Nightlife Spotlight: The Edison

edison9

Venue: The Edison

Address: 108 W 2nd St #101, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Website: edisondowntown.com

Hours: Wed – Fri 5 pm – 2 am, Sat 8 pm – 2 am

Best Days: Fridays, Saturdays or Special Performance nights

A century ago in 1916, the first power plant in Los Angeles was commissioned to serve the small town. Many years later, this power plant would see a sprawling super-metropolis sprout up around it, and eventually the plant was decommissioned. Then, in 2008, the decommissioned plant was transformed into a decadent steam-punk speakeasy type of restaurant and lounge, and thus the Edison was born.

edison2

To be upfront, the Edison is still our absolute favorite venue in downtown LA even after 10 years of being open. There is no other place quite like it. The mix of history, futurism and 1920’s charm makes it one of the most unique venues anywhere, and we mean anywhere on the planet. The venue has an underground appeal because it literally is underground and takes you back to an era when jazz music exploded and the good time were roaring in the 1920’s.

edison4

The 1920’s them is partially created by the very strictly enforced dress code. If you ever plan to visit, be sure to give it a good read through as they make zero exceptions at the door. But dressing fancy is a small price to pay (but is looking good really a price to pay?) to experience the authentic charm of the venue. The space is quite massive, with 2 bars, a stage and several dining areas next to old power generating equipment that now serves as decoration. You can even dine inside an old coal furnace, complete with functional hatches.

edison5

The food at the Edison is an eclectic assortment of dishes, but a must have are the signature beer nuts. They are an insanely good snack and we have to have them about 90% of the time we are there. What’s more impressive than the food options are the drink selections, as The Edison’s drink and cocktail selection is very extensive. And for the 1920’s connoisseur, they feature a hefty selection of absinthe. And on weekend, an actual green fairy can be spotted with a chest filled with vials of the night’s specialty absinthe. One time when she graced us with her presence we had a most decant absinthe that was blended with elderflower.

edison7

To top it all off, The Edison features a variety of different entertainers on evening, from Cirque Du Soleil style aerialists to burlesque shows, The Edison keeps it’s routine fresh and enjoyable for all. This place is a must visit for anyone in LA, as after a decade of business, the fact that it’s still thriving is a testament to how an integral a part of the Los Angeles experience it has become.

edison6

Cheers,

-JB

Nightlife Spotlight: Poppy

Poppy1

Venue: Poppy

Address: 755 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Website: hwoodgroup.com/poppy

Hours: Thurs – Fri 11 pm – 2 am

Best Days: Thursday and Friday

Imagine a venue only officially open for 6 hours each week. Then imagine it’s got a chic lounge, world-class DJ’s, and the “hot” factor strong enough to melt icecaps. Imagine no more, Poppy is here.

Poppy2

Poppy is a very high-style club and cocktail lounge that’s one of the new kids on the block. Located in West Hollywood, this venue literally wastes no time as it’s only open on Thursdays and Fridays, and the doors open at 11 pm. That’s right, you only have 3 hours and two chances a week to experience it. Always leave them wanting more and Poppy does just that.

Poppy3

As far as the layout goes, it is similar to Warwick and Avenue in Hollywood, with a main area that has tables in the center and then tables lining the walls by the DJ booth. Poppy also has a back area lounge and bar, so if one need s a break from dancing and insanely loud music, they can chill in the back with slightly-less-than insanely loud music.

poppy4

For average civilians getting into Fort Knox would be an easier task, but if you’re willing to negotiate a price of admission at the door (and by negotiate, we mean pay whatever number they tell you), you may find yourself getting to enjoy newest “it” club in LA. We happen to be connected to the promoter there, so feel free to contact us if you to go the non-civilian route. But to be at the latest “it” venue, you have to pay to play, so don’t be surprised by some high table rates and pricey drinks at the bar.

poppy5

All in all Poppy is the ultimate club experience LA has to offer, so if that’s you’re scene then you won’t be disappointed. We had a fun time there and having 2 Chainz make a surprise appearance and give an impromptu concert was awesome. You never know what can happen during a night out at a club.

