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A couple of weeks ago I initially heard about this promotion with Red Medicine and Lincoln, where you would get a complimentary dinner if you test drove the new Lincoln MKZ. Personally, I hate driving and I hate test drives, but I’ve been wanting to go back to Red Medicine for some time now. In fact we were planning on going there in the next week for my boyfriend’s birthday, so with this promotion, it was just perfect timing. I was still hesitant because I thought it would be tedious to complete the test drive, so I put off making my reservation until a few days ago. I luckily managed to snag a cancelled reservation, provided that I could fill a four top. So I called the Vinhja and said he HAD to join and then texted Alex to see if he was interested. We all had that hesitation of “is it worth it” – and the answer now, is yes. It was so worth it. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what an amazing (free) dinner we were in for!

The Lincoln MKZ’s were conveniently parked at the restaurant, and with instructions to arrive at least 15 minutes before the reservation, the pre-meal process was a breeze. Answer a few questions before, go for a drive around the block (Alex drove, we all admired how fancy the car interior was), answer some questions after, and go into the restaurant for dinner. I’m pretty happy with my Ultimate Driving Machine, but if anything this test drive opened my eyes to how nice and fancy the new Lincoln is. It has a build in cooler and there’s something powerful about the engine that the boys were talking about.

I thought the dinner would be simple, three courses maybe. So imagine our surprise when we sat down to an 8 course menu and were informed that it included two drinks. Plus included on the menu were most of my favorite Red Medicine dishes plus a couple I had been wanting to come back and try. Wow.

The boys ordered cocktails of course. The Vinhja started with this red drink.

Alex enjoyed this drink which you had to shake yourself.

I didn’t get pictures of the rest of the cocktails (2 were included per person) because I was too busy eating. But, the boys throughly enjoyed them. Soon our first course arrived:

FAVA RILLETTE – yogurt, meyer lemon

I couldn’t stop eating this. It was so good.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS – shallots, fish sauce

I’m not a fan of vegetables or brussels, but I loved these. They tasted so good.

CRISPY SPRING ROLLS – dungeness crab, lime

I know it’s simple, but I’ve ordered these the last two times I’ve eaten here. Love.

CHICKEN DUMPLINGS – caramelized sugar, confitures

Another one of my go-to dishes at RM. Love these!

YOUNG POTATOES – sake lees, butter

These were perfect.

ALASKAN HALIBUT – grilled over japanese charcoal

Very nice.

IMPERIAL WAGYU BEEF BRISKET – braised for 36 hours with palm sugar & fish sauce

My favorite dish of the night. So tender, this is something I had always wanted to try.

COCONUT BAVAROIS – coffee, peanut

One of my new favorite desserts within the City of Angels. This was amazing.

I feel so lucky to have been able to attend this dinner with my friends. There were a lot of LA food types there that night, and it was nice to run into some friends old and new. Thanks you to Lincoln for hosting this dinner. It was definitely a memorable experience. I’m still on cloud 9. I had been to Red Medicine twice before, but tonight I got to try so many dishes that I will definitely be going back for.

Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd

Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 651-5500

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Now, this is the story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became Lady Ducayne…

It all started in 2006 or 2007 when, after a lifetime of good eats and constantly giving restaurant recommendations to random strangers (I’m OG Yelp, son – but refused to be Elite because that would mean revealing my real name) and to friends, I was encouraged to make a blog. Since I am stubborn I thought yeah, I’ll make my own site! And I STUPIDLY used iWeb. I wish I could blame my stupidity on my youth, but reality is I’m a total Apple fangirl – for life! Anyway, all my iWeb files were saved on my OG first generation (stupidity strikes again) MacBook Air. If you know anything about the first generation MacBook Air is that it came with a MAJOR hinge issue that Apple denied at first, and later became a recall. In order to get it repaired you had to jump through a dozen hoops and fit a certain criteria. It was a nightmare. Finally I was able to secure a repair, dropped my computer off, and when I got it back they fixed the hinge (spoiler alert it broke again 6 months later) they did a complimentary checkup, discovered something was off and did a complete wipe. Awesome, except my iWeb files were there! Nooooooooooo! So anyway, I lost the ability to access iWeb and I was pretty sad about it but figured the universe (and Apple) didn’t want me to have a blog so I sulked, watched Gilmore Girls (can you believe Sookie, of all people, became the breakout star?!?!) and Yelped occasionally.

Some time later, I was encouraged to make a big girl blog using WordPress. At first I was so over it, I didn’t know how to use WordPress or to blog like the rest of the world and iWeb had failed me. Then one day I was probably at home bored, sat down and set up this site, as you see it today, in about 20 minutes. That includes the header which I always meant to change up but didn’t.

