923 E 3rd St #101, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Neighborhood: Downtown - Arts District)
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual, Hipster Chic | Cuisine - American (New), Gastropub
I first heard of eat.drink.Americano from one of my friends who visited during a "Yelp's on Tap" event. It's a tad rare for you to find me venturing into LA primarily because of the traffic getting there from OC and the whole (lack of) parking situation. However, he raved about this place constantly so we decided that I had better check it out. I found it on a corner of a rundown brick building right in Arts District of downtown LA. It's charming from the outside, and I could tell from the worn metal gears-and-pulley decor above that door that I would be entering a steampunk/"reclaimed" type of place. After all, we were also in the Arts District and hipster chic clientele would not be a reach to guess at.
I walked inside and loved it. Reused glass bottles, chalk art and varied typography, old lamps hanging via thin metal arms and baring their rad filaments - how could I not enjoy this place? The interior design had a vintage feel to it with plenty of industrial decor, dim lighting, and setup just like the brick studio space it was with a "loft's" kitchen exposed to the diners. Not only did the whole environment speak to me but the food was so great that I came back not too long afterward. So yes, this review will cover two visits' worth of fare; I swear I'm not THAT greedy of an eater!
So one of the times that we went was for the American-O Craft Beer Week pairing on 05.08.13 at $22/person. I believe the portions were slightly smaller than you'd normally find them on the menu but for $22/person at three courses, it was a steal! I'm pretty sure the beers alone were worth that much. So yes, we started off with The Bruery Mischief with Classic Ceviche (fresh caught red snapper with peppers and choclo in a spicy citrus marinade). I must commend them for their pairing choices for this first course and all the following ones because they complemented each other so well. The bubbly brightness of the Mischief fit perfectly with the citrus notes of the fish. I found the snapper to be just the right texture for a ceviche, and the citrus marinade naturally "cooked" its edges just enough to accomplish that. The vegetables used gave a contrasting crunch to the softness of the fish and was well welcomed.
To hit us with creativity and a yearning for comfort food (that was quickly sated), the second course consisted of Stone Levitation with The Pilgrim (slow roasted turkey, stuffing, corn foam, and cranberry sauce). We could not help picking up a conversation after putting the first bite into our mouth about Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim embodied it so well but with plenty of fun and none of the heaviness that follows the traditional holiday meal. It was the corn foam that delighted us for its frothy corn essence, and it was the stuffing that made us close our eyes in tasty nostalgia. The small dabs of cranberry sauce creeping up the side of our shallow bowls gave enough tartness to the wholesome and juicy turkey meat to balance out the entire dish. Fabulous job, eat.drink.Americano!
The last course of the pairing menu was their Oskar Blues Old Chub with Braised Oxtail Slider (slow-braised oxtail sliders with Fontina cheese, wild arugula, and juicy mayo). My friend had waxed poetic about this slider, and I trust his judgment. While ordering it on any other given day will yield you two of these sexy sliders, this pairing menu granted us one but it only needed to give us one to win our hearts. I dare say this may have been the best slider I've had in my life. Someone remember this day as the day I wrote this; I (half) hope that I will continue to rescind this statement as I find more and more orgasmic food. I think it was the cheese smothering the wild arugula that really sealed the deal. Not only was the slow-braised oxtail oh-so-succulent but the additional flavors really married it all together into a handheld heaven. Our waitress afterward convinced us to order her favorite, the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich ($12 - served with wakame seaweed and saffron aioli on an English muffin), which ended up being the perfect palate cleanser after the hearty oxtail since the crunchy whole soft shell crab had a refreshing seaweed salad on top. I can see why this would be a favorite too.
The first time I had come, we had a light meal of just two items and two beers but even those were fantastic. We first ordered their Steak Tartare with Mustard Ice Cream ($13 - filet mignon with housemade Dijon mustard ice cream served with sliced bread) which was very good in execution and design because the ice cream kept steak cold as a tartare needs to be. The mustard's natural spiciness gave nice highlights to the tenderness of raw beef, and I just loved the concept of making a Dijon mustard ice cream in general. That was followed up quickly by the Mushroom & Eggs with Bread ($12 - Shiitake, Oyster, & Crimini mushrooms sauteed in housemade demiglaze with poached egg and sliced bread), a dish so savory and saucy that bread seemed too holey to hold it all. There was a generous amount of mushrooms (though I wasn't sure if all the listed mushrooms were represented evenly), and the poached egg was a good touch. I enjoyed the sprinkling of microgreens on top too for some color to the dish. Overall, I'd have to say that eat.drink.Americano is surely to become one of my favorite places to dine, and its intimacy would make it the perfect spot to drop by and talk about ideas instead of people.
Photography by Duc Duong and Minerva Thai.