Alive And Well – The Supper Club

It only took about a year of gentle coaxing by a dear former colleague until we finally stepped through this door


to find out that behind it there hides a real honest-to-God supper club with an amazing offer in Jazz music.

Our introduction to Jax was made all the more pleasurable by Mike Gurley and the Night Caps. If you want to swoon to music a bit strangely called “cocktail music”, go there. It is well worth the time; those musical cocktails are tasty with a distinct modern edge.

How good is this place? Well, we stayed until midnight. That should say it all and is our stamp of approval.

Culinary Heaven

Last week we had to go down to Santa Monica to the Broad Theater. With triple digit temperatures outside we did not look forward to the ride, but decided to go anyway and early to have some dinner before the event. We parked the car at the theater and wandered off in search for food and found Warszawa on 1414 Lincoln Boulevard.


Nice, we thought, not L.A. at all.

That was not all; on reading the menu I started swooning. Cold Borscht! Just what one needed on a sweltering hot day.


But the surprises did not end there – they had Steak Tartar! Steak… Tartar…


It was incredible, goodness on a plate, paired with chopped onions, mushrooms and pickles. I’m afraid I bored William to death with my stories about this dish, where I had eaten it all over Europe and how much I had missed it. That, by the way, was the funniest side-effect of discovering this restaurant – it awakened a culinary homesickness in me I did not know I had.

The others dishes were good too – a perfect broth with little lamb ravioli (what a delicate taste) and Gnocci afterwards. But the Steak Tartar… I am drooling while writing this.

After a perfectly divine meal, finished off with some Espresso, we toddled back to the Broad for an equally heavenly lecture on Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle.

Food for body and mind – what a delightful evening.

Mind The Moose

Clifton’s Cafeteria looks so absolutely unremarkable from the outside that many probably don’t even give it a second look.


But should the adventurous city traveler step through the door to be met by this arrangement,


he or she might reconsider whether this is really your average cafeteria eating style place.

Walking up the staircase,


past some more bears engaged in slightly unusual activities,


one has a good view of the lower level eating area.


My personal favorite is the moose on the balcony.


Quite impressive, I must say. Judging from the size of the head, this was not a small animal at all. I probably would have given it a wide berth, had I come across it in the wild.

And there you have it – Clifton’s Cafeteria is certainly not unremarkable. It is not a fine dining place, but one of the last bastions of honest fare so dear to many who remember this kind of food from their childhood. I highly recommend it for breakfast, if one wants to attend events at the Convention Center, which is only a short stroll of a few blocks away.

All details of the history of this place, the last one left of several restaurants owned by the Clinton family in the Los Angeles area, can be found here. How long Clifton’s will survive is unsure – the family just put the building up for sale. What happens next – nobody knows.

My Favorite New Kitchen Toy

I like cooking dinner. It is a transition period to glide from the working day into a pleasant work free evening; so cooking might be classified  as a hobby for me, soothing for the nerves and with a tasty result in the end.

As with every hobby, one needs toys. I finally found one I had craved for quite a while – a double-burner stove top grill pan.


With this nice, sturdy, heavy-duty pan roasted vegetables are done in no time.


Sprinkled with olive oil, lime juice, salt and fresh ground pepper, they can rest while some pork chops rubbed with basil are being grilled.


Add a salad, some wine and a friend = a perfect meal for three with a preparation time of 30 minutes from start to finish.

As I said, cooking is a hobby. And I love my new toy.

The Rose Is The Thorn

It took us nearly half a year after Desert Rose on Hillhurst opened to set foot in the place. Why? Well, how can one keep a straight face eating at a restaurant adorned with the tackiest 15 ft. glass rose ever in front? So, as I said, it took roughly six month before we decided that we might have seen that oddity often enough to get used to it and not burst out laughing just at the mere sight.

Now comes the surprise: The place is nice. The service is charming. The wine list is interesting. The food is good. One might even say, the food borders on being excellent. I am quite game to go back and investigate some more whether I can uphold that last impression.


Baked Brie


Tabbouleh Salad


Linguine with Sirloin

Plus, they have an extensive variety of whiskeys; maybe one day  they’ll print out a list for the servers  to  read from, so that customers do no have to toddle up to the bar to check out the goodies themselves.

