Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #5 in an ongoing series – Mateo Street – East side of Downtown Los Angeles, CA (Arts District)

This update on Charge It! is a case of great food and Leaf/MiEV – CHAdeMO – Level 3 (L3) envy…


Well, I love my ActiveE.  It gets me almost everywhere.  However, since the J1772 Level 3 standard is yet to be published, BMW released the car with Level 1 and Level 2 charging capability.  Level 3 gets most L3 capable cars to 80% state of charge (SOC) in 30 minutes.  Yes, you read correctly, you get up to 80% of your range in 30 minutes.  Mitsubishi and Nissan support a Japanese standard called CHAdeMO.  BMW, GM and others all decided to go with extending the J1772 format for L3 and that is not quite done yet.

Lucky for you that the food at Church and State is SO great and the wine selection is SO good that you want to stick around for several hours ANYWAY to wait for the L2 charger to finish.

So, what makes it Great! It’s definitely the food in one of the best French Bistro’s in Los Angeles.

We started our meal with the Beef Marrow and Bread. It was AWESOME.

Moelle de Bœuf - Marrow

Moelle de Bœuf - Bread

You get some of the marrow and spread it on your bread and munch. No need for the butter, also as you can tell, it’s definitely carnivore food for that course!

To go with the Moelle de Boeuf, I went with the Tarte Flambee and it was a very good flat bread.

Tarte Flambée 2

Since we were dining in the summer and it was a nice, hot day, figured a Riesling was in order and the one recommended by the Sommelier was very refreshing.

A nice summer Riesling

For our Mains we went with Scallops and Pork, the other white meat. Both were exquisite! I ordered the Pork, but swapped meals with the better half!…

Scallops, Potato Strings and Asparagus

Roasted Pork and Figs

The scallop was tender and plump. It went well with the wine that we chose as well the asparagus on the plate. The Better half let me take a bite of her, formerly my, pork dish and that was great! The Figs and Pork made great accompaniment with each other.

The dessert was scrumptious. We chose a nice, sweet chocolate tarte and paired it with a glass of the 2005 Prieure D’Arche Pugneau Sauternes that was on the menu.

Tarte for Dessert 2

I would say that Church and State rivals another of my favorite French Bistros in Southern California and gives Bouchon in Beverly Hills a run for its money.

Now the negatives, the Sommelier was very good and helpful, however, our server was not as interested in taking care of us.  The restaurant had a lot of people, however, the restaurant also had adequate staff to cover all tables. Our server had a disinterested demeanor about her when she did get around to following up with us. Luckily, it’s a French bistro, so such behavior makes me think of other bistros I have been to in Paris…  Wait, that’s not right, I’ve had better, attentive service in Paris.

However, the biggest negative for me is really the location. It’s on the scary Arts District on the way East side of Downtown Los Angeles. Fine in the summer, really dark in the Fall/Winter. The neighborhood directly between the restaurant and charging station parking lot is well lit, but the rest is really dodgy.

Here is the Google Map to the restaurant

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Here is the Google Map to the Parking Lot, it’s across the street from the restaurant.

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That being said, Church and State does have great food, well-lit blocks between it and the parking spot and charging stations. The parking spot is $5 to park, lots of ample parking on the street for free. Blink Network chargers and this was free to charge at the time that I used it, however, a lot of these have gone to whatever plan you’ve signed up for with Blink!

Coming up next on the blog will be my post on Real Goods Solar and how they won my business from Solar City with the partnership with BMW and good timing on the deal announcement as it related to my Solar City installation.  I’m figuring out my math (and getting a whole new napkin to do that calculations with.)

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #4 in an ongoing series – Abbot Kinney Blvd – Venice, CA

I’ve been too busy enjoying the driving and eating to have updated the Charge It! series, but here’s a place that I went to a month ago in the Abbot Kinney section of Venice Beach.

The chargers are located in the aptly named Electric Lodge which has five Blink chargers on the wall located on 1416 Electric Avenue, between Milwood Avenue and California Avenue.


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However, after 7 pm, they CAN be ICEd by folks going to the Electric Lodge. The electric only restricted parking is only enforced during the day, 7am-7pm daily.


