Hello The Little Door!

Hello The Little Door!

In busy and busting 3rd Street in Los Angeles; there is a place with two wooden doors. No sign whatsoever; one can easily pass by but beneath those two unassuming doors is a truly enchanting and magical place called The Little Door.

The Little Door restaurant was the winner of the “Best Romantic Restaurant of LA” by the Los Angeles Times in 2016 . It also has been consistently listed as one of the Most Romantic Restaurants in the World. It was on the list in 2017 by Architectural Digest and just this 2020 was listed by Big 7 Travel.

It’s the perfect spot for special occasions and I recently got to celebrate here with my boyfriend on his very special day; his birthday!

Walking through past the two wooden doors; we were immediately amazed by the beautiful ambiance. As we entered; we were seated in their romantic courtyard. It is a garden like setting that had real red stem roses and twinkly lights up above. Each table was illuminated with candles making for a lovely setting.

Aside from their gorgeous atmosphere; The Little Door is well known for their delightful French Moroccan cuisine. Chef T. Nicolas Peter of The Little Door makes his dishes from organic produce from local farmers. His menu is carefully crafted with the best, fresh and seasonal ingredients. We sure were in for a treat this evening.

We started off our meal here with two fabulous appetizers.

We tried “The Mezze” and The Fresh Goat Cheese and Pistachio Tart with a Trio of Roasted Beets.

Both plates were wonderfully plated. They were so colorful and beautiful! Each dish looked to be prepared with the utmost creativity and love.

“The Mezze” was an assorted Mediterranean appetizer platter with hummus, devil eggs, house made pita, flatbread, kibbeh, falafel and spanakopita. It was light, healthy and fresh. It was a great starter to kick off a special night. Favorites included the spankapoita and it’s flaky dough and rich spinach filling as well as the creamy hummus.

The Fresh Goat Cheese and Pistachio Tart with a Trio of Roasted Beets had wild honey, preserved lemon, ginger & argan oil vinaigrette. The tart was my favorite. With it’s crisp crust and creamy filling; it was wonderful. The beets added a nice sweet touch to this dish.

From the appetizers; we then were treated to two wonderful entrees.

I chose to get the Grilled Prime Ribeye Steak with Sel de Guerande, Herbs & Cracked Black Pepper.

The Grilled Prime Ribeye Steak was accompanied with Potato-Leek Gratin and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate. The ribeye itself was a big portion of juicy, tender beef. The potatoes were soft and delightfully creamy. The brussel sprouts were a wonderful surprise and one of my favorite parts of this dish. They had a slightly burnt crisp offset by sweet pomegranate. Everything came together wonderfully and made for such fulfilling, hearty entree.

My boyfriend had an equally delightful dish via The Mustard and Pine Nut Crusted Rack of Lamb with Madera Wine & Smoked Garlic Demi Glaze.

The Crusted Rack of Lamb with Madera Wine & Smoked Garlic Demi Glaze is one of the most popular dishes at The Little Door. It comes with Yukon Gold Potato Puree and Green Lentil Ragu. I loved how the outer layers of the lamb chops had bits of pine nut, The Madera wine was drizzled all over the plate. Perfect texture; perfect plate.

Last but not least we couldn’t end a sweet dinner without a sweet birthday treat! For dessert; my boyfriend chose to get the Chocolate Pot de Creme.

Their version of the French dessert custard was divine. The chocolate was rich and creamy and topped off with berries. It came with heart shaped almond biscuit was the buttery and perfectly flaky. Love!

The Little Door was definitely a place we will always remember. It made for a very romantic and wonderful evening with their enchanting garden and exquisite cuisine. It was a very special place to celebrate a very special day for someone very special.

For more smiles; please see my Yelp review on The Little Door.

Hello Mix Mix Kitchen Bar!

Hello Mix Mix Kitchen Bar!

Just this May 2019; Michelin released the first ever California statewide list of Bib Gourmand selections. The list highlights “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.” One of the restaurants listed was Mix Mix Kitchen and Bar.  Located in Downtown Santa Ana, Mix Mix Kitchen Bar is the global inspired restaurant concept by famed Chef Ross Pangilinan. The restaurant is not new to earning recognition. In 2017; they also Orange Coast Magazine’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year!

Chef Ross Pangilinan was previously the executive chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. In 2017; he opened up Mix Mix Kitchen Bar. Since it’s opening; the restaurant has earned both awards as well as the hearts of foodies from all over.