The biggest plus however is – no, they do not light up that rose thing out in front. At least not glaringly so. So I managed to keep a straight face and did not burst out laughing at the only thorn at the Desert Rose.

Not For The Faint Of Heart

There is nothing one cannot buy in Los Angeles. Well, maybe not quite – as far as I know “Rouladennadeln” are not available, but maybe they are, I just haven’t found that secret little store yet where they are on offer. But apart from that, everything is on sale in Los Angeles.

Let’s leave aside the more … hmmm… exotic merchandise and concentrate on groceries. I know a lot of people who have the same goal as I have – getting the best deals while having fun at the same time. So there are the supermarkets from regular to upscale. Nice, but not that much fun. Then there are the tiny stores, always interesting, but with a limited variety of goods. Farmer’s Markets – more like an alternative to a county fair. Now, who buys groceries at a county fair? But sometimes they do have petting zoos, so that is nice.

And then there is the Super King (2716 N San Fernando Rd).


The Super King is big on wonderful fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, spices, wines and spirits, huge varieties of all things Middle Eastern, an even larger variety of things one does not know what it is / can’t find out what it is / finds out what it is and wishes one hadn’t. All at amazingly low prices. I mean, Amazingly! Low! The store is like the US equivalent of  a bazaar in Istanbul – big, big fun.

Of course a store like this has lots of lovers of all things good and inexpensive. Which means, crowds. Which means, always waiting to get a spot on the parking lot. Which means, long lines at the deli counter. Which means, shopping cart gridlock. Which means, all the things the average shopper dislikes one encounters here.

So, I would not suggest this store for the faint of heart. Those who prefer dainty trips through Gelson’s might feel a bit out of place. But lovers of perfect merchandise, with a sense for the adventurous and new will not find a better place to shop.

No Ice In The Bucket


Roaming around Los Angeles on the quest for quirky places to eat we hit The Bucket in Eagle Rock. This tiny place is famous in L.A. It was opened in 1935 by a Julio, who – according to some old timers – was quite the guy. You did things his way, or else. Julio is not around any longer, the place has new owners, but with the eatery he also sold the recipes for his famous burgers, the Julio Shrimp and his secret spicy sauce.

So there we were, sitting outside in the newly added patio (before that, the place seated barely 10) and were ready to order. One Bucket Burger, one Julio Shrimp, fries. For drinks we ordered a Coke and a Red Bull. The Coke arrived, but I was informed that they were out of Red Bull. Right, I said, then I’d like a coffee, please. Whereupon the charming server  said: “No coffee machine, no microwave, no ice – it’s The Bucket.” That is not something one hears too often in these parts of the world. I settled for a water without ice, which is exactly what I am always drinking.

Then we waited for the food. That’s something else unique to The Bucket – there is a wait, because the food is always freshly prepared. But once it arrived, it was as good as we had heard. The burger was juicy and meaty and the Julio Shrimp was quite an adventure: two shrimp, butterflied, stuffed with crab meat, wrapped in bacon and deep fried, served with the secret spicy sauce. Well, well.


Another place one can highly recommend for eating outside the box; and drinks without ice.


Let’s be frank – I cook a mean chili. The recipe developed over the course of two years, then I was satisfied with the result. Now the list of ingredients is safely stored away in my memory, not to be disclosed ever. It is after all my secret and it is going to stay that way.

Now and then I like to sample the chilis of the competition. More often than not that’s it – the dish is not up to scratch according to my taste buds. However, there is one exception:


At Chili John’s in Burbank the chili served is prepared after a secret recipe from Wisconsin. According to local folklore it was developed over a century ago and apparently the so-called “Wisconsin style chili” is all but extinct now. Which is something I do not understand, because it is really, really good, even though it is completely different from my own chili.


This is the bowl for the big eater, before the piling on of cheese and onions. I stick to the small bowl of chili and beans sans spaghetti, forgo the cheese and stick to the onions. A perfect dish, good and tasty every time.

They are keeping their secret well – just as I do mine.