 

Cheers,

-JB

 

LA Spotlight: Taverna Tony

TavernaTony3

Venue: Taverna Tony

Address: 23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265

Website: tavernatony.com

Hours: Sun – Thurs 11:30 am – 12 am, Fri – Sat 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Best Days: Saturday and Sundays

If you find yourself by the beach and have a hankering for Mediterranean food, then Taverna Tony is perfect hidden gem you’re looking for. Nestled away in the Cross Creek Plaza on PCH, this restaurant has been a local favorite for many years.

TavernaTony2

The restaurant is dived into 4 sections, with 2 interior dining areas, a bar in the middle and a large exterior patio. The patio is always the recommended place to dine, especially on gorgeous sunny Sundays.

TavernaTony4

The food speaks for itself, as the extensive menu features many traditional Mediterranean dishes. The complimentary Taramosalata Dip is one of our favorite foods anywhere, and one is often tempted to just eat that and the bread and call it a day. Other menu highlights include the lamb sandwich, shrimp pasta, grilled swordfish and the mousakka. The portions are sizable and hand made fresh each day, and the deserts are just as decadent as the main courses.

TavernaTony5

Some nights they have live performances by bands to liven up the atmosphere, but we don’t think you can beat dining on the patio on a cool Sunday afternoon. This eatery is also a known stop for the rich and famous, as Jason Statham and the King of Qatar are regulars. All in all, this is one of our favorite places in LA for a weekend meal, so be sure to pop in and introduce to Tony himself.

TavernaTony1

Cheers,

-JB

Nightlife Spotlight: Toca Madera

Toca 3

Venue: Toca Madera

Address: 8450 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Website: tocamadera.com

Hours: Sun 11 am -12 am, Mon – Thurs 5 pm – 2 am, Fri – Sat 5 pm – 2 am

Best Days: Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays

Tucked away on the edge of West Hollywood lies a very special place. What makes this place so special you, ask? Do they have drinks? Yes they do. Do they have food? You bet. So what makes this spot a cut above the rest?

Toca 1

First, one must look at all the details to see how they fit together. Toca Madera is nestled on 3rd st and LaCienaga, which puts it the neighborhood of other trendy West Hollywood venues and makes them all an accessible 5-8 minute Uber drive. Toca Madera is a high end Mexican cuisine restaurant and lounge which features a diverse menu of various dishes, from Carne Asada to several unique style of ceviche and everything in between. All food is made with organic and locally sourced ingredients to ensure it’s as fresh as possible. It’s a fantastic place to get dinner, a quick night out snack or go for Sunday brunch. Of course, they also run a special all day Happy Hour for Taco Tuesday. And these Taco Tuesdays also feature performances by special DJ’s and fire dancers. Yes, fire dancers.

IMG_20170913_155441_562

Toca Madera takes the lounge aspect just as seriously as the resonant aspect, so they feature a rotation of various top end DJ’s to keep the music and atmosphere in a constant state of activity. Another factor that aids in this are the specialty cocktails. There are plenty of signature drinks like Margaritas and Old Fashions which they put their own twist on, but they also have some signature in house cocktails that are sure to delight. Our personal favorite is the Agua Fresca, which uses a charred pineapple and cinnamon infused vodka with lemon juice, coconut water and fresh ground cinnamon on top. We could literally drink those all night, but unfortunately Toca Madera can’t serve alcohol past 2 am, like everywhere else in LA.

Toca 6

The restaurant is laid out in a very unique way, in that the main room has a large marble topped bar in the center of the space. Around the bar are lounge tables, a DJ Booth and a photo booth. In the room behind the main room, there is a wall of decorated skulls lining the back where more tables are. On the second floor of this room is a tree house section, with tables that offer up close aerial views of the back room’s center petrified tree.

Toca 5

So with top-tier food, drinks and atmosphere, what else could one want? The last missing element is the crowd and staff. The crowd that typically frequents the venue tend to be very internationally diverse and very festive. Unlike a lot of clubs, where people go more to be seen at their tables than mingle, the environment at Toca Madera is very conducive to people mingling and interacting, which can be a difficult trick to foster organically. And the last element is the top notch staff, which miraculously is somehow filled with genuinely cool people from top to bottom. From the busboys to the hostesses, bartenders and managers, the staff are the magic that keeps everything together to create a place where you will have great experiences time after time. Add the fact that they continually add special events and guest entertainers and you have a special place that never offers the same exact experience twice.

