Monday, September 6, 2021

Post Pandemic Los Angeles

Trip date: July 2021

17 months since my last flight. Wow, that hasn't happened since 1999!!! 

I decided to ease into flying again by booking a 2-hour flight to LAX. Masks on flights are still a thing, as are crowded airports and a number of unvaccinated people.  I wasn't exactly afraid to fly, but I do feel that I'm at wits end with everything COVID related and just didn't want to spend that much time being smack in it, if that makes sense.

I was very excited to see my friends and to be a house-guest again! And I was also excited just to travel again! When I showed up at the Alaska Air Lounge at SeaTac I was told my lounge pass had expired which almost had me in tears. Luckily I was able to talk my way in and enjoy a few mimosas before the flight.

Once onboard, and in my exit row seat, I was surprised that the exit aisle seat was a jump seat. Turns out I was on one of the new Airbus. When a flight attendant, heading home to LA, sat in the middle I was pretty damn happy; I had 2 row mates who knew how to stay calm in situations and also how to work the emergency exit.

My flight was uneventful and the traveling flight attendant even came back from visiting first class with an extra can of wine for me. 

As soon as my friend Aaron picked me up at the airport we were off to Santa Monica to check out the drinks at Lanea. This is such a great space; painted in light blue and white with light tan upholstery, it is airy and beachy and relaxing. We each tried one of their margaritas and found them to be delicious!

After changing for dinner we made our way to Culver City and The Corner Door. This Italian Eatery had turned into the Parm Boyz pop up serving fun parms and tasty drinks. We had other plans for dinner but loved our cocktails. The Parm Boyz concept closed earlier this month but stay tuned to see what they might do next!
The highlight of the day was dinner at Bicyclette, from the folks behind Republique which I also adore. While walking thru the very sexy restaurant, we passed by Phil Rosenthal enjoying a meal.

It was so hard to decide what to order as everything on the modern French menu sounded fantastic. But of the items we ordered, the cocktails, caramelized onion tarte tatin, chicken schnitzel, and Parisian gnocchi really stood out. 

The cheese course was the only real disappointment, I think they just don't go thru enough cheese and two of our three were a bit off their prime. Damn it, fit and size conscious people of LA, eat more cheese! Our dessert, two slices of tarte- one chocolate and one berry- were excellent. 

I really loved this restaurant- the menu, food, service, and atmosphere were all awesome. I'd highly recommend making a reservation!

After a quick breakfast at Paper or Plastik Cafe, as well as a morning walk, both in Aaron's neighborhood, we got changed and made our plans for the day. First up was lunch in Los Feliz at Atrium. Designed with blonde wood, green plants, and lots of natural light, the pretty spot felt a bit Scandinavian to me. 

The chef sent out the most delicious biscuits, he and Aaron are friends, and then we split the burger and smoked salmon dish. Everything was super tasty! If you go, do not pass on the biscuits!

We spent the rest of the day exploring The Huntington Gardens and the Made in LA art exhibit. I had never been to The Huntington before and WOW!! 120 acres of gardens and thousands of pieces of art; obviously a few hours doesn't do it justice so I will absolutely need to return to explore the permanent collection more.
That evening was just packed with so many great things! We started the night with cocktails at Thunderbolt, a very cool spot in the hip Echo Park area. Aaron had a clarified, carbonated, canned pina colada-ish cocktails while I had a martini-ish drink with tomato, black pepper, and lemon flavors. Both were excellent!

Although we chose to sit up at the bar, Thunderbolt has a big outdoor patio if you'd like your drinks al fresco!

And speaking of al fresco, next up we had dinner at Damian on their amazing patio! It's so beautiful here, and the food was wonderful! 

We mainly ordered items to be shared. Guacamole with salsas, a quesadilla loaded with cheese, morels, and shaved Spanish truffles, roasted celery root, and duck al pastor. But my gordito loaded with crab, meyer lemon, and an avocado salsa was my favorite dish of the night.
As we know, restaurants have been affected so much by the pandemic. First having to close, then pivoting to take-out, and now reopening during a labor crisis. I'm not sure exactly what challenges Damian is facing but our waiter completely ghosted us about ½ way thru our meal. It put a bit of a damper on an otherwise fantastic meal but I'm going to chalk it up to being short staffed...

Afterwards we had reservations for nightcaps at the LA outpost of Death & Co, a favorite drinking spot when I am in New York. I was excited! 

We entered a building in the Art's District and walked down the stairs to the basement where we checked in with the hostess. We could see into the small bar, called Standing Room, which serves as a waiting room in a sense, and has its own menu. Our table was ready so we skipped that, and followed the hostess behind the dark curtains into a very dim and low-ceilinged space. 

Originally we had a table near the back. Also near us was a table of six having a very good time. A very loud time. I couldn't hear a thing Aaron was saying to me from across the table. Luckily we were able to move to the bar which was much better.

We each ordered our first cocktail off the menu and they were both delicious. When we were up at the bar we both had the bartender make us something with calvados and unfortunately neither of those drinks were very good. The space is fantastic though and maybe the bartender is just learning. I'd go back but maybe would stick with the menu.

We started my last full day with a gorgeous walk around the Hancock Park neighborhood. So interesting to check out the (mostly) stunning homes in this area! So many different styles, and some that were so incredibly huge!
Then it was time to head to WeHo to meet Chuck and Wes for brunch at Connie and Ted's. Damn if this place isn't 1) completely delicious and 2) completely fun!

Everyone absolutely loved their drinks and their food. I went for the ½ lobster and it was sooooo good! 

And then we basically ordered all the desserts because we couldn't decide. The restaurant has a huge outside patio and then also their upstairs is open-air dining. Such a great time here.

We decided to wander around the WeHo neighborhood and ended up spying a gorgeous outdoor courtyard at a spot called Norah. We ended up having a couple more cocktails, which was a great decision as they were delicious!

And no, Wes and I did not plan our complimentary outfits. We both just have great taste :)

Back at Aaron's we got cleaned up for dinner and had a little snack of caviar, potato chips, and champagne in his lovely backyard. 

And then we had an absolutely stellar dinner at the newly opened Girl and the Goat. We ordered everything to share, and everything was soooo tasty!

As we enjoyed our goat liver mousse we noticed Chef Izzard working in the open kitchen. Very cool!

The next day I woke up to a message from Alaska Air that I had been upgraded to First Class for my return flight. I was not able to talk myself into the lounge this time, but once onboard I was seated next to a very handsome man who was fun to chat with during the trip. I'm calling my first flight since pandemic a win!

All Los Angeles photos here.

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