Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicago: Hot Doug's Encased Meats Emporium

Hot Doug's is more then a Chicago landmark.  It has become an institution, one of the places that food lovers incorporate into roadtrips or make pilgrimages to.  Doug Sohn's restaurant has received national coverage and has grown so popular that the wait to order is usually more than an hour around peak lunch time.  Opened in 2001 and reopened in 2005 following a devastating fire in 2004, Hot Doug's specializes in a variety of exotic and unusual sausages and hot dogs, some involving game meat.

Cognac-Infused Pheasant Sausage
The selection of sausages available is like no other hot dog stand in the universe.  The Cognac-Infused Pheasant Sausage with Chive-Dijon Goat Butter and Duck Rillettes ($7) was one of the daily specials on a recent visit.  The Pheasant Sausage paired remarkably well with the duck rillettes.  Pheasant and rillettes in a hot dog bun?  This is no ordinary Chicago hot dog joint.

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel ($8) was another special.  Incredibly rich and decadent, this was delicious but not something to be eaten every day, unless you are a contestant in an artery-hardening contest.

Not every hot dog at Hot Doug's involves game meats or unusual ingredients; Sohn has also sought to perfect the classic hot dog.  The Dog comes with "all the trimmings" and is a bargain at only $1.75.  It comes with mustard, relish, caramelized onions, tomatoes, pickle and celery salt.  There is no comparison with "regular hot dogs".  Game over.

The Dave Kingman is a classic Italian-style chicken sausage, which was ordered with a whole pickle and celery salt.  The sausage had a pleasant spicy kick to it.

The lines at Hot Doug's are especially long on Friday and Saturdays, the days which Duck Fat Fries are served.  The fries ($3.50) are served in a generous portion large enough for a party of four and are fragrant with the smell of duck fat.  I found them to have more duck smell than taste.  I am in the minority, but I would actually recommend getting regular french fries, which appear light in contrast to the rich sausages.  Plus if you go on a non-Friday/Saturday, the line will be shorter.

Sohn is a pleasant and gracious host.  By the time you reach the register (after an hour and twenty minutes in my case), Sohn will likely be manning the register.  Be ready with your order and bring some green, as Hot Doug's is cash only.  Customers can only sit in tables once they have ordered, which works remarkably well.  The "saving" of tables is not tolerated and the system works efficiently - there appeared to continuously be tables available once customers had ordered.  The food also arrived quite rapidly at our table.  As we were eating in, Sohn advised us to order the small size soda as he offers free refills.  This may the first time I have seen a restaurant owner encourage patrons to order the smaller size and pay less money.  Remarkable.  Behavior like this, in addition to the quality of the cuisine, has engendered a strong and loyal following.

Hot Doug's: 3324 N. California, Chicago.  Neighborhood is Avondale. It is approximately a $20 cab ride from downtown Chicago.  Phone: (773) 279-9550.

Open Monday - Saturday: 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM.  Cash only.

The line

The menu


Chicago: Unlocking the Doughnut Vault

The Doughnut Vault is the latest food craze to hit Chicago.  This mouthwatering pastry shop is only open in the mornings Tuesdays through Saturdays and sells out within a couple of hours each day.  The Doughnut Vault was opened by the same folks who own Gilt Bar and Maude's Liquor Bar and is in a tiny nook of the same building that houses Gilt Bar.  What is it about these fried treats that impels residents of the Windy City to wait on line for one to two hours to get their sugar fix?  It is the combination of a quality product, scarcity and the urge to have the latest thing.

The Buttermilk Old Fashioned above was the last such doughnut available on the day of my visit.  After an hour and half in line you bet I purchased it.  Long faces were spotted in the line behind me as others had to content themselves with the other still worthy options.  The Buttermilk doughnut had a great consistency - a good chew with some substance and with the glaze on top to sweeten the pot.

The following is courtesy of guest blogger "Kira", who is a local pastry expert.  "I think the gingerbread doughnut with the cinnamon sugar coating was my favorite. The ginger came through in a subtle way and had a nice zing. The glazed doughnuts had an amazing, pillowy texture and really had that decadent "oh wow, I shouldn't eat anymore but I can't help myself" experience. It's be a long time since I've had a doughnut, let alone 3, but they were worth every calorie!"

