I know there is good food in Los Angeles and I'm trying to be more open to new things. That being said, I don't like driving and I don't particularly like Santa Monica, so I normally don’t travel to the west side of the city to do anything, beyond what I have to for work. On top of that, I’m not what you’d call a “beach” person, so generally I steer clear of Venice, Malibu and Santa Monica on the weekends, particularly the street that connects them all, Ocean Ave. B
ut, in an effort to rid myself of the sophomoric, cliched ennui associated with moving from New York to Los Angeles, I'm trying to embrace this city as my new home and make it my culinary bitch in my second year living here. Last Sunday, I pulled it together, faced the drive and went to the recently-hyped Blue Plate Oysterette, sister restaurant to the casual, healthy diner-style restaurant Blue Plate, located next to the ocean on Ocean Avenue.
Blue Plate Oysterette is one of the smaller restaurants I’ve been to in Los Angeles, reminding me of the boutique NYC restaurants like Pearl Oyster Bar or Prune.
With a few tables lining the street for outdoor seating, a handful of stools at the bar, the restaurant is primarily one long banquet of tables. The wait staff has a familial feeling, again, similar to what I experience in the casual, neighborhood restaurants in New York, and everyone is authentically nice.
The menu is a diner menu for pescatarians, with a heavy emphasis on local fish and oysters served in a variety of styles including ceviche, Ximemez, and Italian-inspired Crudo. The daily fish specials and selection of oysters are written on the chalk board that hangs above the bar. There were five types of oysters, two East Coast and three West Coast, although they were out of bunch of things by the time we sat down. After much deliberation I decided on a half dozen Kumamotos.
We ordered drinks, starting with St. King sparkling water. It tasted like any other sparking water I’ve had, I though the bottle was WAY cool.
Each table is set with a condiment tray, which includes Heinz malt vinegar worcestershire sauce (yes, that's how you spell it, Google that shit). Given my love for condiments I was super impressed that each table has its own private tray.
The fishless food items that make it on the menu are few, including a hanger steak, Blue Plate hamburger, AND “The Big Dog,” which I will be ordering the next time I'm there. "The Big Dog" is a 1/2 lb Kobe beef hot dog, topped with sauerkraut and homemade pickles and looks AMAZING. I immediately regretted not ordering it because right after I placed my order, the dog was delivered to the table next to me. However, my jealously waned once my oysters arrived.
The small pearl like oysters contain a mild, salty and perfect taste, one of my favorites in the world. Served with lemon, cocktail sauce and a shallot,champagne vinaigrette, the Kumamotos were delicious on their own and didn't need any garnish.
Once the Kumamotos were gone I sank into a momentary, post-oyster depression, and decided to order a Hefeweizen to drown my sorrows. Blue Plate only serves wine and beer, carrying products from small yield vineyards and micro-brewers.
Emotional catastrophe was averted by the booze and the arrival of the Oysters Rockefeller. They might be the best baked-cheesey-bacony-oysters I've ever had, probably for two reasons. One, they didn't use oysters the size of my hand, which many restaurants do because they are cheaper. And two, the cheese was mixed lightly with a butter pesto sauce that, surprisingly, didn't over power the dish.
We then split a few more smalls plates including the mac and cheese, fries and spinach. Even though we ordered the mac and cheese sans lobster, it was just the taste I wanted, crispy on top and relentlessly creamy throughout, every piece of macaroni was smothered in awesomeness. The fries were totally boring, but they provided me with an opportunity to turn to my condiment platter and drown them in vinegar.
The spinach was a nice compliment to these two heavy dishes. It was freshly steamed and garnished with a bit of oil and crispy garlic slivers.
For our main course, we shared the Crudo of the day which was fresh ahi tuna mixed with olive oil, sea salt and lemon and served with chives, avocado, and crostini. It looked beautiful, however, the olive oil overpowered the taste of the fresh fish and basically made it seem like a healthy, open face tuna sandwich with avocado.
Even though I was stuffed, I ordered the hot fudge sundae, garnished with dried cherries and malt balls. As good as it looked, the sundae didn't live up to my expectations. There weren't enough malt balls and they used too many cherries, which overwhelmed the taste of the ice cream and hot fudge.
At this point, I was moving slowly and having difficultly thinking about the meal and forming complete sentences. I'm not sure if I grunted or said "Thank you," when the waitress brought the check. In retrospect, I would have skipped the crudo and ordered another dozen or so oysters. As I got up to leave the Oysterette, I noticed a TV above the door. I imagine it's a good sign that this was the first time I noticed it all night, and neither the other patrons or the waitstaff were paying any attention to it. I would like to think that the food was so good no one noticed and the waitstaff was too busy to care. However, I did get an urge to point up to the sky and say, "Ha! I told you so," to anyone who cared (no one) when I realized what was on the TV.
It was a surf video.
*Photos by Thomas Young
**Sarah works in film production in sunny Los Angeles. After being away in Europe for five months, she is pretty much obsessed with burritos, sushi and Kogi at The Alibi Room in Culver City.