There are many types of sandwiches. Among them are the almighty Subway five dollar footlong, the toasty Quiznos, and the harder to find TOGO’S. As a poor person who doesn’t want to eat at McDonald’s everyday, I find sandwiches to be an ideal lunch meal. As such, I have my favorite restaurants, and even my favorite locations within the same chain. These favorites are based on many factors, including how attracted I am to the sandwich artists. But among sandwich chains, there is one that stands out above the rest, and that is ThunderCloud Subs. Quiznos might be my least favorite of all the sandwich shops. The sandwiches are mediocre, yet priced high enough to suggest they are good. Quiznos is like the Apple of sandwich shops. It is selling you a brand name, an iSandwich if you will. It’s no better than many other sandwiches, and actually fails in many areas, but your friends will know you’re better than them if you eat it.

Subway is the staple of sandwiches, against which all other sandwiches can be judged. When you’re looking for a medium quality sandwich and a medium quality price, this is where you go. The five dollar footlong isn’t overly phenomenal, except that it is a foot of sandwich for five dollars, which is amazing.

TOGO’S is an angry sandwich. You can tell because they like to capitalize the letters in their name. The quality is going to be a bit better than Subway, and the price is going to be a little more. That being said, there’s a good chance there isn’t one near where you’re working and you’ll be going to Subway.

Enter the ThunderCloud. It is not often that I am entranced by a sandwich. In fact, until I went to ThunderCloud Subs, it hadn’t happened at all. I had been visiting a friend in Austin, and he was on his lunch break. By chance, he happened to work next to this glorious sandwich shop and suggested we eat there. The meatball sandwich was on special, a large for $3. Well, okay. I like meatball sandwiches and for $3, I’m not going to complain. The sandwich artists were friendly, and the choices in sandwich were what you would normally expect. I had them make my very inexpensive meatball sandwich and took a bite. Immediately my mouth was filled with the dreams of angels, for this sandwich was unlike any sandwich I had ever experienced, and this was a very good thing. There was simply a miraculous quality to the ingredients that made for the ultimate meatball sub. I cannot speak for the other sandwiches, though I hear they are delicious as well, but this sandwich destroyed any chance that I could ever enjoy a Subway Meatball Marinara again.

ThunderCloud Subs is surprisingly delicious for a sandwich chain, and also fairly inexpensive.

Unfortunately, this sandwich cannot be consumed on a regular basis, for me at least. While the price for the sandwich when it is not on special is still reasonable, ThunderCloud Subs only exists in Austin, Texas, and I live in California. That being said, every time I visit, I make sure to stop by, and every time the sandwich astounds me. I know what I am getting into, but each time I rediscover the near orgasmic deliciousness of the ThunderCloud. I highly suggest if you are in the area that you check it out.

Richie's Real American Diner Outside Sign
On our last trip to Vegas, I was fortunate enough to experience a little taste of the 1950s in the form of a kick-ass restaurant. Richie's Real American Diner, located at 8039 Monet Ave. Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739, and they can be reached at 909-899-8101. This place rocked so much, I gladly paid $16.95 for a Richie's Diner t-shirt. For starters, their hours of operation are defined as Pleasin' People, which you can see in this extremely shaky video:

We get inside, and it is unlike anything I've seen in person. For starters, everyone is absolutely nice. I'm talking super nice - like cheerful nice. It's so unusual to see this level of kindness towards strangers, being that I grew up in L.A. I went with my buddies - Mike & Mike (not to be confused with ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning) - who had been to this diner the week prior, so they already knew what the score was. One of the Mike's (big Mike) prophesied that the people would instantly recognize them. Sure enough, we walk in and Betsy (yes, Betsy) says, "Welcome back, guys!" These were my initial thoughts after we got in (notice my pitch at the very end of the clip):

Pretty much, the only thing wrong with this place is that it is located in Bumfuck, Egypt. But I guess you kind of have to be to really have an authentic small town feel, with legitimate decor to go along with it. Every single employee was nice and extremely personable - I can't stress how awesome this was. This place rocked so much, their menus were cute (Salads 'n Such, in particular):

Salads 'n Such Richie's Signature Burgers

The service is second to none; if you are accustomed to 8 minute waits between refills, or 20 minute waits before getting your order in, Richie's will make you shit your pants. People were servicing us faster than pit crews (a little NASCAR humor there, since we were on our way to a race, afterall). On top of that, they put all of their soft drinks in stainless steel shake cups:

Soda in an Ice-Cold Stainless Steel Shake Cup: Man's Answer to Cancer

Well, after all this hyping up, you might be thinking...

Sure sure sure the people are the beans knees, the place looks far-out, and the service is gnarly... but how's the pricing and the food???

I'm fucking glad you asked.

Pricing was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be, with each meal ranging in the upper single digits, to about $15. Nothing came remotely close to expensive, and if you are on a serious budget, you owe yourself at least a shake. I'm serious.

