I may have found just the solution. My current date works in the Westwood/Avenue of the Stars area. Between the UCLA college students and the high brow restaurants, it’s hard to find a place that has just the right food and ambiance to get to know someone. The X Bax found me they are located at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the Avenue of the Stars. This place is quite, very open, delicious, and most of all the perfect place to sit down and intimately get to know someone.
Last Friday I brought my date in around 5 pm, 30 minutes after they opened. We started off with a Chimay and few appetizers on the menu. She’s not really big on spicy foods so we got the Chicken Lettuce Wrap, Meatball Sliders and took a chance with the Fiery Chicken Morsels. Everything came out looking beautiful not to mention the service was top notch, here it’s all about the details.
We were seated by a large fire pit; while the heaters kept us warm and cozy. We started taking bites of all the food and with out question, it was delicious. I pulled out my microphone to start taking notes about the food, being the profession writer she is, she playfully started poking fun at my description of the chicken – I called it “twangy”. She asked me about the spiciness of the chicken. I gave it a 1 out of 10. She takes a bite and looks at me as if she no longer has feeling in her face. I guess when you are constantly trying food your mouth gets a little used to it.
At this point, aside from setting her mouth a blaze, the date is going pretty well. Even though most dates might get annoyed that you’re taking pictures, tweeting, instagraming, face-booking and constantly making comments on every little thing; she was actually starting to get pretty into it. She started hamming up the role of “I on a date” with a MEAT blogger.
When it came to ordering burgers she went took the healthier route. I went with the, “What are my taste buds going to love” route. I can say both burgers were equally delicious, if not just as good as some of the best places I’ve eaten at. Now with both of our stomach’s full we got a chance to sit down with the chef Julie Picco and find out what was behind all of this delicious food.
MEAT ME: Is there an overall goal with the menu here at X Bar?
Julie Picco: All of our outlets are California style cuisine. Over here we try to do everything shareable with the exception of our burger. So nothing comes in oversized pieces we try to make it a little fancier than just your average bar food. We have Latin and Asian influence because that is essentially California. Beyond that it’s whatever Chris (Kitchen Head), and I (She runs the kitchen at night) try to collaborate on the menu.
MEAT ME: How often do you guys change the menu? Is it seasonal?
Julie Picco: We were changing it once a year over here, but we leave it vague so we can bring in seasonal ingredients when we feel like it. We were doing specials as well. We changed it about 6 months ago and now we just changed it again, got rid of some items that weren’t selling and switched a few things out. We have been trying to do it about twice a year now.
MEAT ME: I noticed with your Build-A-Burger that you have the Meyer’s Natural Beef. Where are you guys sourcing your beef?
Julie Picco: Meyer’s is the name of a farm. It is a Hyatt standard that they use at all Hyatt hotels. I think it is a company that has naturally raised cattle. It is not just one farm but it’s a company that makes sure all of it’s beef is up to certain standards. Every Hyatt you go to, especially a Regency should have Meyer’s natural angus patties. It is a company wide standard. – The veggie patty we make here with brown rice and beans we didn’t want it to just be a garden burger, which a lot of places do. We do that in house. The other items we switch up when we feel like it, like the King’s Hawaiian bread, that was something we decided to do as a sweet option.
MEAT ME: Yea that was great. That’s what I got, it was my favorite.
Julie Picco: Yea this one we don’t change the menu as much on the other side we change it 4 times a year religiously so seasonality and being local is what we strive for.
MEAT ME: So the Meatball Sliders, how are they made cause I noticed they were very delicious. I was expecting “meatballs” and it was way different?
Julie Picco: Oh yeah. They have been making those meatball sliders since before I even transferred here. We have been making those forever. I think it might have been way back when Chef Manny redid the menu years ago. Chef Manny is amazing, he is the Executive Chef here at the hotel and he has been all of Southern California for a long time. It has 3 meats in it.
MEAT ME: Really? Wow!
Julie Picco: It has veal, pork, and beef. It’s really good, we make them in house in small batches and are simmered in a red sauce. It’s probably one of the least So Cal items on the menu.
MEAT ME: Yea it’s funny you mention that, the only other time I had heard of that was when I was in Mississippi and I met with a USDA approved Halal butcher, Two Run Farms, who prepared special mixtures of ground beef for local restaurants. Each restaurant had their own mixture. Cause when I read meatball sliders I thought that name was an insult to what I just ate.
Julie Picco: Yea it makes me think of Italian Grandmothers. I am from Chicago and I was like I know this… I understand this.
MEAT ME: Yes we also had the Fiery Chicken Morsels…
Julie Picco: Yes the spicy boneless buffalo wings?
MEAT ME: Yes. (I look to my date) That’s basically what you had called it?
My Date: Yea.
Julie Picco: The fiery ones have always been the most popular, but now we have different flavors. With this last menu change we decided why not give them some other options cause we would have people say, ”I don’t want it to be spicy.”
My Date: One a 1 to 10 spicy scale what would you call this?
Julie Picco: This one for me, our buffalo sauce I would consider to be a 6 or 7. It’s not spicy.
MEAT ME: I was thinking it was a 1 or a 2.
Julie Picco: It’s more salty and vinegary than spicy to me.
My Date: Thank you, that’s what I thought.
Julie Picco: See for me I don’t like buffalo wing’s, I am not a buffalo wing person. I like a milder heat. We have our Chipotle BBQ which is actually pretty spicy, and then we have our Garlic Herb which is for the “lover” of non spicy foods. It’s light.
