Friday, September 30, 2011

Where to Drink: Saturday – Actually, Everyday – Happy Hours @ Spring Street Bar

A couple of months ago, on one ordinarily humdrum Saturday afternoon, I found myself in a painstakingly nerve-racking predicament:

With a couple of hours to kill in downtown before heading to an engagement at 6 p.m., I wanted to find a weekend happy hour that was already in full effect. I didn’t think I was asking too much. I merely wanted some place clean and classy (i.e., no shabby dive bars), with decent deals, and with its doors wide open at 5 p.m.

Should be easy enough, right?


After scouring through page after page on Yelp for what felt like an eternity, I finally found one bar/restaurant that met my requirements and had a happy hour commencing at 5 p.m. We had jovially skipped over to the establishment only to find it dark, desolate and curtains shut. Talk about false advertisement and big disappointments.

So I went with the next option on the list: Spring Street Bar.

I had seen the bar packed on Downtown Artwalk Thursdays and on weekend nights, but I would merely glance in its direction and head somewhere else. But boy, am I glad that I entered Spring Street Bar that one Saturday afternoon. What I found was a serenely subdued ambiance, with pairs of people at the bar or at communal tables, engaged in hushed conversations. It was unpretentiously chill, and, the interior was clean, classic and minimalist. Just what I was looking for!


The bar also had another something I was looking for: good happy hour deals. From 5pm until 8pm, there were $6 house wines, $5 well spirits and $4 selected drafts. But most importantly, the cocktails were on point. Our bartender made some amazing mixtures with a lot of wholesome natural fruits and interesting ingredients.

Now I will admit that the food menu, with its lack of varied options, made me extremely apprehensive at first. There seemed to only be a selection of basic pretzel sandwiches and a handful of appetizers.  But I guess if you can make one thing right, you don’t need to have a lot of other options. The little pretzel sandwiches and the prosciutto with pears and a balsamic viniagarette appetizer we ordered (pictured above to the left) were amazing. Everything was so fresh and so filling. It perfectly complemented our cocktails and was certainly more than enough to hold over my appetite for the remainder of the night.

So all in all, I really enjoyed my experience at Spring Street Bar. Great vibes, great drinks and great food. I couldn’t ask for more from a happy hour, especially on the weekend. Kudos to Spring Street Bar for implementing a Saturday happy hour – and one on all days, for that matter. See you there one day soon!


Miss Wilson’s Tips
- Spring Street Bar is neighbors to another Wilson’s Guide favorite, The Falls.
- Spring Street Bar has 26 beers on tap. 

- FYI, this review is solely based on my Saturday happy hour experience. Bars have many vibes, depending on the time of day, day of the week, etc. I am sure going on a Monday evening is every different than going on a Saturday night. Just want to point that out.
For more information:
Spring Street Bar
626-B S. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.622.5859

Friday, September 23, 2011

And Where Do You “Where To?”: Adrienne Maloof of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills


I was recently invited to attend The Abbey’s 6th Annual “Christmas in September,” benefiting Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, this past Monday, September 19th. 

The merry night was filled with lavish Christmas decorations (complete with falling snow), Santa’s naughty helpers prancing around in suspenders and undergarments, and most importantly, plenty of much needed donations of toys for the hospital’s little patients.


Another highlight of the evening for me was speaking with the lovely event hostess, Adrienne Maloof from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 


Throughout the run of the show, she’s most certainly a powerhouse of a woman, effortlessly balancing motherhood with running a lucrative family empire, all while attempting to squash the petty cat fights that unfold between her cast mates.

Yet when I sat down to chat with her, I quickly realized that what we had seen was the mere tip of the iceberg. Here was someone who had so many varied undertakings - like serving as a judge for the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant and launching her own shoe line - but also proactively getting involved with noteworthy philanthropic causes, such as approaching the owners of The Abbey and specifically asking to host “Christmas in September” benefit.

Read on to find out precisely why she got involved with this event  and of course, where she “Where To’s” in LA!


Miss Wilson: Why did you decide to get involved and host tonight – what was it about this event?
Adrienne Maloof: Well first of all, I have three little boys and I love children. But Children’s Hospital does so much for not only very sick and ill children, but also for foster care children. I admire what they do. They go the extra mile. Their doctors are some of the best in the world, so I appreciate what they’ve done.

