Thursday, October 22, 2015

review - Sloan's Ice Cream at Westfield Topanga

Los Angeles
The Village at Westfield Topanga

6250 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Suite 1560
Los Angeles, CA
Sun-Thurs 8AM-11:00PM
Fri-Sat 8AM-12AM

“Simply put, we created Sloan’s to be a dreamland for everyone, kids and adults of all ages. Our focus has never changed. In fact, we just keep enhancing the experience and now we’re ready to immerse even more people in the Sloan’s brand,” said Sloan Kamenstein, founder, owner and a classically trained chef who honed his craft at London’s Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and trained in kitchens throughout France. “One taste, sniff and glimpse of Sloan’s sends the senses soaring. The time has come to share Sloan’s yumminess beyond South Florida.” - Sloan's Ice Cream.
You know that giddy, childlike feeling of excitement that comes over you when you see something you cannot resist? Well, that's what hit me when I entered Sloan's Thursday afternoon. Piled high on shelves to the right are stuffed dogs, bears, ducks, sea otters and other creatures of various colors and sizes. There's even a life-sized zebra near the restroom. Also on the right is a huge candy display where you may watch an employee make homemade fudge - which, by the way, is to die for - and candy caramel apples. I haven't seen those since I was about 5 or 6 years old. To the left are homemade brownies, cookies and donuts - and then the piece de resistance - the ice cream stand with a multitude of flavors including Birthday, which is made from real birthday cake.

Store manager Rachael Aguon was on hand to give me and my friend a grand tour. She explained that the first store was built in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1999 by Le Cordon Bleu graduate Sloan Kamenstein and that the store is primarily of pink decor because his mother adored pink. Sloan and one partner make all the ice cream and pastries by hand and ship the ice cream to California in special trucks once a month. So it is made in the home base of Florida, and boy oh boy, is it distinctive: rich luxurious texture, real buttery, with all good ingredients. Birthday tastes like real birthday cake, because, as I mentioned above, birthday cake is frozen and then mixed into the batch. You can taste the smooth texture of the yellow cake and the frosting - no kidding! Pretty Rachael is out here from Florida to help oversee the new store at Westfield Topanga. She knows her stuff and makes you feel right at home. She loves her work, and it shows in spades. 
Doggie Treats
 We were treated to scoops of ice ream - my friend had a luscious hot fudge sundae and I sampled the birthday as well as black and white malt which has real malted milk balls throughout. She then proceeded to bring over a chocolate chunk cookie and a sea salt caramel brownie, both of which I saved for later. The chocolate is plentiful and melts in your mouth, and the brownie is so rich I must have gained a pound just from smelling it.

There are over 30 flavors. Talk about Baskin Robbins. No, don't! Sloan's is far better. I'm a fudge lover and so I chose a few flavors to purchase. Rachael gave it to me as a gift. How sweet is that! It is some of the best fudge I have ever eaten - chocolate raspberry, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream...and birthday cake! Rich, smooth, creamy, just like the ice cream: makes a great gift for your friend or relative especially with the holidays right around the corner. Another great item at Sloan's are doggie treats. That's right, you may purchase little cookie treats - not chocolate, of course, as chocolate is bad for animals - but made out of pure ingredients that our four-legged friends just crave.

I had heard that I must check out the bathroom at Sloan's. (see photo above) Spoiler alert! Well, no, you'll still find it fun. You can be seen through the window. For privacy, all you have to do is lock the door and the window fogs over.
Sloan's is for kids of all ages. It's a super fantasyland a la Willy Wonka...and the treats are all fresh, homemade and delectable, and all at moderate prices. Who could ask for anything more? While you're there, check out the rest of the exciting Westfield Topanga mall. It's a thoroughly satisfying experience on a pleasant sun-filled California day!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clifford Clinton's Clifton's Cafeteria Downtown

Clifton's Cafeteria
648 Broadway
(downtown Los Angeles)

A downtown Los Angeles institution since the 1930s is Clifton's Cafeteria. The restaurant closed a few years back for restoration and just reopened on October 1, 2015. It's a sign that Broadway is back, as Carrie the Killer Musical Experience is playing right down the street on the opposite side at 615 Broadway between 6th and 7th streets.

Lines were around the block the first weekend, making Clifton's the most popular restaurant downtown. It's assuredly interesting, a uniquely fun experience with its museum sized stuffed animals on display and with tables on the first and second floors and now on three tiers in one section between the first and second floors. There are small cascading fountains, jungle-like painted walls; the entire atmosphere is like being on a tres civilized safari.There is a huge bar on the second floor - with a life-sized tree in the middle, jutting up to the third floor, and on the third, an amazing array of spacious rooms that all open onto a foyer. Each room has gorgeous decor including a great number of elegant European-style settees. There is certainly ample space here for some very interesting Hollywood parties.

On the main floor, there is a box of new toys for small children, from which they may choose a plastic sword or coloring book, to keep them occupied. Behind the eating area on the first floor is the big, open kitchen. Helpful hosts and hostesses walk you in and show you the carving station, soup and salad bar. hot entree and sandwich bars. There is a bakery with display cases in the main foyer as you first walk into the establishment, where you may purchase homemade goodies like croissants, pastries and cookies. The chocolate chip cookies are rich in chocolate and really scrumptious.

Let me say that I had the famous turkey dinner. It was very good, with the exception of some runny cranberry. I've had better, but the whole experience of having an attendee bring me butter for my roll and another person bringing me a glass of ice water and one assisting me to the elevator outside the kitchen was one I cannot forget. In fact, I cannot remember a restaurant where I could get a meal for $20 and get this much gratuitous attention. Everyone is there to serve and accommodate you to a fab dining experience. Let's see if this is still the case in another six months to a year. It is a grand reopening after all!!

Pay Clifton's a visit. The decor alone is worth it. Judging from plates that I could see, their burgers and mile-high fries appear quite special.