This is another leftover from my LA adventure back in November.  Ben’s parents are going to LA and were looking for some dinner suggestions.  They’re thinking of Lucques, which is a wonderful restaurant but they’ve been there before.  With so many amazing options in LA, I think it’s a shame to do a repeat.  I suggested a few different places, including the AOC Wine Bar, to which I was told that they weren’t interested in a “wine focussed place”.  It got me thinking, although it’s called a Wine Bar, I think the food served at AOC trumps the fantastic wine selection.  Maybe,  just maybe it’s a bit “loud” for my father-in-law’s liking for a group dinner, but I hope that if they have the chance, they’ll at least try to get a seat at the bar one evening for a bite.

One of the LA dinner’s that’s most difficult to arrange is the one we go to with a picky-eating banker.  He and his wife are lovely people, but there are parameters placed around our dining, mainly somewhere fun where the food isn’t challenging but is good.  Last year we went to Mozza and had a wonderful time, sharing delicious pizza’s.  I had a hard time finding somewhere new in the LA scene that would meet this criteria.  I finally gave up and decided to go for a repeat.

The AOC Wine Bar is my go-to restaurant in LA.  If you’re with a good group of people and you’re sitting downstairs, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time.

Suzanne Goin’s AOC Wine Bar has a great menu of small plates made up of boldly flavoured small plates to go with a list of 50 wines on tap.  But for as much fun as the wine scene is at the AOC, it’s the food that keeps me going back.

To me, AOC = parmesan stuffed figs wrapped in bacon. This photo does not do these little nuggets of joy any justice.
Lovely cured meat plate with coppa, sopressata and cacciatorini.
Fresh tomato salad with feta, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
Chicken liver crostini with pancetta on a bed of frisee - The thin smear of liver on top of the perfectly crisp crostini made my tastebuds happy.
Clams with sherry and garlic toast - The clams were good but the highlight here was the toast dipped in the clam liquid at the bottom of the pan.
Brioche with prosciutto, gruyère and egg - This dish is impossible to share but we always order it. A great combination of textures and flavours.
Arroz negro with squid and saffron aïoli - This dish is squid-ink done well, (so often it's not). The squid ink and saffron combine so well to flavour the rice and the rings of squid are perfectly tender.
Green beans because you must have your veggies to make a balanced meal.
Lamb burger, cucumber salad, cumin yogurt - because we wanted to make sure our "picky-eating banker" had enough normal food to fill him up.

AOC Wine Bar – 8022 W 3 Street

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