At first this blog was for my friends and I really thought they were the only ones reading it, and by reading I mean scrolling through and seeing the photos. It wasn’t until the last two years or so that I’ve randomly heard people talking about “Lady Ducayne” around the SCV. Its weird to hear that “Lady Ducayne” told you about a place. I always get embarrassed, but the person never knows I’m there because I never show my face on this site. I never reveal my real name or where I work, and guarding that information is very important to me because of the nature of my job. I don’t go into a place and announce myself…that’s ridiculous. Instead I just go out to eat, and sometimes I happen to have my camera on me, sometimes not.

So, to those of you that have been reading this site for years but never comment, thank you for reading (or skimming, or scrolling through). This whole Lady Ducayne thing kind of just took off and became a THING around SCV.

Which brings me to a special announcement! I often get asked to contribute and write for other sites, but I was always scared to put myself even more out there. This site is MY little safe haven where I can voice my viewpoints without angering sponsors or advertisers. Then when SantaClarita.Com came knocking I thought hmmm…why not. If its good enough for Jeff Wilson then its good enough for me.

So a couple of times per month I’ll be posting a column exclusive to that site. It will be less personal and straight to the point and feature local SCV eats of my choosing. Sorry local businesses, you still can’t pay to get a good (or bad) review out of me! However, I’m always welcome to suggestions on places to visit.

-Lady Ducayne

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Maru closing was a tough loss for the SCV. Truly. It was way ahead of its time, and light years ahead of anything anyone is currently slanging in the city. With that being said, its time to move past it, because there’s a new tenant that has taken over the vacant Maru space on Town Center Drive.

Thelma’s and Luis (hokey, cheesy, or awesome, I can’t decide) opened up with new tables, chairs, linens, artwork, a mirror, and a menu with asian flavor. By now everyone and their mother knows that Luis Diaz was executive chef at Chinois on Main under Wolfgang Puck. Anyway, I remember when Thelma’s Morning Cafe first opened up it was GLORIOUS! Like having our own little neighborhood Chinois right around the corner. I had many memorable dinners there with my family. Over time, the menu started changing and it became more mainstream. I didn’t go back for years until a few months ago when I stopped in for breakfast. It was pretty busy, but then again aren’t most breakfast places in SCV always packed?

Fast forward to a month or so again when I first heard rumblings through the grapevine that Luis Diaz was going to open a refined version of Thelma’s Morning Cafe in the vacant Maru spot. It would be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it was going to be more like fine dining. I was excited because I thought maybe they would have those Chinois-like dishes again and it would fill the void left by Maru and bring some REAL fine dining to this town. 

At the Sierra Pelona Wine Festival a few weeks back, I had a chance to look at the dinner menu since they were one of the vendors. As someone who drops serious money on food and eats at amazing restaurants quite often, I felt the prices were a bit steep. Entrees were on average $20-$27 and appetizers were like $14ish. You know what else is steep? Rent at the Westfield Awesometown Mall, so I figured that’s why it pricey. I guess I had just hoped the quality would match the price tag. Shrug.

They do have Happy Hour from 3-6pm. Some of these items (hot wings, spring rolls, chicken/beef skewers) are not on the regular menu. We were a little late for HH but its nice to know its there.

They will also be having a Mother’s Day Special, which is a good value considering the regular menu prices. You actually save a lot!

Here is what our table ordered:

Potstickers ($10)

Thelma’s Burger ($8)

My menu was the only one at the table that said (the other ones didn’t have this written on it) that the burger comes with a “haystack” of bottomless fries…but our soggy fries came in a bowl and when we were done eating them we were never offered more. So YMMV on this one.

Sea Bass ($24)

New York Steak ($27)

The two above entrees were perfectly cooked and full of Asian flavors. The burger, however, left much to be desired. Having said that, the one positive thing about the menu is that there is something for everyone. If you want to have a simple dinner you can order a burger or a sandwich from the lunch menu (available at dinner time) and those items are reasonably priced. If you feel like having a baller night out in Awesometown and paying a hefty premium for your dinner, then you can do that too. So yes, its a bit expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You have options. A lot of parties came in, sat down, looked at the menu, got up, and left. So the reason I’m being so honest in this blog post is so that you know what you are walking into. Also, they don’t have a website and are lacking in the social media category. It was hard to figure out what days they are open, what their hours are, what the specials are, etc. I think a website (even a simple one) is so essential these days. Wix makes it easy! It only took me 30 minutes to make Rustic Eatery’s website! Fact.

