Abbot Kinney, America, American Food, Axe, Axe Restaurant, California, Californian Wines, Foodie, Hipster Los Angeles, LA, Local Food, Los Angeles, Minimalist Restaurants, Ms.Tripsalot, Open Kitchen, reviews, Seasonal Food, Travel, Venice Beach, Venice CA
Back in April I spent 2 weeks in LA. This time we stayed in Venice Beach, which I’m hoping is the weirdest part of LA. I’m a fan of all things weird and wonderful and expressing your individuality, but even I can only handle so much weirdness at once. My eyes and brain can only process so many wacky things at a time, so I felt like I was probably missing out on many of the smaller strange things that escaped my attention because I was distracted by a tree that looked like it was shedding giant balls of alien cotton wool while a man cycled by on a two story penny farthing!! I am not even exaggerating.
Venice Beach and the surrounding neighbourhood feels like an odd combination of high end hipsters and a huge homeless population, that seem to coexist relatively peacefully. It’s a great area for someone like me who doesn’t drive, as it is close to the beach and there are lots of cool cafes and restaurants within walking distance. The trendiest area seems to be in and around Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a long street that has some really great restaurants, but also lots of unusual interior design shops and galleries. You could spend a lot of money there if you were so inclined. But you can also get plenty of really quirky, affordable pieces like hammocks, rugs, candles and all sorts of authentic vintage paraphernalia to give your home a retro Americana feel.
I was so tempted to leave a book here but I didn’t. My fear of unknown germs held me back. But I do love the idea.
I thought this was a joke the first time I spotted one of these tsusami evacuation signs. Unfortunately it is a very harsh reality for a Pacific Rim city like LA and lets just hope they never have to face a tsumani because I think it would have horrific consequences.
Again, we were so tempted to try this out but when we finally ate here, we completely forgot about the sign outside!
One of the first meals we had was in Axe ( I think it’s pronounced “Ashay” but I have no idea) a very minimalist, chic restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We had no reservation but were able to sit at the bar and watch the chefs work in the open kitchen. Unfortunately the lighting was so low that the pictures are almost unusable but I will persevere anyway.
We ordered a platter of flatbread and dips to share. The flatbread came out grilled and rolled up in a sort of a cone shape. We tore into it and used it to scoop up the delicious dips: hummus, roasted carrot, beetroot, greek yogurt and caramelised onion. I enjoyed them all except one that was distinctly fishy. I imagine if you like a fishy dip, you would had mopped that one up in no time too.
I then had a delicious homemade sausage and sauerkraut dish, that was a little on the skimpy side but very tasty. I’m not normally a big fan of sauerkraut but it was very good, lots of mustard and the sausage was very light in texture and delicate in taste. I also had a very rich, very cheesy potato gratin on the side that was small but perfectly formed.
Mr. Cooksalot had a slow cooked ragu with handmade papardelle. We could see the chefs preparing the pasta inside the open kitchen, which was really entertaining for someone like me who is fascinated by how food is prepared. The pasta was light and delicate and the ragu was rich and full of flavour, but again the portion wasn’t too huge. That’s not a criticism, as it made a welcome change from the usual American portions which could feed two people easily.
For dessert we had a very good apple crumble, which I think they called a crisp. I’m not sure what the difference between a crumble and a crisp is – maybe it’s just an America thing? Either way it was also a very civilised portion, but more than enough to satisfy our healthy appetites.
I’ve no idea which red wine we ordered but it was from California and it was delicious. I wish we could get more Californian wines over here, we are really missing out.
This kind of LA restaurant always feels like it is about 5 years ahead of Dublin, so I expect to see something similar to this popping up at home circa 2019! We don’t have that many chic, minimalist places to eat here in Ireland, as we seem to be in the middle of a muted neutral or shabby chic phase (not that I have a problem with that but it’s about as far from Axe’s design as you can get).
There is a huge emphasis on sourcing the best of local ingredients and honouring them by preparing them as simply but expertly as possible – an ethos not uncommon at home but with many ingredients you simply wouldn’t find in Ireland, at least not yet.
I really enjoyed Axe and if I lived nearby I could easily see myself popping here on a regular basis to have a quick bite and a few glasses of excellent Californian wine. It has a relaxed atmosphere and most of the customers felt like regulars. I highly recommend it if you are fortunate enough to be nearby.