First, let me introduce you to my friends - BBQ chicken, french fries, and two sticks of cheese. The BBQ is cooked outside daily, in front of the restaurant:

BBQ Chicken with French Fries and Two Cheese Sticks

No clue about the cheese sticks, but when I heard it was an option instead of the biscuit, I had to pick it just to see what it was all about.

I'm glad I had the Mikes there to help me polish off the chicken, because I would have felt genuinely upset that such delicious chicken would go to waste. This chicken was made outside on the grill, and it turned out to be some of the best chicken I've ever had - this coming from a chicken lover. Even though the chicken was phenomenal, I just had to leave room for a shake; judging by the atmosphere, I could really sense their shakes were out of this world.

Small Mike had the fish and chips, which he said were better than the fish and chips he had in the UK. At first I called shenanigans, but then he gave me a piece to taste, and I had to rescind my allegations of shenanigans. Usually the extent of my seafood favorites are shrimp and sushi, but this was some tasty fish.

Richie's Fish & Chips Even Make the Elderly Sport Wood

After I pushed aside the chicken, I decided I needed to take the plunge and order my shake. I ask our waitress for her recommendation, and even before I got the last word out of my mouth, she said, "chocolate banana."

Here's how my delicious chocolate banana shake came to me:

Heaven in your Motherfucking Mouth

Moments later, after discovering how seriously amazing the shake was, this was my reaction (I say "banana" way too effeminately, especially the first time):

The best / worst part about it was that the waitress recommended it to me because she hasn't had sugar in the last six months due to her diabetes, and she wanted to see someone enjoy it. This milkshakes is heaven in your mouth. I'm glad I could help in my own way, I suppose. :)

Even if you never have any business being out that way, find a way to get out to Richie's Real American Diner. Overall, it is easily the best restaurant I've been to, even though it's not some fancy steakhouse, or expensive Sushi bar. The general feel, atmosphere, food and people just have to be constantly praised. I wish I was a spokesman for them, 'cause I would talk people's heads off about Richie's. Enjoy!

*Note: there are two other locations for Richie's. Please refer to their website for the Temecula & Murrieta locations.

 Dinner and a Show It's midnight, you're already trashed hell, and all you could ask of this precious, godforsaken world is a Chimichanga. No problem. Head to the Farmers Market on the corner of West 3rd and Fairfax. There's this authentic style cantina called Loteria, where Chef Jimmy has "tested and perfected" the art of the utterly delicious Mexican cuisine. How about some hot sauce with that? At Light My Fire, a pantry full of hundreds of internationally recognized condiments are at your compulsive, little fingertips. 

It's really composed of nothing more than 50 or so shacks, side by side, under harsh fluorescent lighting, without room for the luxury of personal space, but the quality of food is damn excellent. 

Traditionally, regulars head to this international house of delicacies between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight, prime time to meet a truly diverse and down right weird crowd.

If you're not in the mood for dinner and a show, then take your cutie for a fun, mid-afternoon date, where she can sample foods from all kinds of foreign countries. From a girl's perspective, you'd earn a couple more "good boyfriend" points.

But let me tell you, after a day of shopping Fairfax, all a couple of girls could ever want is a hearty meal. So, if it's just a Saturday afternoon with the girls, after you've spent your rent money, head over and spend your last few pennies.  There's a classic ice cream parlor, way in the back, serving anything from soft serve to mint chocolate to caramel creme. Yummy and so worth it!

Now, I can't stress enough how much there is to do at the Grove and the Farmers Market. There's literally an event held every month and, the cool part is, everyone in the community gets really involved. It's great when you've lost hope in the geniality of people in L.A.

There's the Gilmore car show, held the first Saturday in June, which is really great to go with a male family member. Your little  brother will be endowed to you for years to come if you show him the hundreds of vintage and classic cars.

The Fall festival is more for the kid in all of us. A classic-style pumpkin patch and face-painting will make you see Halloween like you used to before reality hit, before you became an "adult."<

In Disguise

There's a mall attached to the market called the Grove, filled with overly-pricey shops, like M. Fredric and Anthropologie, of course. Come Winter, they like to whip out the old fifty-foot Christmas tree to really muster up some holiday spirit in everyone. This means it's time for carolers to congregate from one end of the mall to the other. It's really entertaining to watch that poor guy who's forced into singing along when he clearly has a million things to do before Christmas Eve.

And of course, there's live music by shitty bands every Thursday and Friday nights for when your date bailed and you have nowhere else to go. It's kind of fun watching the middle-aged couples dance and sing along to the classics.

Fourth of July at this mall is madness. I don't recommend it, unless you're networked and get some kind of special treatment. It's probably the busiest plot of land on the Fourth of July in West L.A.

Waterworks

I guarantee you, you won't leave this place without seeing some sort of celebrity, or at least a has-been. I've seen everyone from David Spade, to Lily Allen during the release of her first album Alright, Still, and I even spotted Jake Gyllenhall at dinner with Reese Witherspoon. Just an incentive to head over there.

