Monday, October 15, 2012

Oscar's Cerveteca
A neighborhood joint
Oscar Hermosillo had been doing something very right over at Venice Beach Wines for years. That his lamb panini, pots of heated milky cheeses and charcuterie boards could have come out of a kitchen of it's size was mind boggling.  What started out as a small neighborhood wine store quickly sprung into a hot spot wine bar turned restaurant where waiting for a coveted spot on a bench could take well over an hour.  Going to VBW always means battling for a spot but you know the payoff is worth it.  And just when VBW hit it's pinnacle of popularity, Oscar decided to open a full service restaurant next door and call it Oscar's Cerveteca. To Venetians it's simply Oscar's. And it's good, damn good.
Breakfast is a smart if not delicious way to go at Oscar's.  Since breakfast service is relatively new, you'll beat the throngs of Venetians who begin swarming the place by late afternoon.  You must order the bacon, in fact order it straight away.  I've never experienced bacon quite like that at Oscar's. In fact, you can hardly call it bacon as it's  really more like pork belly, thick with the perfect ratio of meat to fat and a nice maple infusion. And perhaps some tator tots as well  -- if just to absorb that last sazerac from the night before. The machaca is excellent: light, fluffy eggs with lean shreds of beef and bell peppers. Even the tortillas are homemade. The frittatas arrive in cast iron skillets and are also very good. I didn't have the chance to try the chillaquilles but hear they are wonderful. And since I am not a sweets-in-the-morning type person, I did't try the pancakes or waffles but would imagine they are stunning as well.

Onto dinner: the must-have starter is the peruvian sashimi in an aji, key lime and corn sauce. I've been known to lick the plate. I cannot go to Oscar's without starting my meal with the sashimi and a draught IPA. They have a great beer selection, both draught and bottles.  The wines by the glass are mostly South American or European and very good yet to me, unfamiliar.  I stick to beer at Oscar's as it seems to compliment the Mexican spices quite well. For entrees my go-to is the churrasco flank steak.  It is seriously good -- albeit a bit on the expensive side at $24. When in a lighter mood, I like the fish tacos. They're reminiscent of trips down to baja -- beer battered and lighty fried with the proper Bajian sides. The quinoa and kale side is very good and a nice healthy addition to a table typically piled high with carnage and booze. 

Another great thing about Oscar's is they take reservations online, on their own website:  Make a reservation, grab your buddies and go have a great night on their amazing patio.  It's a place to gather with good friends in a relaxed, unstuffy atmosphere.  It won't win a Michelin star but it's much more fun than a restaurant that will.  I can't stop going back.


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