1) La Vida: Today SIV checks out newish restaurant and lounge hybrid La Vida and is pleasantly surprised by the food which earns two stars. The menu combines "Spanish with a California sensibility. Not to get too excited: Spanish here doesn't mean the exuberant cutting-edge cuisine of Catalonia or the Basque country, but more familiar Moorish-influenced dishes from the south of Spain...The chef, though, gets big points all the same for trying something different. He's forging his own path rather than falling back on the same tired dishes proposed at trendier Hollywood spots where kids come to pick at their food, not actually eat. Here, the menu proposes dishes you'd actually want to taste." Standouts include an avocado, watermelon, and cucumber salad; mussels with curry and red chiles; and a delightful Champagne-braised branzino. However, "Not everything works so well. Grilled octopus with potato is a bit dull. And a special of plump sweet diver scallops with vinegared rhubarb and white asparagus cream just misses the mark...Also, the wine list doesn't have many bottles for less than $50 that you'll care about drinking." However, "The hidden weapon at La Vida is pastry chef Jose Detres. He was most recently assistant pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood. These desserts are way above what you'd ever expect to find at the latest Hollywood hotspot. Subtle, well thought out and executed with skill..." [LAT]
2) Gourmet Island: Back to SGV today for J.Gold where he explores the wonders of Gourmet Island. "Gourmet Island may not be the most impressive Chinese restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley — some people don't even consider it the best restaurant on its block. But its take on modern Cantonese cuisine, inspired by the cooking of the highly itinerant Chiu Chow people from the countryside around the Southern Chinese city of Shantou, leans toward lightness; a tendency to shallow-cook in broth instead of oil; extreme freshness; and a love for the salty, umami-rich flavors of dried seafood...One of the best dishes here, a dark, supple casserole of oxtail simmered down with chunks of lotus root, may produce a sauce dense enough to flavor an entire bowl of rice with just a few drops..." [LAW]
The Elsewhere: The Find dines Dominican at Mamá Fina, LAmag visits Maison Maurice, OCW stops by House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer, OCR chooses Jacobi's, Diana Takes A Bite ventures over to newcomer Sweet Rose Creamery, and Exile Kiss eats Chinese at Southern Mini Town Restaurant.