Since it’s after 7pm, THIS guy IS allowed to park there:


This area of town has been a “hip” part of Los Angeles for quite a while and two of the restaurants in the area have been in’s Top 38.  I liked both Tasting Kitchen and Gjelina, but today’s post is about Gjelina.

A bottle of "dry" Tokaji.  A lot like a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter

We started our dinner with a nice bottle of a dry furmint Tokaji from Bottpince Winery.  This was the perfect summer wine to complement our meal.  It’s akin to a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter.

The plates on the menu were categorized between smaller and larger plates and we opted to dine Tapas style and enjoyed two starters, the Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive AND Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, Chili & Salsa Verde.

Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive

The Copper River Salmon Crudo was excellent.  The fish was fresh and very refreshing.  It was melt in your mouth good.  The dish went well with the wine and would’ve been excellent without it.

Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, chili & Salsa Verde 2

The grilled squid salad and melon’s only flaw was the fact that I wanted a bigger dish.  However, as a single starter it would have been better, but having to share it with the better half left me hanging for more of the dish.

Luckily, I had other dishes that were still to come as this is Tapas style, after all people and we ordered more dishes.

Anchovy & Burrata Toasts with Pepperonata, Capers, & Sherry 1

The anchovy burrata toast was yummy!  Nope, not a loss for words, just required ONE WORD – Yummy!

The next several dishes were our warmer ones AND the the restaurant was getting darker, so I have to apologize for the photos having to be touched up to be seen, but such is the challenge of photographs with iOs devices with no flash.

Our next two dishes were both Pork dishes.  Luckily, I’m not restricted from eating pork as both dishes were awesome.  The Pork Meatballs were nicely sauced and very flavorful.  The meatballs were a great contrast to the light seafood that we had to start our meal.

Braised Pork Meatballs with Tomato, Red Wine, Parmesan, & Grilled Bread (Retouched)

After the meatballs, the Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly was the piece de resistance.  The pork belly presented the same protein in a different yet delicious way.  The pork meatballs is comfort food with a nice solid bite.  The pork belly was both crispy (as the name implied) and ideally marbled underneath the sauce and chili.

If it had been an Asian restaurant, the pork belly would’ve come with rice, and I suppose that would’ve made the rice that much better, but it would not have gone with the flow of the meal.  So, no fault of the restaurant, but this dish would’ve been great with white rice.  But that’s a matter of personal taste, and the dish was excellent without is.

Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly w/ Watermelon-Fresno Chili & Lime Salad (Retouched)

The culmination to this meal was the Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream and Caramel.  The dessert was great.  It doesn’t look great, but it sure tasted that way.  As plain as it looked, the dessert spared no expense in taste.  What it lacked in looks, it made up for in the packed flavor in each bite.Banana & Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream & Caramel (retouched)

Oh and Tasting Kitchen was great too…  But I’ll have to write about that at another time.  Just too stuffed after this one.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #3 in an ongoing series – Malibu Country Market

Been enjoying going to lunch at the Americana at Brand, but those are my work-day eateries and I will probably write about those later…  However, today’s Charge It! location is Malibu Country Mart.  To recap, Helm’s Bakery and Santa Monica Place were our first two locations for the series.

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The charging station at this location is not on either of the two charging networks that I use (Blink or Chargepoint) and thus its a matter of faith to determine whether or not the charger will be available when getting there.  It’s an Aerovironment charger that Recargo’s notes says requires an RFID card, however, this was not the case when I got there (luckily).  The charger station is right at the entrance to the Malibu Country Mart market area.

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 2

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 3

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 4

It works great (as has been my experience with OTHER Aerovironment chargers.)

The Nobu in Malibu has been in existence for over a decade (1999, I believe).  Being Malibu, have to blend in with the natives and my better half requested that I NOT take pictures of our meal, therefore, a food entry with no pics.  However, seeing that Nobu Matsuhisa has been in business for a while, I do recommend that you peruse the link to his website for the food pictures.

As with a lot of Japanese restaurants, Nobu is best experienced if you enjoy the meal sharing many small dishes with your dining companions.  I did not enjoy the Miso Black Cod at this location, though that is quite a good standby for anyone who  visits Nobu for the first time.

