In search of indulgence? Look no further than Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake. Last weekend I ate at Barbrix, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and wine bar tucked away in the quaint hills of Silver Lake. Headed by chefs Don Dickman and Claudio Blotta (hailing from New York and Buenos Aires, respectively), Barbrix left my taste buds wanting more.
I started off the night with the pork & ricotta meatballs, a Spanish spin on a classic southern Italian dish. Being the hispanophile that I am, I was thrilled about another excuse to add pork to my palette. The dish itself is extremely rich, boasting sautéed onions, chives and red pepper, so the choice of pork over beef allowed me to enjoy many other “small plates” on the menu.
I continued the night with the grilled Spanish octopus salad, featuring fingerling potato, black olive, piquillo pepper and saffron aioli. Although many amateur foodies may turn up their nose when they hear “octopus,” the 8-armed cephalopod was cooked through to perfection: each arm was meaty and flavorful and did not require extended periods of chewing. As a new student of marine biology, I struggle to believe that there are any functional uses for mollusks aside from being on the plate.
Continuing with my maritime munchies, I ordered the Spaghetti Nero with scallops, cherry tomatoes, Calabrian chili and basil. A north-eastern Italian specialty, spaghetti nero (which literally translates as “black spaghetti”) is dyed a marvelous hue of onyx with squid ink. Aside from giving this wan wheat a complete makeover, cephalopods such as squid and octopi release ink as a defense mechanism to hide themselves from predators. Whether your interest is survival or a savory spaghetti dish, one can certainly appreciate the wonders of the squid.
I have to admit that although I have tried my fair share of seafood, these were the best seared scallops I have ever tasted. It is no coincidence that they came from 3,000 miles away, from the seafood capital of the Eastern Seaboard: Maine. It is times like these when I miss the East Coast more than anything.
Besides a perfectly balanced ratio of surf and turf, Barbix also boasts an incredible selection of wines, including the Basque Txakolina – Txomin Etxauiz 2013 – a personal favorite. Without a good white wine, seared scallops might as well be canned tuna – the difference is incomparable.
Though the culinary portion of the night has ended, Hyperion Avenue is similar to that of my palette: open and endless. I suggest heading down the street to Hyperion Tavern to enjoy some tunes and locals. This past Tuesday, they hosted Radio Afrique – a consortium of Ethio jazz, Nigerian disco and other music from various African regions.
Best of all, these culinary and cultural opportunities are within a five mile radius of campus.
Peace, love and piquillo,