Monday, October 23, 2006

Mini Foodventure #5: Bowery & Magnolia (Hollywood)

Finding myself on the corner of Sunset & Vine at Hollywood and absolutely starving, what better thing to do than to check out some diners & restaurants.

Instead of opting for my old standby
The Hungry Cat, which is tried and true for good seafood, I opted instead for two pretty well known eats across the way (and next to each other), the Bowery & Magnolia.

Feeling more into casual dining, I opted to head to the Bowery first, a no fuss bar & bistro serving equally simple, comfort foods with just a little twist. At the bartender's suggestion, I had their "Bowery burger" with the works ($12-13) with a side of sweet potato fries ($3 with entree, otherwise $5.) Plus a manhattan ($11) , one of the most masculine cocktails that I can actually down with a straight face.

The drink was well-made, just potent enough to give my throat a tingle -- not a burn. As for the food, all in all it's pretty yummy stuff. Extra mad props to the fries - the best sweet potato versions I've had yet (and arguably one of the best fries period.) Perfectly salted and absolutely crispy with the right proportion of crispy exterior to starchy, slightly sweet insides and of course, great with ketchup; absolutely a stark contrast to my past sweet potato fry experiences, which often tend to be soggy, too sweet, and too much flesh in comparison to the skin.

The sirloin burger, topped with caramelized onions, grilled mushrooms, grueyere and bleu cheese and bacon (a.k.a. the works) on toasted English muffins- was decent. The meat was a little dry (but that could've been due to cautious me ordering it medium-well,) the toppings were a bit an overkill - covering up what little beef flavor there was, but it's overall a hearty and tasty burger that pretty much filled me up. The mixed greens and tomato salad with honey mustard was pretty good (though I wasn't sure if that's a mini-side salad or if I was suppose to stack them on top of my already huge burger.) Not sure if I'll go for the burgers again the next time (esp. since
Lucky Devils still have my undivided devotion as far as upscale burgers are concerned) -- but definitely will be back for those sweet tater fries!!! Maybe next time I'll go for their other popular orders: the ale-braised short ribs and their lighter take on the french dip (chicken breast meat and chicken jus.)

Took a walk afterwards (along with photos of the restaurants' exteriors, above) so I can get a little bit more appetite for a magnolia dessert I've been eyeing from their online menu --

Wild strawberry cake layered with mascarpone cheese ($7) and was I glad to get this. The strawberry flavor is subtle but definitely there (could've been more pronounced if there weren't other berries around), and the dessert overall tasted like a mix of strawberry shortcake and strawberry cheesecake -- rich enough to be satisfying and not heavy at all. I definitely likey! If I was more in the mood for dining in magnolia (a bit more elegant in atmosphere compared to Bowery), I would've definitely made a meal out of two lighter dishes: the baked mac 'n cheese (a weakness of mine, also served at the Bowery) and either their steak salad or their chicken & beef satays. Oh well, there's always next time . . .

Alas, no ratings here since I didn't quite eat or stay long enough to make a rounded opinion; but both experiences were pretty good and if I'm in the area, I wouldn't mind paying a re-visit -- unless the Hungry Cat's got my seafood-crazy tongue! (and if I don't count desserts in the mix, it'd definitely be a tough call between Magnolia & Bowery)



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