Jaywalking in LA

All photos by Jay

Santa on a motorcycle in front of my house. What happened to his reindeers?

Chef Roy Choi's famous Kogi Food Truck, which served Korean tacos and started the entire food truck craze.

Corkage: Stopped in at the new Wally's Beverly Hills (447 N. Canon Drive, BevHills, between Nic's and Wolfgang's Steak House,(310) 475-3540) where the former Monsieur Henry cheese story had a short life. Was told there were 70,000 bottles of wine on display here and I believe it. An astonishing assortment, although I was surprised that they didn't have a selection of Laetitia Wines, one of my favorites. Sat at the long table with a friend and ordered a delicious grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich ($13). Was handed a menu of Brandy and Port selections, with some of each ranging into the hundreds for a drink. (Louis XIII Cognac, $705 for a shot, Grahams Vintage Port, $100). Decided to have a bottle of wine with our meal and chose a bottle of Justin's Isocelese, a fabulous red. The waiter mentioned that there would be a corkage charge, but I wasn't paying attention. When he presented the bill, I realized that they had charged me a $40 corkage fee, while the wine was a fair retail price. Yes, I know that if I had ordered the same bottle of wine in a regular restaurant it would have been two or even three times higher than the retail price but still -- that corkage fee for drinking wine in a wine shop kind of stumps me. Welcome any thoughts from readers on this....

Wallys Bevrerly Hills is a huge wine shop with a small dining room.

Did you see that New York Times article about an astute producer, Adam Field, who mined the 640 unfilmed screenplays of the formerly defunct Miramax Film Co. (founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein). Adam discovered an early version of The Wedding Ringer and brought it to fruition and release this week. Somewhere in the same pile of scripts is my dreamed-of remake of Columbia's Bell, Book and Candle, the supernatural romantic comedy which starred Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. I developed it for some 12 years with the Weinstein brothers. Hey, Adam, dig down into the script box and come up with that one; it's terrific.

Malaysian Curry Laksa, one of the many delicious dishes from that country.

Went to the annual dinner at the Four Seasons thrown by the Malaysian Government for the media, and said to my companion that I can't figure why Malaysian cuisine hasn't caught on worldwide. We had Chicken Satay, Chile Sauce Prawns, Halibut with Coconut Chile Sambal.It is a delicious amalgam of Chinese, Japanese and Malay- Hakka foods and ingredients. I cook all year 'round with their Lingham Hot Sauce, a spicy sweet chile blend which adds measures to any dish. The lovely Malay people are suffering from too many air crashes so anything we can do to help them is worthwhile...
Had a truly delicious meal with Ginny Mancini at SPAGHETTINI & The Dave Koz Lounge (184 N. Canon Drive (310) 424-4600) directly next door to Wolf's Spago. It was on a Monday night, when there is no music so it was relatively quiet, but I hear that on weekends it has caught on with the wine-and-dine-with-music crowd It will get a full review shortly. I think the concept of restaurants selling 'tickets' to dinner rather than taking reservations will become much more popular in 2015. Thomas Keller has adopted it for The French Laundry and Per Se, while Chicago's Alinea and Next are doing it now. It eliminates the troubling 'no show' problem for the eateries and lets them plan their inventory better. I think that 'tipping' might also be replaced in many places by an arbitrary 15-or-20% gratuity as restaurants have to face the increasing problem of the back-of-the-house employees (cooks, dishwashers) not sharing in the tips received by the wait staff. Some other things that I see coming in 2015 are more restaurants using iPad tablets to have diners place their orders and even pay their tabs. The order with the table's number goes directly to the kitchen. Eventually orders may even be placed by your iPhone and paid with that credit card gadget on top. Servers will still be there but tables will turn faster. Did you see that internet story about oysters being the perfect food?. Reminds me that the bravest man who ever lived was the first man to eat an oyster. McDonald's custom-burger test at four California locations sounds to us exactly like the wonderful Habit Burger chain we wrote about here on The Huffington Post a few months ago. It wll be a lot harder to do with the Big Mac culture.

The Habit's double charburger... yumm!

When I wrote a rave review for the movie, Selma, I had not read the Washington Post article by Joseph Califano disputing its portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson, especially the scene where he put the FBI onto Dr. King. Yes, I do think this movie could well get The Best Picture Oscar, and I suspect Ava Duvernay may win a well-deserved Best Director Oscar.

Ava Duvernay is the very talented director of Selma.

The best new restaurants of 2014? Certainly Curtis Stone's Beverly Hills entry, MAUDE, warrants inclusion near the top of that list. And Walter Manske's REPUBLIQUE deserves inclusion. I loved Jason Travi's SUPERBA FOOD AND BREAD in Venice, especially for its pastries. The return of the Empress Pavilion downtown was welcomed, and my greatest disappointment was Roy Choi's POT. Places which I have not yet visited have been touted to me as tops: Ludo's PETIT TROIS and Kris Yenbamroong's NIGHT MARKET SONG in Silverlake, and FAITH & FLOWER. Gary Winnick has also alerted me to BESTIA downtown. My leading food discovery of the year was the incomparable KOLIKOF CAVIAR (www.kolikofcaviar.com), a large tin of which I opened for my own New Year's celebration. while I continue to dream about Gino Angelini's lasagna served at his lovely Angelini Osteria on Beverly Blvd.

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his La Cienega restaurant at Christmas-time.

Nobu Malibu was the scene for Sonata's (right) birthday party, with my brother Stan (left) and her roommate Evana (center).

All of his billions could not keep his Russian girlfriend's restaurant open. Larry Ellison gave her Nikita in Malibu and she instituted a decent Italian menu with a good chef, but it somehow never caught on. So it closed without notice the night after Christmas, which is even sadder when you realize that the fabulous NOBU MALIBU right next to it is packed day and night. I heard that Ellison had built this Nikita place for Wolfgang Puck but the chef decided he didn't want to schlepp out to Malibu again. (He did that once.) So Ellison is now trying to woo a top-name star chef to take over the spectacular location...

Charlize Theron with Wallis Annenberg at the new WALLIS Theatre in Beverly Hills

The Los Angeles Business Journal has a long front-page story entitled: "Chef Missing Ingredient at Eateries-Ex-partner stews over David Myers' exit to new venture." It seems that our long-time chef friend has skipped out to Japan, leaving lots of ill-will from his partners in various eateries here. I had noticed that his Comme Ca on Melrose closed 'for renovation' and never reopened. His pizza place closed, and then he left the wonderful Hinoki and the Bird, which now has to function also without its excellent Japanese women chef partner, Kuniko Yagi. Come on David, come home and clean up the mess. Here's a show that I must see at The Wallis, the stunning theatre at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. It's Carl Reiner's ENTER LAUGHING -- The Musical. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by funnyman Carl, it centers on the journey of a stage-struck errand boy from the Bronx with dreams of making it big on Broadway. The show plays there from February 10th to March 1st, and I suspect it will sell out quickly, so get your tickets now (310-746-4000) and another show I am planning to see is JACK LEMMON RETURNS, which plays at the The Broad Stage in Santa Monica from Jan. 7th to Feb. 15th. It's a musical tribute to a Hollywood legend, with Jack's son, Chris, playing his dad. Since I produced a film which co-starred Jack, Buddy, Buddy, which also featured Walter Matthau and was directed by Billy Wilder, I do want to see this portrait of the gentle star's life. My memory of him is sitting quietly in his trailer doing the cross-word puzzle until he was needed on set, knowing his lines well and being nice to everyone (as opposed to Matthau's rambunctious attitude.)

Jack Lemmon (center) with Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot"

To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at jayweston@sbcglobal.net.

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