So, good food, great people-watching, and obnoxious bands, this place has it all; it's so versatile! Chances are, your parents and grandparents remember this place too. It's the market's 75th anniversary this year. No need to cram in impromptu plans this Mother's Day, take 'em to eat!

This place has got some history!

Exterior Lala's Argentine Grill
Lala's Argentine Grill is a cozy Argentinian (duh!) restaurant located at 11935 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, CA 91604, and their telephone number is 818-623-4477. Usually when you hear "cozy", it typically means small (i.e.: Redmanthatcould, your penis...it's so...cozy), and that's exactly what I mean with Lala's. When I visited, it was on a Friday night at the Studio City location; they also have a 7229 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046 (telephone: 323-934-6838). The lovely Christina served us, who is pretty Asian girl that had to placate my brother Lenny during our meal, and even more so while we waited for our bill.

They offer valet parking at $3.50 a pop, and while street parking is kind of tough on the weekend, there's still potential for it if you want to avoid the five spot (after tip) to the valet chimp. There's covered outside seating, which probably would have been more comfortable since it didn't look nearly as cramped as the inside seating. Not to say the inside seating was terrible, but you definitely hear what all the other tables are talking about.

Interior Lala's Argentin Grill

Lala's is not exactly upscale - is there upscale in the San Fernando Valley? - but you definitely don't want to show up in a t-shirt and jeans. There's dark lighting with candles on the tables, and they have just a few paintings on the wall. I think they probably want your attention to be on cool wire art hanging from the ceiling. Our service was great, both from our waitress and the food wenches that helped her bring out the entrees.

Prices range from $15 - $35 an entree, and their menu is heavy on the meat dishes, with a wide variety of steaks. Our table ordered some appetizers, which left a little to be desired, so I didn't even take note of what they were. The meat and potatoes of their menus is their meat and potatoes. I chowed down on the Angus steak, which came with a delicious red wine sauce and mashed potatoes. I definitely ordered my steak medium done, but it felt like medium-well; the mashed potatoes were decent - I've definitely had better - but they needed salt.

Angus Steak at Lala's Argentine Grill

All in all, it was a good night at Lala's Argentine Grill. The pricing is reasonable, and the crowd is young - mainly 20s and 30s. Really easy to find the place, even if you aren't a Valley native, and the $3.50 for valet is practically a deal by itself compared to $10 you'll spend in an average Hollywood joint. Personally, my biggest complaint was the tight spacing inside. It was literally just a little bigger than some of those $1 Chinese food hole-in-the-walls, but I'm sure when it's not as crowded during the week, it's probably unnoticeable. Good place for a relatively inexpensive date.

And I'll leave you with the obligatory video of the inside of this place. Yes, I know it's dark, but didn't I already mention that above???

My Holy House of Deli Meats Time and commitment are the cornerstones of any serious endeavor.  These two principles anchor the fleeting converted into true believers.  And in the congregation of delicatessen culture, I have but one destination, one true church: Brent’s Delicatessen & Restaurant.  Now we could circle the culinary mulberry bush with menu discussions ranging from soups to desserts, but my real test of any deli worth their weight is the pastrami. I love pastrami and to me it’s a Holy Meat.  It’s own Trinity.  Beef, salt, maybe mustard; can anyone argue with this highly intelligent design? Coming from Irish-German stock, I am well qualified to duck a thousand coronary deaths for the love of this traditional cured giant.  And for the benefit of my neglected readers, I offer the following: Read, believe and indulge. 

Delicatessen Schools of Thought

Portion

While many swoon over the Cheesecake Factory/Claim Jumper idea that too much food is a good thing, I do not subscribe to that.  I want a meal or in this case a sandwich with which I can actually fit into my mouth as opposed to turning into an uneven open-faced nightmare.  Or succumbing to the “I will need a box” reality even before the meal arrives.

In short, I prefer careful thought into my portion and my menu choices.  Light eaters will need a box, medium (like myself) won’t have a problem cleaning the plate and heavies can order from the dessert menu. 

Fat Vs. Lean

There is also the debate over lean versus fat marbled meats.  I have long been a fan of the marbling idea, as it seems to produce a much more tender and flavorful end product.  And with this idea Brent’s does the seemingly impossible.  They produce lean yet tender pastrami.  

 

Black Pastrami Reuben

Atmosphere/Ambiance

I must confess, to me the benchmark of atmosphere is Canter’s in Los Angeles.  (Back-story: I was a teenager, it was downtown and my friends said it was “cool”)  In being a Southern California native, I really had no idea what a legitimate deli was supposed to “feel” like, but Canter’s is what I imagined an original east coast delicatessen to feel like. And while the Westlake location may feel a bit too sanitary for young and tainted tastes, at this stage in my twilight years it feels bright and inviting.  Also keep in mind that it’s only been here since 2006.  Give it the time to mature into it’s own museum like its original location in Northridge (circa 1967) has achieved. 

