Matt’s Casbah

Korean Wings

Interior

***** (5 stars)

Usually when small restaurants try to be too many things they fail at being any one great thing, but Matt’s is the exception to this rule. It has separate spaces for fine dining, outdoor beach-type dining, sushi bar, dive bar, and a live performance area. The same menu is served throughout, but there is definitely a different feel to it, depending upon where you are seated.

We had lunch in the fine dining area, and really enjoyed our Korean wings appetizer and the sushi we shared. The sashimi sampler is a great deal, providing 4 or 5 pieces of four different fish, and a large Japanese style salad.

We also liked the unusual roll we had, which incorporated a smoked salmon pate that was very different (and far smokier) that a normal sushi smoked salmon.

Service was friendly and efficient, and the music soundtrack was great.

Matt’s Casbah
801 E New Haven
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 574-1099
http://www.yelp.com/biz/matts-casbah-melbourne

Creamistry

Affogato

Freezing the cream

LN2

Menu and interior

**** (4 stars)

I always like places that let me assemble my food step by step, so Creamistry was a great find. You pick your base (regular, organic, coconut milk, etc.) and your flavor, and then your mix-ins, and they freeze it to order, using liquid nitrogen. It’s fun to watch, and a great way to get lots of flavor choices you wouldn’t normally see for an obscure base like coconut milk.

Is it better than pre-frozen? Probably not, but it’s all about the choices. Of course, the downside is it takes ten or fifteen minutes to get your order, but then again, where else are you going to get a coconut milk espresso affogato with heath bar crunch?!

Creamistry
253 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(424) 777-0964
https://www.yelp.com/biz/creamistry-beverly-hills

La Scala

Carpaccio

Lobster ravioli

La Scala chopped tuna salad

Halloween decor!

**** (4 stars)

If you like old school Italian, there’s no better example than La Scala. Since 1956 they’ve been doing it the same way. That’s both good and bad, because it means you’ll reliably get the same meal you would have had decades ago, but your expectations might have changed.

For example, the chopped tuna salad is chopped up lettuce, chickpeas and essentially canned tuna. That’s what all tuna salads were like in the 60’s, but might not be what you are expecting now.

La Scala was the first restaurant in LA to make their own pasta, and it’s still excellent, in all its forms. I particularly liked the lobster ravioli in brown butter.

There’s a nice little wine list, with some good wines by the glass and half bottle, a rarity these days.

Also note that they go all out in their holiday decorating. A visit in October is a particular treat, as the Halloween decorations are fun and EXTENSIVE.

La Scala
434 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 275-0579
https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-scala-beverly-hills-2

Anarbagh

Appetizer assortment

Interior

*** (3 stars)

This is a nice Indian restaurant that has a fairly extensive menu of standards. We weren’t impressed by the appetizer platter, which was mostly uninspired fried stuff, but the korma and saag were good. Both contained some unusual spices which was a nice twist on the old standards. ┬áService was friendly.

Anarbagh
138 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 888-4011
https://www.yelp.com/biz/anarbagh-beverly-hills-6

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers

Exterior

The grill

***** (5 stars)

There’s nothing quite like an authentic Tommy burger. There are imitators all over town, but none of them get it quite right.

There’s something about the flavor of the strange orange glop they call chili that can’t be duplicated. Frankly the stuff might be terrible by itself, but with the slab of tomato, diced onion, and handful of dill pickle slices, it all seems to go together.

Oh yeah, and there must be meat in there somewhere, although who knows what it tastes like.

The fries deserve a shout out, too. They’re not thick or thin, but just fat enough to have a nice crust and soft inside.

Oh, and don’t get that orange stuff on your hands. It never comes off.

Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers
2575 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 389-9060
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tommys-original-world-famous-hamburgers-los-angeles-6

Georgie

Pate

Salmon

Salad

Crudo

Scallops

Oysters

Interior

Outside

**** (4 stars)

If you’re looking for a romantic outdoor dining experience in Beverly Hills, this is the spot. It overlooks the park, is away from the street, and it’s dimmly lit. It’s really the perfect spot for a quiet and intimate dinner.

That the food never quite lives up to its ambitious aspirations is really beside the point. It’s nicely presented and pretty good, if not exactly superb. But given its location, and the excellent service, it is reasonably priced.

The wine list, which has to be requested, is extensive and interesting, with many big names but also lots of obscure gems. There are no deals on the list, but you’ll find some very intriguing selections.

In short, this is a great place to come with someone when you want the focus to be on your time together. A lovely experience.

Georgie
225 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 860-7970
https://www.yelp.com/biz/georgie-beverly-hills

Yamashiro Hollywood

Samurai roll

Truffle hamachi

Scallop ceviche

Yellowtail and Serrano pepper sashimi

Courtyard

View

Entry

*** (3 stars)

Yamashiro is one of the neatest, most magical spaces in LA. I’ve been coming here for decades for the spectacular view, and the tranquil Japanese courtyard in the center of the building. On each visit, I am amazed at what a great spot it is, and equally amazed that the food never lives up to the promise of the location.

