Ladies Who Dine :: Komo’s Cocina

Ladies Who Dine :: Komo’s Cocina

It’s been a while since the Ladies have gotten together for an outing. We’ve had babies, promotions, band concerts, PTA meetings, work trips, and fall vacations that have kept our nights and weekends full, so it’s been challenging to assemble a critical mass. But Christmas Eve eve proved to be a splendid night for a fair number of the Ladies to sip cocktails and indulge our bellies while chilling in Naples.

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You see, the LWD restaurant club launched with seven co-workers, all of us wanting to experience food beyond our Chili’s/Mimi’s Café/CPK lunch rut. Since its start in 2011, we’ve taken on other career opportunities, added new Ladies, and created LWD spinoffs (such as Ladies Who Wine and the Boozy Book Club) that included yet additional peeps. Since many of us no longer work together, the catching up part of our outings has become just as important as the food. So at Komo’s Cocina, we were so happy to see each other, so consumed with chatting that we forgot to eat. We drank (margaritas and wine). We appetized (guacamoles, grilled corn, queso fundido, carnitas chilaquiles). But none of us ended up ordering an entrée with the exception of Mario, who’d quickly requested the mussels with chorizo from the waitress upon his late arrival, thinking the rest of us had already ordered.

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Perhaps the margaritas did it, so potent that three of us lagged leaving with the others in need of some sobering up time, offering us an excuse to get dessert – the churros, all cinnamony and sweet, perfectly crunchy yet gooey and soft on the inside, stood out as my favorite bite of the evening, especially when double dipped in the warm chocolate and butter sauces served alongside of them.

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Komo’s is indeed a bright new spot among the expanding collection of boutique restaurants that LB locals are thrilled to have nearby. Also billed as a tequila bar, Komo’s offers tequila flights and a long list of inspired cocktails. The attentive and welcoming staff only help seal the deal in making Komo’s a hot spot for elegant, simple Mexican cuisine. My big regret is that I didn’t get a taste of their enchiladas. Luckily, Komo’s is but a hop and a skip from my daughter’s volleyball practice gym, so if ever I decide to ditch my run (how I prefer to spend part of the two-hour block of her bump/set/spike/block sessions), I may just mosey over to Naples for more of their zesty, hearty food. I’ll just be sure to skip the margarita so my kid won’t have to wait for me to sober up before getting her.

Komo’s Cocina
5730 E. 2nd Street in the Naples neighborhood of the LBC

Ladies Who Dine :: Taco Asylum

Ladies Who Dine :: Taco Asylum

If the name didn’t clue you in, the choices at Taco Asylum are quite demented. It’s a place my fellow LWDer Sandy has been chatting up since it opened back in 2011, though her fear of the menu kept her from trying, with options back then for tacos stuffed with grilled octopus, lamb, beef heart, curried paneer, and duck. While perhaps gourmet, I wasn’t interested – those unusual fillings did not get me hankering.

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Enter Summer 2014, an adventurous and tasty summer for a more courageous me. It was William’s pick for our August outing, one that he did not seize, instead over-analyzing, debating, second-guessing. As Sandy and I mused aloud as an assist to him, Sandy again threw out the idea of Taco Asylum. Remembering their menu, I didn’t immediately co-sign her suggestion, giving instead a non-committed maybe, determined to come up with a better pick for William when I had some Googling time. But at some point, I thought it might be fun to look up Asylum’s menu to see what had had me so scared of this place years before.

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To my surprise, I found that TA had had a change. The duck taco was still there, and too was the paneer, but there’d been additions. Playful, less intimidating tacos, like the Bacon PB & J with carrot ginger jam; or the Fried Chicken with a watermelon-feta salad and a Fresno chile hot sauce. Although my palate has come a long way in the last couple of years, their new menu was just my speed. So it was only then that I seconded Sandy’s idea for William’s choice (basically, he let us wrestle his choice away from him), and the rest was history.

With five us us there, we were able to order plenty of tacos and several mixings of flavors, textures, and heat. The Banh Mi was tangy and citrusy, the Wasabi Shrimp surprisingly (at least to me – I didn’t read the description first) luscious and sweet to temper the heat of the wasabi, I suppose. But it was the chile sauce from the Fried Chicken taco that, while perfectly unctuous and flavorful, got me sweaty, caused me to chug down my ice water faster than I did my chilled cider.

