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Week in Reviews: Axe, Honda-Ya, Tiara Cafe, La Botte and MORE

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Photo from Yelp

S. Irene Virbila revisits one of Venice's standards, the twentysomthing Axe (ah-shay) on Abbot Kinney. She almost wrote Joanna Moore's restaurant off from her last visit when she found "hard benches and lumpen vegetarian fare," but now finds pork belly, whole roast chicken, Korean-style seafood pancakes and lots of seasonal produce from the farmer's market. Some highlights and the occasional low:

That braised crisp pork belly arrives as a single piece, in a bowl, surrounded by sharp, vinegary pickled vegetables and hot mustard, unctuous and delicious with that blast of heat.

Beef short ribs braised with soy sauce, chestnuts and daikon make a curious appetizer (or small main course). The Asian components take it out of the ordinary. Pasta is not the kitchen's strong suit. Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce is oversauced and dull.

All in all, if it fits the time, place and budget, she recommends Axe. And because the decor is better, the staff friendly and knowledgeable, and they have the right stemware for her wine, it gets one-and-a-half stars. Today the "S." stands for "stamina." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: Linda Burum takes in the sights, smells and tastes at new outposts of Honda-Ya and Shin-Sen-Gumi; Angelenic checks out Tiara Cafe's new dinnertime hours; Eating L.A. taste tests Terroni; following the Michelin Man to La Botte isn't a bad idea; at least the sushi is good and fresh at Katsuya; and Natalie Haughton braved the Sunset Strip for Amarone.