Service

I can’t stress enough how wonderful their service is.  Being in retail, I am hypercritical of this often overlooked and maligned art.  So often I am amazed with the lack of competent service businesses provide.  I am always given spot on service.  It’s almost become a game for me, “Is this the visit that they fail to show me a good time?”  But this has never happened and the game is somewhat dead for lack of players.   The wait staff is both knowledgeable and attentive.  They nail it every time, busy or slow without fail.  Your drinks magically refill, the server asks you if need anything…you never have to hunt for someone who will fulfill your culinary request.    

Prices

Considering that you will pay anywhere from $8 to $11 dollars for crappy fast food, I will gladly pay the difference…i.e. I would gladly sacrifice 3 Jerry’s Famous pastrami for one Brent’s Pastrami.  I understand this is a bold statement (BTW I love Jerry’s Famous and Solley’s), but I had to elevate the competitive comparison above a Subway or Quiznos

If you are going to go out, give yourself something extraordinary. 

Discussion

I spoke with the one of the owner’s, Marc Hernandez, and grilled him on the particulars of what makes their pastrami reign supreme.  And it really comes down to their infinite and now famous attention to detail.  From which cuts make the grade (they use a navel cut of brisket) to how they double steam the meat, meticulously cut it and assemble it.  

Marc described that he expects that the sandwiches are “fluffy” as you bite down on them.  It should be almost spongy with a clean bite that doesn’t drag other larger pieces of meat away from it.  DISCLAIMER this reference really only makes sense after you have tried one of their masterpieces.   You won’t realize how many inferior imitations are out there until you experience a sandwich correctly done. Sandwich construction really makes a huge difference.   

My Favorite Menu Item

Hands down the Black Pastrami Reuben $13.95.  This sandwich needs nothing but a mouth to accommodate it. 

Overall Value

Great dining is a combination of unique experiences.  Some may make a great sandwich but the service suffers.  You may have amazing service but it’s really expensive.  But the real measure is when you get both great food and service and you find yourself plotting your next visit before you have even left. 

Locations

Westlake Village 2799 Townsgate Road Westlake Village, CA 91361 Phone: 805.557.1882 Hours: Daily 7am to 9pm Northridge 19565 Parthenia Street Northridge, CA 91324 Phone: 818-886-5679 Hours: Daily 7am to 9pm

We went to check out The Belmont restaurant in Hollywood, located at 747 N La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. For starters, this place is in Hollywood - and you should already know my very vocal aversions to Hollywood - then I also find out that we had to make a reservation. This is about 1.7 strikes already (I hate the location and I hate making reservations), but Belmont made a comeback with their service and great (affordable) eats. Pretty unrelated...but as I was driving through Studio City, I noticed a group of people gathering to protest the war...which to me is a bit strange, especially in the San Fernando Valley, so I felt obligated to share a picture:

Hippies Running Amuck in a City Near You!

A Friday night for a busy street in Hollywood usually means there will be plenty of sluts, packs of sausage roaming around together, and potential "celebrity" sightings. The Belmont certainly lived up to those expectations. Our reservation was for 8 p.m., but it was pretty unnecessary - the place was maybe at 40% capacity. Don't expect to find any street parking other than scouring the side streets around the area; valet was 7 dollars.

The Belmont: Eat Drink Smoke - Amen!

When we first got in, I spoke with EJ (one of the waiters), and received some information about the place. During the week, the kitchen will typically close at 11 p.m., and is open about another hour after that on the weekend. He mentioned that the place next door is a trendy nightclub, so they (Belmont) typically get busier around 10:30 p.m. with the overflow from people who can't get in to the other place. EJ also dropped some personal knowledge on me, saying that he ate at The Belmont on vacation, then a year later he moved to L.A. and had to work there because the mac & cheese left a lasting impression on him. That mac & cheese is fucking wicked, I will admit; I'm a big time mac & cheese lover, and theirs knocked flavor right on it's ass. Did I mention they add in some delicious crab to their already perfect mac & cheese? Mmm...getting hard just thinking about it again.

Mouth-Watering Chicken Breast

When the food came, so did I. Holy shit do they have some fucking tasty grub. Our table was 8 strong, and all you could hear were "mmms" left and right; I had the chicken, someone else had the halibut, another person had the filet mignon...everyone was extremely satisfied. My mashed potatoes were beautifully-delicious, super-soft and creamy (yes, yes...too easy to add a metaphor); for Pete's sake - even the asparagus was great! Quite literally I don't remember the last time I had a $20 plate of anything that could get my nipples hard with excitement from anticipating every next bite. Most of the meals were in the $20 price range, with only the filet being in the $30s. If after we finished the meal, they decided to charge double for everything, it would have still been a value for the party in my mouth (and pants, of course) they provided. I didn't touch any of the dessert, but from the facial reactions of the girls with us, and the fact that none of the dishes were left with enough food to discern what was once on them, I'd say the desserts were also amazing.