MEAT ME: It was very good and then we had the Chicken Wraps.
Julie Picco: Yeah, the Chicken Lettuce Wraps, we had them on the menu last time as a cold item and it just didn’t sell. So we had them heat up the chicken and add a few mushrooms, which keep it moist. Yea we changed it up, we try and change up everything when we can. Our Tacos are really popular too.
MEAT ME: So what is your favorite item on the menu?
Julie Picco: Mine?
MEAT ME: If you had friends in town visiting, what are you making for them?
Julie Picco: If I got friends coming in I am making the Sausage Brocollini Flatbread, that’s a new one that I think is really great. I also really like the Short Rib Taco’s, I am a big fan of them.
MEAT ME: Damn it’s really hard to get everything. I guess I’ll have to come back on another date.
Julie Picco: Yea you can’t order everything that’s totally understandable. Oh, and the Pork Belly Crostini’s. They are really good. We never really put any pork on the menu, we had pressure to put this on there… We get in the whole pork belly with the skin on, then we braise it in hard cider, and then regular apple cider, spices and all of that good stuff. Then we take the skin off and make it in to Cracklin.
MEAT ME: That’s what I thought.
Julie Picco: Yes so the bottom is still soft and sliceable and we slice that and warm it up in a sauce so you can eat it. It hasn’t been selling because people don’t understand it, but it is really good. Everybody here wanted it on the menu.
MEAT ME: I always recommend pictures. Sushi Restaurants have it down. How do you explain a California Roll to someone who has never had one? That usually does the trick.
Julie Picco: Yea we have been trying to figure out a way to explain it to people, may be we just need a giant poster up on the wall.
Now back to my date, I wanted to find out how I did and if bringing her to the X Bar met her expectations.
MEAT ME: So what did you think of the X Bar?
My Date: It is fabulous, wonderful experience, so happy I came (she blushes and laughs). What? What am I supposed to say?
MEAT ME: Compared to other places I have taken you to… Would you recommend it to someone as a good date place?
My Date: Hummmm. I mean you are asking the wrong person…
MEAT ME: We’re on a date? Right?
My Date: (laughs) Haha. Yea, I guess I would. I am not the best person to ask. Dating? I mean lets go shoot some things, or vandalize stuff so something like that is an AWESOME date.
MEAT ME: So compared to the extreme dates I have taken you on, how does this compare? On a mediocre level…
My Date: Yes, on an average human level? It’s an 8… May be? On a scale of 10.
MEAT ME: Really?
My Date: Yeah! It’s nice, it’s very pretty, it’s not cold, it’s spacious. The music is not too loud. It’s not like obnoxious, R&B, Little Wayne bumping in the background it’s like actual music. So that’s exciting. Everyone is really nice, that works here, customer service is A+.
MEAT ME: So what did you think of the chicken wrap?
My Date: I thought it was really good. It was my favorite?
MEAT ME: How did you like the lettuce?
My Date: (Laughs, smiles) Crisp and green.
MEAT ME: What about the Fiery Chicken Morsels?
My Date: I thought it was quite “Fiery”. Spicy.
MEAT ME: What about the taste?
My Date: (Laughs) It tasted like successfully made chicken wings without the bones.
MEAT ME: Really?
My Date: Yea.
MEAT ME: It was like a party in your mouth?
My Date: Yea it was “twangy”. (She mocks me)
MEAT ME: What a great description!!! That is brilliant!!! (I return the mock) You should be a writer.
My Date: Funny you should say that…
MEAT ME: (we laugh) What did you think of the Meatball Sliders?
My Date: I didn’t have any but based on your reaction I would say they were delicious.
MEAT ME: Would you like to try a cold one, and not judge the temperature? Were you intimidated?
My Date: I forgot. I had all that food and my burger, so I am full now.
MEAT ME: You know what? We’ll skip it. What did you think of your burger?
My Date: It was good. It was MEAT like. (Laughs) It was a successful hamburger! I mean they didn’t fuck it up… I don’t know what you want me to say? (Laughs)
MEAT ME: That was a great description!
My Date: I mean it wasn’t over cooked or under cooked. Bread was fluffy. (Laughs)
MEAT ME: You got excited, but didn’t climax?
My Date: Exactly! Pretty much. The fries were really good, and delicious.
MEAT ME: Would you recommend this place to someone else for a date?
My Date: Yes I would.
MEAT ME: Well, did you at least enjoy your date?
My Date: I mean aside from the guy that was on the date, who was totally retarded.... He kept drooling all over me... (Chuckles & smiles)
MEAT ME: All right. This is ALL totally going be in the post.
My Date: (Laughs out loud and smiles) Other than him, it was totally a great place to go on a date.
There you heard it. Right from the source, I am a trophy as well as wonderful food companion. I would consider this a success I was not physically harmed, the police weren’t called, and I still have not received a restraining order. I would consider myself lucky. She’s a comic, she’s endearing, she’s a profound intellect and not to mention the obvious… She’s stunningly beautiful.
I am no master, but if you want to make it easier on yourself and eliminate half the problems you might face on a date, I would take them to the X Bar.
You can check out X Bar at the Hyatt Regency in Los Angeles at http://www.xbarla.com/index.html
Live, Love, Eat MEAT,
aka MEAT ME