Yesterday the LA Weekly featured a story on the 90’s Los Angeles hot spot The Monkey Room where Gordon Naccarato was Executive Chef.
Gordon says ” Gordon says “was a crazy time! Every night insanity”
The food wasn’t shoddy either, boasting a fusion menu from the “global table” that Reichl mused was the “90s on a plate.” Head Chef Gordon Naccarato had cut his teeth at Michael’s in Santa Monica, before opening the celebrity mecca Gordon’s in Aspen with Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner. “Naccarato cooks as someone who loves ethnic food,” food writer Laurie Ochoa wrote. “If we’re lucky, this is the direction high-end ethnic cooking is going- food inspired not by cookbooks, but by direct experience.” She particularly liked Monkey Bar’s Puerto Nuevo-style lobster tacos, while Jonathan Gold loved the chili noodles.
Monkey Bar’s food even had the approval of Julia Phillips, producing powerhouse and author of the scandalous 1991 Hollywood expose “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again.” “The roast chicken stuffed with mushrooms and dressing and garlic mashed potatoes from Monkey Bar” was her favorite meal in L.A., she told the Los Angeles Times. “That place is such an absolute scene right now, if someone had it sent to my home I’d be happy. And except for the mashed potatoes it is really low-cal.”
What Monkey Bar really served up was sleazy-chic star-power. It was particularly popular with beefy male hotties from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s on the prowl. Nicholson was, of course, a constant presence. Don Henley, Mickey Rourke and Kiefer Sutherland were all regulars. Shannon Doherty made it one of her party stops, while more refined stars like Glenn Close and Nick Nolte dined with James Brooks in a secluded booth. There were many industry soirees: at a Grammy party for the Atlantic Group, Nicholson partied with David Crosby, Mr. Big (no, not that Mr. Big) and First Brother Roger Clinton. When Nicholson received the Life Achievement Award from AFI, he unsurprisingly held the after-party at Monkey Bar.
From its opening, Monkey Bar was also the favorite hang-out of Heidi Fleiss, ‘90s “madam-to-the-stars” and current macaw breeder.
Read More about the wild times at The Monkey Bar here
Great News for Tacoma!
Tacoma leaders toast DaVita’s new lease
THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Tacoma and Pierce County political and business leaders raised a glass Monday night to celebrate DaVita’s decision to keep its business offices in Tacoma.
In a cocktail gathering at the Pacific Grill Events Center, DaVita Vice President Jim Hilger accepted on behalf of the company the thanks of Tacoma’s mayor – as well as a proclamation declaring Aug. 10, 2009, “DaVita Day” in Tacoma.
Mayor Bill Baarsma presented the framed proclamation, then surprised Hilger with a key to the city – a gift Baarsma asked Hilger to deliver to corporate headquarters in Denver.
DaVita, which operates a network of 1,400 kidney treatment centers nationwide, announced in May that it would sign a new lease on the former Schoenfeld Furniture Store at South 15th Street and Pacific Avenue, and lease three floors of the nearby Columbia Bank Building to house its accounting and billing staff.
The company now employs some 900 workers in Tacoma, and it expects to add more over the next decade. Its decision to stay in the city has been celebrated in downtown circles and almost always is mentioned in the same breath as the forthcoming headquarters decision for Russell Investments.
The gathering Monday was put on by the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma. Among those attending were U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who Hilger has said called him on his cell phone while DaVita was making a decision.
When asked if he had Russell CEO Andrew Doman’s cell phone number handy, Dicks said with a smile, “I’m sure I have it in my files.”
Kathleen Cooper, The News Tribune
Her restaurant Lucques [pronounced Luke] is named after the delicious French green olive. and was recently named the best restaurant in Los Angeles, by Los Angeles magazine.
On my way South to Mexico, I was stopping over in LA for a power-day of eating, and to see my daughter who lives in Brentwood with her husband Michael Schneider. I was invited to lunch by long-time dear friends from Aspen, Herb Hamsher, and his partner Jonathan Stoller. They wanted to meet my daughter’s husband Mike , and included their business partner’s and also longtime good friends of mine: actress Judith Light and her husband, actor/writer Robert Desiderio.
The smart Lunch Menu has been carefully edited, and is as well-pruned as those olive trees. There are only 5 Entrees from which to choose, and only 4 starters. Needless to say–the food was wonderful.