Chef Ross Pangilinan’s dishes have a hint of Filipino flare and European touch. The menu is filled with unique and tasty dishes and one of the best ways to go while visiting is trying out their “Oui Chef” tasting menu. For $65; diners get to partake in 5 dishes personally picked by the chef himself.  I got to try the “Oui Chef” tasting menu recently and had the most amazing time!

Our meal first started off with Chicharrones and spicy vinegar.

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Chicharrones; a classic Filipino snack; was the perfect starter for our big meal.  The Chicharrones were thin and crisp and great when dipped in the Datu Puti vinegar; a well known Filipino vinegar.

Next up; we were presented with several of Mix Mix’s famed snacks..

First was the Seared Albacore Tostada & Filipino ceviche.

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The Seared Albacore Tostada came with avocado, seaweed, Japanese dressing, sriracha aioli, radish on top of a round crisp tostada. On the side was the Filipino ceviche with coconut lime dressing, tangerine, avocado, Thai chili and bits of pork crackling.

One of the nicest things I liked about the Oui Chef tasting menu was it was customizable to guests. One guest can have a different dish versus the other if the other guest has different dining preferences (non-pescatarian, vegetarian etc).

Since I am non-pescatarian; I was presented with a lovely plate with Chorizo & Potato Croquettes and Bacon Wrapped Date.

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The Chorizo & Potato Croquettes came with jalapeno lime aioli, Oaxaca cheese while the Bacon Wrapped Date came with harissa yogurt, Marcona almonds. Both were lovely and full of flavor! I loved the softness of the croquettes and sweetness of the date.

The snacks did not end there as next was a plate of Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon salad to share.

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This had watermelon, tomato, candied pistachio and white balsamic gastrique. Pieces of crisp toast were placed on top. I loved how they made this seasonal dish with watermelon. It was so refreshing for a summer night.

Next up were several selections from Mix Mix Kitchen Bar’s small plates menu.

The first was Short Rib Bao Buns.

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It is rare to find bao buns at restaurants and I have to say that this is one of the best that I’ve ever had! It was packed with braised short rib topped with pickled onions and cilantro. It also had ”pho” cream which gave a pho like taste to great small plate!

Pork Cheek Adobo was followed as our next small plate.

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Adobo is a famed Filipino dish and one knows a Filipino restaurant is good based off their adobo! I am happy to say Filipino Chef Ross definitely knows his adobo. This small plate was delicious and was accompanied with tasty garlic fried rice and chimichurri. It reminds me of home.

The dish served with the Pork Cheek Adobo was the restaurant’s Market Fish selection dish.

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The Market Fish was a lovely looking plate. The fish was roasted barramundi and it was accompanied with Spanish beans, Spanish chorizo, zucchini and pickled chili emulsion. Healthy and delightful are two words that come to mind.

Soft Egg Raviolo awaited our palates next.

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The Soft Egg Raviolo had a soft cooked egg in the middle of a large disk of stuffed black pepper pasta, topped with herb ricotta,  guanciale, parmesan and brown butter. The egg yolk oozed out of the middle as I sliced this delectable dish. The ravioli itself was so soft and cooked perfectly.

Our following starter plate was a surprise. It was the Rabbit Guitar Pasta.

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The pasta itself is representative of guitar strings and hence the name “Guitar Pasta.” On top was shredded meat that at first we were debating whether it was chicken or pork. It turned out to be Fryer Rabbit; a lean young rabbit with fine-textured white meat. This dish is not on the menu but a special of the restaurant. It was definitely one of their more unique dishes!

At this point; we were getting quite full but up next was the main entree; New York steak and Lamb.

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Once again; Mix Mix Kitchen Bar got it right! Both meats were cooked medium and were so tender. Accompanied with brussel sprouts and potatoes; it felt like we were at high end steakhouse. The lamb was another off the menu special.

The desserts were a sweet ending to a very special tasting menu. We got not one but two of their famous desserts.

First up was the Chocolate Fondant.

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Our waiter described this as a lava cake like type dessert with passion fruit cream, salted caramel on the side. The chocolate itself was so rich and smooth. It was dark chocolate at it’s finest. The passion fruit cream gave a nice, sweet offset to the dark chocolate.

Our last but definitely not the least dessert was the Tropical Verrine.