Toca 7

After 3 years of business and a formula that has made they very successful, he’d highly recommend checking this place out. It tops our list as our favorite LA Nightlife venue and after a trip there you’ll be sure to see why.

IMG_20170623_182050_952

Cheers,

-JB

Concorso Ospitalità: A Look Inside the Monterey Car Week Hospitality Experience

20170819_114227 Edit 1

For car people and gear heads, Monterey Car Week is Mecca. This year’s Car Week was the biggest and best to date, with a flurry of prestigious events, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world and every type and shape of car one could imagine in attendance. With so much to do and so much to see, what’s the best way to take a bit of a breather? The answer is to take a little time to visit some of the VIP hospitality villas and suites hosted by your favorite manufactures, and that’s exactly what we did this year.

The first hospitality retreat we took was at the BMW Villa, which is located in a secluded villa in the heart of Pebble Bach. A literal hidden gem, the villa was dressed up in an inviting and intimate fashion. At the front steps was a test drive booth, were attendees could test drive virtually any car in the BMW range, which we seized the opportunity to take the i8 for glorious drive. Upon returning from our drive we decided to further explore the villa. Out in the front patio BMW brought their two highlighted concept vehicles for display, the 2017 8 Series and Z4 concept cars. Both looked at home out in full display, which let us know that we were in a BMW fan’s dream house. To further that theme in the first room of the house was a station setup to highlight the BMW Individual Program, in which a customer can custom spec any exterior and interior color and material combination they can think of. The rest of the villa was decked with lounge chairs, couches and refreshment stations, and we will admit having cranberry-elderflower spritzer after a test drive was the perfect way to unwind a bit.

The next stop on our hospitality tour took us to the House of Bentley, which is next to the entrance of the Pebble Beach Concourse. The quickest way to signify that we were at Bentley was the elaborate display of the current model range in front of the massive house. Inside the house, one feels at home in the intimate environment, despite the first room having been converted into a high-end accessory and watch boutique, filled with scale models, jackets and fine watches. The next room feature the Bentley Design Studio, which features a blend of old school handcraftsmanship with technology that seems to be from the year 3017. We got to sample many of the fine leathers used for the interiors of the vehicle, but perhaps the coolest thing was a special app they had on their Design Studio iPads. This app scans your face and then custom specs out a car based on your personality, and it was pretty shockingly accurate with our specs. We decided to make our way to the outside patio, but to do that we had to pass the kitchen where several gourmet chefs were busy cooking a flurry of delicious bite eats. After grabbing some wine, a few insanely good lobster rolls and wagyu beef sliders, we ventured out to the back deck which had a breathtaking view of the ocean. This was a very hard place to leave, especially with those lobster rolls coming fresh out of the kitchen consistently.

Our third stop was to check in with McLaren. We were pretty excited to be testing out the new 570S Spyder, though we were not complaining about having to spend some time at the luxurious Bernardus Spa & Resort beforehand. McLaren brought out an impressive display of significant cars from their history, from a 1967 McLaren M6A Can Am race car, to the legendary 1992 McLaren F1, to their most recent effort with a 2017 McLaren 720S. There was also a good showing of owner cars, with 4 McLaren P1’s making an appearance with an assortment of 675 LT’s, 570S, 650S, and 720S’ as well. A variety of Asian-themed h’orderves were served and we helped ourselves to some ahi tuna mini tacos while inspecting the McLaren 570S configurator.

Our last stop on the official hospitality tour was with Lamborghini, located at the Quail Lodge Club House. Elegantly situated at the entrance to the Quail Lodge grounds, the club house is the perfect venue for enjoying a refreshing coffee or latte next to the mini-lake at the lodge, before experiencing the fury and insanity of the Aventador S and the Huracan Spyder. It was a very surreal dichotomy: At the lodge, we felt a Zen-like sense of peace and calm, the perfect counter balance to the raw and primal fury of the Lamborghini’s, particularly the V12 Aventador S. It was the perfect calm before the storm, and was certainly the perfect way to end our hospitality tour as we continued the weekend with many other events.