Since this was our first trip to the Malibu location, we decided to try a few of their specialties, so we had the Tai Sweet Shiso with Crispy Shiitake and several of their Mini Tacos.  Additionally, the sushi at Nobu is top-notch.  However, it is also priced higher than other Southern California sushi bars that feature fish at the same quality level.  At the end of the day, a lot of less expensive restaurants feature food at the same quality as Nobu Malibu without the location or the expense.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself and the food was excellent.  However, other restaurants have caught up to the quality of meal that Nobu provides at a fraction of the cost.  Charging your EV may be free, but you’re definitely paying for the meal.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #2 in an ongoing series – Santa Monica Place

Been meaning to write another of these posts in a while.  I had a good time this past weekend at L.A. Live, and thought to write about that, but decided instead to write about Santa Monica Place/Third Street Promenade first.  MKnoll on the BMW Forums had a quick post on things she does in Santa Monica, which inspired me to go with what I would recommend in that area for #2 in this series.  As a quick refresher, #1 was at the Helms Bakery District for breakfast at La Dijonaise

The EV Chargers that I use in Santa Monica are in the lot corner Broadway and 4th Street (Santa Monica City Lot 7).  It is in the ground level onramp toward the second level. There are four Chargepoint Network Coulomb chargers and One Clipper Creek J1772 charger. These Chargepoint chargers (at the time of my visit) are the older ones that do GFCI trip at times and it may take several attempts before the charge process takes. The Clipper Creek works great, but, as a good EV citizen, I only use those if all the Chargepoints are taken since all BMW ActiveE drivers are provided at least one Chargepoint RFID card to use, and I’m sure not all EV drivers have those.

The parking at the Santa Monica Place lots are Free for 2 hours 8 am to 6pm ($1 ea additional 30 minutes; $9 maximum daily) and $5 flat rate after 6pm.  Zengo provides free valet parking, but that defeats the purpose of great food by public chargers.

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I figure #2 should be a place for brunch… namely Zengo.  This place has a highly rated brunch and though I’ve been there for brunch, I prefer the dinner service.  Additionally, next door to Zengo is it’s sister restaurant La Sandia, I’ve only had dinner at La Sandia and I was not as fond of the food there.

As I like to leave the better option last, I will cover La Sandia quickly here.  Basically, the food was interesting, but I felt that it was somewhat overpriced and really a better bar experience than food experience.

The Kiwi Margarita was very good –


As was the Mango Margarita


This was the Guacamole Sampler that we tried… And yes, they had the edible insect on it on purpose (I ate these, the better half skipped on it)


I went with the Chili Relleno, which was top-notch, but I felt that it was a bit over-priced.


And the better half decided to go with the Carnitas Tacos. Again, tasty, just over-priced.


More La Sandia pictures.

All the photos that I have included in this article will be from dinner service that I had there earlier in the month.

So, brunch at Zengo is very popular aside from great food also provides unlimited drinks in its weekend brunches.  The fine print on the menu states – that the unlimited brunch has a 2 hour time limit per table, the entire table must participate in it, it includes unlimited small plates & brunch cocktails- bloody mary / bacon bloody mary / mango mimosa / traditional mimosa / sake sangria / lychee bellini for $35 per guest.  Thus if you like the things listed, it makes for a great deal.

When we went for brunch, we opted A La Carte as not everyone in the party would have made full use of the brunch deal.  However, I do intend to take them up on that deal one of these days.

As I previously mentioned, I actually prefer the dinner at Zengo. The servers are very good at explaining that Zengo translates to Give and Take in English, I boil down Zengo’s dining experience as Latin-Asian Tapas.  Their menu is split between smaller and larger plates and the mainstays stick around in the dinner menu and every month and a half to two months, they add a special “tasting kitchen” menu inspired by one Asian location and another Latin location, such as Hanoi and Havana (April 9 – June 30, 2012) or the previous menu of Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

On our third trip to Zengo, we had some dishes that stayed with us from the previous trip and we felt compelled to order again, and the Peking Duck-Daikon Tacos stood out from our previous experiences, and it was, once again, excellent.


