Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2019

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10 wholelifetimes.com P ossibly one of the most charming restaurants in Los Angeles is one you may never have heard of — that would be Caffe Concerto in Koreatown, a labor of love created by a Hawaiian coffee grower of Korean heritage and serving up everything from Italian pastas to delightful desserts, entirely original salads, and Asian-fusion entrees. And of course, the coffee is amazing. The multi-level restaurant includes an outdoor patio, an enclosed glass dining room, a neon-lit bar, a pastry shop area filled with mouth-watering delights, and an upstairs dining room with butterflies on one wall. But you probably want to know what's on the menu. A simple Caprese is fresh and flavorful as a starter, with tomato, basil, pesto oil, and burrata, which can be omitted for all vegan diners. The Sweet Pumpkin Salad is a dish I'd never heard of, and it's a great one. Made with a crisp, fresh spring mix, a lovely balsamic dressing, sweet pumpkin, fresh strawberries, and seasonal nuts — we had cashews and peanuts, it also includes a little bit of fresh maple syrup. Surprisingly, it's neither too sweet nor too heavy, and a delightful twist on a salad course. Other salads that include cheese can be customized without it. As entrees, the menu offers pizza, such as traditional Margherita, and gorgonzola, with caramelized onion and walnuts. Truffle Risotto features three kinds of mushrooms, truffle oil, and grilled red peppers. While many of the pastas feature seafood, including some with non-sentient shellfish, they can be made only with tomato or cream sauce, served delightfully al dente. Spicing is excellent in the sauces. For brunch, the almond French toast is nearly perfect, topped with a mixed berry salad. Teas and coffees are refined and unique, with tea selections such as an iced peach or lavender milk tea, as well as more traditional offerings such as jasmine, peppermint, and chamomile. Fresh juices include strawberry lemonade as well as orange and grapefruit. The exceptional coffees — which may be expected, given the restaurant's ownership — include espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte, and even a Dutch cold brew. Almond and soy milk choices are offered. Desserts are equally unusual and lush, with selections such as chocolate raspberry tart, strawberry shortcake, and crème brulee. They have a wide range of macaroons as well, a veritable rainbow of flavors from matcha to dark chocolate to strawberry, mango, vanilla bean, Yuja lemon, and Oreo cookie. They, too, are exquisite. Too much dessert after dinner? Stop in for a coffee or tea and pastry at breakfast. And when it comes to cocktails, the ingredients are top of the line, and include Japanese whiskeys such as Iwai and Suntory Toki, as well as more standard choices such as Jack Daniels. There are flights of Scotch and craft drinks such as the Japanese Paloma made with Iwai whiskey, Yuzuri Yuzu liqueur, lime, grapefruit soda, and sea salt. The Reposado Old Fashioned is crafted with Partida Reposado, agave, creole bitters, Angostura bitters, and grapefruit peel. In short, the drinks are as uniquely combined as the food selection. Truffle fries make a great accompaniment if you're stopping in for just a cocktail. For a combination of flavors in a romantic setting in an unexpected location, Caffe Concerto is one of a kind. The restaurant is open 10 a.m. to Midnight and is located at 610 S. Serrano Ave. just north of Wilshire. There is valet parking on site. Visit www.concertousa.com. Romance in K-Town CAFFE CONCERTO eat here now Photos: Courtesy of Caffe Concerto By Genie Davis

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