Miss Wilson: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills started recently. Can you give a sneak peak of what to expect?
Adrienne Maloof: I think overall you can obviously expect something very tragic and we all know about that. But I think overall you’ll see six girls who come together and try to find solutions. You know this was filmed six months ago. But I think what makes our franchise so special is that we’re more about that we do have issues, but we find in the end how to be uplifting to each other. That’s what I think separates us from maybe the other franchises.

Miss Wilson: My website is all about where to eat, drink and be merry in Los Angeles. Do you have a favorite spot that you just love to go to?
Adrienne Maloof: I love Dan Tana’s because I love Italian food. And I actually come to The Abbey. The Abbey has amazing food, so I have to say it’s one of my favorites. I don’t get to go out too much anymore because I’m traveling so much, working on my shoe line (It’s Adrienne Maloof by Charles Jourdan – you can find it on the website)...Busy, but happy to be busy!


A big thanks to Adrienne for the interview - Dan Tana's looks amazing - I'm adding that on my list of places to check out!

Also, below are a few more photos from the event, taken by Photographer Jeremy Lee. Find him at: @GermyinSoCal, http://www.GermyinSoCal.com and at http://www.jeremyleePhoto.com!

The food...







The very merry guests...





Overall, quite a decadently fun event!



Friday, September 16, 2011

And Where Do You "Where To?": DJ Ceazs


Someone spectacular came up with the ingenious notion that smothering chili on hot dogs makes for the most delicious snack food ever…just like another person realized that putting 26-inch rims on cars makes for a head-turning statement.

And Los Angeles native DJ Ceazs shrewdly recognized that spinning jazz on turntables makes for a perfectly smooth mix of music to listen to anytime, especially on gorgeous, Cali days, sitting outdoors, enjoying the sites of the city.

Of course I’ve listened to jazz mixtapes and heard live DJ sets before, but I had never heard a jazz mix session on the 1s and 2s…until I saw DJ Ceazs spin this past summer. This being a first for me, I was curious to learn how he got into playing jazz and to find out where he goes to get inspiration for his work. So I set up an interview with him.

While initially when I sat down to talk with him, I was mostly interested in his musical side, what became evident almost right away was that there were so many depths and layers to him. Read on to find out more about DJ Ceazs, what he dabbles in when he’s not being a DJ and some great underground destinations to check out for the best in music in Los Angeles. Perhaps I’ll see you at one soon!

Miss Wilson: How long have you been a DJ?
Ceazs: I like to say all my life because my brother always had the equipment around and I was always a little kid messing with the turntable. So I feel music was always a part of me. It was like a third arm. It was another extension of what I do.

Miss Wilson: You did a jazz set tonight. Is that the genre of music that you typically spin?
Ceazs: I do jazz. I come from a hip-hop foundation, but through hip-hop is how I learned jazz, salsa and all of the rest of the music. And I definitely do a lot of obscure music, a lot of rare music. I like digging into a lot of weird stuff…children’s records…pretty much everything [laughs].

Miss Wilson: And you did a special tribute to Fonce Mizell tonight?
Ceazs: Exactly. He was an amazing arranger, producer, composer, artist. He was a big arranger for Blue Note Records and he recently passed away earlier this month. I thank those guys a lot because through them, I’ve been able to express myself through music and learn a lot, you know what I mean? He will definitely be missed, definitely.

Miss Wilson: What is one song that you’ve noticed that’s been hot this summer? That when you play it, the crowds go wild?
Ceazs: Well see, I’m kind of old-school. I don’t really stay in touch with what’s new.  I’m more into the classic stuff, you know, the John Coltrane, the Miles Davis, stuff like that.

I’ve worked also with a lot of hip-hop producers because I was a record dealer. That’s how I got into more DJ-ing, because people know me from my archive of music. I collect a lot of music. I literally go broke sometimes just buying music! But that’s how I’ve been able to connect with a lot of artists like Kanye West and Madlib. I’ve been able to sell records to those guys because they were into the big sampling movement. That’s how I got known, like “Ceazs got the records.”

But I’m more into the old stuff. I do like the new music,  but I definitely try to stay to the foundation of everything.

Miss Wilson: So is there one song that you like to play personally – that you play all the time?
Ceazs: I have to play all the time? It would probably have to be a song…wow…I listen to tons of music. I listen to music everyday, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Well right now, maybe…what can I say?...Aw man, that’s a tough one, you got me on that one [laughs].

