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Grand bistro desert

The current rage in California cuisine seems to be Asian Fusion, such as Cuban-Chinese or Franco-Japon. When I heard that one of Culver City’s newest restaurants, Grand Bistro, was Asian-European, that’s what I assumed it was, too.
So, 4 of us headed over for lunch last week, and were fascinated by the menu; it wasn’t fusion at all, but 2 distinct menus! One side is literally French and Italian while the other features Japanese, Chinese and Thai. We had such fun telling each other which side of the menu we were talking about.
I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out which ethnicity I was into, but we went with a little of each and enjoyed them all.

First of all, the place itself had the look and feel of the Chinese restaurants of my youth in Brooklyn, which created a cozy feeling for me. With the choices, flavors, and prices, we were shocked to see that it wasn’t full, but I attributed that to it’s somewhat out-of-the-way location, in a far corner of the Raintree Plaza strip mall.

Grand Bistro calamari

I have to start the food review with dessert because it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever had!!! I’ve been craving it ever since. It’s listed as Chocolate Mint Brulee, but we didn’t taste any mint, which made it better for me. And, instead of being served in the small dish it was made in, as most Crème Brulees are, it came in a scoop on top of sliced strawberries surrounded by blackberries. It truly was incredible.
Mallory Greitzer and Jordan Robin, my friends who were visiting on break from NYU, enjoyed the food and were my sushi samplers. They chose the reasonably-priced, and perfect, Shrimp Tempura Rolls and delicious Gyoza dumplings.
My pick from the Asian side was the Pineapple Fried Rice that was jam-packed with shrimp, chicken, cashews and raisins. Lou, the final friend to join us, went on and on about how perfectly balanced the rice tasted.
Here’s a quick run-down on the European dishes: We all loved the yummy Baked Mushrooms, stuffed with chicken and spinach mousse! How innovative! The other 3 commended the Calamari for having many more meat pieces than tentacles. (They said that calamari fans will know how impressive that is.)

Grand bistro Culver City pasta

The Asian Pear Salad had an unexpected tang, which Mal loved, while Lou said the Tequila in the Chicken-Tequila Fettuccine gave that dish an extra spin. (That brave boy ordered it spicy. Probably so he wouldn’t have to share with the rest of us!)

The potato pancake that came with the giant piece of Sesame Coated Salmon was crispy and delicious. And I couldn’t stop eating the Chicken Penne.
Though we all drank only water, Grand Bistro has a pretty good beverage list, featuring wine, beer, sake and juices. Our waiter was Calvin, who was more than accommodating.
I went there for lunch this time, but I can’t wait to go back on a Sunday evening to feel like I’m back in Brooklyn with my family. Only, this time I’m not sharing my Chocolate Brulee!
Grand Bistro 10706 Jefferson Blvd. Culver City 310-558-8488


Soup's Sports Grill decorations
2006 World Series Memorabilia

Last year, a teen-age singer friend of mine, Mimi Paley, was discovered here in Los Angeles by the owners of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. Debbie and Mark Attanassio invited her to come to Milwaukee and sing the National Anthem before a home game.
They were playing the Yankees. As if getting to see the Yankees play live wasn’t enough, there was Derek Jeter, checking her out! I saw it with my own eyes on the video tape of the experience. How jealous was/am I???
Ever since then, I always thought this couple was so nice to do this for a young girl whose talent they admired, especially since her father, Dr. Harvey Paley, is from that area. I hoped to meet them some day to applaud their musical taste in person. Well, I got my chance last week at the opening of Soup’s Sports Grill, the latest Woodland Hills restaurant. (I’ll explain later why they were there.)
Despite the name, the place, however, has nothing to do with soup; rather it’s a sports bar/casual eatery. The opening party had a pretty good turn-out on a very stormy night.

Soup's Sports Grill
The Milwaukee Sausage greeting Karen and her Little Buddy, Christine

For some inexplicable reason the didn’t serve their own food at the event, so I can’t tell you about that part of it. I heard from some fellow partiers that their real fare is quite good, (it’s been open to the public for a few weeks), but these tidbits from an unnamed caterer were just awful. I hope to pay them a return visit very soon to experience what this spot has to offer.

The fun part was that there were professional baseball players in attendance, since it’s owned by one! Jeff Suppan, (whose nickname is “Soup,” hence the restaurant name) from the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, is the owner, along with his wife, Dana. (Having moved among five teams, he currently pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers, which is why the owners were there. See, I always remember to come back to my original premise.)

Jeff Suppan of Soup's Sports Grill
Karen with Soup’s owner, and MLB pitcher, Jeff Suppan

The highlight, though, was meeting 2007 NL MVP, Ryan Braun. He’s adorable and obviously talented. He won all five major Rookie of the Year awards, being only the second person to do that in the past decade! (Albert Pujols is the other.)

Anyway, the servers at the party were accommodating, the baseball memorabilia was interesting and colorful, the multiple TV screens were big and clear, and the full-size dug-out was fun. Now all I need is to try their real menu, so, check back soon for my review.
Soup’s Sports Grill 21028 Ventura Blvd. Woodland Hills 818-884-6005




Karen Salkin with Soup's Sports Grill's Ryan Braun
Karen trying not to grip
Ryan Braun too hard


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