Gourmet Junkies

January 19, 2010

Come to my "House"

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deb @ 23:05

I’ve been in the foodie biz for a long time.  Former restaurant owner, cooking school instructor, spokesperson for some big food/liquor companies and so I think I know a little about food, presentation and how to treat your customers.  That is why I decided to become a quasi food critic.  Warning: I can be a bit irreverent…. but fun.

First off: you will never know when I visit your restaurant or decide to do a review, so don’t try and bowl me over with your “best” day’s service or food.  Just be the best you imagine you can be and I will either like it or not.  Since the food scene has become such a “celebrity chef” scene, a lot of people out there equate good food with “celebrity”.  well, guess what?  It isn’t always so.  Take for example the new Bruce Marder digs “House” on Beverly Blvd. in LA.  Now, Bruce has had some pretty interesting places including the vastly overpriced “Capo”, the clubby “Brentwood”,  breakfast-y “Cora’s” and “The Broadway Deli”.  Of these, my favorite has been Brentwood  because he kept the food exactly what it should be, clubby and comfortable.

Now I do know that Bruce doesn’t go out seeking celebrity, but he is a bit of an institution in this town.  The fact that he isn’t a very polished maitre ‘d (to the point of being a bit weird and sullen) doesn’t help when you are greeted at the door by this “institution”.  I suppose I expected something or someone a little more engaging and polite, but oh well.

Which brings me to our dinner at his new “House” Restaurant.  Situated in the old Pastis location at 8114 Beverly Blvd, House is a combination of flea market finds and posters with a little patio in front.  It kind of looks like a House, which, I’m sure, was the intent.  But, it lacks something. At the bottom of the menu decorating credits were shared by Bruce Marder (really?) and Dean Singer, a well-known designer/architect.  I would bet that Singer wanted more to do with it, however Marder was quick to say that he did most of the interior design.  Singer must have laid it all out leaving Bruce to his own devices. I’m not sure what he was trying to convey, but it is sweet and simple, woodsy and non-discript and I’m sure there are those who don’t even look at the decor, but I do.  I love places that make me feel like I’d like to LIVE there, you know what I mean?  Places that give you a feeling of sheer comfort, like when you go to a good  hotel and the bed is just PERFECT with the cushy comforter and down pillows… that kind of comfort.  I also like hot, lively places so don’t take me for some old fogey, okay?

Dinner: Wellllllllll…… again, maybe my expectations were a little too high. We ordered a glass of wine from the generous wine-by-the-glass menu and started to discuss the various dishes.  It is a little bit comfort food, a little bit Moroccan and a little bit bistro, the menu encompassing breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We decided on the Grilled Artichokes, Meatloaf and  the Filet of Sole.  Bruce, you need my recipe for Grilled Artichokes.  Yours were very average, served with Horseradish Mayo. Horseradish??  Even Culinary Artistry doesn’t list horseradish as a match to Grilled Artichokes!! At the end of this article, you all will find the recipe he should have put on the menu….Grilled Artichokes with Truffled Mayonnaise.

Now on to the meatloaf. Oh dear. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce…what are you thinking?? Have  you tasted this?? Meatloaf should not have the consistency of rubber!  It was so rubbery and tasteless that I’m going to  give you a new recipe for this, as well.  Swimming in a pool of an unctuous tomato-y sauce, I couldn’t help be wonder who was in the kitchen that night and did they overdose on the egg content of the “meatloaf”.  I do have to say the mashed potatoes that came with were silky, soft, perfectly seasoned and very delicious.  so at least 1/2 of the meal was yummy. Here’s the deal on Meatloaf:  it should be almost falling apart, but not.  It should be moist. It should never scream “I have eggs in me” and it should be served with homemade ketchup. Period.

The Sole was pretty good.  Perfectly cooked and simple in it’s seasoning.  The accompanying Roasted Potatoes, however were crispy on the  outside (a very good sign), but dry as a bone on the inside.  Another disappointment since Roasted Potatoes rank up there with sex as far as I’m concerned.  Maybe he should have tried to roast small red new potatoes in a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, removed them, smashed them and then plunged them into very hot fat for a few seconds to crisp them.  This leaves the centers creamy and soft while the outside “smashed” potato takes on a crunchy crispness.  Sprinkled with a bit of sea salt and Truffle dust, and you have a DISH!

Okay, so I’m kinda blasting this new place of his, but I will go back, hoping that my next choices will be more satisfying and that I’m greeted by a warm, engaging person who will make me feel like I want to stay and linger over good food, conversation and good wine.  After all, Bruce Marder IS an institution.

Grilled Artichokes

4 large artichokes, rinsed, top third removed, leaves trimmed

3 T. salt

2 lemons, cut into 1/4’s

1 cup olive oil

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 T. Italian parsley

1 tsp. chopped chervil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Lemon Truffle Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1. Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water. Add the salt and bring to a boil.  Rub the artichokes with lemon. Add the lemons to the boiling water along with the artichokes, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender when a knife can be inserted into the choke easily or an outer leaf pulls off easily.  Drain upsidedown on paper towels and cool

Cut the artichokes in 1/4’s and remove the hairy choke and prickly purple leaves.

While the artichokes are cooking, in a bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, shallots, parsley, chervil, salt and pepper. Place artichokes in a large plastic bag, pour in the marinade, squeeze out all the air and marinate 2-6 hours.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high  Remove the artichokes from the marinade and grill, turning occasionally  until slightly charred on the edges and warmed through.  Place on a platter and serve with Truffled Mayonnaise

Truffled Mayonnaise

1 Lemon, cut in half and grilled  until charred

1 cup mayonnaise

1 T. good quality truffle oil

Squeeze the lemon juice into the mayonnaise and stir. Add the truffle oil and blend well.  Refrigerate until serving.