Instant Heart Attack

The restaurant has outside seating, a bar in the main room (where the majority of the tables were), and a secondary bar in a smaller, adjacent room. Our waiter was on top of his shit, and the wait from the kitchen was hardly noticeable. When we went, it was still a little Christmas-y, so they had lights hanging from the walls - one of them was dangling near one of my friends, and they did not hesitate to move them out of her way when I asked. During our meal, the music was a good volume, and whenever I noticed that there was music on, it was something I either enjoyed or could stand. Then they turned down the lights (11 p.m., roughly) when people started to focus more on getting their drink on than getting their food on, and it got loud with absolutely terrible music selections one-after-another. My guess is that earlier they played music off of CDs, and then their DJ showed up to ruin my perfect image of The Belmont. In any case, if you want a place to get fucked up with better jams, this place would not make your top five choices, even with the side bar acting as a rogue instigator to drinking.

The Belmont Main Bar

So to round out the evening, we worked our way over the side bar for a couple drinks (which is what it is there for, if I were to take a stab at their business plan). There was only one bartender, and no barback, so even though there were only 20 or so people in the area, the service was not speedy. From my perspective, the side bar died down considerably around midnight, and then got absolutely packed about half an hour later. To me, it was pretty strange seeing a literal sine wave of patronage, but then again I'm not a Hollywood person, so this might be par for the course. As I alluded to earlier, there was some choice puss in and out of this place, especially when the action picked up near the end of our stay. Our sole "celebrity" sighting was from no other than Cedric Yarbrough, who plays Deputy S. Jones on Reno 911!, who seemed to be a regular based on the connection I saw between him and the barkeep.

I'm a lover not a photographer, but this is the outside seating

I hate that The Belmont is in Hollywood, because if it were in the San Fernando Valley, it would easily turn into a regular spot for me. That being said, I do plan on going again in the future, which is HUGE for me to admit to. I gotta keep pushing my point that places are better off sticking to one thing they do very well, than stretching their expertise too thin. Luckily, The Belmont kicks major amounts of ass as a restaurant, so even though it sucks as a bar, there is still lots of reason to check it out. While there was plenty of puss and sausage to go around, I would not recommend going here to try to get your swerve on. If you want a fucking amazing meal, at a very reasonable price, then The Belmont is for you. Great for any dates, a place to start your evening, or if you're looking to have a good meal in a relaxed setting. Enjoy!

As their menus states, you get to make your own barbecue at Mogo's Mongolian Barbecue, located at 4454 Van Nuys Blvd. #K Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Going to Mogo's is an interesting experience, as it is with any Mongolian barbecue restaurant because you have full control of your meal - maybe a little too much control, as I will explain later. Mogo's is open 7 days a week for dinner, and Monday through Saturday for lunch. There is tons of parking, as it is part of a large shopping center, and is really close to the Van Nuys Blvd exit off of the 101 freeway. In addition to the delicious meats and vegetables they provide, they also serve beer and wine.

Mogo's Front Exterior

Nothing really stands out with the interior, so don't expect to dazzle someone on a date; it is shorts and t-shirt friendly. The staff is really friendly, and the service was great, but bear in mind we were there on a weekday night, so it wasn't exactly a packed house. The soup was decent, and our group went with the fried shrimp appetizer, which we made quick work of. Then the magic started when we stormed the all you can eat barbecue.

Mogo's Dinning Area Our Chef Guards his Griddle Meats of the World Unite!

With Mongolian barbecue, the idea is you get a bowl filled with raw meat and vegetables, add your sauces of choice, and have a chef cook it for you on-the-spot. You are tasked with picking your own array of food, and sprinkling on your choice of sauces. As I mentioned earlier, you have full control of your meal. This is not the time to be shy, because if you are not sure what kind of sauces to pick, you definitely should ask a chef; picking the wrong sauce combination could lead to a disappointing experience.

As you can see from the menu below, the lunch specials are just the right amount to fill you up for your work break, and you can order additional meat if you so choose. The dinners range from $15 - $16 per person, depending on the appetizer you select.

Mogo's Mongolian Barbecue Menu (click to enlarge)

It is pretty cool to watch the chef blast your meat at 500 degrees. As you will see with the video below, the chef is always moving the meat, as to distribute the heat evenly.

Once you get back to your table, which should not be more than about a 5 minute turn-around, you are greeted with your choice of rice, and sesame bread pockets. The bread pockets are supposed to be cut length-wise, and stuffed with your barbecue. I am not a huge fan of the bread pockets myself, but you should definitely at least give them a try if it is your first time. Below you will see the transformation of raw meat to cooked meat, and then to cooked meat stuffed in a bread pocket and ready for gluttony.

An assortment of raw chicken, turkey, pork, beef and lamb - it's what's for dinner.

They Said it Needed to be Cooked???

After the chef blasts it with loads of fire (and semen, if you ask nicely), it is ready to get stuffed. I could have done something with "stuffed", but I think the semen bit above shall suffice.