“The Point Foundation is incredibly inspiring to me. Providing not only financial support but the psychological, emotional, and spiritual support that goes along with mentoring is filling a very important need within the LGBT community. The fact that leadership potential is an element of the selection process means that we are thinking ahead to the future of the entire community as well as of these worthy and oppressed young men and women.”
Between our lunch closing at 2pm and guests arriving at 5–we have to totally clear-out our dining room of all furniture to make room for all the auction goodies–transforming our dining room into an auction paradise–of beautifully displayed donated items up for grabs.
Pacific Grill does our part by closing for dinner and donating our dining room every year to this worthy event.
As if you didn’t already know–Bates is the oldest & largest technical college in the state of Washington, with more than 53 technical career-education programs.
Banff & Lake Louise Canada Vacation Package ($4000);
Handmade Chess Board sold for ($200);
Autographed photo of LPGA Golf Superstar Lorena Ochoa ($281).
The swanky-looking invitation arrived on my desk from total restaurant-pro Troy Christian, to attend “the restaurant VIP event of the year” [quoting the invite]…a cocktail reception Friday at Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge in the Historic Walker Building, 6th Ave & St. Helen’s.
A few phone calls later we had put a group together and decided we would meet-up first for a drink at Pacific Grill: dear friend Trish Hosea, daughter of Tom Hosea, in town from Washington DC to attend her Grandfather’s funeral [Trish used to manage my restaurant the Beach House]; also Kathy Davis-Hayfield, who manages the iconic Tides Tavern; and the fabulous Karen– arriving looking tan in a very short dress with handsome husband Jeff White in tow. Karen knew half the other gorgeous women seated in the Pacific Grill bar.
Jeff ordered a glass of white wine– I suggested a Viognier [the 2006 Dusted Valley Viognier, a Walla Walla winery] “an ugly bottle but a beautiful wine as we like to say around here,” I told everyone.
“mmmmm….delicious fruit”, said Trish.
According to the winemakers, it “tastes like a fabulous fruit salad in a glass”, we all agreed.
We headed off to the party and after dropping our cars with the valet, and walking down the red carpet, we all felt like celebs arriving at Tacoma’s version of the Oscars—but instead of dodging paparazzi we were dodging snowflakes as it began to snow!
Inside was a mob scene: lots of booze, tray-passed apps and cleavage.
The attractive high-ceiling room has an open kitchen to the far right as you enter. I could see Chef Matt Colony’s shaved head bobbing up & down as he was orchestrating the first-night madness. My stomach knotted up—sympathetic anxiety pains of the opening night jitters—I’ve been down this same path a million times before.
It is never easy opening night. No one knows what the hell they are doing. The servers don’t. You don’t– the equipment is brand new—no one knows where anything is—you never have enough time to practice, at some point you just pull the trigger and dive in. It’s crazy, but you slug your way through it somehow believing it’ll get better each day. Or praying.
I’ll go over to say hello in a minute, I think, but first let’s get over to the bar and grab something to drink.
The bar is located behind the Host stand and to the back of the restaurant to the left. You kind of snake your way through the booths to get to it. In fact, most of the seating seems to be booths, but it was hard to tell given how many of Tacoma’s beautiful people were packed into the space: I see Mike Combs, Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, Peter Stanley, and Ron Swarner of the Weekly Volcano; a Lady in Red [falling out of her Dress]– and Men Falling down trying to stand next to her; there’s Jim Higgins of Puget Sound Pizza; Roxanne Murphy & her fab red boots !!!
…..and lots of nodding, shaking hands and shouted greetings across the room. But it’s hard to be heard over the din.
We finally make our way to the bar and got a glass of red wine.
I see Troy looking dapper in his suit and walk over to offer my congratulations. “Don’t look too closely at anything,” Troy apologizes, “we were working on everything up until the last second.”
“It’s all fine”, I reassure. It looks great. Thanks for inviting us.”