Miss Wilson: What about top two songs?
Ceazs: Top three? Ok, I’d say right now, maybe Sun Ra “Space is the Place.” He was an eccentric jazz musician. Very brilliant and genius. I definitely got that on shuffle at home. Recently, I’m working with Phil Upchurch, listening to a lot of his music. He was a guitar player for Michael Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, so I listen to a lot of his stuff too right now.

Miss Wilson: And I noticed that you use actual records when spinning. Do you ever use Macs or computers?
Ceazs: Actually, again, I kind of stick to the foundation. Most of my friends, they carry their Serato. They do all the music from the laptop. But I grew up where you had to carry your crate of records, haul them down and get the backache, but I just like sticking to the essence. Yes, the computer thing is fine. It’s much easier, but I’m just more old-fashioned. I like the vinyl. That’s definitely my pick of choice.

Miss Wilson: How do you prepare for a DJ set?
Ceazs: Like I said, I listen to a lot of music. I buy records all the time, so I’m always looking for new stuff, listening to music. I don’t have an iPod. I’ve had iPods, but right now, I don’t have one. I have iTunes and stuff like that, but I don’t have an iPod. But I still listen to a lot of music. I don’t know if that makes sense, that’s what I do.


Miss Wilson: It does! And since my blog is about where to go out in LA, do you have any favorite spots?
Ceazs: As far as what?

Miss Wilson: It could be anything: your favorite restaurant, your favorite lounge. If there was one place where you would recommend.
Ceazs: I hang out a lot at the JW Marriott. Me and another friend, she’s a promoter, so we used to have a lot of the rooftop parties down there.

Miss Wilson: The Honey Collective?
Ceazs: Yeah, you know, Shelley [Oto] and all of them. I was kind of working with them when they were doing that. But now currently, I have my own rooftop now, so I’m doing my own parties. I do promotions, too. I do a lot of stuff, not just music. I do art. I manage artists, visual artists. I manage musicians. I’m like a sound consultant. We’re working on a fashion show, pretty much a little bit of everything. But I do a lot of events throughout LA. 

Miss Wilson: As a DJ, what places do you recommend to listen to good DJs?
Ceazs: There’s this place in Silverlake called The Fuzz. It’s a very eclectic spot. World-renowned DJs come and they play all the weird stuff, records that cost from $1 to like $1,000. Rare music, a lot of eccentric music. It’s a little run down spot, but all the latest producers come. It’s definitely a nice spot to kind of get out and listen to new DJs. A lot of up-and-coming DJs walk in all the time and have events there.

Miss Wilson: Do you have a specific place where you spin regularly?
There’s a record shop in Torrance called Record Recycler. It’s one of the biggest record shops I’d say west of the Mississippi. That’s where I live. That’s kind of my second home away from home. I’m boring [laughs].

Miss Wilson: And where can people find more information about you?
Ceazs: I’m on Twitter: @Ceazs1 and I have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ceazs. That’s where you can reach me at.

Miss Wilson: And what about the name Ceazs? How did you come up with that?
Ceazs: That’s my real name! My real name is Cesar, and so you hear “Ceazs.” I just shortened it and put my own twist on it [laughs].


As always, a BIG shout out to Tulani for the amazing photos she took! Follow her work at @MS2LANY!

Friday, September 9, 2011

And Where Do You "Where To"?: Contest Winner!


Last week I introduced a little giveaway/contest, asking everyone to email or tweet me his or her favorite Los Angeles summer destination, so that I could give a complimentary Dinner for Two at Vu Restaurant in Marina del Rey to the entrant with the best pick…

and

…We have a winner: 

it’s Matthew from Hermosa Beach!

Matthew won because he truly knew how to eat, drink and be merry, and he had the photographic evidence to prove it, and he took advantage of it all summer long and, it was economical yet still fun. Congrats on finding such a great summer destination! 

Here’s his pick:

“My favorite place to hang this summer was at the free Hermosa Beach Summer Concerts on the Beach. Every Sunday a group of us packed our chairs, a cooler w/cheese, crackers and fresh meats from the deli and rode our bikes to Hermosa Beach to set up a picnic while enjoying live music. We appreciated the event not only because it was free, close to home and had a beautiful sunset, but because it was something to look forward to before heading back to work on Monday.”





