April 12, 2009

Drinking in LA

Fortunately, some things in LA never change. See: The Apple Pan, 72-degree weather. Fortunately, some things do change.

On my whirlwind tour visiting friends and drinking with them, my first stop was a new place on E. 3rd St. downtown, past Little Tokyo, called Wurstkuche (with an umlaut over the 2nd U). Evidently, it's not pronounced "worst coochie." I've known Eric my entire life and he suggested this place because it specializes in Belgian beers--20 on tap and bottle--with an impressive German selection to boot. I opted for Houblan Chouffe, an esthery, not-too-bitter Belgian IPA ($8) and Eric's into Belgian wittes, so he tried Blanche du Bruxelles ($7.25). They also have 21 sausages! They range from standard brats to veggie options to nouveau offerings like mango jalapeno...to a selection of "exotics." I got the rattlesnake and rabbit with jalapenos ($7.75). Eric got the Austin Blues: hot & spicy, tri-peppers and hardwood smoked pork ($6.75). For the record, it wasn't the first time I've had rattlesnake, and yes, it tastes like chicken. (And get the while truffle oil glazed pomme frittes.)

The crowd is mostly hip Asian 20-somethings, the setting is chi-chi'ed up industrial, and I dig the communal picnic tables. 

From there, we went about a mile back west to the Bonaventure Hotel in the heart of downtown. On the 4th floor, past a circuitous food court and work out stations(!) is the Bonaventure Brewing Co. Opened in 1998, this very tiny brewpub, sister-pub to Belmont Brewing in Long Beach, offers 4 house beers (Blonde, Strawberry Blonde, Pale Ale, and Belgian White). Nothing to blow your socks off, but at session-able ABVs and $4.50 pints, it'd be easy to knock these back all night on the rooftop patio.* BTW, I opted for the Pale Ale (5.5%, making it the strongest) and Eric had the White (4.2%, the lowest).
*We weren't allowed to drink our beers on the rooftop patio. There was a private party taking place in the bar, yet we were allowed in to drink beers. The small brewing system is right on the patio, encased in a glass shed. I believe it is the only brewery in the City of Los Angeles.

The next day I drove to Silverlake to meet my college roommate Alex and his wife, Emilie. (They met at one of my parties.) We went to Good, which is just that. Not great, but good. The beer menu is fairly huge, but heavy on questionable selections featuring fruit extracts and other novelties. Then again, I selected a 750-ml bottle of The Bruery's Black Orchard for the table (to get them over their fear of dark beers). Brewed in the Belgian wit style but using dark roasted malts, the result is a Black-White ale, employing coriander and chamomile. At $20, it was a hit. The food is definitely conducive to a good meal, too. Alex got an IPA-pan fried chicken sandwich, Emilie got the burger, and b/c it's LA, I got a salad with froo-froo stuff in it.
Afterward, we drove (this is why I moved out of LA) to a place I'd heard about, but had to see to believe. Lamill Coffee, on Silver Lake Blvd, isn't a coffee shop, it's an experience. Forget about waitresses walking around with pots of drip-coffee pouring free refills. Our waitress handed us menus explaining their philosophy about how coffee should be considered and enjoyed like fine wine, and when I saw the table next to us with a fantastic contraption, I ordered one just like it for our table. The contraption, called the siphon, prepares the coffee in a way only a physicist could understand, but I'll try to simplify. Luckily, I have pictures to illustrate:

A Bunsen burner is ignited to heat the 20-oz bulb of water. The heated water goes up through a tube into a chamber containing the grounds. Once the burner is shut off, the coffee runs through a micro filter and returns to the original chamber.

The result? Aside from the cup of authentic Kona coffee I had in Maui, it is the best pot of coffee I've ever had (including the Kopi Luwak "civet shit" coffee I had in Indonesia). The catch? From the menu, I thought it was going to set me back $15! Long story short, it was actually $20!!! Twenty bucks. For coffee. Outrageous? Yeah. But did you flinch as much when I said the bottle of beer was $20? And if you ever saw a bottle of wine for that much/cheap on a restaurant menu, you'd think it was dreck. While I did it for the experience and will never order the siphon-prepared coffee again b/c of the price, I had to know. I will return there, though. I need to find out what jelly donut coffee (with strawberry essence and "donut-infused milk") is. That's a mere five-spot.

Alas, when I DROVE to Culver City to visit Kevin and Michele, who are expecting a new house in about 3 months and a baby in 7 weeks, the BottleRock was closed, either because it was Easter or just Sunday night.


beerandnosh said...

i know it's cliche for SF to be competative with LA.. but come on - Blue Bottle!


Plus it's cheaper.

Brian Yaeger said...

I've had Blue Bottle from their cart (the New Orleans Iced Crack, er Coffee) and I've stood outside, panting, of the place under construction (for the past 19 months, give or take) in the Ferry Bldg. If they have these siphoned coffees and for cheaper than a Jackson, I'm there. I'll be jittery, but I'll be there.