The Gingerbread Stack ($3) sounded mysterious, but is actually a trio of gingerbread doughnuts gently dusted with cinnamon.  It is the value option at only $1 per doughnut, the same price as their "dollar coffee."

The glazed doughnuts came in three varieties and we purchased the vanilla and the chocolate (pictured above).  The chocolate ($3) is like the vanilla, but with an added chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles added in a decorative pattern.  The consistency was soft and as Kira described "pillowy".  So if you want the cake texture go for the Old Fashioned but if you want the softer lighter texture, the Glazed is your best bet.

The line felt insane on a Saturday morning. I arrived just before the 9:30 AM opening and didn't reach the counter until almost 11 AM. The Doughnut Vault opens Tuesday - Friday at 8:30 and Saturday at 9:30. Yes, they really do sell out in an hour to two hours max. I am not a fan of rationing by wait time as it can be rather aggravating and inefficient. Is it worth it? That is something only you can answer as it depends on how patient you are and how much you love doughnuts. I don't think I could do it again, but I'd be very happy if someone brought me some on my next trip to Chicago.

The Doughnut Vault: 401 & 1/2 North Franklin Street, Chicago. http://thedoughnutvault.tumblr.com/

Photographs courtesy of Kira.

Friday, May 27, 2011

City Of Angels Wine Fest in Downtown LA this Monday

The Second Annual City of Angels Wine Fest is coming to the Music Center in DTLA on Memorial Day, Monday May 30, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Wine Fest is sponsored by the Rotary Club Foundation and is a fundraiser for Volunteers of America, an organization that is devoted to helping the homeless, Veterans, those released from prison and the elderly improve their quality of life.  Not only can you help the community and Veterans on Memorial Day but you can salute the sacrifice of those who served to protect our country by enjoying the bounty of this great state.

Almost 30 California wineries will be participating in the Wine Fest, including Rodney Strong, Malibu Wines and more than two dozen others.  Attendees will not go hungry as tastes will be available from local restaurants Nick & Stef’s, Café Pinot, Kendall’s Brasserie and Tina Tacos.  All can groove to the live performances by Ours and The Family Crest as they sip and munch and enjoy the day.

As this is a fundraiser, it is not free.  The prices are $25 for 4 food tickets, $70 for 4 food tickets with unlimited servings of wine, and $150 for all you can drink and eat with Foundation Room VIP access.  Be generous.

For more info, go to the Wine Fest Website: http://www.cityofangelswinefest.com/
Follow the Wine Fest on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cawinefest

Red Sun BBQ Garden @ Katana on the Sunset Strip

Lazy Sundays in the summer: hanging out in the backyard with a lemonade or beer, grilling a burger after taking an afternoon siesta.  This summer has a new Sunday tradition: the Red Sun BBQ Garden at Katana on the Sunset Strip.  Beginning this Sunday and running through Labor Day, Angelenos and well informed visitors can relax on Katana’s hip patio and munch on special Red Sun BBQ menu items and sip refreshing cocktails, while listening to DJ Cassie Stevens play a mix of tunes.

What is on this menu?  Menu highlights include Tuna “Poke” Tartare ($10); Yellowtail Sashimi ($12); Taniguchi Roll with Kobe Beef Wrapped Avocado ($18); Yellowtail or Spicy Tuna Hanabi ($13).  If that is not baller enough for you, the Shichirin Grill ($39 for two) with American Kobe Beef and Crab Legs cooked at the table, and the Red Sun BBQ Tasting Menu ($40) complete with a selection of Robatayaki and Katana favorites, are available for the hungry.  The full Katana menu will also be available all night during the Red Sun BBQ Garden but it is a Summer Sunday, so enjoy the Red Sun menu.

What is an outdoor garden without bar specials?  Nothing!  So to increase the refreshing quotient, Katana will be offering some deals that will make your mouth water including the ever-popular Sake Sangria ($6);  Champagne St. Germain ($6); Watermelon Margarita ($8); Blueberry Mash ($8); the John Daly with Sweet Tea Vodka ($8); and a Katana Pineapple Fusion served in a fresh Pineapple bowl ($20 for two). If you opt for the Pineapple bowl, you will be the envy of the patio.

Red Sun BBQ Garden is Sundays from May 29 - September 4th from 5p.m.-11:30 p.m.