Congrats again to Matthew – I hope you enjoy the dinner! 

A few other noteworthy giveaway/contest entries that rolled in throughout the week are listed below:

-       Zakiyah: One of my favorite restaurant's is Natalie Thai on Venice Blvd.  I can't remember the name of the cross street, but it's right next to Smart & Final.  My favorite dish there is Disco Shrimp, they also have a fab soup with lemon grass, and mushrooms.  Shrimp can be added to the soup.  I used to purchase it when I felt a cold coming on and would feel so much better.”

-       Tracie: “My favorite place to hang this summer was any restaurant on the beach.  I love the ambiance of the beach lifestyle.  I love hearing the wave crash in and out and the salty smell of the ocean.  Also you can't beat the beach for people watching.  There are people there of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and persuasions.  It's an cultural anthropologist dream!”

-       Serena: “My favorite place to hang out this summer was a place recommended to me by Miss Wilson herself. I attended a networking event at Capital Grille and was overwhelmed by the great ambiance and the great people. The appetizers were delicious and the bartender hooked me up with a concoction I had never tried before. I ate and sipped while watching the sun set over Beverly Hills. So lovely. The best part was that the Capital Grille was located at the Beverly Center and I had never even noticed it! Thanks Wilson's Guide!!”

-       @_jennalee:@WilsonsGuide Spent most of our summer at @ParadiseCove w/tasty food,drinks,amazing view,tide pools&beautiful wildlife” 

       @_jennalee's photo: 

  


Thanks to everyone who participated – look out for the next giveaway/contest soon!

-Miss Wilson

Friday, September 2, 2011

And Where do You "Where To?": FREE Giveaway #2!


COMPLIMENTARY DINNER FOR TWO AT VU RESTAURANT!
Contest Running from Thurs. 9/1/2011-Thurs. 9/8/2011


I’ve partnered with Vu Restaurant in Marina Del Rey to give away a complimentary dinner for Two!



So how do you get these tickets?



It’s easy – I just want to hear from you!



1. Answer the question: Where was your favorite place to hang this summer? Share where you went here in Los Angeles all summer long. You can be as descriptive as you’d like, and photos are always welcomed. Please be sure to include your name (first name or alias is fine), your location, your favorite destination and why you appreciated this destination so much.


2. Send your answer to wilsonsguide@gmail.com, or you can tweet it to @WilsonsGuide.


3. The person with the BEST most innovative, unique summer destination (picked by yours truly) will win!


Contest starts today and will go until 11:59 p.m. PST on next Thursday, September 8th. The lucky winner will be announced on Wilson’s Guide on Friday, September 9th.




Good luck!


OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES:

· This giveaway is free and open to anyone over 18 years of age. Please note: all giveaway entries received may potentially be retweeted and/or posted on www.wilsonswheretoguide.com at a later date without further compensation. If an entry is posted and/or retweeted, only the author’s first name or Twitter username will be posted in conjunction with the entry.


· Winner will receive a certificate, entitling him/her to a ONE-TIME complimentary dinner for two, valued at $100 at Vū Restaurant located at Jamaica Bay Inn of Marina Del Rey. Certificate is valid anytime. Please note that holidays and special event dates are excluded; some blackout dates may also apply. One certificate per order and certificate is not redeemable for cash and it is not transferable. Not subject to substitutions and/or extensions. Gratuity not included and cannot be used with any other promotion or discounts. Gift Certificate expires on December 30, 20011.


· Winner will be given specific instructions on how to receive the gift certificate via Twitter and/or email, depending on how the winner submitted his/her entry.


· Winners are solely responsible for all applicable taxes and fees associated with receiving the gift certificate. By accepting the certificate, winner releases Vū Restaurant, Wilson’s “Where To” Guide and Miss Wilson and all of their respective officers, agents, and employees from any responsibility or liability in connection with the awarded gift certificate. Winner also agrees to release Vū Restaurant, Wilson’s “Where To” Guide and Miss Wilson of any injuries, losses, or damages of any kind resulting from acceptance, use, misuse, possession, or loss of the gift certficate.


· By entering this giveaway, contestants accept and agree to these rules.


For more information about Vū Restaurant, read my write-ups about it!

It has made it on my guide twice, under “Where to Eat” and “Where to Drink.”