Writers, bloggers, photographers, and foodies from LA gathered together on Thursday night for an intimate dinner at Birch restaurant in Hollywood. The occasion? Meet winemaker Beth Liston and learn about her fabulous California wine, Dark Horse. Upon arrival we were greeted by a giant notepad on the wall with these words from Frank Sinatra: "I feel bad for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Amen to that Mr. Sinatra. We know exactly what you're talking about.
Unfortunately we missed the wine tasting portion of the evening due to a 21.4-mile journey across LA that took 2 hours and fifteen minutes. But our misfortune was reversed when Mrs. Liston sat right next to us for the first half of dinner and filled us in on the history of the wine and its unique characteristics.
The food pairings were created by chef Brendan Collin, a serial restauranteur here in Los Angeles who has a track record of success (Waterloo & City, Butcher's Dog). Birch is the latest addition to his collection of eateries and only a few months old. It's located about half a block south of Hollywood Blvd. and faces west, allowing the early evening summer sun to light up the entire room when the mechanical street-adjacnet wall is lifted.
Though there was plenty of people-watching within the three walls, having an unobstructed view of a busy sidewalk in Hollywood added to the experience. The restaurant is next to a few clubs, bars, tattoo parlors, and Hollywood souvenir shops. The open-ended side to the restaurant also helped with the acoustics, which are rough in Birch. Even with an empty bar it was still difficult to converse with the people right next to us. Definitely something to consider if you're hoping to communicate with words over dinner.
The meal started with a Dark Horse Sauvignon Blanc, paired with a Kushi oyster with cucumber granite. The Sauvignon Blanc could be our most favorite of them all. It was light, crisp, and refreshing with low tannins. Presented with the second course was a lobster thermidor with creamed spinach and mustard, paired with Dark Horse's Chardonnay. Let's just say that if they had brought out nine more dishes (and glasses) of that pairing we would not have complained one bit. So divine. Braised pork cheeks with bacon and eggplant were presented with Dark Horse Merlot for the third course, followed by a filet of beef with celery root & truffles and Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon. Love love love the cab. An open bottle was left near us on the table and we definitely made sure it didn't go to waste. Shhhh. Lastly, we drank Dark Horse Big Red Blend with a fig & almond chocolate sorbet, a perfect ending to a perfect meal.
We're definitely new fans of this Modesto-grown wine (click here to find out where you can buy it) and can happily recommend Birch as a fantastic new restaurant to try (just maybe not on a Thursday night at 6 if you're coming from the west side of town).
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