Katana: 8439 West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.  Phone: (323) 650-8585.  Website: http://www.katanarobata.com/katana/index.htm

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicago Edition: Goat Torta at Xoco

Yes, I went to a Rick Bayless restaurant.  Despite the way I feel about Red O, I dediced not to hold that against the latest addition to the Bayless empire in Chicago, Xoco, a torta shop.  There was no "door host" blocking the entrance at Xoco, but rather a friendly hostess inquiring whether we wanted to eat in or take out and how many were in our party.  At Xoco, customers order and pay at the cash register and then the food is brought to their tables.  Seats are assigned by the hostess, so there are no scrambles for tables.

We lucked out and got two counter seats without having to wait.  The Saturday special torta of the day is goat barbacoa ($12) , which is what I ordered after seriously pondering the chicken soup which sounded wonderful on such a cold day.  The goat torta is made with goat barbacoa, Oaxacan pasilla-tomato salsa, avocado, onions and cilantro on a toasted roll.

The sandwich arrived reasonably quickly and the meat was tender and flavorful.  The crunchiness of the exterior of the roll and the softness of the bread inside and the fillings made for a satisfying textural bite.  The torta was filling and more than enough food for lunch, but churros had been ordered.

At Xoco the churros are made to order.  We were told to alert a server seven to ten minutes before we were ready for them and they would bring them out to us.  Coated in cinnamon and sugar these churros are in a whole different league than the versions found at carnivals and street fairs.  The real deal, the churros were light and airy and had enough flavor to be great on their own or to complement a chocolate dipping sauce.

Xoco is already very popular.  Arriving soon after eleven, when they begin serving lunch, we got the last two seats.  The hostess quoted a forty minute wait to the people behind us in line.  It is a worthy stop on a Chicago itinerary and reasonably priced.  Lunch was about $20 per person.  It is located on the same block as Chef Rick Bayless's other restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.  A thank you to Chef Walter Manzke, who suggested that I visit.

Xoco: 449 N Clark St @ Illinois St, Chicago.  Phone: (312) 334-3688.  Website: http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html

Monday, May 23, 2011

Caroline on Crack presents a Taste of the Nation benefit at The Spare Room

What are you planning Thursday night?  If the answer is anything other than going to the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, change your plans as Caroline of Caroline on Crack has organized a benefit for Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation that you are going to want to be at.

So what is in store for you on Thursday evening at this swanky spot?  The evening's design consists of a Connect Four tournament of 4 games going on at the same time as well as the two lanes of bowling for three hours (an hour a game).  A $50 donation gains you entry to the festivities with punch and appetizers as well as one hour of bowling.  Bowling normally costs $100 for one hour so this is a pretty good deal.  Even better if you win the bowling tournament, you will get a free night's stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt and 2 tickets to Taste of the Nation in Culver City.  Now, that's my kind of prize.

For a $25 donation, you get entry to the party, punches and appetizers and entry into the Connect Four Tournament.  The grand prize for the gamers is an hour's bowling at The Spare Room and 2 tickets to Taste of the Nation in Culver City.

Now if you are too chicken to bowl or play Connect Four against the fierce competition, you can still attend this sure to be infamous evening by paying an admission fee of $15.

Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for Taste of the Nation at a discount from the regular $100 price.  Bowlers get $25 off and gamers and non-competers get $15 off.

How to get on the guest list for this party?  It's easy!  Just  sign up for the games, specifying which tournament you would like to participate in, by RSVPing to Caroline at carolineoncrack@gmail.com.

The party runs from 6 pm - 9pm and you must RSVP to get on the list.  It is for a great cause and is sure to be a lot of fun, so join me at The Spare Room this Thursday evening.

The Spare Room @ the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: 7000 Hollywood Blvd.

For more information, see Caroline's website.

Classic Cocktails Have Arrived at Cliff's Edge

Cliff's, the bar at Cliff's Edge Cafe in Silverlake, has been reconfigured and the cocktail program has been redesigned by bartender Dave Whitton of Villains Tavern, who earlier gained notice at downtown whiskey specialist Seven Grand.  The new menu is focused on the classics, including a Martini made with Junipero Gin, which has a stronger juniper berry flavor than most gins.

The patio is still as lush and inviting as ever, but now the interior is a proper complement to the outside space. The Vieux Carré is particularly alluring, as it is boozy, aromatic and has layers of flavor.  It is the perfect drink to celebrate the end of a long week.  Whitton has included a variety of cocktails on the list, including a take on the Cosmopolitan with a float of red wine on top.  These twists keep things interesting and are a signature of his.

