Event - Planet Dailies Media Tasting
Planet Dailies LA recently launched a new dessert menu and new cocktails over at their Mixology lounge, and unfortunately, we couldn't make it during a preview night! However, we were able to drop by another day to take a look at what's in store for this restaurant who will soon be changing over their menu. We ended up opting for menu items that were going to make the cut for the next go-around and got some time to speak briefly to Chef Joshua Wilson about the direction he is trying to take the restaurant.
Located in Los Angeles at the Original Farmers Market, which we noticed was absolutely booming with people and places to eat, Planet Dailies LA is from the same people that bring you Planet Hollywood but with a different vibe. It was very Californian in design and cuisine if you can picture that (if not, there are pictures to look at!). The seating was deceptively large as there was patio and indoor seating sprawling all across the top floor of the building. We even spotted a studio space for Mario Lopez (and a menu list of his top picks...?) inside. It seems like the place to go to if you want to check out what Hollywood is eating. The restaurant prides itself in sourching from as many local places as possible, going as far as to include a long list of potential sources on the back of each menu. We counted nearly 40 farms! As for the menu itself, the options seemed limitless - sections designated were appetizers, entrees, salads, pizza, pasta, Chinese, sides, burgers, deli, shakes, Mario Lopez' picks,and desserts. It was quite difficult to make a choice with so many dishes and descriptions glaring us in the face but as aforementioned, the menu will get an adjustment soon enough with, as Chef Wilson noted, as much as a 50% cut.
Of course we had to start with our drinks for the sunny weekend day. We were alerted that these were not the same drinks as have been recently compiled for the Mixology lounge (the ones we had missed out on) but we were certainly not expecting the kinds of drinks that we received. It was a bit of a surprise that their regular menu staples were off-balance and unfinishable. We totaled with three drinks to give their popular ones and ones of our choice a try but alas, the pizzazz was lacking. We were forewarned that their Moscow Mule ($9 - vodka, fresh squeezed lime juice, ginger beer) was not going to come in the iconic cup but we weren't warned that there was just too much lime in it. The Gold Rush ($10 - Bourbon, fresh squeezed lemon juice, honey syrup) had much too much bourbon as to make it unenjoyable and our anticipated elegant Brass Flower ($9 - gin, elderflower cordial, grapefruit juice, Prosecco)
too bitter from too much grapefruit juice. All in all, I'd warn against coming to Planet Dailies for the cocktails though they do have several craft beers on tap.
Our appetizers were much better received however as we opted for their Fire-Roasted Artichokes (black peppercorn, chili, lemon aioli and tomato balsamic vinaigrette), a soon-to-be regular menu item. These were large, bountiful halves of flavorful artichoke with tasteful side sauces that you didn't really need due to its own seasoning (though they were there if desired). I enjoyed the snap of chili specks as we ate these. Then we had one of their most popular appetizers, their Caprese Sliders ($15.99 - Kobe beef burgers, fresh Mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and balsamic glaze on sweet buns), which ended up being just about my favorite of the plates. I'll have credit that to freshness of the produce and the way sweet buns (think Hawaiian sweet bread) accentuated the balsamic glaze. I'd opt for these if you're ever here and willing to splurge a little. After all, with just three on a plate, these came out to be over $5 a pop!
The entrees were also a practice in popular and new. The "popular" choice was something from their existing menu - their Spinach & Peaches Salad ($15.99 - grilled chicken breast, baby spinach, fresh peaches, strawberries, candied walnuts, and Feta served with tomato balsamic vinaigrette) and their "new" choice to appear on the newer menu was their Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken (served with plantains, mango salsa, rice). The salad came artfully in a slanted bowl as many salads have now been presented, and the ingredients were incredibly fresh. I could see why the manager there at the time claimed it was just about her favorite salad. The baby spinach was abundant with plenty of chicken pieces to give a filling feel. Our plate of the jerk chicken revealed that the Jamaican jerk was only referring to the seasoning. Darn. I had been hoping to see it jerk style but alas, only the seasoning was utilized which made the meat taste more like a regularly grilled chicken breast that had been brushed with the seasoning. We found the rice to be too dry and the plantains unexciting. It's definitely a work in progress, as they confessed as well.
We were feeling near our limit by this point but definitely had to have their desserts seeing as it was one of the first menu areas to have changed. The much-raved-about Crispy Fried Ice Cream ($6.99 - deep-fried vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce and served with homemade whipped cream) came out first, and it became pretty obvious why it was loved. The crust was actually made of crushed Capt'n Crunch cereal which gave the dessert a sweeter shell and an appropriate crunch. It was definitely a dish to be shared but even we were defeated. This was the more preferred of the two we went for as their Very Berry Cobbler ($7.99 - fresh seasonal berries garnished with a rich walnut crumble topping and served a la mode) barely had crumble so it failed to resemble a cobbler but looked more like baked berries with sprinklings on top. Somehow none of it jived with either of us so we went back to the fried ice cream. All in all, the space was nice and the attention to local and fresh great. However, there needs to be some reworking of the standard cocktail menu, we believe, and some of the menu items as well. Maybe cutting down the options in the near future as planned will allow the chef and staff to hone in on making the fewer items better.
Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.