Other noteworthy mentions in the hospitality tour go to Aston Martin, who had a wonderful display and setup at the Sunset Center Carmel; Audi’s Hospitality Paddock at Laguna Seca Raceway, which was highlighted with a speech by 9-time LeMans winner Tom Kristensen; The Rolls-Royce Villa which showcased the band new Phantom; Porsche, who’s hospitality suite at the Quail Lodge made for the perfect mid-day escape and refreshment stop, and Mercedes-Benz, who’s Pebble Beach hospitality suite gave the best views to be had of the Concourse winners as they came to the front stage. If you plan to attend car week next year, we highly encourage you to talk with your dealers and secure an invite to a hospitality suite of your favorite brand or brands, it’s the best way to get the full Car Week VIP Experience.

Cheers,

-JB

Sunset GT 6-11-2017

Photo Jun 11, 9 48 05 AM

With a flurry of car shows out there, how does one pick which on to go to? Well, we decided that since it was pretty conveniently located…and a new show…and that there would be a Bugatti Chiron and a Lamborghini Huracan Performante featured…we decided we’d go check out Sunset GT, which is hosted O’Gara Coach.

Photo Jun 11, 10 22 48 AM

We could sit her and talk about how it was a fantastic showing of cars old and new, and the atmosphere was full of fun, excitement, and car joy. Or we can show you some awesome photos and tell you to mark your calendars for the next one.

 

Cheers,

-JB

BMW ///Master Class: M2 vs M3 vs M4 vs X6 M vs i8

20170516_174732

We had a very exciting start to our week, as Valencia BMW, Center BMW and Pacific BMW were kind enough to host us at  BMW M drive event and dine event. The idea was to drive the new M and Alpina range and then enjoy a celebrity chef tasting afterward. We can tell that this story has wet your appetite, so let’s dive into it. For us, we wanted to see how the M cars all stacked against each other, so with Santa Anita Raceway to play around, we did just that.

The i8

20170516_175737.jpg

We’ve driven the i8 before, so we where very familiar with it going in. However, it was interesting to see how it compares when directly pitted against other M cars. The i8 is set up a bit differently and feels very different as well. It feels much more futuristic yet somehow still familiar. As we noted the entire car is all about gimmicks…the doors go up to be dramatic, the dash lights up red when put into sport mode, and the was the car feels in motion is a little over the top. But that’s part of the appeal and what makes this car work…it’s a bunch of things that individually seem like gimmicks, but added up they all work together to create a fun and unique driving experience.

It’s a hard trick to pull off and many other car makers fail at this, but BMW does a brilliant job of hitting the mark. Stacked against the other M cars the i8 is a different machine all together: It doesn’t really fit in. It’s more of it’s own flavor and spin on what a car is, so it’s not better or worse, it’s just different. That might be a middle of the road answer, but you’ll have to take it for what it is. If you want proper, old-school M fun, then you’ll want to stick with an M car. If you want a unique and refined driving experience on the other hand, the i8 is not a bad way to go.

The M3 Competition Package

20150712_110053

What can we say that hasn’t been said before? The M3 is a benchmark for performance cars and there’s a good reason for it: It does everything that well. Can you take it for a grocery store run? Check. Can you tack it for a hardcore track day? Double check. Can you comfortably transport your buddies on a night out? Triple check. The M3 is fast, powerful and feels properly dialed in like the M cars of old. With the competition package everything has a little extra boost. There’s a little bump in horsepower and torque, the steering a bit sharper and there’s some bits of extra carbonfiber goodness as well.

While some people have issues with the turbo-charged engine, we found it sublime as the performance exhaust gives a deep, burbling roar as we pushed the car through its paces. There was no turbo lag and the car feels balanced and direct: You point it one way and the car goes that way. Admittedly, we’re not the biggest fans of the dual-clutch transmission paired with paddles. We think that with a manual, the M3 would feel truly special, but we will admit that the DSG is light-years ahead of the old SMG transmission. All in all the M3 is a proper M car and great modern successor in a legendary lineage of M cars.

The M4 Competition Package

Photo Jun 18, 7 58 00 AM (1)

You know everything we said about the M3? Well repeat that except for now it’s on an M3 that looks a little sexier and sleeker with two doors. We love the M4, and with the competition package we love it even more. One of the things we’ve heard is that BMW M has lost it’s edge as other cars in the category are giving them legitimate runs for their money. What we see is that M cars are actually still M cars, they are dialed in racing machines you can use every day on the street, but when they first came on the scene no one else was doing anything near their level. However, as time has progressed and we’ve reached the modern era, everyone has stepped  their game so the field is now more packed than before. So this doesn’t means that M cars have somehow gotten worse, it means that everyone else has gotten better and reached the near M level, so the real question is how do the M cars manage to stand higher than the rest of field despite the fierce competition? We think it’s a mix of utilizing the same DNA as their predecessors and good old fashioned BMW witchcraft.

