cupcakes, frozen yogurt, and the recent gourmet food trucks trend. However, many food trends remain relatively undisturbed, known only to the true food fans. Last year saw a few food trends touched on, yet they still have not flourished. Read on to find out five food trends to pay attention to this year.

5. Frozen S’mores

From the creative minds behind the world famous Cronut comes new, never-before-seen desserts. Last year, the release of the Cronut went viral, and soon the entire world would go hysterical to try one. Plenty of knockoffs now exist around the world, but none compare to the original in New York. Now that same purveyor has introduced another luscious creation – the Frozen S’mores. Just like the Cronut, Frozen S’mores combines two completely different foods: ice cream and s’mores. This inside-out hybrid starts with an ice cream center, wrapped in a chocolate cookie/wafer, then stuffed inside a marshmallow. This gets frozen to maintain its shape, and whenever a lucky customer orders one, the customer receives it flash-torched to quickly crisp the outside while maintaining the frozen center. The past few years have always seen some type of new pastry or dessert that becomes a hot food trend for that year. Perhaps in 2014, the Frozen S’mores will expand beyond its home in New York and find new stomachs to nestle in around the world.

4. Ice Cream inside unexpected foods

Following up from the previous entry, we can all agree that everyone loves ice cream. Even vegan and gluten-free people love ice cream, or at least their versions of it (sorbet, etc). Traditionally served in a cone or straight up in a cup or bowl, multiple generations have enjoyed this cold treat throughout their lives. In the past few decades, we slightly see more and more ice cream inside unexpected foods. Sure an ice cream cake made sense, and only a matter of time separated the first ice cream cake from the first ice cream cupcake. Then people started inserting ice cream into any sort of dessert, such as ice cream cannolis, ice cream tacos, and deep-fried ice cream. But then where does one go from there? Once all the dessert ideas run out, start looking into meals. Would you boldly try a burger with ice cream in it? (Slater’s 50/50, first photo above) As strange as that sounds, it did not taste bad, but the rest of the burger masked the ice cream in it. The latest craze to hit the airwaves comes to us from Orange County, where ravenous millennials can wrap their hands around ice cream-filled doughnuts. (Afters Ice Cream, second photo above) This time, I feel that they just want to capitalize on a fad, as this tastes exactly how you picture it in your mind – a doughnut (glazed or non-glazed) with ice cream. But with the advent of this, who honestly knows where the culinary world will go from here?

3. Japanese meets Western

Last year, the revelation of the Ramen Burger (Go Squared, first photo above) turned into the most talked-about subject during its 15 minutes of fame. No one had seen anything like it before, and when an opportunity to try one locally cropped up, the entire region flocked to the destination, generating lines lasting over three hours just to try this new food. Once the fad settled, knockoffs appeared everywhere in an attempt to capitalize on the public’s desire to keep up with trends. We now see many different ways where Japanese cuisine meets Western preparations in addition to a Ramen Burger. Somewhere out there, a Ramen Pizza exists. Elsewhere, creative home cooks have discovered how to make things like Ramen omelets, Ramen burritos, Ramen chili, Ramen casserole, and many more things with Ramen in it. But why stop at Ramen? Japanese cuisine consists of far more different foods than just that 10-cent college meal every adult recognizes. Have you heard of Okonomiyaki? Some genius decided to attempt an Okonomiyaki Burger (Mitsuwa Marketplace, second photo above) one day. How about everyone’s favorite Japanese food, sushi? Hybrid sushi has already existed for some time, such as a Cheeseburger Sushi or Teriyaki Pork Sushi (Yatta Truck, third photo above). What other creative things can you think of to do with Japanese cuisine?

2. Hot Sauces

If you have not heard the news about Sriracha sauce, the city of Irwindale, which houses the primary facility that produces Sriracha sauce, aims to shut down the factory due to foul odors emanating from the facility. Thanks to this scare that Sriracha sauce in the United States may cease to exist, chefs, home cooks, and food fans across the country scrambled to search for suitable hot sauces to replace their beloved rooster sauce. Plenty of different types of hot sauces exist, and Americans already have fallen in love with both Tabasco and Tapatío sauces. However, nothing can truly replace Sriracha sauce – its combination of ingredients yield an intense spice full of harmonic flavors that help to open up one’s palate to fully absorb the food that the sauce dresses. In fact, Los Angeles even hosted a festival dedicated to Sriracha recently. Heat seekers swear by Sriracha, and will have to look high and low for new hot sauces to satisfy their need for heat.