The full list is below:

The Calvados Cocktail $12
Calvados, Cointreau, Fresh Lemon & Orange, Flower Water

Caipirinha $11
Sagatiba Cachaca, Grapes, muddled lime and organic sugar

Cosmopolitan $13
Grey Goose, Fresh Lime, Brown Sugar, Cranberry, Lavender Bitters
With a flamed grapefruit peel and a float of Cabernet

Manhattan $12
Russell’s Rye, Felsina Amaro with Forbidden Bitters

Margarita $11
4 Copas, Fresh Lime, Cucumber, Flower Water, Agave
With a pinch of salt on top

Martini $12
Junipero Gin, Chopin, Lillet with a hint of Lemon

Mojito $12
Pisco Porton, Fresh Lemon & Lime, Mint, Cane Sugar
Topped with Club Soda and Sparkling Wine

Negroni $12
Bols Genever, Antica Sweet Vermouth, Gran Classico, with Orange and Lemon Oils

Old Fashioned $11
Eagle Rare 10, Peychaud Bitters, Organic Sugar,
With Grapefruit and Lemon Oils
*ask for our special tequila old fashioned as well

Vieux Carré $20
Courvoisier VS, Thomas Handy Rye, Antica Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine
With Peychaud and Angostura Bitters

Cliff's Bar @ Cliff's Edge: 3626 Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake.  (323) 666-6116.  Website: www.cliffsedgecafe.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heirloom on Wheels

Heirloom LA, the catering company founded and run by Matt Poley, which supplies the food to Intelligentsia Pasadena, has partnered with Windows Mobile to bring their cooking to a wider audience via a food truck.  Currently the truck can be found Monday evenings at Silver Lake Wine, Thursday evenings at the Yamashiro Farmer's Market and Sunday brunch at Bar Covell in Los Feliz.  It is not a coincidence that two of the three locations are connected to Matt Kaner.

Heirloom's signature item is the Lasagna Cupcake.  This sounded very unappealing to me.  Why would I want to have lasagna fillings inside a sweet pastry?  It turns out that there is no pastry or icing involved; the lasagna is just prepared in a cupcake mold.  That is a lot more appealing, and a lot tastier.  The food is playful and fun.

I sampled some of Heirloom's food at Yamashiro on Thursday.  Below is the macaroni & cheese lasagna cupcake and the peanut butter and jelly.  I found the smoky mac & cheese to live up to its name.  It was rather tasty, though not inexpensive at $8.

I also enjoyed the Slow Smoked Beef Brisket with BBQ sauce and the accompanying cole slaw.  The brisket was imbued with the smoky flavor and the bbq sauce had a nice tang to it.  The Niman Ranch BBQ Pork Sandwich was even more popular with my dining companions, which included one of the most legendary pork-lovers this side of the Great Smoky Mountains.

On Sunday, I was able to try more of the Heirloom dishes at Bar Covell.  I began my meal with the Corn Soup, which was excellent.  It was piping hot and had cilantro and cream on top.  The soup was rich and hearty and at the same time had the essence of corn.  This was the best dish I had on either of my visits.

Jidori Chicken & Waffles was served with blueberry maple syrup and creme fraiche.  Putting chicken and waffles on your menu is like ringing the dinner bell for me; I can't help but order it.  This version was good but small.  The berry syrup was not overwhelmingly sweet, which is a huge plus.  The salty crunch of the chicken and the sweet softness of the waffle were joined by the unifying element of the syrup.  Once this picture was taken, there was not any evidence of food on my plate within minutes.

I ran into friends at brunch and they were generous in sharing their food.  Thursday evening's smoky brisket resurfaced as brisket hash, served with sweet and sour potatoes, peas and a sunny side up egg.  The bite I had was good, although I wouldn't trade my chicken and waffles for this.

At brunch, Covell offers four beverages: Housemade Sangria, Fresh Squeezed Mimosa, Spicy Michelada and Fresh Fruit Bellini.  I look forward to seeing how the Covell michelada compares to the legendary Bostick version.

The best way to know where to find the Heirloom LA Truck is to follow its twitter feed: @wpheirloomla.  Below, Poley serves up his food to hungry folks at Yamashiro's.  You can find the truck at Silver Lake Wine tonight.

