Best Sunset Junction Ever: Mussels and MargaritasAug 24 2010 · 2 comments · Bars, Best in LA, Events, French, Mexican, Silver Lake
Sunset Junction just kind of happened to me this year. I almost never go for all the complainy reasons you can imagine, but this year, a friend gave us some free passes. That seemed like a good deal, so we hopped on the train to see what was doing in Silverlake.
We did go into the fest for a while and even watched a band. However, most of our time was spent recoiling from the sun (I was really getting used to this “no summer” scam we had going) indoors and in the company of good food and drinks, an action for which we have no regrets! In fact, I think this was the best Sunset Junction ever.
The Red Line stops at Sunset and Vermont, just a short walk to where the festival starts. The best part of the trek is that it put El Chavo in our path. We had to stop in. Their bar, in all its 1970s Mexican restaurant decor glory, is one of the best places to have a drink in LA, especially on a Sunday afternoon when the crowds are non-existent. The margaritas were strong, the salsa was hot and the somberos florescent. It’s just what we needed before stepping into the fest.
After about an hour of walking around, taking in some live music, and wondering who in their right mind would risk their lives on those rickety rides, we headed over to Cafe Stella for some (more) restoration. The French bistro fare offered at this smallish restaurant is always solid, and the atmosphere, which is low-key in the evening and lively at night, is usually what I’m in the mood for.
We grabbed one of the cozy little booths in the bar and started with the cheese plate. The star of the board was the stinky, gooey, orange-rinded Epoisses. Its saltiness and sheer power struck a perfect balance against the sweetness of the dried fruit and currants. The smoothness of the blue cheese was a dream, especially when it was spread on the crunchy crust of the bread.
Next came the gazpacho, which isn’t nearly as common as it should be on LA’s menus. A dollop of Burrata stood in for the more traditional sour cream, offering a new take on the summer soup. There’s really nothing like a soup-soaked-but-still-crunchy piece of bread topped with creamy Italian cheese. Refreshing and decadent.
In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain says you should never order mussels in a restaurant unless you know the chef. When I found out why (I don’t want to discuss it, thanks), I decided to head the warning. Fortunately, I do know one of the chefs at Café Stella, my good friend Kevin McAfee, who was kind enough to send out a pot of gloriously plump mussels, served in a irresistible white wine, shallot and cream broth.
The “frites” part of the Moules Frites entrée is no afterthought. Thinly cut and sprinkled with white truffle oil, these french fries really complete the experience. And yes, of course, I soaked them in the mussel broth.
Thanks to Kevin for making us such a great meal. Honestly, if this is what I can expect, I think I’m going to start going to Sunset Junction every year.
3932 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles (Map it)
4441 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles (Map it)