The Broccoli is Just for Show

Now it is time to shove that hot load in my mouth. Oh won't the euphemisms stop already?!

Come to Papa

After you are done clogging your heart, you cap off your dinner with ice cream or fruit, tea, and a fortune cookie. If you come hungry, you will more than make up for the 16 large you dropped for dinner. I stress to you again that if you are not sure about what combination of sauces to choose, ask a chef first! Some other Mongolian barbecue places have a road-map for what kind of sauces to mix to get a certain flavor, while Mogo's only displays the intensity of the taste (i.e.: mild, spicy). If you are picky, you might be hung up on how small Mogo's bread pockets are (compared to other similar places), but who cares if they are also all you can eat? This is a cool spot for dinner, with good pricing contingent on what you can pack away in that stomach of yours, and I like the experience of watching my chef cook my meat. Another euphemism? [Sarah Palin]You betcha![/Sarah Palin]

Maxim Restaurant, an upscale Russian joint, can be visited at 531 North Fairfax Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90036, and you can reach them via telephone at 323-653-7820. Maxim Restaurant has valet parking available; street parking is doable, but not all that easy, plus you can't show off your fresh whip out front. The restaurant has undergone new ownership in the past few months, as it was formally known as Palm Terrace. It is setup for parties over-the-weekend, with three price plans per person - $70, $90 and $110 - and regular dining throughout the week. If you are looking to dress up, dance to Russian / American live music, and eat well, then this could be the place for you.

Maxim Restaurant Front Exterior

Their menu is very diverse, and just about everything out of the kitchen is delicious, including a wide array of seafood. There will be some unrecognizable dishes to those who have never eaten Eastern European cuisine, but if you are open-minded about what you eat, you will not be disappointed (it is not like they serve baby or cow cock). I am personally a very picky eater, and I had no issue finding several dishes to indulge in. The way it is setup on the weekend is "family style" with a large variety of dishes, ranging from appetizers, salads, seafood, and some meat dishes.

Be prepared to dance with their live music, even though you will not understand much of what is being sung. The band plays some American songs, but it is predominantly Russian music. At Maxim Restaurant was one of the rare times I have seen Russian girls in Hollywood actually put their prude guard down, and have a fun time dancing in public. Needless to say, I was very happy to watch them bust their moves, if you will.

Hot Chicks Busting a Move Courtesy of this Band

There was a live show with a beautiful couple. The girl was extremely sexy, and her dancing ability really increased her sexiness by a factor of one million. Maybe two million. By the hooting and hollering from the female patrons, I suppose the guy was pretty attractive as well. I liked that they danced to American music, even though they were at a Russian restaurant, which probably means they perform at all kinds of locations; unfortunately I did not get their information, otherwise I would have posted it. Here is a video I took of one of their dance routines:

If you do go to Maxim Restaurant on a date, make sure it is with someone you care about, or someone that is definitely down to fuck because it is a bit pricey for dinner, but you do get a lot of value for your dollar. Definitely a fun and entertaining evening was had at Maxim Restaurant; good eats, fun dancing, a nice little show, and even though you will not understand most of it - good music. The building itself is decorated nicely, so remember to come dressed to impress like the asshole promoters in Hollywood like to say, or you will feel out of place. Guys you will not need a suit & tie, but a nice shirt and pants are a must, and all the women wear dresses. Sexy dresses. Mmm.

Interior of Maxim Restaurant Where Roughly 18% of the Magic Happens

Kind of a silly thing happened near the end of our evening, that really has nothing to do with the restaurant itself, but I figured was worth mentioning. For some reason, one of the groups had an actual fist fight amongst themselves as everyone was calling it a night. I tried to get some action of this, which was going well for about 4 seconds, but then some old, drunk douche bag tried to knock my camera out of my hand. More than likely he was with the group, but he should have kept his dirty mitts to himself, especially since my camera was about three weeks old at the time. You can hear my brother starting to go off on him in Russian near the end of the clip:

Cheers, bitches!

Vodka is why I Cry at Night

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AuthorRedmanthatcould
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Il Teramisu Restaurant & BarSituated comfortably on the corner of Ventura Blvd and Woodman, of the two times I have been to Il Teramisu I can honestly say that it's my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. An Italian resto run by father and son team Ivo & Peter Kastelan and you can tell that they have put a lot of time, care and love into this restaurant. From the food to the service, it's absolutely charming. Shot of Dining Area of Il TeramisuRomantic? Yes, but without any pretension or huge hole in your bank account. I am confident that a dining experience there under any circumstances would be excellent. My first visit was a surprise gift from my boyfriend who cherishes his knowledge of this restaurant above most things, stating once we were seated that if we broke up, he gets custody of the restaurant. Being a foodie, I had nothing but respect for this statement and it made the evening even sexier, BUT I digress.

