Dinner at Tar & Roses (Santa Monica, CA)
Don’t be fooled by the photos and the number of dishes ordered. The food at Tar & Roses was unimpressive. Let me start by saying this was our 2nd dinner of the evening and all this food was for 3 people.
The evening started with a complimentary charcuterie plate, which was okay. It’s hard to get excited about meats and cheeses on a wooden board. We then ordered the famous (and overly hyped) oxtail dumplings as well as balsamic glazed ribs. I love oxtail but the dumplings weren’t especially memorable. The ribs had way too much balsamic glaze to the point where I couldn’t enjoy them.
Other appetizers included braised lamb belly, beef “pho”paccio, baby carrots, wood roasted sunchokes and roasted beets. The lamb belly was fatty and fall-off-the-bone tender. The “pho”paccio was…interesting. Basically, all the traditional pho flavors rolled into one bite. The beets and sunchoked were not very good — we didn’t finish either dish. My dining partners, however, raved about the roasted carrots.
Our main dishes included the kurobuta pork chop and skate wing. The pork chop was moist but didn’t have any distinct flavor, which is suprising considering it was kurobuta. The skate wing was the best main course but our entire table agreed that the appetizers/small plates beat out the main dishes.
By the time our two desserts arrived, I was beyond stuffed and couldn’t fully enjoy either: a strawberry crostata and some type of homemade chocolate bar.
Despite having been open for a few years now, Tar & Roses still draws quite a crowd. We had dinner reservations for 9:45pm on a Friday night (the day after Thanksgiving) and we waited at least 30 minutes to be seated. Based on my experience here, I would recommend doing your research and dining at another restaurant. LA has so many to choose from.
When I first moved to Chicago, I was appalled at the prices they charge in Vietnamese restaurants. Seriously? TEN DOLLARS for a bowl of pho?! I’m looking at you, Tank Noodle. On one of my first visits there with the boyfriend, we spent over $50 on lunch for two people. Ridiculous. You know what else is ridiculous? The wait for a table and how crowded the dining area is.
Now, I know better. My banh mi restaurant of choice has always been Nhu Lan. They have the most wonderfully perfect bread that makes their sandwiches stand out above Ba Le and all the rest. But did you know they also have the most delicious pho? Even better (and cheaper) than all the competition, in my opinion. The broth has a rich, delicious flavor. You can even take your pho to-go! They package each component separately for optimum freshness and convenience. Don’t believe me? Take a bowl home and try it yourself! Even if you end up disagreeing with me, you’ll only be out $7.
On Wednesday, November 6, I had the pleasure of attending a private dinner event with Chef Paul Kahan at Publican Quality Meats. Twelve Citibank credit card holders and their guests (that’s me!) were treated to a appetizers, a kitchen tour and dinner service at the restaurant.
A large charcuterie plate greeted us as we entered the restaurant with an assortment of high-quality meats and cheeses. Everything was very tasty but the highlight for me would have to be the fresh pork rinds. The dinner menu consisted of 3 courses and a dessert with wine and/or beer pairings. My favorite dish was the fried perch which was coated in crushed salt & vinegar potato chips! The salad was also surprisingly good for a meat-centric restaurant. On the other hand, the pork ribs didn’t blow me away even though it’s a staple on the regular menu. They were good, just not great. Dessert was delicious as well although our entire table agreed the flowers tasted like marijuana.
This was my first time dining at any of Chef Kahan’s restaurants and a fellow diner suggested I return to The Publican to try their mussels. My impression of Publican Quality Meats is that the products are very expensive but very high-quality. I will definitely invest in some gourmet meats and cheeses next time I’m in the area.
I learned about Kai Zan and their omakase special from a fellow Yelper. Easily scored a reservation for 4 people on a Saturday night, although it was at 5pm when they first opened. The dinner tables are very private which is a fun idea if you’re in a group or on a date. For a mere $60, you’ll receive approximately 10+ courses of delicious food (chef’s choice). The quality and flavor of the dishes was very impressive, especially considering the price point. Be sure not to miss out on dessert — we ordered one of each — everything is made in-house and is delicious!
Pictured above is the BELT Sandwich from Chili U in Libertyville, Illinois. I had the pleasure of dining here on Saturday and the food was much better than I anticipated. Don’t let the Yelp reviews keep you from trying the food here, everything was very satisfying!
Ever had a BLT? Well, the BELT is 100x better! The sandwich comes on perfectly buttered and toasted bread and includes bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, egg and thousand island dressing. It comes with a side of fries (I recommend you pick the waffle fries and pay $1 extra to add chili cheese)! Also tried the sriracha flavored wings which were very tasty.
Great restaurant, great service, great food.