The truth is I always hate when the pressures to open outweigh taking your time. That 24 hour around the clock push to get open. The only person I ever knew that could afford to do it right was Peter Morton of the Hard Rock Cafe Chain, and Morton’s in LA, and the HARD ROCK HOTEL in VEGAS, who had the money to do practice dinners on his wealthy friends for a full month before opening to the public. God knows I’ve never had that luxury… it is just too expensive…you’ve got to get open and start making some money to get that cash flow going…
I grab Trish & drag her over to the kitchen and position her so that the next time Matt moves his head he is going to be looking right at us. Matt worked for me at The Beach House for 5 years. He was my opening Chef at Pacific Grill. Great Guy. Great Chef. He is like another brother to me, even though I am old enough to be his Dad. My nickname for him is “Movie-star Matt Colony” because his name sounds like one of those made-up matinee movie star names they used give an actor in the early 60’s.
Matt is all smiles when he finally sees us. He walks off the line and gives us both big hugs. We congratulate him on his Big Opening.
“We didn’t even have the booths installed until yesterday at 3pm” he says!
“The damn food didn’t even arrive until 3pm today”!
He is obviously stressed, but we tell him the truth: that the food is good– and we also tell him that the waitress didn’t even know what she was serving us. [see below]
The waitress exchange went like this:
“You seemed to really enjoy the beef shoulder sir, would you like another”?
From his tray I greedily took him up on his kind offer and devoured another, once again savoring the beefiness, and how good that extra-pepper played-off the beefy richness.
Later it was pointed out to me that this pro “server” was instead–Maxwell’s General Manager Tewfik Boulenouar, who previously held the same position at restaurant Coupage in Seattle, and also once worked as a captain at Waterfront Grill.
In any case, we were still starving, so we decided to see if we could get into Asado and snag a table and see if Joel Mertens [Asado’s new Chef recently from Shenanigans] has done anything new with the menu, but the wait was an hour…looking around I saw several people from the VIP party—who had beat us there… so we walked across the street to Il Fiasco for dinner [which was nearly empty].
What a party! Wine, booze, champagne– Delicious Apps!
After settling in and bundling up and borrowing the extra pair of gloves from Dad, we set out to find something to eat. Should it be something good– along the lines of stir-fry or sushi I wondered…or maybe Ivar’s fish-n-chips (their French fries look seriously good)….What about some garlic fries my brother suggested? No way–I said– I hate those! I barely can stand the smell from 40 paces away!
No…I think for tradition’s sake I needed to have a huge hot dog with mustard and relish [$6], and a draft beer [$6]. Steve did the same. Dad went for a bowl of Ivar’s chowder (looked a little pasty to me, but Dad said it was dee-lish ). Jeanne went for a Salmon Caesar.
So with pageantry unfolding all around, fireworks and dignitaries, a young child cancer survivor ran the bases making us all tear up, to the introduction of this year’s line up, the golden glove presentation to Ichiro, and a beautiful opera singer’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and so on, it was an exciting and emotional opening day. Like it should be.
In the 6th inning everything turned around and we went ahead, and with the lead firmly in place we decided to leave after the 7th inning stretch. Mariners eventually winning 5-2.
Thanks Dad & Jeanne for the great time and for hanging in there!
In the wake of the Zina Linnik tragedy, the governor was in Tacoma to toughen laws that will let police collect DNA samples from a wider array of sex offenders and let authorities publish the names of offenders on a statewide Web site if the offenders fail to tell police where they are living.
Later that night, she had dinner with several prominent businessmen including one of Tacoma’s business leaders, Herb Simon, who is credited with helping turn downtown Tacoma around. He also helped spearhead the U of W Tacoma branch and became a member of the UW Board of Regents as appointed by Governor Gregoire.
A Tacoma native, Herb Simon is a 1964 graduate of the UW with a degree in political science. In 1985 he formed an investment company –what is now Simon Johnson LLC, and invested in real estate and venture capital projects.
The Washington State Patrol is assigned to protect the Governor, and 2 plains-clothes officers sat at a table nearby, as Gregoire held court. It was interesting that after she ordered the Weathervane Scallops with succotash & apple-smoked bacon for her dinner, that several of the businesmen in attendance followed suit!
The 2 patrolmen assigned to the Security Detail (one male the other female) ordered dessert: she ordered Julia Child’s Warm Brownie Sundae with Olympic Mt. vanilla ice cream; he had the deep-fried Banana Split.
Both desserts are huge and I did worry that they might not be able to chase down any “perps” if something happened!