Barbrix (Silver Lake)

Barbrix is one of the latest restaurants to follow the small plates trend. On a Saturday night, it was crowded, loud, and there were several parties waiting for a table. Luckily, the BF made reservations, so we didn’t have very long to wait. Our party of four was seated at a small table that would be cozy even for a party of two. It was a full house that night.

Barbrix

We ordered the spring farro salad, which could be made vegan by leaving out the cheese. I’m by no means a big fan of peas, but the fresh peas in this dish were delicious. They didn’t have the unpleasant starchy taste that frozen peas have. The farro was cooked well with the ideal amount of chewy plumpness. The BF commented that the salad needed more oil because it was a bit dry, but I thought it was fine.

Barbrix

We also got in an order of mixed Spanish olives, which were fantastic. These olives were briney without being overly salty. Each bite was like a powerful flavor explosion in my mouth. I’d rank these olives in my top 5 list of good olives. I’m also a garlic fiend, so I appreciated the sweet cloves of garlic thrown in.

Barbrix

I ordered a goats milk cheese, which was tasty but nothing to rave over. I did enjoy the dried fruit and jam-like spread that came with it.

Barbrix

The next dish, fried sweetbreads, were ordered on accident because one member of our party didn’t actually know what sweetbreads were. It was a happy accident for me because I happen to like all sorts of strange offals. These were small tender pieces, battered and fried. To the unknown eye, they could easily have been mistaken for small chicken tenders or even fried calamari. The fried sweetbread tasted good and was extremely tender, but at the $6 price, the serving could have been larger.

I thought it was funny that we ate about three larger pieces before the server came by, about to take the dish away, thinking we were done. I guess the server thought the remaining pieces, more aptly called crumbs, were too small to eat.

Barbrix

Next came the farmer’s plate, which was presented wonderfully. The baby carrot, endive, and broccollini looked like pieces of art. What I thought was odd was that considering that most people share small plates among the table, this dish was hard to divvy up. What if three people really liked carrots? I guess they’d have to cut the already small carrot into tiny pieces.

Barbrix

The shrimp and chickpea flour tortillas were an interesting combination. It tasted like shrimp was cut into small pieces and then mixed into the batter. These should be eaten as soon as they’re made because they were quick to go soft and soggy. I’m always a fan of chickpea flour flatbreads (also known as socca), so I thought this was a good way to dress it up.

Barbrix

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the roasted Alaskan halibut with tomato salsa and capers. The strong flavor of the capers and salsa was a good pairing to the white fish. I’ve never had capers with fish before, but it’s a good match. The fish was even cooked to a perfect done-ness, which is something that I’m unfortunately picky about. I believe the fish was served on a bed of asparagus and Israeli couscous, but really, the star of the dish was the fish.

Barbrix

The duck confit was a disappointment. The duck was spiced well and the scalloped potatoes it was served on were decadent and delicious. The leg just didn’t taste like a duck confit. There was no richness from fat that’s characteristic of a good duck confit. The meat was just kind of dry. If it had been called another name, it wouldn’t have been such a let down.

Barbrix

The roasted cauliflower salad also could have been better. The roasted cauliflower had a great sweetness from roasting. The green beans were crispy and sweet, but I’m still not used to eating them so undercooked. The chickpeas were what dragged this dish down. They tasted like they came straight from a can. The salad would have been better if the chickpeas had just been left out.

Barbrix

Luckily, the skirt steak was miles better than the canned chickpeas. It was cooked to my preferred medium, although others at the table thought it was too pink for a medium. The meat was tender, juicy, and just plain delicious. Nothing more needs to be said about a perfect piece of steak.

Barbrix

The lamb chops we ordered came plated with a pleasant presentation. One piece was tougher than the other, which is a consistency issue, but if the restaurant could always serve lamb that tasted like the better piece, I’d call that a success. The artichoke chips worked well as garnish, but the pieces were so small, I don’t know if I even tasted them. The eggplant caviar on the bottom of the meat tasted good, but didn’t look good. We had a hard time figuring out what it was because it looked like someone chewed up meat and just spit it in a wad on the plate. I’m not sure where the caviar part came in because it didn’t have the consistency of caviar.

Barbrix

The treviso salad was a dish that both looked good and tasted good. The colorful red, green, and orange components made me glad that summer was here. Some people don’t like the bitterness of radicchio, but it’s not really that bad once you get used to it. Having a bite with a piece of grapefruit and avocado also helps because the sweet acidity cuts down on the bitterness and the buttery finish makes me want more. This dish was a good example of how different textures and flavors can play in harmony with each other.

Dinner at Barbrix was good despite a few shortcomings. It’s so loud and crowded in there that it’s not a place I’d recommend going to on a weekend night if you want to have long conversations with people. The food quality was what I expected although some of the portions were smaller than I would have liked. It’s good that the restaurant offers vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, but omnivores get a better deal on the dishes. It’s nice to have this place so close in the neighborhood, but I think for small plates, my favorite place is still AOC.

Barbrix
2442 Hyperion Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 662-2442
[map]
Barbrix in Los Angeles

Allston Yacht Club

Allston Yacht ClubAllston Yacht Club is one of those hidden restaurants right in my own back yard that I never would have noticed if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me. This someone happened to be an email inviting me to join them on a Thursday night for a tasting menu, drinks and all. Always one to try out a new neighborhood joint, I agreed to go. The free meal helped too.

