PROOF & COGNOSCENTI COFFEE
Keep your candy and your chocolates, the way to my heart is with fresh pastries. Far too many beautiful mornings have been ruined with a nice cup of coffee paired with a dry, disappointing pastry – or even worse, a tasty pastry ruined by a lousy cup of Joe. Finding great pastries and excellent coffee in the same place is no easy task, and that is why Proof Bakery and Cognoscenti Coffee is my current favorite LA spot.
Nestled in Atwater Village, Proof Bakery offers excellent scones, croissants, quiche, and all the good things in life. My sole complaint is that the menu is rather stagnant, but that doesn’t stop me from filling up a pastry box every weekend.
Completing the one-two punch is the excellent coffee provided by Cog Coffee. Located inside Proof and owned by Architect Yeekai Lim (Masters from Columbia, worked with Frank Gehry – this is one smart espresso puller), Cog offers excellent coffee without pretension or intimidation. I usually order a cortado (espresso with a little milk), and a cup of single origin coffee brewed with a V60 cone. Cog regularly offers beans from top roasters Handsome (LA), Four Barrel (San Francisco), Heart (Portland), and Coava (Portland). If you want to learn more about the LA coffee scene, it’s also a great place to linger. One morning, I saw LA Weekly coffee writer Tien Nguyen, Tony and his crew from local roasters Tonx Coffee, and had a cortado pulled by Western Barista Champ Nick Griffith. The coffee geek in me knew that I was in the right place, and I’ve been back almost every weekend since.
Proof Bakery & Cog Coffee
3156 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
City Tavern = Beer. Lots of beer, great beer – 22 taps of rotating craft beer to be exact. This Culver City restaurant is my current favorite place to grab a brew because there is always something unique on the tap menu, the staff is friendly and take care of their regulars, and it’s near my home.
Another reason I love City Tavern is their pint nights. A couple Thursdays a month, City Tavern offers flights of beers from a single brewery, complete with tasting notes and a souvenir pint glass. Frequently you’ll even be able to share a pint with the Brewmaster. You can see my collection of pint night glasses above!
On Feb. 23, 2012, City Tavern will be hosting a pint night with Stone from San Diego. They we will be putting both the Stone 14th Anniversary and the 15th Anniversary beers, a double dry hopped Ruination, and from 2010 the Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Also making an appearance is the Old Guardian Seasonal Barleywine.
City Tavern is also making a name for itself as a cocktail bar. Assistant Manager Jeremy Back has curated an impressive liquor selection, and there’s no better time to test their cocktail program than a Sunday night with their new Market Basket Bartender program. Every Sunday from 3pm-close, diners can pick one of three options in three categories (spirits, fruits, and syrups), to create a custom $6 cocktail. I thought I was really challenging bartender Gia St. George by making odd ingredient selections on a recent Sunday, but she was able to whip up delicious drinks that were a steal at $6.
Once you see the beer list, you’ll end up wanting to order a ton of tasters and will need some grub to keep you going. The menu can be pretty hit or miss, but the The Brew Burger and charcuterie plate are always smart choices. Treasure Tip: If they are offering a special, order it! All of my best dishes at City Tavern have been specials by Chef de Cuisine Jessica Christensen. The skate special pictured below is probably the best thing I’ve ever had there.
9739 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
Zam Zam is a tiny, hole in the wall gem that is equally delicious and frustrating. This Culver City Pakistani joint exists to serve the mosque down the street, but it lets the occasional white guy like me order its cheap and mind-blowing kabobs and tandoori. It’s frustrating because it’s not always open (only Thursday-Sunday usually), and to get the good stuff like lamb biryani, you have to reserve an order almost as soon as they open.
Don’t think of bringing a date here – the atmosphere is non-existent. Instead, call ahead an order (don’t forget the naan!), pick it up, and open a few IPAs at home. Treasure Tip: Bring cash and they won’t charge sales tax. Midtown Lunch has the full rundown.
11028 Washington Blvd, Culver City
When tatted Top Chef Michael Voltaggio opened his hip sandwich shop ink.sack in Aug. 2011, the food blogosphere couldn’t contain their excitement. The byzantine process of getting approved by city health inspectors delayed the opening of his fine dining restaurant Ink., so Voltaggio threw the doors open to his casual sandwich first.
With GQ’s Alan Richman naming Ink the #1 best new restaurant in America, there’s no better time to check out Ink Sack if you haven’t already, or go show it some more love if you’ve been neglected it for other buzzworthy restaurants. Venture to Melrose on a beautiful day and fill your sack with a couple sandwiches, a soda, and a Gooey Mocha Hazelnut cookie.
Open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-8pm
8360 Melrose Avenue #107
Los Angeles, California 90069
SHOW AT BARRE, VT
Show at Barre is the ace up my sleeve when I need a fool-proof, magical LA night on the town. Cabaret, cocktails, dinner, beautiful people singing and dancing… all the good things in life are yours for the taking inside the Vermont in Los Feliz.
You’ve seen me rave about their cabaret shows based on films by the Coen Bros and John Hughes. Now, you can see their most crowd-pleasing and exhilarating show yet! For the Record: Baz Luhrmann features 27 songs from Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, and Moulin Rouge performed in a 360-degree theater by a rotating cast of talented Broadway and Off-Broadway beauties. Weekly performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 pm, and Wednesday and Sunday at 8 pm. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased online.
Show at Barre
1714 N. Vermont Ave.