Triple Treats – Pizza, Beer & Ice Cream at Piencone

A new family friendly restaurant opened in Los Angeles offering a playhouse patio with a small play structure on the back patio, and lots of board games for parents and their kids to play together. Piencone is an ideal spot for mom and dad to sit back and enjoy good food with a beer or cocktail, while their kids play and scream with joy, while playing with other kids. IMG_1449

Opening Piencone is a dream come true for owners and parents Corey and Michelle Wilton. Michelle graduated from San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy (CCA), and moved to Los Angeles to work in the pastry kitchens at L’Orangerie and Patina. After years in other chef’s kitchens, Michelle developed her own business as a private chef. Almost ten years ago, she and her husband, Corey opened an Eagle Rock favorite – Four Cafe just down the street from Piencone.

Corey’s background is in music and as a Beatles fan, he appreciated how the “Fab Four” changed letters around to make something iconic. Corey thought Pinecone was a whimsical play on the words “Pie” for pizza and “Cone” for ice cream.

Now parents, this couple dreamed of opening a family-friendly, wood fired pizza concept serving craft beer on tap, and artisanal ice cream. When this spot became available, their dream finally came true. IMG_1441

Pinecone offers five spacious dining areas offering five different vibes. Walking inside, our server Emily led us on a tour to see where we might like to sit. Walking by the kitchen and ice cream counter, my friend Cyndey and I noticed the front dining room was light and bright with beautiful wood floors, white booths, round globe lighting and shelves with art and green plants displayed.

Down the hallway is a dark and cozy adult friendly Bar 1954, offering a long bar top with padded bar stools and wooden booths. Emily introduced us to partner and bar manager Herb Gualpa. He told us he always has over 10 beers on tap and Whalebird Kombucha Passion Green Tea on tap. “We are the only place in LA serving this on tap right now,” Gualpa said.IMG_1445

Next we walked out to the Playhouse patio and noticed families sitting on picnic tables, while a few kids were playing in the low wood fenced area, near a table filled with Chutes & Ladders, Boggle, Trouble and Sorry! Emily told us “This has become a popular weekday lunch playdate venue, and on weekends it’s also a great birthday party destination.” I bet after the kids go home at night, this space transforms into a millennial beer garden and game night spot. 

Looking over the menu, we started with a small bowl of anchovy stuffed fried olives to snack on with a glass of wine and kombucha on tap. Next we ordered the Escarole salad with Kishu tangerines This orange citrus grows on dwarf trees and are about the size of a golf ball. There was a sprinkle of manchego cheese and chopped almonds on top of a pleasing citrus rosemary vinaigrette.IMG_1464

Emily brought us a round white plate topped with wood roasted cauliflower. This vegan dish was sweetened with currants, and spiced with a serrano aioli and curried vinaigrette. 

At the table next to me, the couple ordered the wild boar stuffed aranacini that arrived in two large fried spheres with a lemon parmesan sauce on top. They remarked it was delicious.

Looking over the pizza column, we ordered two of the most popular pizzas – The Honey Pot and the Green Thumb. What makes these pizzas unique is the naturally leavened dough made with a sourdough starter using 100% organic flour. The sauce is made with organic Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and the chopped greens are procured from a local organic farm named Country Fresh. 

The Honey Pot was topped with salami Americano, spigarello (Italian broccoli rabe), Sicillian oregano, sheep’s cheese, and a drizzle of fermented aleppo honey. My friend Cydney really liked the Green Thumb pizza with shaved garlic medallions, oregano, dill, tomatoes, sorrel and semi-soft cheese sheep’s milk cacio de roma. Kitchen shears are served with the pizzas for diners to cut wide or thin slices to their liking.IMG_1461

We saved room for the pasteurized organic ice cream made on premise. Looking at the eight flavors available that include vanilla bean, maple with brown sugar pop tart, brown butter lavender, mint chip, chocolate hazelnut, sesame caramel, coconut passion fruit sorbet and Mexican hot chocolate, we ordered a scoop of sesame caramel and Mexican hot chocolate. Emily asked if we wanted our ice cream on a cone or in a cup. Since they make and roll their own waffle style crunchy cones, we both said cone. Looking around the room while licking our ice cream, we noticed we weren’t the only diners holding ice cream cones after enjoying a delicious dinner. 

Next time you are in the mood for a beer, salad, pizza and ice cream, head on over to Piencone. The restaurant is open 7 days a week. On weekdays it’s open from 4 to 11 p.m. On weekends it opens at 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. $$ 1958 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles (323)274-4728.

Eat More DönerWorks

At SpireWorks’ newest location in Eagle Rock, you will experience a döner – meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie similar to the Arab shawarma, Greek gyros and Mexican al pastor. I met the founder and CEO Bob Kaufman and COO Jeff Rosenthal last week at their grand opening, as they gave away free meals with a dessert and beverage to guests.
Rice bowls and sandwiches are part of the eclectic menu at SpireWorks featuring American diner.

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Kaufman introduced himself and shared his story about how he grew up in Encino and now lives in Sherman Oaks. After graduating from Birmingham High School and UC Santa Barbara, he worked as a VP for Tower Records and later The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, which enabled him to travel the world. Along the way, he enjoyed the flavors from countries like Taiwan, Turkey, Japan and Thailand.

