By Laura Medina
Crispy Buffalo Cauliflowers
Back in the Eighties, it was "Cheers," a bar so friendly that "everybody knows your name."
Back in the Nineties, it was "Central Perk" in "Friends," a coffee cafe that doubles as Gen-X hipster's living room.
Now, it's the Aughts and the 2010's where the bars and the cafes grow up into gastropubs ( in these DUI-times, we need something decent to soak up the booze) and toda'sy hipsters are educated and conscientious foodies. This is where North Hollywood's The Federal Fits the bill.
Under Chef Grant Wagemaker, The Federal Bar still retains the historical friendliness from "Cheers." They proudly keep and maintain the original copper stamped tiles when it was North Hollywood's first bank. But under his culinary guidance, he pushed it into the twenty-first century by offering decent foodie fare for both vegans and carnivores and pescetarians, who dine exclusively on seafood.
For this well-rounded foodie, the Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower was a pleasant and fun appetizer and alternative to the usual suspects of buffalo wings. The fun crunch and fiery pepper are still there but applied to healthy cauliflower. Fun enough for other diners to snatch out of the basket and munch without a second thought to share and share alike. Order a big basket, you'll make new friends that way.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cocktail
Another way North Hollywood's Federal Bar is upping the ante on the Nineties' coffee cafes, is by replacing the ubiquitous lattes and frappes with today's hipsters penchant for adult twists on childhood favorites, such as the cereal-favorite, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cocktail, think of it as a White Russian with Cinnamon schnapps.
But reserve your New Year's Eve with friendly foodies this fast-approaching New Year's Eve at North Hollywood's Federal Bar.
It is only this night that they roll out superb hearty but gourmet dishes that will warm the cockles of your heart on a cold, winter night.
Here's Chef Grant's take on the other San Francisco treat, "Chip In-O" or Cioppino. His cioppino is a robust seafood stew of plump prawns and juicy mussels swimming in a healthy tomato broth with a hefty garlic bread slice, ready to dunking.
Truffle Mushroom agnolotti
Italy's answer to dumplings yet daintier than hefty raviolis but still plump with flavor, Chef Grant infused his agnolotti with the all-mighty truffle and mushroom, slather with butter sauce. An heart-warming alternative to tomato sauce, stereotypical fare.
Shaved with chunks of Parmesan cheese, the Caesar Salad is a palate-cleanser.
Chocolate Drizzle Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart
Chef Grant saved the best for last...dessert! Not just one mere dessert but a parade of four tarts meant to be shared with a date.
In season and resourceful, Chef Grant did a pumpkin mousse tart, a texture whipped and rich enough to resemble cheesecake but just barely, resting on a thick, crumbly cookie dough crust, drizzle with dark chocolate.
Don't worry you cheesecake freaks, Chef Grant did a traditional strawberry cheesecake, a good ole-fashion, rich sour cheesecake, topped with a strawberry, nestled in Chef Grant's signature cookie dough crust, again meant to be shared among two people, a date.
For those who crave a spin on the traditional, Chef Grant's Butter Cake isn't really a plain ole yellow cake but a buttery pound cake nestled in a cookie dough tart crust, where you get the best of two worlds, a buttery, moist vanilla cake baked in a cookie cup...a huge cookie cup.
But this scribe's fave is the awesome combo of Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Tart. As a proud chocolohic, this scribe enjoy savoring every spoonful of All-American Peanut Butter & Chocolate whipped into a rich, smooth mousse, again nestled in Chef Grant's trademake cookie crust. This scribe wants this "meant-for-two" tart for herself.
Now that Christmas is finite, it's time to book that New Year Eve's feast...then think about that diet later.