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Giving Thanks For Pumpkin Pie

November 29, 1987| Compiled by Kathie Jenkins

Thanksgiving may be over, but if you are still craving pumpkin pie, here are some restaurants where you can get an unusually luscious, spicy slice. Be brave and top it with a big dollop of real whipped cream. BELISLES (12001 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 750-6560). For nearly 30 years, Belisles has been serving Midwestern farm cooking. Harvey Belisle claims to be re-creating the type of cooking his mother did for farmhands at the Wisconsin farm where he grew up--and in the same proportions. Everything is giant. Belisles serves huge ribs with a lot of moist flesh and a very respectable barbecue sauce. The hamburgers are home style, the good old-fashioned kind that taste like beef (and come with stuffing on the side). Roast turkey is worth ordering too--it comes with giblet gravy and a heap of potatoes. (This is a potato lover's paradise, and they're real potatoes--no frozen french fries or reconstituted mashed.) There are also some gigantic desserts. The cream pies get their height from extra-rich whipping cream beaten until it practically turns to butter. Sink your fork into a sizable slice of their pumpkin pie. Caution: It's addictive. Open 24 hours every day. MasterCard and Visa accepted. Beer and wine only. Parking in rear lot. Dinner for two, food only, $15-$60. CITRUS (6703 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 857-0034). This restaurant is hot as a firecracker, packed night and day with chic eaters. The chef/owner is Michel Richard, also L.A.'s most famous French pastry chef. His dishes are bold, original and not remotely fussy--and he makes what must be the prettiest food in town. Consider the soups: One might be bright red (cold tomato) and another bright green (pungent onion). The appetizers are also easy on the eye. A pate of salmon looks like a seven-layer cake, and tiny tuna burgers must be seen to be appreciated. Richard also has an interesting way with lamb. He serves it on a bed of saffron ravioli filled with goat cheese, laid out on a leaf of Savoy cabbage. Even more exotic and every bit as delicious is his "lasagna" made of escargots and fried parsley. Don't forget to leave room for the pumpkin pie. Open for lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. All major credit cards accepted. Full bar. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $50-$70. CITY RESTAURANT (180 La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 938-2155). This big place is bright and loud and very lively. There is no carpet, no art, no plants, no flowers. The sole decorative touches are the splashy colors of the plates and serving carts, the bright-red chairs, the gorgeous light that comes in through the single, huge window, and the dramatic wall angles. The room is absolutely appropriate background for the food. Try the Indian breast of chicken wrapped in its own skin, coated with black and gold mustard seeds, quickly cooked in the tandoor and served with a bowl of spic y coconut broth and buttery dal. The Thai melon salad's balance of flavors is absolutely perfect, and nobody does a better job with homely French food such as the lamb tongue vinaigrette. The City gnocchi put most Italian restaurants to shame; they are so light they simply vaporize in your mouth. End your meal with one of their terrific homemade desserts: Instead of the usual version of pumpkin pie, they serve a delicious, light pumpkin cheesecake. Open for lunch Mon.-Sat., open for dinner nightly. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted. Full bar. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $40-$60. MARY'S LAMB (13624 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 501-7700). Mary's Lamb is a little restaurant and carry-out shop in Sherman Oaks. There are cases filled with fabulous-looking salads and pates, counters covered with cakes, cookies and pies, and very friendly people to serve you. The food here has a wholesome, homemade quality. The shrimp are huge, juicy and perfectly cooked. The meat loaf is savory and satisfying and the mashed potatoes are the real thing. The fried chicken is an enormous portion: three huge greaseless pieces that really do taste home-cooked. Other desserts, besides their tasty pumpkin pie, include apple pie, banana-spice cake, blueberry lemon torte and assorted cookies. Open for lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted. Beer and wine only. Parking in rear lot. Dinner for two, food only, $10-$35. PATOUT'S (2260 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 475-7100). This soft and pretty Cajun cafe seems filled with the spirit of the bayou. When you walk in the door, you leave Los Angeles behind. Be warned: It would be wise to eat carefully. The portions are immense. The frog's legs are large, meaty and absolutely spectacular. Oysters Gigi are wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, and soft-shell crabs also take a dip in the deep-fryer. Their gumbo is the real thing. The roux is dark, the flavor smoky. Even better is the shrimp and crab stew, a thick swamp of a soup that is dark and rich and completely wonderful. Cajuns love sweets, and leaving without dessert would be unthinkable. There is a homey, heavy bread pudding and often there are pralines. Instead of pumpkin pie, they serve a Cajun favorite, sweet potato-pecan. Add to this the potent Cajun martini and one of the fairest-priced wine lists in town and you know that you're in for a good time. Open for lunch Sun.-Fri., dinner nightly. All major credit cards accepted. Full bar. Valet parking. Dinner for two, food only, $30-$60. YANKS (262 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, (213) 85-YANKS). Yanks feels like a cross between a ladies tea room of the '40s and a New England seafood house. But somehow it all works. The food itself is straightforward, hearty, eminently American--in fact, as American as, um, their pumpkin cheesecake or their sweet potato pie. Menu items include macaroni and cheese (it's not the stuff that tastes like library paste); a big juicy hamburger on a sourdough bun, or "Yankee salad," a giant bowl filled with greens and topped with stripes of color: blue cheese, red and yellow peppers, lightly cooked chicked, diced tomatoes and bacon crumbled as fine as confetti. For dinner, the chicken pot pie with a green salad is a true bargain at $9.50. The wine list is perfect--mostly American, well-chosen and rather reasonable. But Yanks has more to offer than a meal--it is a little oasis of affordable friendliness in a part of town that badly needed one. Open for lunch Mon.-Fri. and dinner nightly. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted. Full bar. Lot parking at lunch and valet parking evenings. Dinner for two, food only, $28-$60.

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