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It was in Turkey that Kaufman discovered döner. He found a particular restaurant in Istanbul that had the flavors he was looking for and obtained the recipe from the chef. With the help from the food innovation and development company Pilot R+D, and Chef Kuniko Yagi as a consulting chef (she has worked with Chef David Myers as Executive Chef at Comme Ça and Hinoki and the Bird), they realized that the cattle in Turkey is raised differently than in the United States, and affects the beef’s taste. Together they worked with Glen Rose Meats to create the most delicious beef döner. It took 18 months to perfect. They also came up with a spit-roasted rosemary chicken.

To cater to vegetarians, they created a unique köfte, similar to a large falafel ball, yet moist and not as crispy on the outside. Chef Kuniko helped build the menu with seven different traveling destinations – Mexico, China, Italy, New York, Thailand, Turkey and the deep South offering pleasing flavor profiles.

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Kaufman led me on a tour of his wilderness-themed café. Above the entrance, it appeared as if we were walking under trees. The tables are decorated with colorful flowered tops, and the green flooring tiles look like grass. On the walls are cork board and birch tree wallpaper representing wood. What stands out in the dining room is the handmade tree branch chandelier. “We found the branches and made our own light fixture,” Kaufman said. The room evokes a camping trip with whimsical retro photo of people standing in front of their VW Westfalia camper.

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Kaufman encouraged me to try three different döner dishes. First you select a base of either their unique bread, multicolor wild rice or salad greens. I chose the fresh bread made only for SpireWorks. It’s a baked sesame seed bread similar to Ciabatta on the outside and a Turkish bread inside. It’s split to form a pocket for stuffing the fresh ingredients. Then I had a choice of three proteins – their special roasted beef, chicken or vegetarian option. “Both the beef and chicken are antibiotic and hormone free,” Kaufman said. I chose the sliced spiral chicken and had it made Peking style with hoisin sauce, green onions, crispy onions, angel hair carrots, cucumber spirals, and Rayu shaker. The spice reminded me of the aromas of the Chinese Night Market in Hong Kong.

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The seasoning mixtures were developed by Chef Kuniko. She created the Japanese shaker Furikake, offering a seasoning that is popular to sprinkle on cooked rice from her native Japan. Kaufman wanted me to taste the New York shaker on the twice cooked baby Dutch yellow potatoes. “It tastes just like the breadboard crumbs after cutting into a double baked rye bread,” Kaufman said. “With Russian dressing and sauerkraut, this is a winner with the döner beef.” The potatoes were warm, soft and creamy and brought back memories of a New York deli.

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Enjoying the flavor, I ordered a New York style mixed greens bowl topped with beef. Russian dressing, sauerkraut, shaved parmesan, cucumber spirals, angel hair beets and a few New York shakes were added to uplift the flavor profile even more.

Last I ordered a bowl with wild rice and vegetarian köfte balls made with cubed carrots, mushrooms, peppers and onions bound with chickpea flour and urfa briber – dried Turkish chili pepper. I had it made Bangkok style with Tamarind chutney, yellow curry aioli, green onions, pickled red peppers and a delightful crunchy Thai coconut curry crumble. It was a brilliant combination.

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“The perfect bite is a combination of hot and cold, salty, sweet and sour, squishy and crunchy.” Kaufman said of my selections.

You can design your own bowl or sandwich with a variety of sauces that include tomato jam, zaatar labneh, yellow curry aioli, Russian dressing or hoisin sauce. For crunch there are options of pickled cauliflower, red onions, red peppers with Sambal or sauerkraut.

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Coffee beverages are from Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Nitro Brew Coffee. The iced latte is made with cream, Okinawa raw sugar and sea salt to create a satisfying beverage. They also have a Stubborn soda machine with a variety of flavors that include a root beer with no artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup and full of natural flavors.

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Sweet treats at SpireWorks are slices of roll cakes in flavors of banana cream pie, dulce de leche, honey mascarpone, tiramisu, strawberry shortcake and chocolate ganache. These bite sized delights hit the spot, without being too sweet, heavy and filling.

Excited to try other destinations, I visited the Westwood Village SpireWorks before going to the UCLA basketball game. This was the first SpireWorks location and resembles a train depot with guests having the option to dine in a train car to mimic traveling around the world.img_0337

SpireWorks is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 4945 B Eagle Rock Blvd. (323)895-7888 and 1061 Broxton Ave. (424)220-6299.

This review was published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on January 26, 2017.

Fun French Dining

Walking into Café Beaujolais I noticed the waiters all wore t-shirts that read “Everything French, but the Attitude.” The word “but” has an X over it and the word “Even” is underneath.

This is a place where the French waiters (they all have the accent) smile and are friendly. Their attitude is charming.  The French music in the background transforms you into a little café in Paris.

We always order a Kir Royal, (Champagne and Cassis) because it’s what the French drink while they peruse the menu.  Everything is written in French with the English translation underneath.

Slices of French bread and butter are delivered to the table while we waited for the Gratinee a l’onion – French Onion Soup and a salad de fromage de chevre chaud – goat cheese salad with mixed greens and tomatoes. Our Les Entrees included Pave de Boeuf au porto et Roquefort – Filet of beef with port sauce and Roquefort on top and the Le fletan au champagne – Filet of halibut in a champagne sauce with a parmesan sauce. Scrumptious.

For dessert the Tarte Tatin with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream is better than Mom’s homemade apple pie.  It’s thick chunks of baked apple on a delicate crust with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  

Located at 1712 Colorado Blvd. Eagle Rock (323)255-5111.  They don’t take reservations, but you can call first to see if they have available tables.