Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where to Drink: Shhhhh! I’m Studying @ Bricks & Scones

I’m not one to be at a loss of words often, but Bricks & Scones leaves me speechless. To describe how this enchanting cafe arouses an excitement that builds up so rapidly, that by the time it reaches my throat, I'm fumbling my sentences, grasping for the right words, getting besides myself. I compare the feeling to how Mary Lennox must have felt in The Secret Garden after turning the key in the keyhole to unveil a magically curious new world.

A stone’s throw north of the bustling Larchmont Village, Bricks & Stones stands in the middle of a nondescript block of grey, bland, boring offices and houses. Clusters of shrubs and trees protectively hide what lies within the vicinity of this cafĂ©, but a step through the entrance (to the left) reveals a splendid courtyard and a darling two-story converted house. Inside, flamboyant colors splash the walls lined with bookshelves. Twisted stairwells lead to hidden enclaves where patrons muse over textbooks, study guides and magazines.

Oh, the patrons. I’ve fallen madly in love with the clientele who languidly sprawl out over cozy leather couches in the main area (pictured below) – who furiously type on their laptops in between sips of lattes amongst outdoor tables. Intently studious, alarmingly friendly…They’ve made me feel connected to a bigger part of humanity. I’ve never felt alone here; I always feel as though I’m joining a community of writers, readers, intellectuals and sensitive souls.

I almost love them as much as I love Bricks and Scones’ snacks and beverages. Its namesakes – the scones – are delicious, as are the “carrot cake” cupcakes, filled with real carrots and nuts. But don’t try one until you’ve filled up with one of the various grilled sandwiches (pictured below). They are as incredible as they appear. Teas – from scalding hot to frostily chilled – compliment any meal or dessert, and the hot chocolates are a great energy booster for an afternoon devoted to reading.

So if you need a quiet place to venture for a nice cup of tea or coffee and to get serious studying and/or writing completed, you now know where to turn. See you there soon!

For more information:
Bricks & Scones
403 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Friday, October 22, 2010

And Where do you "Where To"?: Calvin Richardson

(Photo courtesy of Shanachie)

I recently had the opportunity to interview Calvin Richardson for Nu-Soul Mag. At the end of my chat with this soulful crooner, you know I had to ask:

When you lived in Los Angeles for several years back in the early 2000s, where did you "Where To"?

“To be honest,” Calvin admitted. “When I was in Los Angeles, when I lived out there, I didn’t hang out that much. I was working on my album 2:35pm. I stayed there for two years, basically, and the whole time I was studio to studio. If I hung out with somebody – like me and Tyrese were good friends – I’d go out to Temecula to his house and hang out over there. But I didn’t really go out to clubs or hang out that much.”

I'm just saying: If I were friends with Tyrese, I wouldn't be going anywhere either. I'd be at his house 24/7, all day and all think I'm joking.

I've been a fan of Mr. Richardson since his album 2:35pm, so it was a pleasure to have a one-on-one with him and learn more about his newest project, his new label record and his take on soul music. To read my interview with Mr. Richardson, click here!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where to be Merry: Partying @ Playhouse Hollywood

Quite frankly, I find the L.A. nightclub scene to be rather boring and a waste of my time. After partying in some of the most magnificent clubs in Las Vegas, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Paris and Madrid, it’s downright depressing to pay $25 bucks for nearby parking, feel my self-worth crumble as tall, model-like bombshells indifferently shuffle past me while I stand in line for an hour, pay a dub to enter and then wait in another line at the bar to pay another $20 for watered-down well drinks. Oh and then these places have the audacity to start kicking everyone out at 1:45 a.m. Really, Los Angeles, really?

So that’s precisely why Playhouse Hollywood is like a welcomed breath of fresh air in this wretched nightclub circuit. For the past year or so, this Hollywood destination has proven itself time and again that it is THE nightclub that’s truly worth all of the hype. Impromptu burlesque shows, bartenders who double as trapeze artists and a state-of-the-art light system that streams flashing lights every couple of minutes makes coming here an over-the-top experience. In other words, it makes your trip out of the house worth it.

What initially captivated me about Playhouse was the feeling I got upon entering – I didn’t feel like I was in Los Angeles anymore. At the entrance, a dark corridor eventually spills out into an expansive main room that comfortably holds almost 1,000 people, similar to Vegas' Tryst or Buenos Aires' Club Museum. Suddenly you’re under soaring ceilings and a serious sound system that steadily belts out Top 40 hits.

And it gets better. The crowd that packs the dance floor isn’t the typical douche-bag prototype so prone to the Hollywood Blvd. area. Dare I say that the majority of Playhouse club-goers are as friendly and social as they are beautiful, draped in their designer threads? I do.

So venture off to Playhouse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for a steady dose of eye-candy, amidst a great clubbing experience. It’s big, it’s bad, and it’s offering a whole lot more than those other clubs down the street are. You know where to find me next Saturday night!

For more information:
Playhouse Hollywood

6506 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where to Eat: Bangin' BBQ @ Robin's

I have to give Los Angeles props when props are due. This city seriously has every type of ethnic cuisine ever imaginable: Brazilian, Peruvian, Lebanese, Spanish, Italian, French, French Japanese, Thai, Ethiopian, Tex-Mex, Southern soul food… You name the region, and there’s a restaurant somewhere in Los Angeles preparing that area’s specialty dish.

Yet on the flip side, finding good – and I mean really good – BBQ in this city is like trying to find a clear street to coast down during rush hour traffic at 8 a.m. I’ve searched high and low, left and right, north and south for satisfying, one-of-a-kind BBQ, but most has left me disappointed, disillusioned and grumpy. It’s been too smoky. Too tough. Not enough sauce. Bad after taste. I’ve resorted to stalking church picnics, 4th of July gatherings and summer cookouts to get my spare ribs from the folks – like Uncle Charlie – who know how to throw down on the grill.

Yet as fall quietly settles in, the thought of eating remarkable BBQ only in the summer troubles me. To go eight months without baby back ribs? I'm mortified. So imagine how I squealed with delight when I discovered Robin’s for the first time this past weekend.

Lying in the suburban outskirts of Los Angeles in Pasadena, within this eccentrically decorated diner is some of the best bone-suckin’ BBQ in town: baby back ribs, spare ribs, beef ribs, chicken, pork chops, tri-tip (pictured to the right) and combinations of all of the aforementioned. Each slab of hunky meat is slithered in just the right amount of BBQ sauce. There are four staple BBQ sauces - the Carolina Sweet Mustard, Memphis Red Vinegar, Robin’s Tangy Original and Smokin’ Spicy Mad Dog. I suggest asking for a side of all of the sauces to sample each and every one.

The meat itself is so tender and succulent that it just slides right off the bone. And, the portions are astronomically gigantic. One plate can easily feed like five people, especially when you add in Robin's signature blueberry cornbread with blueberry butter and blue cheese coleslaw (pictured to the left). They accompany each dish. You can also select a side, like the three-cheese mac’n’cheese that’s so thick and creamy that you can immediately feel your arteries begin clog with each bite.

I haven’t tried every item on the menu, otherwise I’d have to get a 10-year membership with Jenny Craig and go to boot camp five times a week. But, each selection on the menu looks irresistible, so with that said, I'll be back frequently. Hope to see you there soon!

For more information:
Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ & Grill

395 N. Rosemead Blvd.

Pasadena, CA 91107