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Speaking of hot, William ordered the Firepig, a Ghost chile-braised pork taco that comes with a warning to its consumers. He told us his reddening skin was due to his beer, blaming his ethnicity; but I think it was the taco, which he said was pretty darn spicy. Torrid.

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My favorite taco of the night was the BBQ Chicken, with peach salsa and scallions. It was initially forgotten by the kitchen so I had to wait for it, but that turned out to be a good thing as it was served fresh and steamy. There was a slight crispiness to the chicken that I really appreciated and the sweetly acrid sauce made me dance in my seat. Full as I was, that taco went down in a couple-few minutes. Next time I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll surely pick up another one. Or seven if my husband’s treating.

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So our last LWD outing of the summer ended with a fiery bang wrapped inside a toasty flour tortilla. And a little bit of shopping, thanks to all the boutiques at The Camp, where Taco Asylum lives. Hope your summer’s been as tasty as ours.

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Taco Asylum
at The Camp, 3947 S. Bristol St. in Costa Mesa

What we tried:
Bacon PB&J
Banh Mi
Meat & Potatoes
The Shortrib
Fried Chicken
Firepig
Shrimp Pad Thai
BBQ Chicken
Paneer (Indian Style Cheese)
Mushrooms and Brie

Corn Off the Cob
Brave Potatoes

Ladies Who Dine :: Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap

Ladies Who Dine :: Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap

It’s only been open for a couple of months, but I’ve been craving a taste of Bo-Beau (fun to say, right?) for a long while, ever since spotting the sign announcing its arrival as a construction crew worked to transform the site of previous LBC classics, Smooth’s and Mum’s. I was quick to Google the name, learning about the existing Bo-Beau locations in San Diego and La Mesa, and the owners’ hopes for starting a revitalization of our downtown, bringing an SD Gaslamp District vibe to the area. I can only hope.

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From my first evening here, Bo-Beau seems primed to start a Pine Street revolution. The Ladies had invited our big (tiny) boss to join us for this month’s LWD outing a few weeks back. She’d received an invitation for Bo-Beau’s official grand opening, asking if we wanted to pre-eat there – that’s my kind of boss! The celebratory evening was also a chance to raise funds to benefit Children Today, a local agency that serves families experiencing homelessness. There was to be a sampling of Bo-Beau’s offerings, live music, and hosted drinks, all on the restaurant’s rooftop bar. These and an opportunity to help others? That’s what I call a good night. The Ladies agreed – Bo-Beau was on.

As the date for our outing approached, the synergy seemed to quadruple about Bo-Beau, with folks slowly dismissing themselves from the actual restaurant for the night, Pier 76 (which was okay because my son and I still wobbled our way over to get our fish on – see Dinner Date :: Pier 76 Fish Grill). But that was fine – as LWD Prez, I made the executive decision to make Bo-Beau our July LWD pick.

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And how wonderful it was. The Ladies got their eat on and their drink on, mingling with the seemingly connected crowd (I’m sure the Ladies weren’t writing the biggest donation checks of the evening) and chasing down any staff person with a tray. Our menu for the evening?

  • Lamb meatballs with dill Greek yogurt
  • Wild mushroom arancini with truffle oil
  • Duck fat deviled eggs with cornichon and smoked prapika
  • Salmon tartare with an herbed crouton
  • Chorizo stuffed baked mussels with a lemon aioli
  • Seared scallop with smoked broccoli coulis and balsamic strawberries
  • Caprese skewer with a balsamic port reduction
  • Mini croque monsieur
  • Cherry cheesecake with a snickerdoodle crust
  • Roasted s’mores stuffed pretzel puff with peanut butter

Additionally, they served two signature cocktails:

  • The Bo-Beau Sour: Old Forester Bourbon, Bigallet China-China, lemon, and house syrup
  • Pine & Roses: Peyka vodka, Giffard’s Pamplemousse Rose, yellow chartreuse, lemon, and house syrup