Here is the Peking Duck-Daikon Taco ready to eat on my plate:


and another one


We decided on pairing our dinner with a Malbec that we found to be light in tannins, smooth, and very good with meat and duck.


We decided to go to the Pork Belly Steamed Buns next. I was expecting Char Shiu Bao, but got this instead:



And it was wonderful.

One thing that through us off was the next course, which I did not expect to be in a soup/broth form was from this Hanoi and Havana test kitchen menu of Morcillas.  I had no indigation that it was in a soup/broth format and was my least favorite in the meal, but it was still very well executed.


We ended our mains with the Wok Fried Rice and it was excellent. It’s a main on it’s own, though normally a side in many Asian restaurants.


We did get dessert, but did not quite make the photo gallery.  If you want to see more Zengo pictures just head over to my flickr gallery.

After a fun dinner like we had that evening, and since the parking is paid for the rest of the evening, a nice stroll down 3rd Street Promenade or some shopping at Santa Monica Place is quite easy to do from this location.  Additionally, the Santa Monica Pier is also very close and navigable at this point.

For this particular evening, we opted to go to a nearby AMC Theater to catch the Avengers again.  It made for a great date night with the better half.

After dinner and a movie, we got back onto our fully-charged ActiveE to head home.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #1 in an ongoing series

One of the things about charging my ActiveE at public chargers is trying to figure out what to do while I wait for a couple of hours.  Shopping center public chargers are great ’cause there’s a ton of stuff to do at shopping centers. However, as much as I like to shop, it gets boring.

So, I figure that one thing that would be very helpful for readers of the blog is figure out what great food places there are around some of the public chargers that I use. The ActiveE has provided me with nice opportunities to slow down and enjoy life at times.  So, rather than fast food, some great food near chargers (read walking distance).  Though ever since I got this car, I’ve found myself walking more and more. (the L2 charger nearest my office is 3/4 of a mile away.) So I get a mile and a half walk most work days (for non-SoCal readers, that’s a long walk for Southern Californians.)

So, without further ado…  Let’s go with the first one…  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I figured to choose my first location accordingly.

The Helms Bakery District

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This place is great. Two Clipper Creek J1772 L2 chargers are available and parking is free.  So, you can always shop for furniture and other home stuff at this location.  But, how often does one need to buy a new couch, table, bed, or chair.  At the prices that they are sold at the Helms Bakery District, not too often.

So, it makes it the ideal spot to grab something to eat.  The question is what time of day are you at Helms Bakery.  Breakfast or a snack at La Dijonaise is always great.  I’ve found it a great place to grab a cafe au lait and a macaron. They make some of the best macarons that I’ve ever had.  The one pictured below is a coffee flavored macaron. They have several different flavors, and the coffee is my favorite, the chocolate is pretty great as well. I’ve tried a raspberry, orange, almond, and others and the worst is better than most places macarons.

A little pitstop to recharge myself and my @BMWActiveE at the Helms Bakery charger...  Enjoying a Cafe au lait and Macaron!


This one was a little too tart..


Just tried today – Chocolate Eclair..  It was good!

Chocolate Eclair at La Dijonaise

Really the only other thing I’ve grabbed at La Dijonaise has been a raisin roll.  So, I can’t comment on the other food, (one of these days I will, just not today) but they really do the baked goods well.

Dinner or lunch (on some days) another popular place to go at Helms Bakery is The Father’s Office. I’ve been there once. The burger is good and it is very popular (there seems to be a good crowd at The Father’s Office making it a good place to hang out). It has been considered one of the top burgers in LA. However, I’m the wrong guy to pick burgers. I can tell good from bad, just not good from great nor any other superlative to describe burgers.  According to experts, this burger is really good, so I take their word for it.  If you prefer the reviews of others, it does pretty well on Yelp as well not too bad on Zagat either.  In all, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Helms Bakery is good.

The J1772 chargers and easy access 24×7 makes it a good place for an Electronaut or any other EV driver in LA to stop by the Helms Bakery.  This place is a good place to go and charge it! (and get yourself a fill up as well).