Heirloom LA Truck: http://www.facebook.com/WPHeirloomLA or on Twitter

L'Epicerie: Sébastien Archambault Comes to Culver City

If I told you that a celebrated chef known for cooking French food had gone to work in a small French cafe in Culver City you might either be surprised or respond that you had already heard about Walter Manzke consulting at Le Saint Amour.  That the chef I am referring to was the executive chef at a restaurant in Corsica when it earned a Michelin star should intrigue you.  The acclaimed chef is Sébastien Archambault, who garnered acclaim at RH at the Andaz for his cooking of the cuisine of southwestern France, and his new home is L'Epicerie, the cafe, market and wine shop owned by Thierry Perez.

Chef Archambault
L'Epicerie has one of the most attractive happy hours in town with half a dozen small plates, four wines by the glass and three beers all for $3 each.  At those prices you can't afford not to try these dishes and drinks.  The happy hour menu changes frequently but this week the food offerings included Tortilla de Patatas, Marinated Anchovies, Farmers' Market Vegetables, Chicken Wings Confit, Field Mushrooms and a Bread Basket.

The Farmer's Market Vegetables are an array of vegetables pickled in champagne vinegar and served in a jar.  Yes, those jars are everywhere right now.  Carrots were a highlight, nice and crunchy with the acidic kiss of the vinegar.

Chicken Wings Confit is a fun idea but it just didn't work in that the bones in the tiny pieces did not make it easy to eat.

Tortilla de Patatas tastes good but is perhaps too refined.  Tortilla is a rustic dish and this version appears overly dainty.  I'd still recommend it, but it doesn't remind one of a serving of tortilla in a tapas bar in Spain.

At the bar, there is also a tapas menu.  The Beef Tongue ($5) was quite good, though not as good as the version at FIG. The tongue is served sliced. The Duck Foie Gras Terrine ($8) is three country bread crostini with plum chutney and duck foie gras on top of each.  These are rich and a tasty way to begin a meal or to accompany a glass of wine.  The Pere Anselme, Vin de Pays d'Oc Syrah from the Languedoc ($3) is a pleasant accompaniment to these dishes.

Beef Tongue
Duck Foie Gras Terrine
There are three Perigord specialties on the menu, including Traditional Tourain ($8), a garlic and chicken soup, Escargot a la Perigourdine ($14), snails with Serrano ham in a white wine sauce and Perigord Cassoulet ($22),  a healthy portion of pork belly confit, Toulousse sausage and white beans.

Perigord Cassoulet
The Duck Confit ($21) from the Poultry section of the menu comes with sautéed potatoes sarladaise (potatoes cooked in duck fat).  The confit is excellent and is one of Chef Archambault's signature dishes that he gained notice for at RH at the Andaz.  He said that it is a dish that his grandmother made and dishes like that are passed down as his heritage.  The duck is crispy on the exterior and on the inside has the yielding texture of short ribs.  The potatoes absorb the rich fat of the duck and are a decadent companion to the meat.  This dish calls out for a glass of red wine.  No diet food here, this is a refined vision of the rustic fare of the French countryside.

Duck Confit
L'Epicerie is certainly worth exploring.  The price point is quite attractive; you can graze on happy hour offerings or dive into the full menu.  The flexibility is unusual.  The overall experience is good cooking and good value.

My visit was hosted.

L'Epicerie: 9900 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. Phone: (310) 815-1600 Website: http://www.lepiceriemarket.com/

Friday, May 13, 2011

Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Shop: Century City Healthy Eats

I was recently invited to a meal at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop in Century City on the occasion of the launch of their new beer and wine program. Previously, their Beverly Hills location had an alcohol license while the Century City location was dry. Now Century City workers can join their 90210 brethren in enjoying a glass of beer or wine while they eat their midday repasts.

The food at Greenleaf is all organic and uses no hormones and all the dressings are house-made. The goal is to provide substance without the guilt. Chef/owner Jonathan Rollo and Chef Kristi Ritchey are both focused on living healthy lifestyles and serving the kind of food they want to eat to their customers. Chef Ritchey lost over 100 pounds by exercising and eating healthier and she is excited to be able to serve food that tastes good without being calorie laden.

I had the opportunity to try several of their specialty salads as well as some of the veggie sides. Lemongrass Chicken ($10) includes mixed baby greens, grilled chicken breast, mango, grilled pineapple, jicama, toasted coconut, agave-roasted cashews, Thai chili and basil, tossed with a lemongrass lychee vinaigrette dressing.

