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Rose Café – Venice, CA

The Rose Café has been around since 1979 and underwent a nice little facelift three years ago to bring it up to speed.  Chef Jason Neroni takes global influences from his travels and mixes them with the restaurant’s base of Southern California Cuisine.  Not only is the food impressive but the decor and space is so inviting.  With the help of local Venice artist Craig Stecyk, the walls reflect a lot of history from the neighborhood through photography as well as bright eye catching posters.

The standout of the night hands down was the Brentwood sweet corn agnolotti made Mexican street corn style with cotija, tajin and lime.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I can tell you for certain that every time I go back to this place I will be ordering this dish.  It’s perfect!  Everything was wonderful including the cocktails (try the Sea Cucumber – refreshing and not too sweet).   Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner – try it all!

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Black and Golden Figs – red walnut muhammara, sheep cheese, cucumbers, lime, Persian mint

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Grilled Spanish Octopus – sesame eggplant hummus, black beans, hatch chili vinaigrette

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Brentwood Sweet Corn Agnolotti – Mexican street corn style, cotija, tajin, lime

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Gjelina – Venice, CA

I’ve had Gjelina’s cookbook on my kitchen bookshelf for a few years now and was so excited when I found out it’s just blocks from my girlfriend’s house who I was visiting in Venice.  We went for brunch (great way to get in there if you can’t get a dinner reservation – just show up before 10am) and while the outside patio was already full, we got in no problem in the main dining room.

We ordered an absurd amount of food for the two of us but I couldn’t help myself and had to try a lot seeing as it was my first time.  As generic as it sounds, the fruit plate is a must!  You’re not going to find sorry looking honeydew and pineapple on it, rather nectarines, pink pearl apples, plums, etc.  DE-lish!  We narrowed their huge menu down to the soft scramble with squash blossoms, ricotta and mint, the king oyster mushroom omelette with gruyere, red onion, arugula and lemon and then had to share the lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes topped with créme fraiche and blueberry compote.  I wasn’t dubbed “The Good Eater” for no reason.  No I’m just dying to go back for dinner!

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Élephante – Santa Monica, CA

The restaurant scene is very different in LA – no surprise there – but when we showed up for brunch at Élephante we were met by a hostess stand on the sidewalk and then directed to the elevator to the roof.  I felt like I was in my 20’s showing up to a club!

The space is beautiful – think Mediterranean meets Cabo – at least that was my take.  Earthy tones and natural materials, cacti, plants, water features, fireplaces, gorgeous central bar and then the view…the restaurant is completely open on one side facing the beach and ocean.  They definitely killed it on the space!

For food we ordered the Green Eggs and Avocado Toast.  Both very good, not super filling, but great flavors and beautiful presentation.  I’d be so curious to see what this place is like at night, not to mention the dinner menu looks delicious.  Go if you can get in:)

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Green Eggs – soft scramble, zucchini, avocado, arugula, parmesan, salsa verde

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Avocado Toast – crispy chili, lemon, sung olds, herbs

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Trokay – Truckee, CA

You never know what you’re going to get in mountain towns but until recently gourmet hasn’t been on the top of the list unless we’re talking about Aspen or Vail Colorado.  Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than juicy burgers, a cold beer and a greasy spoon diner for breakfast when I’m near the mountains but this was a very pleasant surprise.  Molecular gastronomy mixed with a bit of comfort food as well as classic French dishes.  Very unique, very seasonal and very well done.  If you’re looking for a nice night out don’t overlook this place.

You have three menu choices at Trokay.  The Prix Fixe Menu for $85 (4 courses), the Chef’s Tasting Menu for $145 (10 courses), or the A La Carte Menu.  Although a lot of the items we ordered were on the Prix Fixe Menu, we decided to order off the A La Carte Menu to get exactly what we wanted.

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Baby Heirloom Beets with Redwood Hill Farms Chèvre, Candied Native American Black Walnut Vinaigrette and Petite Mache

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Maryland Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Pickled Fresno Pepper, Creole Remoulade, Fried Capers and Heirloom Lettuces

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Kauai White Shrimp a la Nage with Piri Piri Beurre Fondue, Local Gristmill White Polenta and Baby Corn

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