On this visit they were out of: sparkling water, 9 out of ten types of sparkling wine on their wine list, one type of chicken, and Kirin beer. I was beginning to suspect we’d wandered into Monty Python’s cheese shop.

But they did have (nearly) all of the fish on their sashimi menu, and we tried most of them. They were all fine–okay fish quality, and good sauces. Maybe it’s just that we’d been to Sugarfish for lunch the day before, but this sushi was not remarkable, just serviceable.

Our waitress was nice, although totally unfamiliar with the wine list, and seemed a bit shaky on the food, too. Maybe the focus of the business is on selling the fishbowl-sized fruit drinks; they were certainly doing a lot of that.

Still, I’ll no doubt go back. I always do. There’s no place quite like it.

Yamashiro Hollywood
1999 N Sycamore Ave
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 466-5125
https://www.yelp.com/biz/yamashiro-hollywood-hollywood

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor

Pepperoni and basil thin crust 9 inch

Mojo potatoes

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I’ve been coming to this location since the 1960s, when Shakey’s was in its heyday, the tables and chairs were wooden planks, and there was a live piano player cranking out honky-tonk tunes, accompanied by “multimedia” in the form of a slide projector!

The planks and piano are gone, but Shakey’s is largely unchanged. There’s a special taste to the pizza here that I really like; I think they use more sauce, and it’s tangy-er. The original thin crust recipe is still crisp and delicious, with just the right amount of chew, and even the pepperoni seems to have a slightly different taste from other places.

One thing that changed–albeit back in the 80s–was the addition to mojo potatoes, and those quickly became a favorite of mine, and still are. Essentially they are thin slabs of whole potatoes deep fried in a concoction that attempts to turn them into fried chicken. Yum.

I’m sad that there are so few Shakey’s left, but I hope this one hangs in there–it was certainly busy the day we visited–because it’s a delightful blast from my past.

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
6052 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4234
https://www.yelp.com/biz/shakeys-pizza-parlor-los-angeles-6

SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa

Toro hand roll

Yellowtail, scallop, snapper, sea bass

Albacore and salmon

Tuna sashimi

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I was afraid this might be all celebrity chef smoke and mirrors, but it was just really great fish quality, really great rice quality, and some subtle sauces coming together to create a fantastic experience.

We went at lunchtime and were lucky to walk in and get a table, as we soon realized the tiny 40-seat space almost always has a line.

We had the Nozawa omakase, which took us from edamame and sashimi through ten pieces of wonderful nigiri, and ended with two superb hand rolls. The standouts were the amazing scallop nigiri (which was the day’s special) and the two hand rolls. Normally handrolls aren’t a favorite of mine because of the high ratio of nori to stuffing, but these were wonderful. The nori was paper thin and had been crisped somehow, and the warm rice and cool stuffing made an amazing combination.

This was just absolutely great sushi. And at $37, the lunch Nozawa omakase is well worth it.

SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa
212 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-6900
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sugarfish-by-sushi-nozawa-beverly-hills

Musso & Frank Grill

Fried zucchini

Lamb chops

Musso and Frank’s Special Salad

Interior

Exterior

*** (3 stars)

Musso and Frank’s certainly has a loyal following, and if you like old-school places you’ll probably like it. After all the hype I confess I was a bit underwhelmed.

First off, I was expecting a clubbier, cozier vibe, like the intimate red leather seat restaurants of my youth. But Musso’s is more like a giant box, with booths at the bottom, and not much ambiance in the yawning, brightly lit space above.

The menu is very extensive–I have no idea how they crammed it onto two pages. If you can’t find something you want here, you aren’t hungry.

The salads are good, but not extraordinary. Caesar salad was fine. The Musso and Frank Special salad is romaine, with LOTS of artichoke hearts and avocado, and the house dressing, a sort of creamy French. At $20 it seems overpriced, but it is huge.

My lamb chops were excellent, with a nice charred outside, and tender, juicy centers.

The desserts were just so-so. Chocolate mousse cake had a hard, flavorless chocolate crust, and okay mousse layered with somewhat dry cake. Creme brulee was better, fairly classic. The best dessert was actually a simple brownie that was nice and fudgy with a crisp, salty exterior.

Service was professional when it was present, which wasn’t often enough. Basics like refilling water, wine, clearing plates, glasses and silver were sadly lacking. More than anything, that reminded us that we hadn’t really stepped back in time, because I’m sure Mr. “Mosso” would have insisted on a higher level.

Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-7788
https://www.yelp.com/biz/musso-and-frank-grill-hollywood