I Play Phantom Gourmet!

I’m guessing only New England readers will get the title of this post, but all you need to know is that LOTS of food is involved…

The boy and I had a very food-centric weekend (his word coinage). Saturday we did our usual Farmer’s Market/Abundant Harvest pick-up though we were sad that the natural dairy people were missing this week. Last week was such a tease!

After we put away our goodies, we headed to brunch at Maximilian’s to use a Groupon I got a couple weeks ago.

This is what the Groupon said:

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, waitresses weave through the tables of the restaurant to offer guests a variety of german sausages, eggs, and rolls. After guests fill up plates at the self-serve omelet station, they can tuck into the savory eats as servers top off glasses of champagne. In a Nutshell: Guests fill up plates at self-serve omelet bar as waitresses bring out trays of german sausages, rolls, and champagne

That is definitely not what we got.

The ambiance is nice; it’s tucked away on the corner of Weddington and Tujunga in NoHo, just far enough back so that you can’t really hear the traffic. There’s a small green building that says “hotel,” though we were sure if it was real, or just for decoration. The paved pathways and roses give it a very European bistro feel, though I could do without the tattered paper lanterns. We were invited to choose our seating: in or out; we went out. It was fairly close to opening and many of the chairs were not put down yet so we sat at a small table, fairly close to the entrance.

Our hostess/waitress brought us the menus, and this is where I got very confused. There were no sausages or omelets to be found. Instead there were choices like smoked salmon, steak and eggs, and German pancakes. I asked the server if these applied to the groupon or if it was a separate thing, but she assured me we were to each choose an entree and that’s how it worked. This also included a glass of champagne and a tray of goodies.

Okay. The boy ordered the steak and fried eggs, I went with the pancake served with fresh berries and creme fraiche. The pastry platter and bread basket they brought out was wonderful. A couple danishes, a delicious brownie, some fruit, and some amazing sourdough breads and jam. I freaking love jam. Unfortunately, when our entrees were brought out, we were less thrilled. The boy’s steak was completely well done and tough, and his “fried eggs” were some strange, watery scramble. My pancake was sloppy and covered in jam, strawberries and pineapple, no creme fraiche to be found. The taste was alright, though definitely not worth an $18 price tag if I were to visit without the groupon. The waitress never came back after she brought our food, and was apparently nowhere to be found, so we couldn’t inquire about our plates. The champagne was good and they have a pretty substantial wine list. We both agreed it would be a nice place to sit, drink wine and enjoy that bread, so who knows, we may be back. Just definitely not for brunch.

If that weren’t enough of a food adventure for one day, we went out for dinner to check out a brand new spot in NoHo:

Bow & Truss features a tapas style Latin menu, a dossier of innovative craft cocktails and over 10 domestic and imported beers on draught plus a large selection of domestic and import bottles.
The overall design features a modern premise with a craftsmen edge. The space will feature a vast front courtyard patio for alfresco dining that seamlessly flows to the interior through a immense retractable door. Inside patrons will enjoy a warm and inviting open kitchen, as well as a large centrally placed bar with lined counter seating.

We’ve been waiting for this place to open up FOREVER. It’s tucked between two of our favorite NoHo spots on Magnolia (Republic of Pie and Brickyard Pub) and kitty-corner from our go-to schmany dinner spot, Spumante.

Behind a large fence and gate, there’s a huge outdoor patio seating area with a nice bar:

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And then inside is another large bar with exposed beam ceilings (hence, bow and truss) and cozy seating:

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I say cozy because it is somewhat tight; I liked the feel, the boy thought it might be a little too cramped.

We were greeted and seated right away, and brought toasted almonds and (what I’m guessing are homemade) olives to start. I don’t generally like olives, but these were STELLAR. Really mild and tasted of garlic more than brine.

Their drink menu is pretty cool, as they’ve got themselves some mixologists, so we sampled that a bit:

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Left: Fog Cutter (Zaya Rum, Brandy, Orgeat, and citrus juices and Cream Sherry)
Right: Pio Pica Crusta (Cucumber, Palo Cortado Sherry, Maraschino, and Lemon)

I really liked both of these. Mine was the Pio Pica; really sweet and refreshing, and the finely crushed sugar was a nice touch. The boy’s was sweet as well, but I thought the tartness of the citrus balanced it nicely.

We started off the meal with an appetizer, because I was encouraged to order it; this is where I stopped being a cheap date.

Don’t let me near cheeseplate menus:

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Queso Tasting Plate with: Mahon (cow’s milk, semi firm cheese), Iberico (cow, sheep milk, semi soft cheese) and Caprichevere (goat’s milk, soft cheese), served with Fresh pineapple & papaya, fresh berry jam (blueberry cinnamon and raspberry chipotle), toasted Marcona almonds and sunflower seeds, and toasted bread

I was in LOVE with this. I could probably be happy just eating one of these spreads for a meal. My only complaint was that one of my bread slices was a tad heavy on the oil.

It’s a difficult life I lead…

Now, originally we were both going to get paella; meat for him, seafood for me. But the waitress suggested we might want to mix it up a bit because the paella would be a lot of the same thing. She didn’t realize he wouldn’t be partaking in the seafood. Oh well.

So I went a different direction and got some tacos:

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Choriza Meatball Tacos with Cojita Cheese, Salsa Verde and Cilantro

These were killer. Nice textures, perfect amount of heat and really fresh flavors.

The paella (which I did not think was too much food) was really pretty:

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Walking Paella (chorizo, andouille, morcilla de arroz & chicken)

The meats were all really good, except neither of us knew what morcilla was. Knowing now that it’s blood sausage, I’m not super surprised neither of us cared for it. The rest of the dish was seasoned really well and the rice was super tender.

I was already feeling pretty full, but then these beautiful babies came out:

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Shrimp Tacos with lime-soaked purple cabbage and guacamole puree

Not the best picture because it was getting dark at this point, but this shrimp was cooked PERFECTLY. I added some of the cheese from the cheeseplate to these, as well as some of the paella rice to give them some heat. Great fresh flavors; I just need a little more oompf in my tacos.

To round out the meal, we each ordered one more drink:

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Left: Dolores Park Swizzle (Milagro Anejo Tequila, Amontillado Sherry, ginger, and lime)
Right: Horse Thief Old-Fashioned (Glennfiddich Scotch, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, & Absinthe)

Mine was the Swizzle; very girly with shaved ice and whatnot but SO.GOOD. The ginger gave it a spicy kick and the lime balanced it out really nice. I also really like tequila. The boy’s old-fashioned was a little heavy on the absinthe (which I’d never had), which I didn’t mind, but he’s not a licorice fan.

Overall we had a very good experience. Our server was friendly, the manager (whom the boy knows from The Federal) checked on us to see how everything was, the music was awesome and made me want to dance, the food was seasoned well and the drinks were good. Downsides… it’s pretty pricey, and if you’re not a Spanish food lover (aka picky eater that doesn’t like beans or vegetables) it might be hard to find something you really want. But for me, the cheeseplate and chorizo tacos alone won me over.

More fun places in NoHo! If you’re in the area, definitely check it out 🙂

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