THE SERVICE: Upon arrival, we had reservations, but the resto was (and usually is) busy so there was a bit of a wait to prepare our table. We were offered a seat in the foyer and two glasses of champagne to enjoy during our wait. Obviously we were a dressed up couple, and a good restaurant never underestimates the power of a happy couple and their recommendations (case in point) and I love intelligent ownership. Once seated, our servers have always been pleasant if not utterly charming. The wine list has been meticulously assembled and whenever I have a question the Sommelier and owner always come over to answer them. Every bottle I have ever had there has been exceptional so I have reached the point where I trust the selection and simply pick something I haven't tried yet.

THE FOOD: We all love a good messy dish of paste covered in well crafted tomato sauce and cheeses, and although the menu does have those traditional American style Italian items, it also has plenty of reasonably priced gourmet tasteys to keep things from being cliché' and mundane. The food is exceptional and I did experience the ever elusive “foodgasm” (it's mine, I coined it) which I hadn't had for some time. The Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Cream sauce is a regular part of the menu and is utterly delectable. The Osso Buco melts off the bone and in your mouth and nothing I have had from the menu has ever disappointed me.

MY SUMMARY: GO!...Do it right the first time. Get dressed up, plan to spend a little more money than usual, get a mid level bottle of wine, 3 courses and prepare to really enjoy yourself.

VALET: YES ENTREE PRICING: $13-$30 (most entrees under $20) ROMANTIC: YES NOISEY: Always busy, so yes, a little. CHILDREN: No kids menu (hint). Suggestion? Get a sitter, don't bring them.

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AuthorSpazarella

Saddle Ranch is located at 8371 W Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA*. Saddle Ranch is about four minutes away from ONE Sunset, on the Sunset strip, but unlike ONE Sunset, Saddle Ranch has a clear-cut idea of what they want to do. Saddle Ranch is a restaurant first and foremost, but they also have a bar where you can sit at, or just order from for your table. They have valet parking, which is only $3.50, which I recommend because expecting to find street parking will leave you stressed and confused. They have a really cool Western-themed decor outside and in, with a mechanical bull inside, and lots of sexy waitresses.

Saddle Ranch Exterior View of the Left Wall Saddle Ranch Cowboy Saddle Ranch Exterior Right Wall Saddle Ranch Main Sign

I should add they actually charge $4 for the mechanical bull, which kind of sucks. Nonetheless, the bull adds some good excitement to the atmosphere, and who doesn't like to see hot girls giggling about and being tossed off a mechanical bull? They also have a pool table on the other end of the restaurant, near the bar area.

Saddle Ranch Interior View of Bar Saddle Ranch Interior View of Entire Restaurant Saddle Ranch Pool Table

The food is a bit pricey, but keep in mind we are on Sunset, so they have that expensive rent to consider. From the general sentiment of our table (8 people), the food is pretty enjoyable, but this night, I did not have a meal. The other times I have been at Saddle Ranch, I always walked away satisfied from my meals, but the atmosphere and drinks certainly add value to the pricing. One of my buddies ordered a steak, and for a Western place, it was pretty dinky:

Corn and Mashed Potatoes make Steak their Bitch

This is my fourth time to this Saddle Ranch, and each time I have had a good time. This is a really fun way to have a good meal while drinking with your friends. Probably would make for a decent first date, although keep in mind it can get pretty loud with the music and commotion from the mechanical bull. If you take your significant other, I think that would work best. On the weekends, it is pretty packed, with lots of pretty people, and the great thing is you don't feel compelled to have to "dress up", as it is a relaxed / casual atmosphere. I also like that there is outside seating in front of the restaurant, and all along the side of the building as well.

What review of Saddle Ranch is complete without videos of girls riding the mechanical bull? You're right - none. So here is a busty white girl to get the ball rolling:

For those that like the darker meat, here is a busty black girl, who could not contain herself while on the bull...she's definitely a screamer, boys:

I have got to say that I really like Saddle Ranch. It is fun, exciting, and relaxed. Not the best place to pick up puss/cock, but it is possible...just more difficult than a regular bar/club setting. If you go on the weekend, there will be more girls in dresses that get on the bull, which almost always guarantees the girls ass will be on display. It seems the bull operator has it down to a science, so that if a girl gets on the bull in a dress, the audience gets a nice show. Delicious. Enjoy the good eats, fun times and up-beat atmosphere of Saddle Ranch.

*Note: there are locations in Universal City, CA, Glendale & Scottsdale, AZ, and Kansas City, KS.

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AuthorRedmanthatcould
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Recently I was in Amsterdam for work, and I had dinner at this steakhouse called De NachtwachtDe Nachtwacht means "The Nightwatch" in English, and the restaurant is located at Thorbeckeplein 2, Amsterdam, Netherlands.  It was a little tough to find, at first, only because the guy at the conceirge desk called it "The Nightwatch" even though this is what was on the building:

De Nachtwacht - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Of course, as I am taking this picture, some weird homeless woman comes over and asks me if I have some change so she can spend a night in a hotel.  Actually, first she asked if I was American, THEN she asked me for change.  My answer was, "Yes, I am American, but I am not that kind of American."  If she was a little hotter, and a little less homeless, I would have let her stay with me at the Radisson.

