New Restaurant: Murph’s Service Station Exclusive First Look + VIDEO

 

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Get the scoop on Murph’s Service Station before its grand opening on Monday, Sept. 15!

Last night, I had the opportunity to be one of the first to experience Murph’s Service Station, a new restaurant concept from the talented, creative and intriguing Richard DiSisto, founder & principal of the Vantage Restaurant Group. It’s so new, it hasn’t even opened to the public yet! The grand opening is set for Monday, Sept. 15, so check out the exclusive scoop right here before the doors open to this highly anticipated food & drink establishment.

Although he owns a series of other notable restaurants like Tipple & Brine and Tunnel Bar also on Ventura Boulevard, when DiSisto sat down with me at the bar to chat about his newest concept, he insisted, “I don’t like to be called a restaurateur. I identify more as an artist.”

That makes sense, especially once he revealed that he builds the entire concept himself, and lets his creative vision lead him through the process. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like until I enter the space… and I don’t fully ‘get it’ myself until the last screw is in.” He continued, “Actually, I didn’t even ‘get it’ with Murph’s until last night when I came in at 1 a.m. Now I get it. Let the people make it what they want now.”

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

A sneak peek at the bar design.

When I asked him what he’d order first from the bar, he replied without skipping a beat: “Vodka soda,” and smiled. From past successes, DiSisto has found that by focusing on creating an environment that people want to come back to just to hang out, that’s what truly creates a lasting model in this industry. “Ambiance is everything,” he stated.

He went on to explain to me the unique backstory to his concept, as Murph’s is supposed to be a deserted art deco service station from the 1930’s, and that he bought it and restored it to open up in the postwar heyday of the year 1946. What a cool vision, right? Once you go, you’ll get it. It has a great vibe, with super service from bartenders and waitstaff alike.

Our bartender, Victoria, was a true rockstar serving equally strong drinks and entertainment throughout the night. We had planned on moving around more throughout the night, but Victoria and her super cool mohawk kept our booties planted firmly in those seats for a good part of the night!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Check out the names of those cocktails! Pictured: The River Tam.

Speaking of the bar, I loved the names of the drinks, like “The Cake is a Lie” and “Bus to Beelzebub.” The ingredients, all housemade, like their pickles, charcuterie and ice cream, were also unique and well-balanced. The “River Tam” with tequila and habanero syrup was a good one, as was “The Cake is a Lie” (besides just the name!). Try the latter with the pickles. It pairs great.

It’s not a surprise that their cocktails are solid (figuratively, not literally!) since their bar consultant is a chemistry expert. One of their drinks has this unique habanero-cherry hybrid garnish called a “Habcherinio,” and I was OBSESSED with it (see video above). Victoria said they got it in downtown, so I definitely need to go get me some of those when I can’t drive up to Sherman Oaks.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

They use a nose-to-tail no-waste approach, which leads to a mean charcuterie spread.

Tray-served food items included Cheesy Burger sliders with housemade pickles, grilled onions and pimento cheese, as well as bacon lettuce cups, cheese biscuits, deviled eggs, and an amazing buttermilk fried chicken with spicy melon. One of my top bites, however, were the potato puffs and the sea salt-dusted donut holes with Chantilly cream, vanilla, caramel and chocolate sauces!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Cheesy Burger sliders with pimento cheese, grilled onions, housemade pickles on a brioche bun.

Back to those potato puffs, though. They were like light, pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth clouds of mashed potato fried to a gold crisp, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and chives. This is where making friends with the bartender really pays off, folks. Victoria revealed to us that the secret to making them so light and scrumptious is that there’s pâte à choux (the same dough that cream puffs are made of!) mixed right in with the potatoes. What a cool idea! Definitely a must-try when you stop in.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Potato puffs made with a surprisingly cool ingredient!

Another fun fact from Rich DiSisto himself: it took him just seven weeks from conception to opening Murph’s, and six weeks to open Tipple and Brine. Talk about drive! Keep an eye on DiSisto, as he aims to open a new restaurant concept every six months. We can’t wait, Rich!

Murph’s is located where Mad Bull’s Tavern used to be: 14649 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Check out the video up above, and you’ll know why venturing to the Valley (we drove 100 miles roundtrip!) is so worth it for this new gem. Stay tuned to Tanaya’s Table for more restaurant news and videos. Cheers!

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VIDEO: Sneak Preview Of Border Grill’s New Seasonal Menu

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

My mom and I have been longtime fans of notable chefs, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, since their days on Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” when I was a little girl. Since those days, the two incredibly talented chefs and friends have been on “Top Chef Masters” and achieved much more while continuing to run Border Grill for decades, along with their other standout restaurants.

So naturally, when I got the chance to attend their new menu launch party last night thanks to Dana, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Border Grill Downtown, located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles underneath the skyscrapers and city lights, is launching a new fall seasonal menu for the first time in a long time. So last night, I had to get a taste of all the brand new fare!

I knew going in that Border Grill is vegetarian-friendly, so I brought my friend Roshni along with me. Not only could she give me an opinion from a vegetarian perspective, but she was also a huge help in assisting me with getting all the shots I needed on camera and video. Also, I’ve seen Susan Feniger at so many events that she greeted me warmly and offered to be in my video (below)!

So I raced the sun to get my visuals before we finally could dive in to eat, drink, mingle and enjoy the rest of our evening as the sun set over Downtown L.A. Work before play, I say… but good thing the two can often overlap for me, especially in this facet of my life!

The recap video at the end speaks for itself (I mean come on, Susan Feniger even explains one of her own dishes!), but some of my personal favorites included:

The Squash Empanada, filled with pine nuts for crunch and manchego cheese for body. Definitely a great fall take on the empanada! The Chimichurri sauce on top really enhanced all the other flavors as well.

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Ancho Chile Roasted Beef, served at the carving station complete with a DIY “deconstructed sandwich” bar. The buttery grilled telera bread had a great bite to it, being crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The chile cascabel sauce and horseradish crema added a smoky heat and a cooling component, and the habanero pickled onions and watercress added acidity and freshness to the dish. Plus, we got to plate our own food (can’t you tell? Ha!).

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Key Lime Cheesecake Squares. The mint and seasonal berries added great flavor and depth, while the graham cracker crust and nuts added a crunchy element to the fresh, tangy, wonderful bite of dessert!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Filled Churro Pops. Whether filled with luscious red wine poached pear or rolled in chocolate, cayenne pepper and hazelnut, these soft, moist bites of cinnamon-y, doughy churros are what dreams are made of… on a stick!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

The Mezcal Sour cocktail, which had a smoky flavor, thicker texture from the egg whites, and a depth of flavor from the Aztec chocolate bitters. Talk about an equally complex tasting and cool-looking drink!

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

And now… I present you with the full holiday showcase menu:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Below is a video recap of the evening, including those juicy quinoa-stuffed mushrooms and, later, Susan Feniger herself presenting the out-of-this-world Vegetarian Paella with roasted pumpkin seeds. All of it here:

Copyright 2014 Tanaya Ghosh

Check out this teaser to get a taste of the new Fall holiday menu!

If you’d like try modern Mexican food with a bold twist, inspired by the flavors of Oaxaca and the Yucatan, then I definitely recommend checking out Border Grill Downtown. They even have a food truck and catering services. I know I’ll be back again, especially for those delectable chocolate-hazelnut-cayenne churros!