Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birthday Party at The Park. Happy, Happy Day, A!

The Park
1400 Sunset Blvd
at the corner of Douglas
in Echo Park.
Tel: 213/482.920

We met friends for dinner to celebrate A's birthday Saturday night at The Park. Shame on us for not eating there sooner. It is literally 2 blocks from our front door, damn delicious and inexpensive. Shame. The good news is, now we can rectify our misdeeds often.

I like the interior. There is not glitz, no glam, just some paint and a few candles. And their lovely mascot, this gas lamp standing in the corner by the booster seats and highchairs.

The simplicity of the decor perfectly reminds you of the trees in the park down the street. Echo Park.

There are a lot of great choices on the menu. There are vegetarian options, vegan options, and plenty of everything else. The price is excellent for the quality. Appetizers are $8-9, pastas are about $12, and entrees between $12 and $16. Huzzah!

I am loving the tap water trend. Los Angeles has very decent tap water. But I am fancy enough to enjoy restaurants that dress it up a little. Thoughtfully, simply, elegant.

We started by sharing the Szechuan fried calamari salad, served atop butter lettuce. This is delicious. The sauce is light, the calamari are cooked to the prefect degree of tenderness. We ate this up fast.

We all passed around our appetizers, and everyone got a taste. Below are the mini-cornmeal pancakes topped with fresh corn, seared shrimps and chipotle butter, and some Mexican crema. Wow. These are a definite must-do next time we stop by. The pancakes themselves are wonderful, light and fluffy but with substance. And the shrimp/crema mixture on top added a little luxury...very very good.

The birthday girl ordered the heirloom tomato galette. Inside is fontina and mozzerella cheeses, atop are heirloom tomatoes with a red wine vinaigrette and some chili oil for kick. This had nice flavors, but I thought the filling was thicker and stodgier than I would have liked to taste. I'd prefer the inside of the galette a little lighter. Good though, still very good.

Onto the entrees...D ordered the linguine and clams in white wine sauce. I like something this hearty and simple in a neighborhood restaurant. Everything does not have to be revinvented to be worthy. I sampled liberally from this plate.

J ordered a burger. I was kinda dying for a bite, but a burger is so personal. You know, you get your hands and face really in there, if it is a worthy burger. J was enjoying this immensely. I did sneak more than a couple of fries from his plate. Good fries. Great aoili. Very garlicky, but you could also clearly taste some lemon, too.

Below is something that was from the specials menu. I have no recollection what it was, well it was fish. But it sounded great when it was described. I see some spinach or kale, some rice and carrots...healthy.

A different J's pulled pork. A chipotle Kurubota pulled pork with sweet corn pudding and Napa cabbage slaw. She was enjoying this..she ate every bite so it must have been good. I might try this next time.

They have a classic Ceasar on the menu. Fluffy, looked good. Didn't taste.

I ate the grilled polenta and portobella mushroom, with romesco sauce and creamed kale. This dish is a winner. I am assuming it slipped being vegan by the cream in the kale, but they kept the kale pretty light. This was hearty and generous in size, Italian comfort food.

The other L ordered the salmon from the menu. I have read raves about this from the innerwebs. It is crusted in sesame seeds, served with a soy-mirin butter, gingered asian green and radish avocado sushi. Festive!

The Park is the quintessential little neighborhood restaurant. They take limited reservations because they always try to leave room for walk ins from the 'hood. It was packed from the time we got there til the time we left. There were several large parties, and everything and everyone was well cared for the entire time. Our service was perfect, no food went back to the kitchen, and they tirelessly opened bottle after bottle of our BYOB with no corkage. I am impressed.

Park on Urbanspoon

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