No, the restaurant isn’t in the marina. It’s tucked away north of Sunset on Echo Park Ave. The owners, Bill and Charlie facetiously named it after a fancy-pants neighborhood in Boston.  Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be ironic. The self-proclaimed hook at Allston Yacht Club is that the dishes are so fairly priced for the economic climate that one could even afford a glass of wine with the meal. Most of the small plates are $9 and under. They also claim they’re unique because they’re a casual place to sit down and grab a drink, but in LA, that type of restaurant is a dime a dozen.

I started off with a cocktail AYC was testing that night. Watermelon, strawberry, ginger ale, and booze makes for a refreshing summer beverage. The drink was so good, I could even drink it without the alcohol.

Allston Yacht ClubOne of the first things to appear on the table was a plate of peanuts and small dried fish. They were salty and had a nice kick to them thanks to the slices of green chili pepper mixed in. One of the owners said it was Thai inspired, which I could see, but as the boyfriend pointed out, it needed something else: kaffir lime leaves. The fragrant leaves would give this tasty beer snack more Thai flavor.

While I was munching on the snacks, Bill stopped by to chat. He talked about how he and his partner Charlie came up with the menu. It contains mostly dishes that they like to eat themselves, which explains why none of the dishes really seem cohesive with each other. It makes AYC a place to stop by for a drink and a few bites to eat, not an entire sit-down dinner.

Allston Yacht Club
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the brandade with roasted tomato. It’s a whipped mixture of pureed potato, salt cod, tomato, cream, and olive oil, put in a bowl, and passed under the broiler. When spread over a crispy crostini, it’s creamy, melt-in-your-mouth lusciousness.

Allston Yacht Club
Next came a sample of three appetizers: shishito peppers, frico, and arancini. The shishito peppers were cooked well and extremely salty, which make them fitting to snack on while drinking a nice cold beer.

The frico, essentially melted and baked parmesan cheese, was tasty, but lacked in presentation. I joked that the frico would be more aesthetic if it were made into a more lace-like pattern and placed sticking up through the arancini.

The arancini, battered and fried risotto balls, were decent but not spectacular. Deep frying anything makes it taste good. What caught my attention was the tomatillo salsa served under the balls. It was a unique but balanced touch because the acidity of the salsa cut down on the rich oiliness of the balls.

Allston Yacht Club
I also sampled the fennel, orange and greens salad, which tasted much like what one would expect. There’s no going wrong with pairing fennel and the sweet acidity of orange. The two make such a strong burst of flavor that the restaurant could even get away with serving a more bitter variety of greens instead of just plain arugula. Don’t get me wrong, the greens this salad was served with were fine, but it could be “kicked up a notch” with a bit of frisée or baby mustard greens.

Allston Yacht Club
The next trio that was brought out was three samples from the main plates. The cedar plank salmon had a decent charred flavor, but was a tad too overdone for my liking. This could be attributed to the sample plate being a smaller portion than usual, thus skewing the cooking time. I’m not a huge fan of the cooked pink-fleshed fish, but I could see people enjoying this. The dish was uninspired, but the restaurant doesn’t claim to break any molds.

The roasted brussel sprouts were a miss for me. They were cooked to the proper done-ness, which was a relief because no one likes undercooked brussel sprouts. What wasn’t good was the flavoring. The menu claimed a balsamic reduction, but as the boyfriend pointed out, it tasted more like sherry wine vinegar. The acidity was too much for this dish and drowned out any sweetness from caramelization. I do have to give AYC props for offering the option of having this with or without bacon, which should please vegetarians.

Barbecue duck confit with beans isn’t a combination I’ve thought of before, but AYC has made me a fan. The duck was flavorful and tender without being too fatty. The barbecue flavor was brought out further by the sweetness of the beans. This is one dish I’d have no qualms recommending to friends. I would be happy with just a big plate of this and a cold beer.

It’s worth noting that AYC has a small but decent wine list which focuses mainly on old world wines. This may seem contrary to its more modern food menu, but the red wine the boyfriend ordered went quite well with what he had.

Speaking of what he had, it was nice of the restaurant to accommodate a vegan diet. While there was some confusion at first about whether or not the dishes could have dairy, it all worked out okay at the end. As the menu is right now, I wouldn’t recommend it to vegetarians with large appetites, but I hope the restaurant adds a couple more filling items for the herbivores among us. It only makes sense considering the restaurant’s location.

I went into Allston Yacht Club with no expectations — a good way to avoid disappoitnment. The sampling of dishes I had was decent, but not amazing. The restaurant is a good choice to have in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t call it a destination location.


This is supposed to be a restaurant review, but I have to voice my opinion about something related to the restaurant. I appreciated that AYC’s PR contact met us at the door and explained the concept of the restaurant and introduced us to the owners. I appreciated that the owners came by to sit down and chat and I was intrigued with their back-story.

What I didn’t like was being told before each dish came out how amazing it was and how amazing everything that came out of the kitchen was. It sets up high expectations, some of which certainly were not met. While I know it’s up to PR to sell the restaurant, please PR minions, keep your food opinions to yourselves and let the bloggers eat in peace.

Allston Yacht Club
1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 481-0454