The Coffee Table - Silverlake

ari omelette
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
i'm not really enthusiastic about The Coffee Table, but... since a) i have a picture from the last time i was there with my friend ari, b) i do frequent this place with friends occasionally, and c) this site is supposed to be about giving the real deal about all things grub, i figured i should write an honest, if lukwarm, review. i like it ok, but i don't find anything all that special or unique about the food and it's not really that great of a bargain either (in price or quantity).

i usually only come here for coffee and/or breakfast -- the food is pretty consistently good, but it's nothing to write home about. they've got your usual eggs, omelettes, french toast, pancakes, oatmeal, hash browns, etc. (the above photo is of ari eating his chili omelette, which was decent). the oatmeal was good (served with walnuts, dried cranberries and apple slices), but for $6 a bowl, it had better be some pretty damn good oatmeal. as i recall, most breakfast items are in the $7 to $9 range. it's not terribly expensive, but once you add on your $3.50 coffee, it's at least a $11 or $12 breakfast. and the portions at millie's (another local breakfast spot) are much bigger for the same price. they also serve lunch and dinner items, though i've never tried any of these.

i suppose i keep going back is because not only is it walking distance to my apt., but it also has a very pleasant atmosphere conducive to hanging out and catching up with friends over a cup of coffee (and the staff are much more pleasant than at millie's). there is a lovely outdoor patio in the back with beautiful mosaic tile tables which is especially pleasant on a lazy sunday morning.

my recommendation: go there when you're not especially hungry or if you're looking for a good spot to linger with a friend (or need a quiet place to read or study). i give it a thumbs-up on atmosphere, but am decidedly neutral on the grub. The Coffee Table is located on Rowena, about a block south/east of Hyperion in Silverlake.
you be the judge... but don't forget to post your comments here!


Don Felix: Peruvian comfort food

pollo saltado
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
another one of my favorite neighborhood eateries has to be don felix. it's peruvian comfort food served up fresh and quick with minimal distractions. there are actually two locations and both are located within a mile of each other: one's on beverly and virgil in a little corner strip mall between a donut shop and an ecuadorian-italian place (that is also worth visiting -- i'll have to do a separate entry on it later); the other is further up north on virgil at the corner of virgil and fountain. both seem to have identical menus, but for no discernible reason, i usually go to the one on beverly.

my go-to entree is the pollo saltado (pictured above): chunks of boneless chicken stir-fried with french fries, purple onion slices and fresh tomato chunks and served alongside a generous mound of white rice (see photo). i'm pretty sure the flavoring in the stir fry includes soy sauce, but don't know what else. i also like to add a spoonful of aji, the yellow-green hot sauce made fresh daily and served up in a little saucer as an all-purpose condiment. you can also get the saltado with beef, fish or shrimp -- all are good, it just depends on your meat mood.

other favorites include:
- spaghetti with squid, shrimp, or mixed seafood. kind of similar to japanese spaghetti with a light soy-sauce flavoring rather than your typical italian-style with tomato sauce.
- any of the soups - on my last visit, i had the chicken soup with spaghetti and milk. sounds a little weird but it was good.
- mussels criollo. this is an appetizer in which you get about 6 mussels that are served in the shell but are slightly chilled and are each topped with a huge mound of this salsa-like mixture of finely chopped red onion, cilantro, and lots of lemon juice. it's very tart and you definitely have to like onions, but it's a great appetizer to share with one or two others (i wouldn't/couldn't eat all 6 by myself).

one final note about the beverly/virgil location: in the tiny parking lot in front of the restaurant, it is apparently common practice for people to double park since at dinner-time this lot is always packed. if you find your car blocked in, just go back into the restaurant and let one of the staff know and they'll go around and get the other driver to move his car.


Irv's Burgers...

Have any of you been to irv's burgers?
Apparently it's on Santa Monica and Sweetzer in West Hollywood. I gathered the following from their website:
1) This looks like a place that at least one of us should have been to at some point.
2) It also looks like a place that should be preserved, especially considering all the ugly development that's been going on in that area. (Ie. big box retailers barging into neighborhoods, historic landmarks being destroyed, and the faces of communities changing).

Anyway, I haven't been there yet, but am definitely going to drop by soon. Who's with me?!


Frank's Famous in Montrose

If you're ever in Montrose or nearby, you should go to Frank's Famous. It's a gourmet sandwich shop with about 50 different sandwiches. They carry Boar's Head meats, which I believe is more hype than anything, but it's still quite tasty. I posted a menu, but the word is that they sold the place to someone else a year or so ago and they've pared the menu down a bit. They still have most of the cold sandwiches, but I don't think they carry the gourmet sandwiches, or the European cheese plates or the panini. Never got those before so I don't really recall the last time I went there.

This what I've had so far.
#1 Roast Turkey on french roll (a pretty straightforward turkey sandwich with avocado, cheese and garlic mayo. I'm not a huge fan of turkey sandwiches, but it was pretty good)
#9 Buffalo Chicken sandwich on sliced sourdough (It would be better if it was a fried chicken breast, its grilled)
#14a Veggie cheese on sourdough roll (it's not on the online menu, but it was 3 cheeses, avocado, red onions with a garlic mayo. I suggest adding bacon to it)
#23 Eye of Round Roast Beef on Dutch Crunch (Roast beef with brie. ooof. Eat it when you're in a brie mood. It was a phase I was on for a bit)

I've also had the chili and I've been with someone that goes just for the french onion soup. The french onion soup has guyere broiled right on top and has a crouton floating inside the soup. The chili is okay. It has a lot of tomato taste and lots of veggies. I prefer a more meaty taste and less veggie chunks. It's like the Wendy's chili consistency, but better taste.

Lastly, desserts. They have a a pretty good selection of freshly baked cookies. It tastes like what you would bake at home, if you ever did bake at home. I like butterscotch toffee and the peanut butter chocolate chip. This is the only place that has Susie's cookies. Oatmeal cookies plain. No chocolate chips, no raisin, just oatmeal. They also have Dr. Bob's ice cream. Its locally made (Upland) and super premium. For the true chocolate lover, they have the Scharffen Berger chocolate "works". It's chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate chunks mixed inside. Scharffen Berger is a california chocolate maker if you care to know.