Getting back o the M4, it’s everything the M3 is minus two doors, so if you like the sleek look of a coupe, this is the car for you. We’ll state it again for the record, we think that with a manual transmission the M4 would feel even more special, but we’re not going to complain about powering around with the DSG. All in all the M4 is the same winning formula as the M3 just in a slightly sexier package.

The M2

20170516_173149.jpg

The M2 is a car we’ve been waiting to drive for a while now because we’re intrigued by the idea…a smaller, lighter version of the current M3 & M4 would make for a really fun car. We’re a bit annoyed by the marketing, as the folks at BMW are trying to convince us that this is the “real” M car, much like when they had the 1 Series M launched against the E92 M3. But we got to examine and drive the M2 and we must say, we were a bit perplexed.

The M2 is sold as the “smaller and lighter” car but looking at it right next to an M4, the M2 is not that much smaller and it only weighs roughly 80 pounds less (with no options) so it’s not that much lighter either. The dimensions are a little odd on the car too, and one thing we take issue with is that the signature M engine outlets on the side fender that started with the E46 M3, on the M2 are they actually fake and non-functional. This upsets us since the mantra of M cars has been form is function, so an M car with non-functional bits is a violation of that philosophy. Driving the M2 was a disappointment because the car still feels soft and not as hard-dialed in as the M3 and M4. It really feels like a slightly more powerful version of the M235i. And that’s what disappoints us: When you drive a regular 3 or 4 series and then you drive and M3 or and M4, the M car feels very different and very maximized. When you drive a 2 Series, then an M235i and then the M2, they all feel too closely similar. On it’s own the M2 is a fun and a bit playful, but when stacked directly against it’s bigger brothers the M3 and M4, it becomes clear that the M2 is a training car to get you ready for the properly dialed in ones. the M2 is a car that we’re told is one thing when in reality it’s something else: It’s not a hardcore, dialed in M car of old. It’s a soft, playful modern car that speaks to a different segment of drivers.

The X6M

20150712_112020

The X6M can be summed up in one word: Why? Why does this car exist? The answer: Why not? Why does this car have 580 horsepower and enough torque to rip the skin off your face? Why shouldn’t it? The X6M is the sleeper hit of the day, because it is literally a stupid amount of fun. When we were driving it we could not help but smile and laugh, because the car sits so high up, it’s cozy and comfortable, yet it drives like a bull at full charge and shockingly handles like a dialed in sports car. The whole experience is so absurd because your brain knows this shouldn’t be, and yet it is.

The X6M offers a master class in ridiculousness because it’s a usable sport activity vehicle (whatever that means), but it’s also a hardcore driving machine. The M3 and M4 are much more serious cars for serious drivers, the i8 in it’s own eco-future dimension and the M2 is a soft trainer car, but the X6M is just a barrel of jolly monkeys strapped to  rocket. There’s no way to fully describe the X6M with words, it’s just something you have to drive and experience for yourself. Well done BMW, the joke is on us this time and we love you for it.

 

 

 

After the drives we enjoyed a some refreshments and three-course tasting menus provided by a few celerity chefs. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, and we want to again thank Center BMW, Valencia BMW, and Pacific BMW for hosting us.

Final Verdicts

i8 – It’s gimmicky, but all the gimmicks work which makes it cool. It’s fun to drive and looks really awesome, so it’s a winner in our book.

M3 – A legend with 4 doors, nuff said. It’s properly dialed in a with extra doors so you can claim it’s “family friendly.”

M4 – If we could only take one home today, it’s be this one. It’s an a proper M3 it but sleeker and sexier with the 2 doors.

M2 – A huge disappointment for us. It still feels too soft like the 2 series and not properly dialed in. On it’s own it’s a great car, but compared head to head wit the M3 and M4 you realize it’s a good training car but not a proper M.

X6M – Literally a stupid amount of fun. It should not exist, and yet it does, which makes us giddy. A sleeper hit, and a hard hit at that.

Cheers,

-JB