Archive for April 22nd, 2011

Eats on the Street

Red Lotus
2718 J St
(916) 231-0961

Red Lotus, Midtown’s new Asian cuisine hot spot from Billy Ngo, the proprietor of Kru, carefully manages to be classy, opulent and trendy without seeming douchey. Yet, its ability to straddle that tricky fence is not the main reason to visit Red Lotus – I suggest going for the food. And the draft beer selection. And the music. And the dazzling back bar patio with a fancy fireplace. Okay, that’s five good reasons now: why are you still sitting there salivating, uncertain? Red Lotus is unequivocally a great dining experience from start to finish.

I’ve been frequenting Red Lotus often enough to have possibly earned the endearment, ‘Regular,’ and frankly it’s been so good every time, and I’ve tried so many menu items that it’s tough to pinpoint their best dish. On my most recent visit, a friend and I ordered and shared the Kim Chee Fried Rice, Cauliflower, and Freshwater Eel and Shrimp Dumplings. Along with these dishes, we ordered Stone’s Cali-Belgique IPA – a bold India Pale Ale that uses a Belgian yeast strain – and trusty ol’ Duvel, a rightfully famed golden Belgian ale. I know, they probably boast amazing cocktails and wines, but this writer is unwaveringly a beer drinker, sorry.

The Kim Chee Fried Rice was runny-nose spicy, vibrantly orange, and topped with a fried egg. It had sour notes from the fermented vegetables tossed in, too. Its firey flavor paired well with the sweet savoriness of the dumplings, which arrived in a pistachio and cilantro puree. It was the most humble choice – the vegetable side – which stole the spotlight on the stage of my tastebuds: the cauliflower was perfectly executed, neither soggy nor crunchy, and possessed a delicious nutty flavor that I have been craving ever since. Combine all this with music from the likes of Radiohead, Gomez, Sufjan Stevens and Modest Mouse, and it becomes clear that Red Lotus refuses to bore a single one of your senses. Drop in during happy hour if you’re on a budget, they have many small plates available for about five bucks, as well as affordable drink specials. -NK

The Hideaway
2565 Franklin Blvd
(916) 455-1331

Reminiscent of the ‘dank pit’ that Moe’s iconicized on the Simpsons, the Hideaway has everything for the dive bar enthusiast: cheap beer, pool tables, dart boards, rough yet friendly regulars, a simple menu erring on the side of fried food, weekend brunches to take the edge off the preceding late night, and a tatted-up staff that can gracefully bullshit the day away while slinging booze with the best of ’em. Yet, don’t lump this puppy in with just another dive bar experience; this place is special, and somehow hidden from scrappy frat dudes and stiletto-wearing troublemakers, perhaps because it is tucked neatly off Broadway just beyond the grid. Having said that, I hope this little blurb doesn’t open the floodgates to said crowds that plague many of Midtowns would-be best haunts…

The Hideaway could be described as a tiki bar, with a rockabilly aesthetic. With plenty of Vargas girls and Paul Imagine prints to dazzle the eye, and their jukebox is similarly packed with delicious ear candy. But the intended coolness of the place, run by a gorgeous, sweet, redheaded style-maven, Mariah Carr, is superseded by its comfortability. All walks of life can be found co-mingling here sans pretentiousness or Cosmopolitans, making it one of my favorite new nightlife spots in the area, where I always run into colorful Midtown characters.

Upon my first stop in, my buddy and I ordered two pints of Oly (only $2 a pop), the Oly Rings, and Fried Green Tomatoes. The Oly Rings were gigantic, beer-battered and satisfying, and the Fried Green Tomatoes managed to compete with Shady Lady’s utterly perfect version of the dish. I would have liked the tomatoes within the crispy batter to have been a bit softer, and I suspect that will happen naturally as summer brings tomatoes to full ripeness. Then, upon hearing the promotional reason for our meal, Mariah and the cook procured a freebie small plate, which was Fried Mushrooms. These were firm, fresh, not slimy ‘shrooms, fried with a crispy beer battered crunch, and served with lemon serrano aioli for dipping. I gladly scarfed them down, downed the rest of my Oly, and upon receipt of the bill, did a double take- under $20, you kidding me? Kick ass. -NK

Bill Cunningham New York Documentary at the Crest Tonight

Liv Moe was just on Insight talking about the event tonight AND Jeffrey Callison brought up MidMo. We’re famous. Finally. Lorena Beightler was charming and has a cute accent. Listen here, once they archive the episode.

Details for the screening:
screening of Bill Cunningham New York at the Crest Theater
Friday, April 22nd
15 bucks, 12 bucks for students
benefits Verge Center for the Arts
Trunk show with local designers/boutiques opens at 6:30
film screens at 8:00 pm
panel discussion with fashion bloggers immediately after the film