I lost track of how many glasses of Pine & Roses I drank. And how many globes of mushroom arancini I ate. Same with the salmon tartare. I can say with certainty that (unfortunately) I only had one of the s’mores desserts – I’d hoped to lose track of how many of those I ate too. I want to use better adjectives, verbs to make your mouth frothy with envy; to help you verbally taste my experience. But its all a succulent blur now, though the pleasant acridity of the Pine & Roses still gives me flashbacks. I can’t wait to go back for more. It will be harder to lose count when I’m paying for them. But boy will I pay for them; to go along with the fancier fare Bo-Beau serves in its downstairs space, or the bar menu available on the rooftop.

When the party ended, we still weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so we ordered their crispy Brussels sprouts, one of the best I’ve tried. I told executive chef Katherine Humphus this month when I got the chance to say hello to her as she made her way around the festivities. If the rest of their plates are as amazing as the ones we tried at the opening, I’ll surely be spending lots of time and dough at Bo-Beau. Cheers to another LWD outing, and welcome to Bo-Beau – the Ladies are very happy to have you in the LBC.

Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap
144 Pine Avenue in Long Beach and other locations
(Oh yeah, and they also have 50+ craft beers on tap and a martini bar with over 100 vodkas)

*The Ladies have adopted Children Today as it’s official charity this year. With each outing, we’ll forgo a drink or a dessert or dish and contribute money to a fund that we’ll donate to the organization at the end of the year. Thanks, Bo-Beau, for inspiring us to be the Ladies Who Give!

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Dinner Date :: Pier 76 Fish Grill

Dinner Date :: Pier 76 Fish Grill

My visit here was scheduled to be part of a Ladies Who Dine outing, our group wanting to keep it close to home since we’re composed of mommies (new and seasoned), marathon runners in training, and persons recently engaged (meaning they highly value their post-work alone time). I picked Pier 76 because, new to its digs on Long Beach’s Pine & 1st, those I’ve spoken to have called the food incredible. And I’m a seafood chick – of course I’d have to try this local hot spot.

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But following our pre-dinner festivities at Bo-Beau (which I’ve now declared our official LWD outing for July – see the post here), only my work son (I’ll explain this) and I were game to keep eating after a filling evening – perfectly fine with me as long as I was finally able to try the place out.

I’ve known William for over three years now. He was part of the staff I inherited when I took on my current role at the Health Department. To be honest, I didn’t really know what he did at the time (I had a huge learning curve overall in the position) so I was somewhat relieved when he resigned to move on to another division in the department. William has worked for several programs at our department, which has helped make him one of the most popular persons at the job. With time (he says once I stopped being scary to him – I wish others found me so scary), we started hanging. My people became his people. By last winter, we’d come up with a cooky idea to run a half marathon. And then we did another one. We bonded over our mutual experiences as overly coddled only children whose intense love of all things Star Wars wasn’t trendy or recent or fleeting. Maybe it was his preoccupation with food that made me realize we had to be related some way; hence I adopted him as my work son.

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At Pier 76, I did the unthinkable and shared a lobster roll with him. Being a non-porkster, I was supposed to pick the crispy sweet bits of bacon off the top of my half of the roll – I didn’t (I blame my Bo-Beau buzz). Perhaps it seemed wrong to disturb the splendid assemblage of citrusy lobster and langostino enclosed in its buttered tubule of bread. The menu notes one of the ingredients of the roll as “pure love.” Let me tell you, I could surely taste, smell, and feel all the love in that dish. And I’m sure there was some cross-contamination (a little health department jargon) of that love with the smoky fish taco I also ordered, a wonderful balance of sweet and smoldered flavors that seemed to disappear (into my mouth) way too soon.

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So while I hadn’t planned on a dinner date for the evening, I don’t think it could have been any more delectable. Actually, it may have been better indeed had there been more LWD friends so there’d be more plates for me to try. But then perhaps I would have had to split my lobster roll into three or four, or to give away a few bites of my taco. As William can attest, sharing is difficult for us only children, even when we’re far removed from childhood.

So yes, the dinner date was just fine the way it was.

