Now, everybody knows you absolutely must have a car to see the best of LA, I didn't have one, but I was staying and working in Santa Monica, so did my best to explore the area local to The Huntley Hotel and hitch a ride with colleagues as and when I could.
I'm pretty sure nobody will care that I ate an In-N-Out burger, given that we are now so spoiled here in London but it was top of my list of must visit places and I wasn't disappointed.
Following the advise of literally everybody I spoke to, I ordered my cheeseburger animal style, which is not an advertised option that comes pimped with caramelized onions and special sauce.
Chips were nice, I wasn't aware these could be 'animaled' so missed out on that treat. The chocolate milkshake was excellent. Two things struck me, firstly how cheap it was and secondly, how most other diners seemed to be eating 2 burgers at a time. I was saving room for more food later but at about $4 each for the meal, it's easy to see how things soon get out of hand in the US. Also available on the 'secret' menu is a 3x3 or 4x4 option. Heh.
Thanks to Daniel Young for tipping me off about Intelligentsia. We went one morning for breakfast and there was a huge queue before 9am. They really take their time making each cup, it is a chain, but it doesn't feel at all like it, the place has a laboratory feel to it with all kinds of filters and machines contributing to the production of each cup. The choice of coffee bean alone is staggering. I played it safe and went for a black cat classic latte which was sweet and rather mild. I was in a jetlagged haze so could really have done with something a little stronger.
That beast is a cheese and bacon croissant which was pretty special. Representing the USA, my colleague had a doughnut. For breakfast. When we left the queue was even longer. Loved the place.
Blue Plate Oysterette
I snuck in some solo snackage right before I had to leave for the airport. I propped up the bar at Blue Plate Oysterette a seafood bar on Ocean Avenue, overlooking the beach. There is a chalk board where the daily catch is advertised, there is a huge selection of oysters, I had never heard of any of them so asked for recommendations and got these, 2 Laguna Bay, 2 Malpeque and 2 Chincoteaque.
The 2 closest to camera were the Malpeque and they were my favourite. All were quite meaty and briney, I ate one of each by themselves then loaded the second ones with the shallot vinegarette and lemon juice. I saw no use for the tomato sauce, but each to their own I suppose. These were about $3 each.
I couldn't resist the lure of the lobster truffle mac and cheese for $20. Maine lobster mixed through the mini conchiglie with an obscenely decadent cheese sauce, complete with stringy bits when you got a forkful. It was so good. I ate all this accompanied by 2 glasses of oyster bay and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Service was mostly lovely, American priding itself on hospitality.
From here, I waddled off, content and slightly tipsy, to the airport. My bill came to about $60, so not cheap but it was an off peak time and the place was heaving, who doesn't love a bit of seafood on the seafront?
Other places I ate while I was there included Wabi Sabi (great sushi), Urth Cafe (good coffee and eggs) and Canal Club (don't do it). Special mention to the crunchy rice spicy tuna at Wabi Sabi, I need to find them in London, any suggestions would be hugely appreciated. Check them out.
I also loved Abbot Kinney. It's a street with lots of independent shops and cafes, it's where Intelligentsia is and on Friday, they had tonnes of food trucks lining the street. It's like Kerb or We Feast but supersized. Crap photos, taken from inside cab, but you get the idea, there was literally everything you could ever want, every type of cuisine represented, I was in awe.
Hope I'll be back soon, and next time I'll get my own wheels so I can explore further afield.
13425 Washington Blvd
1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd.Venice, California 90291
Blue Plate Oysterette
1355 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
1635 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291