The Steakhouse of Your Dreams
Plus: Nobu Malibu, A Pasta & Cookie Dinner, and Roasted Honeynut Squash.
My parents are visiting — again! — and that means more exciting culinary destinations. If my parents had their druthers, they’d probably want to eat at the same restaurants every time they visited L.A. (they love Craig’s, for the celebrity-sightings, and Nobu Malibu, for the celebrity-sightings) but this time I nudged them in a new direction. Specifically: Culver City, where a steakhouse resides that I’d been meaning to try called Dear Johns.
The restaurant is a collaboration between two notable L.A. chefs: Hans Röckenwagner (Röckenwagner Bakery) and Josiah Citrin (Melisse). The space has a chic old-school vibe, with a dark red velvet curtain separating the outside from the inside. And the waiter is right out of central casting.
The menu has typical steakhouse fare, dialed to eleven, with one notable departure: JLC’s Bougie Tots, which are tater tots with caviar on top named after loyal Dear John’s customer Jamie Lee Curtis.
Think of all of the caviar things you’d put on buckwheat blinis and now replace the blinis with tater tots and you’ll get the idea: hard-boiled eggs, creme fraiche, two types of caviar, plus chives. Needless to say, it was divine.
As for the rest, the Caesar salad was made table side. The garlic bread was smothered with cheese.
The ribeye was perfectly seared and juicy and pink on the inside.
And the Brandy peppercorn sauce took it over the top. We also had German potatoes and creamed corn and, for dessert, a chocolate peanut butter tart with chocolate ice cream.
It took me an hour to get there from Atwater Village, so I can’t promise that I’ll become a regular, but I’m so glad that I went. If you’re looking for a smart spin on the classic steakhouse experience, look no further than Dear John’s.
As mentioned, my parents also love going to Nobu Malibu — another hour drive from my apartment, so I don’t always go — but this time I met them there, especially after reading Tejal Rao’s enthusiastic review in the Times.
Sadly, no celebrities were in attendance on this particular day. In fact, I’d wager that the biggest celebrities in the joint were my parents themselves.
No matter: we enjoyed the famous miso-braised cod (above), as well as yellowtail and jalapeño sashimi.
Tiradito Peruvian-style sashimi, which was way spicy.
And lobster tacos.
I’m glad my parents were paying because those three morsels alone cost $21.
On Friday, I took a break from restaurants and cooked a meal for my friends Ryan, Jonathan, and Liz. The theme? Pasta and cookies.
There on the table you’ll see the pasta and, okay, a Caesar salad. The pasta, of course, was my famous Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans. I just can’t quit you, Cavatappi.
And for dessert, I popped some chocolate chip cookies out of the freezer — I used this recipe when I made them — and baked them in the oven until starting to brown on the edges and then I dropped the tray on the stovetop, to flatten them a bit, and put them back in to get a little more color. (The dropping of the tray is a trick I learned from the NYT.)
What can I say? These cookies were perfect.
Last night, I started a new health kick — eight weeks to ultimate fitness (that’s what I’m calling it) — and roasted honeynut squash in the oven and topped it with a quick salsa verde, plus some Aleppo pepper.
It was as simple as slicing the honeynut squash in half (they look like mini butternut squashes) lengthwise, rubbing them with olive oil, sprinkling with salt, and putting them cut-side down on a cookie sheet. Roast in a 425 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown on the cut side, then flip over and roast another ten minutes until a knife goes through easily.
While they cool, make a quick salsa verde by taking 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and chopping them with a big bunch of parsley leaves. (I learned this trick from Marco Canora; you just chop them both together until they’re really finely minced.) Then I stirred that mixture with 1/4 cup fresh lime juice and just enough olive oil to make it come together, maybe a few tablespoons. Spooned over the squash, it was scrumptious… and healthy. (You can even eat the skin!).
Before we get to links, here’s a funny picture of Winston who refused to walk the other day.
Okay, here are the links that caught my attention recently:
Ottolenghi pasta recipes? Color me interested (The Guardian);
The new PT Anderson movie is called Licorice Pizza and it looks great (though doesn’t exactly sound appetizing) (Kottke);
I’m not sure I’m a quiche person (too wobbly), but David’s looks great (David Lebovitz);
Here are the snacks that Melissa Clark takes to the opera (NYT);
I want this queer pasta Tarot deck (Eater).
That’s all for this week! In case you missed Thursday’s paid-subscribers only newsletter, I wrote about Pete Wells’s evisceration of Eleven Madison Park and whether or not I thought it was fair. (In case you didn’t see his review, he said the beet “tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint.”) If you’d like to read that and future paid subscriber-only dispatches, plus gain access to my entire archives, here’s a deal for 20% off forever!
In podcast news, today’s guest is John deBary, author of Drink What You Want, and “a courtly bartender” from PDT and Momofuku in New York, who now runs his own beverage company called Proteau.
John offers up tons of mixology tips and talks about crafting his first original cocktail, The Norman Inversion. Listen here!
Annnnnd… in a bonus episode, last week I walked my listeners through making an apple pie.
If you’re an apple pie rookie, THIS is the podcast episode for you.
Until next time!