Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cal Mare at The Beverly Center

The Friday after Valentine's Day, Daddy Diabolina (the artist formerly known as Mr. Diabolina) had a date with Miss VV to see Aladdin at The Pantages.

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Adorbs but downright terrifying because the show started at 8, miss thang's bedtime. We hemmed and hawed like only the parents of an only child do. We plotted all contingencies like a military exercise and packed the biggest bag of snacks ever.  Pro tip: A snacking toddler is a busy toddler whose mouth is too full to whine.

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In the end, I knew she'd be fine because St. Jude's mini me would be there. VV lives for her big girl bff.

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The whole night was the idea of her dad, the Brown Devil. It was actually a triple daddy/daughter date. Best (straight) uncle ever.





Since Daddy and daughter rarely leave me be for more than a damn second, I was ready to PARTAAAAAAAY!  Which meant booking dinner with my OG partner in crime, Abuelita Diabolina (the artist formerly known as Mama Diabolina).


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Been wanting to try Michael Mina's Cal Mare since VV and I happened on it after egg slutting. Could only get a 6:15 reservation. Not a problem when your hot date is an actual bonafide senior citizen (albeit one in Dior and Phillip Lim.)

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Loved the decor instantly. The sexy bar, velvety blue booths, architectural aquamarine chairs, under the sea tile framing the open kitchen. Very chic mediterranean grotto...in a mall.



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Despite my advanced age, I still don't know very much about wine especially ones of the Italian variety. So had the waiter recommend a red by the glass. My mom demurred and said she didn't want one...until she tasted it. Excellent. I believe it was one of the first three reds on the by the glass list. Sorry, I am rusty at blogging and boozing so was too busy guzzling to note.


I do know exactly what we ate.  Started with the yellow fish tuna with blood orange, radish and chiles. Delicate, balanced perfection.

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And my favorites: The pumpkin agnolotti with dungeness crab, truffle and sea urchin. Just the right amount of texture and richness. Seafood heaven. Plus the fried brussel sprouts with black garlic. VV is currently addicted to brussel sprouts so it was great to learn a new twist on them.

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Um, but we were still hungry so we got the spicy shrimp and chickpea pancake with calabrian chile, saffron aŃ—oli and escarole. Delicious and interesting and unexpected - everything I miss about fine dining now that I cater to a tiny dictator when we go out to eat.


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Incredible piglet dinner for two. The only two who had a better one was VV (see the intensity of her face in mid-bite!) and The Brown Devil (see his paw reaching for dem fries!!!) at Mel's pre-Pantages.


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p.s. My mom loved Cal Mare so much that the next day, she begged to do happy hour there during the baby's nap. This time we sat on the patio (beautifully enclosed but still RIGHT on La Cienega), tried a different red and got the squash chips with ricotta, apple conserva and sage. So.much.flavor. A dream of a light bite.  (Look at that gorgeous guilty grubbing face!!!!)

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Plus the wild mushroon ragu with pine nuts, farm egg and speck. Flavorful and again so light. 

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We had the same waiter as the night before. When we were getting up to leave he deadpanned: "See you two tomorrow." I almost said, "Bitch you might!"

Full dinner menu to drool over here.

Verdict: A+

Add it to your list of new hot spots to try but save yourself the drama and wait until the parking saga is over at the mall. Or if you never want to retire, spring for valet. But if you have a child's college education to save for maybe park at the Beverly Connection.


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