Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Photo courtesy of 90PlusWines

It's been awhile since I'd been back to AOC. I was looking forward to the casual atmosphere, great wine selection and simple but well executed menu.

We had reservations for party of two, Saturday night at 9pm. We arrived about ten minutes late, but we were seated immediately. The restaurant was pretty quite but most tables were full. We were seated at a nice table next to the wine bar.

AOC has an extensive wine menu and I left the decision making to my dining companion. We ordered a carafe of a Syrah, sorry I don't remember the winery or the year. Each carafe contains a little more than two glasses of wine. For food we kept it simple and pretty light.

grilled leeks, burrata, salbitxada
avocado, cara cara oranges, little gems
clams, sherry, wild mushrooms and garlic
arroz negro with squid and saffron aïoli
chocolate "french toast" with crushed hazelnuts and coffee ice cream

My favorite of the night was the arroz negro with squid and saffron aïoli. The rice is very hearty with a deep savoriness, a very satisfying dish. The avocado salad was also a nice combination with the oranges, very simple but well executed. For dessert we paired the Chocolate French Toast with a very nice Madeira. It was recommended by our server and it a great way to finish the meal.

AOC is a great option for fine dining in LA. With their small plates you are able to try many of the menu items, nice casual dining atmosphere and great service.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don Diego's

Are you looking for a casual place to have dinner within walking distance of the Palm Desert Best Western? Well Don Diego's, is not a bad choice. Especially if you're looking for ginormus margaritas!

We sat outside in patio area it was a beautiful spring evening. The menu has the typical American-Mexican dishes, but it was all centered around the cocktail menu, literally, it's dead center in the menu. I ordered a Tres Generations margarita, then I was asked what size. Size? These things come in sizes? I figured I would play it safe and go with the medium.

The chips and salsa were delivered and they were mediocre at best. We also had a side of guac, it was also so-so. Then our drinks were delivered, with a fork lift. J/K But it was quite a surprise, the medium margarita was probably equal to three "normal" size margaritas. Definitely not a sad site to see. It was well made and I knew I had mission ahead of me to finish it.

I ordered the Ensenada Fish tacos with a side of rice and beans. The fish tacos were okay, I had the fish charbroiled and it seemed to be pretty fresh. It comes with a mayonnaise based "chipotle" sauce, which I ordered on the side. That was a good decision, the sauce was very bland and did not add any hint of heat.

The service was excellent, the location is perfect if you're looking for a short stroll. The food is what you would find at most Americanized Mexican restaurants, no inspiration or originality.

And yes I did finish the margarita.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wood Spoon

So we decided to try this place out before going to the Yelp Elements party. It's a quaint little place with pillows that aligning the banquet.

The water is served to each table in a carafe with different "ingredients". Our carafe had a few sprigs of rosemary, which imparted a nice savory flavor. Other carafes had cinnamon sticks, orange peels, etc...It was a nice touch.

The menu is simple and straight-forward. I had read about the pot pie, but it sounded too heavy. So I went with the fish sandwich. We also started off with the mix plate, which included the following Coxinha, Potato Croquette, Portuguese Croquette, Pastel Portuguese & Kibe.

Coxinha - Brazil’s most popular street food (made with chicken)
Portuguese Croquette - potato salted Cod
Kibe - bulgur wheat, mint & ground beef
Pastel Portuguese - dumpling stuffed with shrimp, coconut sauce

These were served with some type of "aioli", I think it was parsley. The Pastel Portuguese was by far my favorite, mainly because the flavor combination was so unique. The other items were very similar and did not have the "Wow" factor.

The fish sandwich was served with either a side of yam fries or salad. We went with the salad, which was nicely dressed in a mile vinaigrette. The fish looked to be pan seared with a nice seasoning. Tilapia is not my favorite fish, but it was bad. Usually the flavor is a bit muddy to me. The avocado, tomatoes and cilantro made it a nice balanced fish sandwich. It's a nice portion size too. This was all washed down with their house sangria which was delicious.

The service was a bit scattered, considering it wasn't that busy. Overall a nice place downtown.