For food lovers who overindulged over the holidays budget-wise (good eats, you can never have too much of) - dineLA's winter edition has rolled around again to save the day.
If you haven't experienced it already, prix fixe menus are offered at reasonable prices at some of the most popular restaurants around the city, starting today January 19th and running through February 1st. This year the price tiers are: Lunch: $15, $20, $25 and Dinner: $30, $40, $50.
I was excited to be invited to preview dineLA dinner offerings from Acabar in Hollywood. This is the sort of 'whole package' restaurant that gets foodies / cocktail enthusiasts / fans of a great night out watching the clock all day counting down to 'GO time'.
The gorgeous, palatial Moroccan decor in itself makes for a great conversation starter from the moment you set foot inside the iconic doors. I'd been a fan of the space before Acabar arrived - back when it was Dar Maghreb and belly dancers were a part of the evening's entertainment. Acabar brought a more elevated, modern, sexy vibe - a darker den that teases with a glimmering possibility of debauchery (at least of the culinary sort). On the night of our visit, the opening act was a performance with a scantily-clad dancer sporting giant butterfly wings...(sorry, it was too dArK to capture video!)
In line with the setting, Acabar's regular menu you would expect to be Mediterranean inspired, but really with a more-than-generous dash of 'anything goes'. While dineLA for many restaurants can be about broad appeal and attracting potential new customers with the safe and just slightly different items - Acabar's event menu thankfully lets its personality belly up to foodies as well.
We got to try every item on the dineLA menu - but these were my favorites:
Loved the plating, but this one is not just looks. Tender slices of marbled beef were brilliant paired with arancini with skillfully crafted crusty shells, that crumble open to reveal a piping hot bone marrow and truffle center for super aromatic, 'meat butter' smooth bites. Pink petals of pickled radish added acidity to balance all the richness of other ingredients on the plate.
The kanpachi crudo option is fantastic as well, fresh, fresh fish with nicely balanced sides - that would be a great choice for non-meat eaters and seafood lovers alike.
I normally would not opt for the all veggie dish - especially in a prix fixe situation - but it's hard to resist hen of the woods when you see it on the menu. This was a lovely entree with toothsome bites of gnocchi with the slightest hint of sweet, and rich, lightly crisped hen of the wood mushrooms so earthy and robust that it made me not miss the protein.
The scallops and braised short rib are solid options, but not the most memorable - for those looking for something more unique, they would find it with the sweet potato gnocchi.
I have to say this was the first time I believe I'd ever encountered parsnip as the key ingredient in a dessert. Tasting this made me wonder why I haven't seen it used any place else??? Perhaps I'm ever biased to savory flavors in the course that is expected to be sweet, but I really loved the balance of flavor and textures in this dessert - and would have brought a bag of those airy crunchy delicious milk crisps home with me if I could!
The other dessert options on the dineLA menu are tasty as well: the coconut coulant was like a very robust custard with a flavor that reminded me of the 'coconut milk pudding' that you'd normally see in Cantonese restaurants for OG dim sum. The Gimme S'more dessert would appeal to chocolate fans. But neither come close to the Parsnip as far as I was concerned.
In any case, the three course menu was fantastic - and a good way to 'taste drive' the restaurant.
[If you have the stomach space for it - check out their oyster selection too - the last time I was there (not during dineLA) they served my fav, Shigokus!]
Kudos to Acabar for stepping it up for dineLA!
*Disclaimer: this meal was hosted.
1510 N Stanley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
Parking: Valet or street