The unfortunately names Mexplosion is much better than its moniker would lead you to expect. This salad is a take on a veggie taco salad and includes baby greens, grilled corn and black bean salsa with cilantro, tomatoes, shaved red onion, avocado, sunflower seeds, whole wheat tortilla crunchies (how can you resist a dish with an ingredient referred to as crunchies?), and jalapeño jack cheese, served on a low-carb high protein whole wheat tortilla and tossed with a citrus basil vinaigrette and a spicy chipotle orange barbeque sauce. The tortillas are made by La Reina and the whole dish only has about 600 calories. I had not tried a whole wheat tortilla before and it was pretty good. It didn’t feel like I was eating a healthy dish, just a dish that happened to be good for me.

The Zorba the Great salad is a take on a traditional Greek salad and is named after Chef Rollo’s dog Zorba. It comes on a bed of humus and house-made pita chips are sprinkled on top. The dressing is a garlic herb vinaigrette that Rollo described as “a combination of aromatic herbs and roasted sweetness.”

The heartiest of the side salads I sampled was the Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad ($3), which is a very substantial dish packed with flavor. The Tuscan Kale salad ($4) is served with lemon juice and olive oil and was less interesting to me, though likely especially good for you. The Warm Lentil salad ($4) was also a favorite of mine.

Overall the food was good and it is a bonus that it is healthy and low calorie. The restaurant delivers meals at lunchtime within Century City via bicycle, which is another “green” touch to their business.

Now they have a dozen white wines by the glass, three red wines by the glass and three beers on tap.  The "liquid enhancements" cost between $3 and $12 per glass.

Greenleaf Century City serves breakfast and lunch Monday - Friday 8 am - 4 pm.  They offer 20 minutes free parking (best for to-go orders) or $5 for 90 minutes or parking.  I recommend phoning in your order ahead of time if you plan to get take-out; it will be much faster.

Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Chop: 1888 Century Park East, Century City.  Phone: (424) 239-8700.  Website: http://www.greenleafchopshop.com/ 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

First Impression: Public School 612

I was invited to try the newly opened Public School 612 gastropub in Downtown Los Angeles.  The restaurant, at the corner of 6th and Flower Streets, gets its name from its address at 612 S. Flower St.  As noted previously, there is a focus on beer and the beer list was curated by Hallie Beaune of the Beer Chicks.

The setting is within the Daily Grill downtown, but is comfortable and feels distinct.  There is a dartboard and there are twenty beers on tap.  The theme is a school house, so the menu comes in the form of a classic black and white composition book, a fun touch.  The food menu is short with just fourteen items plus a couple of desserts.

The Fried Chicken ($12) with hand cut fries and mustard and bbq sauces caught my eye.  It was served in newsprint but I was disappointed because the chicken was boneless, which I hadn't expected.  If a restaurant is serving boneless fried chicken, it should call it out.  My dinner partner and I were of two minds about the french fries.  The frites were thin matchstick fries, which were very crunchy.  I did not enjoy them nearly as much as she did.

The big winner of the night was the Dragoons Irish Stout Short Rib ($12) served with Yukon mashed potatoes and caramelized onion au jus.  The meat was tender; we hardly needed to use knives.  The meat had been imbued with tons of flavor and the potatoes soaked up the beef juices to make this a hearty and rich dish.  There was ample sauce so the short rib was nice and moist.

The Colorado Lamb Burger ($13) with tomato cranberry jam, arugula and brie was just OK.  As a fan of all things lamb, I had high hopes for this burger, but it was not anything special. It was cooked a tad more than I had asked for and just did not have the quintessential lamb flavor I was looking for.

When in the neighborhood, I'd certainly return for the Short Rib, which is a deal at only $12, and a glass of beer or two.  The beer selection is good.  You won't find the rarest of the rare, but that is not what Public School 612 is about; it is for people who appreciate good craft beer, not a temple to hops.  The staff was knowledgeable about the list, which reflects well on the Beer Chicks.  The Eagle Rock Solidarity went well with our food and I look forward to sampling more of the craft beers on the list as well as trying some of their signature cocktails on my next visit.

Public School 612: 612 S. Flower Street, DTLA. Phone: (213) 623-1172. Website: http://www.publicschool612.com/