Pier 76 Fish Grill
95 Pine Avenue in Long Beach

Ladies Who Dine :: Bestia

Ladies Who Dine :: Bestia

Once upon a time, the LWD crew thought we would drive up to the big city of Los Angeles and amble our way right up to a seat at one of the hottest tables in the Southland – Bestia. We’d been warned of the wait, up to a couple hours long for the steadfast, the single-minded. We were rookies then, not savvy enough to have made reservations weeks in advance. Needless to say, we did not make it into Bestia that evening, although our bad planning helped us discover the gem that is Colori Kitchen (and even there, we had to promise to eat speedily as they’d need to turn our table for a 7:00 reservation).

Several months later, we’d try it again, agreeing to a Monday 5:30 slot, those of us able to make it promising to get to work extra early so we could head out an hour before our time. There was a frisson in the air all eight hours we worked, our appetites already in Bestia mode.

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Though our original party of six had shrunken to three by the time we made it there, the staff still accommodated us at a smaller table (don’t worry – I called first; I’m not a complete reservation novice, though originally over the phone they’d said our smaller party would have to be cool with sitting at the pizza bar) since the place was still relatively quiet at the time we arrived (though that would change considerably within the hour).

Bestia is that rare place that finesses the balancing act of splendid fare, standout service, and that ineffable cool factor. They pull it off well, which I suppose is what the fuss is all about. For my wallet and me, it’s definitely an occasion/celebration kind of place – certainly not cheap. But you wouldn’t want to go to Bestia and skimp. A cocktail, a couple of courses followed by dessert will keep you on a food and drink high for days.

One of the best things about LWD is the sharing. We strive for diversity among our individual orders so that we can sample several disparate items during an outing. This sometimes leads to plate envy, comparing your final selection to the person’s choice next to you, wishing you could take home her leftovers instead of yours. At Bestia, it was a win-win situation for us all as everything we tried was so soulful and satisfying.

Like my cocktail. As lovely as all the drinks on their menu sounded, I couldn’t pass up the Granita Applebum (does Tribe know about this place?), a scintillating concoction with tequila, vermouth, thyme, and nuggets of apple granita. The drink came to life at the table when our waitress added apple soda, which didn’t compromise the iciness of the granita bits. Amazing. Also yummy were Sandy’s choice, the Bellevue Swizzle, and William’s aptly named Refreshing.

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For eats, we went everywhere – from a creamy potato-spiked polenta to a calamari-octopus salad to spaghetti with a seafood-based sauce and a pasta dish with braised oxtail as its star. I have to say, the oxtail thing scared me, not just because I’m rarely a non-poultry meat eater, but really – the oxtail? The only thing I can recall about oxes is that Paul Bunyan had a blue one named Babe. But after Bestia, I now know not to fear the ox.

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We finished the evening as scrumptiously as we started with two desserts. The coffee ice cream & doughnuts and a strawberry pastry would have been my favorite part of any other meal. But at Bestia, these fine desserts simply extended a phenomenal experience for us.

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Perhaps one day, LWD will find a fairy godfather (or just a sugar daddy) to sponsor our outings and get us into keen spots like Bestia on the regular. But maybe not, as keeping these types of dinners infrequent makes them more special, more memorable. The experience from our Bestia outing will happily remain ever after in our memories. The End.

Bestia
2121 7th Place in Los Angeles

Our Eats

Granita Applebum
Refreshing
Bellevue Swizzle

Creamy polenta
Veal tartare crostino
Grilled octopus & calamari

Casarecce al pomodoro
Spaghetti rustichella
Agnolotti alla vaccinara

“Coffee & donuts”
Seascape strawberry crostata

Burger Quest :: Golden State

Burger Quest :: Golden State

Back when we first started our little project known as Ladies Who Dine, our appetites took us for a visit (one of many we would have) to our ginormous neighbor to the north, LA, to grub on burgers and fries at Golden State (remembered here with a LWD Flashback). While back then we had a blog dedicated to our LWD outings, there was no Dianderthal. And hence, there was no Burger Quest. So as much as I may have enjoyed my burger, it held no standing on the growing list of awesome burgers I’ve enjoyed on my Quest over the last eight months or so.

