Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nickel Diner

Restaurant:  Nickel Diner
Location:  524 S. Main Street, Los Angeles
Like/Don't Like:  Holy Cats!  If it were a rich, single, non-weird Mormon man I would marry it.

We was looking for a place in downtown LA to have my birthday dinner because we were going to be down there for a sing-along (natch). I already love a few places in that area but I wanted to go someplace new.  So I got onto Yelp and found this gem. It's right in the heart of downtown, a few blocks from City Hall, the area looks a little sketchy in the dark, but let me tell you, it may actually be worth getting mugged if you can have their root beer creme brulee.

I was with a bunch of people who like to eat and want to share, which is the best group to be with when you're going out to eat, and we each ordered something different and passed the plates around.  I had the skirt steak with chimichurri (perfect), there was some mac and cheese which was out of sight, spicy pulled pork, cat fish with brussel sprout hash (I don't even like cat fish very much but I would have cuddled with this after hours), stuffed artichoke and a pork chop with some kind of jam sauce that made me want to weep. So delicious.  And then we couldn't pass on the desserts.  We tried the smore cake, the surprise cupcake (surprise! Pop Rocks!), and the aforementioned root beer creme brulee.  You know how most creme brulee that you get when you eat out is kind of grainy?  This was so silky and delicious and root beery.  I wanted to lick the ramekin. And here's the kicker - they're really known for their breakfast.  I can't wait to try it.

The review on Yelp said the ambiance was "Hipster Casual", which was initially a deterrent.  And it was also dead on.  But it was also kind of legit.  It didn't look like it was trying too hard. And the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.  They kept the water coming and they joked with us without being obnoxious and made really good suggestions.  After I finished my dinner I told our server that I just wanted to hug everyone, it was so good.  So on my way out she gave me a big hug.  You know you have a winner when you leave with a hug.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Book:  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Author:  Aimee Bender
Like/Don't Like:  Mmmm...lemon cake.  Oh, wait, yes.  I liked it.

It took me a bit to form a solid enough opinion on this novel before writing anything and I've decided that I liked it.  Even though I felt uncomfortable through the whole thing. 

Rose is about 9 when she realizes that she can taste emotions in the food that people cook for her.  It starts with her mother's despair and her brothers confusion.  And this starts a lifetime of trying to avoid anything but food that is made in a factory because she can't process all the bad emotions that others struggle with and hide.  It was a pretty interesting premise.  But her family was so awkward.  I cringed every time they would have a conversation because they just had no idea how to communicate.  So the whole time I was reading it I just wanted to yell, "Will someone just give this girl a hug!"

The bulk of the blame goes to the author for this very drawn out style of writing.  A conversation of just a few sentences could last pages and pages because she kept interrupting with thoughts.  And that's a fine technique but it felt overplayed at times.  Also, it felt a little sloppy at places, like time had no meaning.  But I cannot deny that the story lingered with me long after I finished.  I think she captured the confusion and fear in Rose nicely.  Overall it was a good read.