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Once again; Chef Ross Pangalinan pays homage to his Filipino roots with this dessert that is a twist on the Filipino halo- halo. It had coconut panna cotta, macadamia nuts and tropical fruit and mango sorbe and ube ice cream. Definitely save room for dessert as this sweet treat is pure heaven!

Oui Chef experience at Mix Mix Kitchen was the most amazing culinary experience. I can definitely see why this restaurant won Orange Coast Magazine’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year and is on the list of Michelin Guide California 2019 Bib Gourmand. Chef Ross Pangilinan along with Chef de Cusine; Ross Harris came up with some of the best dishes ever and provided us with a dining experience we will never forget! Oui Chef!

For more smiles; please see my Yelp review  on Mix Mix Kitchen Bar.

Hello 189 by Dominique Ansel!

Hello 189 by Dominique Ansel!

Chef Dominique Ansel is known world-wide as the inventor of the cronut; the delightful sweet treat that is a hybrid of a croissant and donut. His culinary expertise however goes beyond the sweet as he does savory as well as can be seen in his first ever restaurant venture, 189 by Dominique Ansel.

189 by Dominique Ansel is located in  The Grove Los Angeles; a popular shopping and dining destination. The Grove is the perfect location for Chef Ansel’s first savory undertaking as it a beautiful and bustling place located right at the heart of LA. As special as The Grove is, the name of his restaurant is also very special and unique. The number 189 is the bakery address of Chef Ansel’s original bakery address in New York (189 Spring Street) and also happens to be same street address for this restaurant in LA (189 The Grove Drive).

I recently got to dine at 189 by Dominique Ansel and it truly was a beautiful and special evening. The restaurant itself is located on the second floor above Dominique Ansel’s bakery. From tables that overlook The Grove’s famous water fountain to intimate booths with backgrounds that resemble Chef Ansel’s famous croissants; this restaurant is lovely.

The dinner menu consists of “Small”, “Medium” and “Large” and all dishes are meant to be shared family style.

We started off our meal with the Butternut Squash and the Hand-mixed Acorn Squash Gnocchi.

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The Butternut Squash was a beautiful plate with long pieces of butternut squash in Vadouvan coconut curry, treviso and orange fennel salt. The soft butternut squash was full of flavor from the coconut curry. I loved the sweet and slight spice of the curry.

Equal in delight to the tastebuds was the Hand-mixed Acorn Squash Gnocchi. These small and soft dough dumplings simply melted upon first bite. I loved the brown butter taste. Garnishing this dish were young radishes and sage. These little touches added a nice crunch to the gnocchi.

For our next dish, we tried another “Small” plate; Seared Organic Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

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This was a very unique, earthy dish. The hen of woods mushrooms were topped with shaved parmesan and dipped in fresh egg cacio e pepe sauce.  The egg sauce was thick and popped out the flavor of the mushrooms.

For our main dish, we had the Grilled Lamb Chops.

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The lamb chops were phenomenal. They were perfectly grilled with a nice char. Dipped in mustard seeds, they made for a great savory dish. The meat was sweetly offset with pickled farmers market black plum.

No trip to Chef Ansel’s restaurant would be complete without a sweet treat. Each savory dish we tried was excellent but we couldn’t leave without trying one of his special desserts.

To wrap up this special evening, we tried “On the Half Shell.”

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This has to be one of the most beautiful and special desserts I’ve ever had. On top of rocks were dark chocolate molded in oyster shells. These dark chocolate “oysters” were topped with lime sorrel gelée, mango jam, sea salt ice cream, oat crumble and one edible crispy pearl made out of chocolate. This dessert was truly exquisite and a must try!

The evening ended up not being over quite yet because post dessert we were delightfully surprised to an invite to a small room where there is a “granola bar.”  Each guest is invited to fill a bag with the restaurant’s housemate granola. There are toppings such as golden raisins, dried pineapple and sweet meringue. It’s the restaurant’s way of saying thank you the guests as well as giving guests “breakfast on the house” for the next day. This was a wonderful surprise and a lovely souvenir for the evening.

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Visiting 189 by Chef Dominique Ansel made for a fantastic evening out feasting on excellent dishes full of flavor and unique touches. I have been a fan of Chef Dominique Ansel since he created the cronut. Now I am not only a fan of Chef Ansel’s sweet creations but his savory ones as well.

 

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on 189 by Dominique Ansel.