Until now. For Mother’s Day, I asked my family to join me for a hike near Griffith Park. Resistance was almost immediate, one of my kids rolling her eyes and dropping her shoulders, nearly apoplectic at the thought of taking a walk outdoors. Once there, however, I was the one who first asked to turn around and head back; the one who didn’t think it wise for us to continue on for another hour-plus so we could get crazy-close to the Hollywood sign. And why my resistance?

HUNGER.

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So we left, headed for one of my husband’s favorite spots, Berri’s Cafe, to split one of their lobster pizzas. We took Beverly to get there and, as we neared La Brea, I mentioned the nearby Golden State as a past LWD success story. When he asked if I’d rather go there instead (which I was kind of hoping he would do – I know it was Mother’s Day, but he was so excited about lobster pizza, I didn’t poo-poo the idea when first broached), I was, like, “Okay” (and secretly tingling inside).

The Golden State turkey burger is meaty, succulent, and well-stacked. They don’t skimp on the cheese, making it my kind of burger. It packs an enormous amount of flavor and, for my belly, is the perfect size. I couldn’t finish it all at the table, but was ready to take on the last few bites that remained in my to-go box as soon as we made our way back to the LBC.

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Perhaps what I love most about Golden State are their sweet potato fries. Really – technically – they’re called fried sweet potato wedges on the menu. They are slightly undercooked, or at least not as over-fried as some sweet Ps can be. Still, they keep a bite to them – even a crisp on the outside. Once dunked in Golden State’s garlic aioli or their curry ketchup, these wedges become captivating. They are surely among the best sides I’ve eaten along a burger.

So another burger joins the list, and another tough decision must be made. But that’s why it’s called the Burger Quest.

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Hawkins House of Burgers turkey burger with everything (mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce), cheese added
2. PCB (Plan Check Burger) at Plan Check with americanized dashi cheese, ketchup leather, schmaltz onions, mixed pickles, crunch bun
3. Island’s California Flyer turkey burger (BBQ sauce, “Island Reds” – fried onion straws, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato & mayo)
4.Golden State turkey burger with provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, and ketchup, (added grilled onions)
5. Yeah! Burger (Make It Your Own – turkey patty, whole wheat bun, pepper jack cheese, sriracha mayo, ketchup, grilled onions, honey mustard)
6. The Habit (Veggie burger made like a Charburger, with mayo, pickle, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, cucumber, and sprouts)
7. The Counter (Build Your Own – turkey patty, grilled onions, cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli, ketchup)
8. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)

Fry Factor
1. Island’s fries with ranch dressing
2. Golden State fried sweet potato wedges with garlic aioli (and a few with curry ketchup)
3. The Counter 50-50 fries (half regular, half sweet Ps)
4. The Habit french fries
5. Plan Check sweet potato waffle fries and regular fries
7. Burger City Grill fries
7. Yeah! Burger sweet potato fries
8. Hawkins House of Burgers fries

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax in Los Angeles

Ladies Who Dine :: Atun Sushi

Ladies Who Dine :: Atun Sushi

Although I’d already been, my selection for February’s LWD outing was a local one since we now have a couple of mommies with little-little-little ones. This proved to be a good strategy as we had seven Ladies dine – our best turn out in months.

Atun is relatively new, and it still seems like they’re getting themselves together [looks like they have liquor limitations so the cocktails need a little work (all made with sake), and food took a little long coming out from the kitchen]. Still, we had a good time and left satisfied with our selections.

cheers
Sake cheers!
My Drink - a Ty Ku Mojito
My Drink – a Ty Ku Mojito

It was share and tell for the most part, the Ladies sampling each others’ dishes and drinks. Except for me, of course (only child syndrome).

Seafood tempura
Seafood tempura
IMissedTheNameOfThis Roll
IMissedTheNameOfThis Roll
Miso
Miso
Garlic Edamame
Garlic Edamame
Asparagus Yakitori
Asparagus Yakitori
Rainbow//Crunchy Rolls
Rainbow//Crunchy Rolls

Another fabulous LWD outing. Let’s do it again next month – yes?!

Atun Sushi
4262 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90807