Mid-City: Drinks and Appetizers at Cal Mare
Cal Mare recently opened at the newly renovated Beverly Center. Taking the space of an old chain restaurant, Cal Mare has completely revamped it and there’s not a trace left of the chain restaurant. I loved the beautiful blue tiles everywhere and you can almost imagine yourself on a sunny Mediterranean beach.
Chefs Michael Mina and chef-partner Adam Sobel opened Cal Mare. And it looks like the food court (food hall?) will feature 8 other Michael Mina concepts inside the mall. Cal Mare’s entrance is on La Cienega.
We walked in late one night and met Chef Adam. It turns out he worked for Chef Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas and has a background of fine dining in Vegas, Washington D.C., as well as San Francisco where he was last at RN74 (another Michael Mina restaurant).
Others may have heard of Cal Mare because of Chef Joe Sasto, Cal Mare’s chef de cuisine who is on Top Chef Season 15.
The food is an homage to Southern California hence the “Cal”and Italy which means lovely seafood (Mare) for us. The bar has a wonderful collection of Italian amari. I tasted chef’s favorite, Amara, which was a lovely light one for a digestivo at the end of our snacks.
The three of us selected really complimentary drinks. I could drink any of the three we chose but ultimately decided the Acqua Giuseppe was my favorite. I do love my brown, bitter and stirred drinks! Also great is the Sleeping Giant and Wandering Albatross with the later as a good drink to have while eating.
Sleeping Giant– Rittenhouse rye, Pomme de Normandie, Amaro Meletti, mole bitters
Wandering Albatross – Barsol pisco, Aperol, grapefruit, jasmine tea, prosecco
Acqua Giuseppe – Hine cognac, Nonino Lo Chardonnay di Grappa, amontillado sherry, banana, Amaro Sfumato
The ricotta dish with the squash chips were nice to snack on as we waited for the rest of our drinks and appetizers.
A must-order for the table is the foccacia di patate which is like the best savory cinnamon roll shaped foccacia with an abundance of Parmesan fondue. Apologies for the photos. I had really great ones than had a slight panic attack when I lost them all. Lucky for you, I rescued these photos from my Instagram (and IG stories).
The kitchen sent out stuffed peppers for us. We were taking our snacks very seriously. We also had Pacific oysters (shown above) that were fantastic with lemon and pink peppercorn.
As soon as my friend said “mortadella,” I was in. That is my fave Italian cured meat. And with sunchokes and a truffle vinaigrette, this was my favorite dish of the night. I loved that the sunchokes were raw. Such a nice crunchy texture and taste compared to the rich mortadella.
I don’t know why I had so much fun saying the name of this drink; Full of Bologna but it’s also equally fun to drink! Backed by calvados, this is lighter drink theory after having some serious whiskey drinks earlier in the night. If you like apple brandy, orgeat or brunch (lighter) style drinks, this is the one for you.
Full of Bologna – Christian Drouin Coeur de Lion Selection calvados, apricot, Amaro Montenegro, orgeat, prosecco
My friend became enamored with the idea of getting the blowfish tails. Up until this moment I had no plans to ever try poisonous fugu (blowfish) in Japan. I had no idea you could get the tails fried on American shores. So of course we got them. I also liked crunchy fennel that came with the fish.
I was back on my brown, bitter, stirred kick so I got the Lucky 13. It has both bourbon and tequila and the spicy Ancho Reyes is tamed a bit by the vermouth, Alessio Chinato. It’s a very well made and thought out drink.
Lucky 13– Evan Williams bourbon, Alessio Chinato, Espolon reposado tequila, Ancho Reyes liqueur, Angostura bitters
And lastly, we had the mushrooms. I also wanted to try the calamari but I’m glad those didn’t show because we were very full now. These mushrooms had a great cheese. I also would like this over polenta.
I’ll come back to try the pastas next time!
Cal Mare at the Beverly Center8500 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048 — (424) 332-4595 © 2018 The Minty