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Rocket Man Cocktails at Gracias Madre
A favorite of Jessica Alba, Adam Levine, Taylor Swift and Nikki Reed, the vegan Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre is turning its attention to musicians as inspirations for its latest cocktails. The eatery in West Hollywood is tapping Elton John as the muse for Rocket Man, a $15 cocktail shaken with mezcal, aquavit, lime, Fino sherry, gentian liqueur and arugula, which provides the vivid green tint as well as the healthy garnish.
The Smashing Pumpkins serve as the source for the Melon Collins & the Infinite Cactus cocktail, a plant-based pun on the rock band’s hit 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Mixing mezcal, watermelon, aloe, blackberry grenadine, Manfpubzanilla sherry, lime and soda water in a tall glass, the $15 Melon Collins is decorated with a Mexican playing card.
Gracias Madre, 8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; graciasmadreweho.com.
Comedian Patton Oswalt and Chef Tim Hollingsworth Headline Amuse Bouche at Melody
Comedian Karl Hess knows how to whip up fun with food and one-liners. After all, he has hosted more than 75 episodes of the podcast Yelling About Paté alongside chef Joel Miller. Following their live podcast performed last October at the Eastside Food Festival with actor Eric André, Hess hatched the idea of mixing comedy, food and natural wine in a pop-up party called Amuse Bouche.
Following its sold-out premiere in May with Reggie Watts and surprise guest Nick Kroll at the East Hollywood wine bar Melody, Amuse Bouche is lining up performances by comedians Patton Oswalt, Sabrina Jalees and Megan Gailey on Tuesday, Aug. 6, with a dinner cooked by Otium chef Tim Hollingsworth and sandwich shop E Stretto. “I realized that combining food, wine, comedy and good people is a good recipe,” Hess said.
The concoction is a lively but intimate party. Working with production company CleftClips, Amuse Bouche will erect a stage on Melody’s patio, where lush trees and full hedges surround the set’s red curtains. Defying the conventional thinking in comedy, which Hess describes as “the more people, the better,” he sells only 80 tickets for each show. The upcoming event sold out in 36 hours. “Everybody loves Patton. And obviously Tim — not exactly a lightweight either,” he said.
Hess said he’s hashing out a plan to bring the show to Summit, the annual downtown Los Angeles festival in November that highlights new ideas in media, food, art and other fields. Still, not even the assembly of A-listers for Summit’s next conference (including Oscar-winning Free Solo filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and former DreamWorks Animation chair Mellody Hobson) can dilute his affection for Melody.
Located kitty-corner from foodie phenomenon Sqirl, the A-frame bungalow will continue to serve as the preferred venue for Amuse Bouche, although there are no set dates, Hess said. “A lot of people forget how cool Melody is,” he said. “I like to introduce people to places that I like to go to in real life.”
Amuse Bouche at Melody, 751 N. Virgil Ave., L.A.; amusebouche.nightout.com.
A New Brew From Fashion Brand Favored by Justin Bieber and Steve Aoki
A new player is percolating in L.A.’s robust coffee scene. Coming from Sydney’s renowned café culture, Australian fashion designer Daniel Patrick has introduced his own brand of coffee beans roasted in collaboration with Tartine’s Coffee Manufactory.
“It’s definitely a bit unconventional, but having such a love and passion for coffee intrigued me to do something in the space,” Patrick told The Hollywood Reporter of his move from fashion to food. Priced at $20, the 12-ounce bag of whole beans is “a medium roast and has notes of maple syrup, red apple and orange blossom,” he said. “It’s good for a pour-over coffee, which is the way I prepare mine in the morning, or could even be used for espresso.”
Patrick stumbled upon the Oakland, California-based Coffee Manufactory: “I loved the aesthetic of their branding and product, which is very important to me, and then I tried the coffee and loved it also. I posted it on my Insta stories and we connected organically like that.”
Since moving to L.A. eight years ago, Patrick’s line has attracted fans such as Justin Bieber, Steve Aoki and Khloé Kardashian, as well as pro athletes including James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers player Kyle Kuzma.
Daniel Patrick, 7969 Melrose Ave., L.A.; danielpatrick.us.
Eating Like the Kardashians
Kim Kardashian West’s pal Jonathan Cheban may be known as Foodgod, but the reality TV star and her family have their own pull in culinary circles. Thanks to their patronage, not to mention plugs on their show and social media accounts, mom-and-pop restaurant Health Nut is benefiting from a growth spurt.
Founded in 1988, Health Nut moved last year to a new location in Woodland Hills that is almost 60 percent larger than the size of its original location, partly to accommodate the influx of Keeping Up With the Kardashians fans who want to eat like their idols. “We’ve got people flying in from Australia, New York, the U.K. [and] Canada,” said Health Nut owner Steve Choi, who previously worked in finance at Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal before running the restaurant full-time.
To keep up with momentum, Choi opened a new store Saturday in Sherman Oaks. While the Woodland Hills store was decorated by his mom in “a very eclectic style,” the aesthetic in the new 2,000-square-foot corner space at a strip mall is akin to “a modern farmhouse,” he said. “You want to feel comfortable and stay for awhile.”
A popular item on the menu, which has attracted other A-listers such as Miley Cyrus, is the $11.25 Noodlerama salad — a big bowl of white rice noodles brightened with pops of shredded chicken, cucumber, carrots, pickled ginger and house-made spicy Asian dressing. Another favorite is the $3.45 Greentini, which, despite its name, is an alcohol-free serving of iced mango tea flavored with honey and cane sugar.
The Kardashians “order from us all the time,” Choi said, noting that the reality-TV royalty are likely to have someone else pick up the food in efforts to elude the paparazzi. Still, giving hope to KUWTK connoisseurs who flock to Health Nut, he said, “Kylie’s popped in a few months ago.”
Health Nut, 4550 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite A1, Sherman Oaks; healthnutla.com.
A Teahouse Pops Up at Plant Food + Wine
Having welcomed Miley Cyrus and Leonardo DiCaprio, Venice-based Plant Food + Wine is prepping to open its doors for some more high-profile visitors — this time from Chengdu, China.
From Aug. 12-18, the vegan restaurant is hosting a pop-up with Mi Xun Teahouse from the chic Temple House Hotel in Sichuan Province. For the teahouse’s debut in L.A., Mi Xun executive sous chef Tony Xu collaborated with Plant Food + Wine chef Matthew Kenney on an exclusive menu, including handmade spinach noodles with spicy Dan Dan sauce, eggplant stuffed with chopped chilies and an Instagram-ready dessert made of yam, cranberry and purple sweet potato.
In addition to Mi Xun’s selection of traditional and original Chinese tea blends, the chefs also plan to highlight the “ice plant,” a crisply textured green that is native only to Sichuan and will be paired with a flavorful sesame dressing.
Plant Food + Wine, 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd., L.A.; matthewkenneycuisine.com.
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