So at De Nachtwacht, as with any place in Amsterdam, the beer was fantastic.  My coworker Tim (who will be pictured latered, preparing to devour his veal T-bone) was knocking back Heinekens, while I was knocking back a dark beer called De Koninck.  All the beer in Amsterdam makes the beer in American seem like cold piss in a bottle.  De Nachtwacht has seating outside, with overhead heaters, along with comfy seating inside and a bar area.  All of the staff is young and attractive, which is pretty much another norm in Amsterdam.

A dinner entree is not too expensive, besides the terrible conversion rate.  A steak, by itself (which I will explain in a second) can range from the low to high 20s (in Euros).  Why I mention "by itself" is that unlike in America, when you order an entree in Amsterdam, that is all you are getting.  If you want bread, it is another 3 Euros; if you want a baked potato, it is another 4 Euros; if you want soup, it is another 6 Euros.  I guess this is why you do not see a bunch of fat asses walking around Amsterdam.

The service was less than stellar, but that is to be expected.  Most places in Europe do not come anywhere close to American levels of customer service, but at least the people at De Nachtwacht did not come off as though we were inconveniencing them.  They just were not too fast to act, which I can deal with.  It was interesting to see how much veal they served.  I am not sure how it is in other parts of America, but in Los Angeles, you will not see veal on a menu...I love myself some delicious baby cow - what gives?

Here is Tim, getting ready to dive into his veal t-bone steak:

Baby Cow: It's What's For Dinner

We both got our steaks medium rare, and they came out exquisite.  I judge a steak on how tender it is, how much grissle the chef leaves on, and if it requires steak sauce.  I could have cut my steak with a dull baby cow's hoof, I was able to eat my entire sirloin, and the only kind of sauce I needed was in the form of beer.  This place was so good that we came back for dinner on our last night.  This time we sat inside, and I took a pciture with our waitress.  It was funny to me how unphased she was by this - either she wanted my dick (doubtful, considering I whipped it out and she said, "How cute...baby sausage to go with baby cow..."), or she is used to dumb ass tourists asking to have their picture taken with her.

She Thought I Was Ron Howard

If you are ever in Amsterdam, you should definitely hit up De Nachtwacht. The food is yummy, priced well for the quality, and they always have delicious Heineken on tap. I should also add that they close at 1:30 a.m.  While we did not eat quite that late, either time we were there, we still came late and there was no issue ordering our food.  Another thing you might get a kick out of is the sexy American music they play inside.  They definintely get you in the right mood to sex up a baby cow - yummy!

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AuthorRedmanthatcould
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ONE Sunset is a restaurant & lounge located at 8730 Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069. Being that it is on Sunset, street parking is a joke, so expect to pay the $9 valet charge, or walk a mile. We arrived pretty early, to avoid any potential of not getting in. It was around 10:30 p.m. when we got there, and the place was still in "restaurant" mode at that time (this will be explained later). You walk in and what you see is what you get. It is essentially just one really large room, with tons of tables, and two bar areas.

ONE Sunset - Who am I?  What am I?

The bar areas could essentially be just one long bar, as they are on the same wall, but I guess they want the illusion of a different setting. How is this achieved? There is one step up-or-down you take, and about 5 feet of separation between "each" bar.

An hour into the experience, waiters start clearing out some tables, to make way for the pseudo dance floor. Hmm? People are finishing up their meals, while the mood is being set by louder music and even less lighting. More drinking occurs, and people start spontaneously dancing.

Dubya - confused

So I beg the question: what are you, ONE Sunset? Are you a bar? Are you a lounge? Are you a restaurant? Are you a club? Well, in my opinion, ONE Sunset wants to answer "yes" to all of the above. The problem with that, of course, is when you deviate from your main niche, you lose the ability to be great. Maybe this place could be a great restaurant...maybe it could be a great lounge...how would I know though? Trying to do everything usually doesn't work out, and ONE Sunset does not prove me wrong.

I can't say the drinks were expensive, considering it is a place in Hollywood, on Sunset - if you expect to not pay $10/drink (or more), then you better pregame it pretty thoroughly. Also, the people were what I expected them to be - Hollywood types. I hate Hollywood, and I hate the people that live there. That being said, I did chat up a couple attractive, and relatively down-to-Earth girls. One was there for her 30th birthday, and she was an absolute doll. The other was pretty cool, until she found out what I do for a living, and then she was "over it," if you will.

If you feel like dressing up, and having a night out on the town, ONE Sunset can help. Expect to be confused, expect to pay a lot, and expect to find relatively few people of substance. If you are cruising for puss, it is not a bad place to do it...the music does get loud, so you better look good, or prepare to yell a lot.

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AuthorRedmanthatcould
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