2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork or sausage

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

3 T. A-1 sauce

3 T. ketchup

2 T. Dijon mustard

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup finely minced walnuts

2 eggs, beaten

Place everything in a big bowl and mix with clean hands until very well blended.

Place into a loaf pan or pat into a loaf form.  Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then pour off any accumulated grease.  Unmold and slice into 1 inch slices. Serve with mashed potatoes.

there you have it… this also makes a mean sandwich the next day.  Slather a baguette or Ciabiatta with mayonnaise flavored with Chipoltle seasoning.  Slice the meatloaf and place on the bread along with grilled onions and butter lettuce.  EAT!!



  1. What a fun read! And recipes, too! I also like being told to eat. After all, so many are telling us not to ’round this time of year!

    Comment by Susan Ballou — January 20, 2010 @ 00:10 | Reply

  2. You’re doing something I’ve always wanted to do ! Great article and fun to read. May we offer some restaurants for you to visit? Anyway, Jenny Craig will have to wait one more day as tonight we are dining on Meatloaf and Artichokes ala Deb / Stuart. Thanks. ((((HUGS)))) ~ LaineeGrainee & Richarad ~

    Comment by LaineeGrainee & Richard Ellman — January 20, 2010 @ 17:28 | Reply

  3. Deb – love the tone, love the recipes and love the review. Nicely done and hopefully, they will take your advice. Congrats. MB

    Comment by Marje Bennetts — January 20, 2010 @ 18:14 | Reply

  4. Well done – sort of like the meat loaf. Enjoyed the read and the bonus of recipes. This was probably one of the best reviews I have read for a long time. Keep it up and keep them on their toes.

    Comment by Beverly — January 21, 2010 @ 17:41 | Reply

  5. This was wonderful! What a great concept……a review of a new restaurant, critiquing the food and then sharing your recipes which I am sure are better! I can’t wait to try the meatloaf! I’ve been looking for a new recipe for a long time.

    Comment by Jan Di Bias — January 21, 2010 @ 17:53 | Reply

  6. Love your review! And love you! What a great idea. I can’t wait for the next review. Love, Joan

    Comment by Joan McNamara — January 21, 2010 @ 18:03 | Reply

  7. Great read Deb, as usual everything you undertake is done very well! I would love to get paid for what you’re doing! You are getting paid aren’t you? Paid or not, just don’t get chubby on all that food tasting !

    What’s with the knock on horseradish? I love a good creamy horseradish on artichoke and yes, on meatloaf as well, instead of ketchup. Oh well, goes to show you that there’s no accounting fo some people’s taste!

    Comment by Denny — January 21, 2010 @ 18:08 | Reply

    • okay…. you can have your horseradish! I just think the delicate taste of artichoke deserves a more delicate taste in the sauce. as for Meatloaf….. bring it on!!!! Love horseradish with Meatloaf….. but I’m kind of a ketchup gal from my childhood.

      Comment by Deborah — January 22, 2010 @ 02:42 | Reply

  8. Deb……Only you (and Stuart) our treasured friends! What a wonderful, honest review with recipes as an added bonus. I would read anything you write and heed your advice. This is such a FUN read and Pep and I want to try some of the new restaurants with you. Can’t wait for the next review!!!!!!!

    Comment by Mady Kranitz — January 21, 2010 @ 18:10 | Reply

  9. Very unique format. Review followed by tried and true recipes. looking forward to next critique.

    Comment by gail borsari — January 21, 2010 @ 18:49 | Reply

  10. fun read…let’s see if Bruce “gets it”!

    Comment by peg rahn — January 21, 2010 @ 18:55 | Reply

  11. You can write girl! AND COOK! Loved the article and the receipes. Can’t wait for more. Let’s try Bouchon with Mady and Pep. The LA Times gave it a good review.

    Comment by Elaine Lovit — January 21, 2010 @ 19:22 | Reply


    Comment by NANI — January 21, 2010 @ 21:06 | Reply

  13. Dear Stuart and Deb:

    What a delight. You both bring light to our lives. I already sent the link to several food conscious friends and some in Chile too.

    Much love,


    Comment by Desy Safán-Gerard — January 22, 2010 @ 05:14 | Reply

  14. WOW you have it all …………. Great looks great cook great writer great fiance and great Idea with the recipes given. I have never made good meatloaf and tonight is the night. Thanks for being you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by janice creager — January 22, 2010 @ 20:39 | Reply

  15. Hey Deborah, Really funny. We ( Mel ,Henry, and I) were very entertained by your review. Mel made the meat loaf last night and it was very good. Can’t wait to try the artichokes. Thank you. All the best. T.W.

    Comment by Tom Wudl — January 25, 2010 @ 16:10 | Reply

  16. We made the meat oaf last night. Or rather Mel made it. Very tasty. Thank you. T.W.

    Comment by Tom Wudl — January 25, 2010 @ 16:11 | Reply

  17. You know we’d follow you two, and your recommendations, anywhere! You have great taste (in food & else) and you know how to send a message. Well done(meatloaf)!

    Comment by Sandy & Bob — January 26, 2010 @ 00:02 | Reply

  18. Hi Stuart, Norm and I look forward to other

    HONEST reviews. Brian will love this.


    Comment by Sandy Greenbaum — January 27, 2010 @ 05:29 | Reply

  19. Deb
    What a great idea to have some who has been in the cooking trenches doing a review. Brilliant concept to follow it up with recipes. Is there anything you can’t do?

    Comment by Victoria — January 27, 2010 @ 13:59 | Reply

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