1. Cauliflower

Every year, some obscure vegetable that nobody ever paid much attention to enters the spotlight and suddenly becomes a thing that everyone wants. In 2012, Brussels sprouts came out of nowhere and took the world by storm, leaving everyone craving more Brussels sprouts. In 2013, everyone suddenly wanted to eat more kale. Now in 2014, we see the inevitable rise in the popularity of cauliflower. Traditionally seen in salads, creative chefs have come up with new ways to deliver cauliflower such that casual customers would crave more, such as Roasted Cauliflower (Tavern On 2, pictured above) with ingredients like capers, bacon, and more. Sooner than later, much like with Brussels sprouts and kale in the previous years, people originally adverse to cauliflower may turn a new leaf this year and give it a try. With high nutritional density, people can view cauliflower as similar to broccoli in terms of serving. More importantly, nutritionists have linked the consumption of cauliflower to reduced risk of prostate cancer. Gentlemen… eat more cauliflower!

Although 2012 showed much progress with many different types of food, 2013 appears promising as far as pushing the boundaries of delicious food. Chefs constantly work to devise new & creative foods that patrons can fall in love with and tell their friends about. The way I see it, in order to garner success, one needs to invent or reinvent. In other words, one needs to create something brand new, or take an existing idea and improve it, which applies to both the art and the canvas. Many people tend to look only at the art without acknowledging the quality of the canvas. Culinarily, the toppings, which represent the art, may enhance the appearance and flavor of a dish, but you need the base template, which represents the canvas, in order to build the dish. Burgers represent a basic yet open-ended canvas to craft works of art. The majority of the world only sees burgers for what you can top them with; however, the quality of the meat greatly determines the overall quality of the burger – after all, you cannot have a burger without the patty. Read on to discover five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles area that I urge you to try this season.

5. Tavern On 2‘s Black & Blue Burger

Leave it to small-town charm to come up with a burger this succulent. Tavern On 2 enters this list with their Black & Blue Burger. With their recent expansion, they also decided to step up the quality of their burgers. Tavern serves a good variety of burgers, but by far the Black & Blue remains their most popular among locals. This burger gets topped with maytag blue cheese, rosemary-candied woodfired bacon, horseradish mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. They recently switched the bread to a pretzel bun to keep with the theme of a true gastropub. Tavern serves all burgers and sandwiches with a side salad and house-made chips. The combination of blue cheese and bacon dates back to the 90’s, yet very few restaurants get it right. Tavern On 2 does this concept justice with their Black & Blue. Pair it with one of their fine craft beers, and you have a meal worth feeling proud of.

4. Burger Parlor‘s The Royal w/ Cheese

Sometimes a restaurant serves something so amazing that they may not even list it on their regular menu, and only feature it as a secret item. Bruxie Waffles currently does that with their Prosciutto Hash & Egg, which they only sell on weekends and sell out within hours of opening due to the overwhelming reception of that creation. In Downtown Fullerton, Burger Parlor does that with their most expensive burger, The Royal w/ Cheese. Chef Joseph Mahon cooks this burger medium rare, then tops it with bacon, fried onions, tomato, lettuce, truffle oil, chipotle aioli, and a fried egg. Always keep in mind that flavor tends to scale positively with the mess it generates on your hands! The juices that flow from the burger patty coupled with the oozing egg will leave your hand tasting delicious – just take care not to start sucking on your fingers in public. Pair this burger with one of their craft beers on tap for a terrific meal.

3. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Lazy Ox Burger

When someone random recommends a place to eat, you typically have to understand that person’s tastes. When a reputable source recommends a place to eat, you can bet that place will have amazing food. Accepting recommendations comes with risk, as you may not know what to expect, since a person may like something that you do not, even if that person speaks for an entity. Biting the bullet and moving on the recommendation, I land at Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. This dim little restaurant carries some interesting meals fit for large groups in addition to the standard individual plates. Per my mission, I dove straight for their Lazy Ox Burger, complete with whole grain mustard and white cheddar, served with kennebec fries. The mustard truly gives this burger its unique kick with its tangy texture, as it brings out the full flavor of the beef patty. Although the burger appears small, Lazy Ox packs a lot into each bite. Despite its location in Downtown LA, parking meters right outside only operate until 8pm, and do not operate at all on Sundays. Take advantage of this and go order a Lazy Ox Burger!

2. Chapter One: The Modern Local‘s American Burger

Meat, meat, and more meat. Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there, for I know that meatless burgers exist. Sadly, meatless burgers can never measure up to the real thing in taste and quality. If you want to scare off a vegetarian or vegan, find out how much meat you can pile onto a burger, which Chapter One: The Modern Local appears to have done to their burger. In addition to the beef patty, Chapter One also includes pork belly and bacon on their American Burger, as if one type of meat does not deserve to stand alone. Just for safety’s sake, Chapter One throws white cheddar fondue, roasted shallots, pork belly jus, aioli, lettuce, and tomato on the burger, then scoop up some duck fat fries for your snacking enjoyment. I feel sad for vegetarians, as they will never get a chance to savor this meaty burger. But if you eat meat, you have a chance to try what everybody talks about here! With each bite, savor every ingredient on the burger, from the beef to the pork belly to the bacon. Also consider finishing off your meal with one of their donuts, like their Bourbon Bacon Banana Donut, and walk away from Chapter One feeling like a true hero.

1. The Parish‘s Burger

Embrace simplicity. Sometimes you have to take things back to square one to analyze where you stand. In this world of add-ons and multitudes of color, we often lose sight of what lies behind all the bells and whistles. An artist can slap on dozens of layers of colors and paints onto the canvas and call it art. But what could one make of the actual canvas? A painter cannot claim that title without the canvas, as any artist requires a solid foundation before initiating the work of art. At The Parish in Downtown Los Angeles, they fully recognize the importance of the canvas, and build their food around it instead of covering it up. The Parish forgoes the fancy building of additions to their food, and focus on the base of the food, which you can find most apparent in their burger. This simple yet untitled Burger consists of one of the best beef patties you will ever sink your teeth into, Époisse cheese, and highly caramelized onions, all on grilled ciabatta bread. Their menu claims that the burger contains pickled carrots and arugula, but unless I mistook the onions for those, I could not detect any of those in the burger. Almost all burger patties cooked medium rare contain pink in the very middle. At The Parish, their burgers come pink all the way right to just before the edge, yet the patty still retains a crisp texture on the outside. The juices seep into the bottom bun, creating a wet yet meaty handle for the burger. Lastly, the cheese and onions work overtime to bring out the meatiness of the patty. Oh, and you get fries with your burger too. I randomly stumbled upon The Parish while adventuring in Downtown LA one day. I love their location – at the end of a building peninsula located in the center where Main St and Spring St split off like a Y. With a cafe downstairs and the main dining room and bar upstairs, The Parish truly has all grounds covered to operate a successful business. Do yourself a favor and get to The Parish and try their food – I promise you will not stop thinking about the food once you try it.

Have you visited Tavern On 2 lately? This amazing little gastropub brings the quaint charm of quality food and craft beer to the local community of Belmont Shore in Long Beach. Seen as that little restaurant between Rite Aid and Panama Joe’s, Tavern On 2 has cemented a name for themselves amongst locals and out-of-towners for their delicious food, craft beer selection, and personable wait staff.

Since their opening last year, the folks at Tavern have wanted to expand their front-of-house area to the vacant adjacent space. Finally after a year of negotiations and paperwork, they finally broke down the wall last week. In just a few days, they brought down the wall, set up tables, and opened restrooms to the guests. This huge step marks only the beginning of several improvements for this gastropub in Belmont Shore, as they plan to install an official bar next. If you have yet to visit Tavern On 2, you can now see them in full glory! Head on down this weekend and check out the great menu and new wider space.