For dessert we shared the tiramisu. Not sure the price on this one since they didn’t have a dessert menu. Thelma’s Cafe is still open in Saugus, so now they have two locations. The mall location offers breakfast so I’m sure it will be packed. I just don’t know their hours.

Thelma’s and Luis

24250 Town Center Drive

Valencia, CA 91355

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I used to be at the top of my game, bringing you the latest and greatest in SCV before anyone else…however the reason I haven’t kept you guys up to date is because nothing had opened recently that had inspired me to dust off the old bloggy blog (I had forgotten my password, quite frankly). That was until last week when my bro Hsiawen sent me a text while I was at work. It was simply a photo of a chalk menu board and instantly I was intrigued. I demanded an address, and hoped it was in SCV. As a brother would do, Hsiawen had me in agony as he texted me photos of his food, but still no address. Notice, this is my attempt to give Hsiawen full credit for being FIRST to discover this new place, okay?

By the time my school day ended, Hsiawen had texted me the address, and as soon as the final bell rang I drove to the spot, walked in, and knew I was in for something good. But before I continue, let’s take a walk down memory lane to this post from 2009. Remember Fish Tail? Remember how excited I was about them opening up in town? The only place slanging poke bowls in Awesometown! Best! Anyway, back to the present.

So as I walked in, instantly I saw the familiar faces from Fish Tail (admittedly it has been a while since I’ve been to Fish Tail, but its back on my radar now). Well, the same way they brought a new concept to SCV three years ago, they have done it again with Rustic Eatery. The menu is quite simple, but I quickly learned they were doing things right. For example, they make their own bread every day, rustic and french, and spent weeks perfecting their hand cut fries. This space used to be a Red Brick Pizza, but the only thing that remains is the oven, and they certainly put it to good use for their bread, croutons, and other menu items.

Making bread isn’t an easy task, but Min (one of the owners – along with his brother Alex) was committed to perfecting his bread, and talks about the trial and error of learning how to make the bread actually rise.

This is truly a “mom and pop” – well in this case “brother and brother” type of business, which is my favorite kind to support, especially when you can see true drive and passion behind opening a restaurant in SCV. Bringing something good to the people of Awesometown besides the same ol’ chains and pretentious eateries. There is a feeling of family at this place, and the owners are so humble. It is so refreshing.

So anyway, as is the case when I like a place in SCV…I wont stop talking about it, and (humble brag) its a cool feeling when you can just text your friends and ask if they want to meet up at a new place, and they agree without even asking what kind of food or what its called. I guess being named one of SCV’s 40 Under 40 gives me klout!

Just like I did for Fish Tail in January 2010 I organized a get together at Rustic Eatery really from one day to the next. Last Saturday about 20+ of my closest friends gathered to check this place out. This place is casual and kid friendly too! And the best part is, everyone loved it! Colbert Bump!

I’ve been there a few times now, often with friends, and I’ve tried most of the dishes. I like the rice bowl and the plates, but I think my current favorite is the ribeye prime cut sandwich, salt and pepper, provolone, on rustic bread. It is served with a side salad which is top quality lettuce and it even has grapes. Fancy.

Here is Mrs. SCV herself! Eve Bushman of Wine 101 fame!

I went there for lunch with Jason and he had the tofu, so they do have vegetarian options available.

I’m also a big fan of their fresh cut fries with the aioli they make themselves.

If you like sweet potato fries they have those as well.

Essentially, you pick your protein and then you get to pick how you want it. Even on top of a salad! Notice their croutons they make in house!

Also of note? They have pork belly. Its amazing to me how hard it is to find a place slanging pork belly in Awesometown. Seriously, something that can be found so easily in LA, yet in Valencia, its like trying to find Waldo!

It is hard to describe what kind of food this is. It does have some Asian influence in the sauces that they make in house, and in the rice bowls. Asian influence can also be seen in the shabu cut ribeye and other dishes. I would suggest just going in there and checking it out. You can’t go wrong, really.

So, I’m totally fangirling over this place, and remember my posts on this blog can never be bought and I can’t be bribed – but if I like your place? I really know how to show it. Trust. I think its just because I’m so happy to have something NEW and REFRESHING in Valencia and I’m all for supporting local small businesses, which is why despite my seemingly cold black heart, when I realized this place didn’t have a website yet, I asked if I could try to make one for them for fun (ie no charge – I have a day job), selfishly just to see if I could. So, turns out creating a site isn’t that hard (thanks Wix!), I used photos I was going to use for this blog post anyway (that’s why they may look familiar), and I think this was my good deed for the holiday season. Maybe Santa will be good to me this year.

You can check out their website (and my amateur skills) by visiting their site here: Rustic Eatery. And then, since it was so EASY I decided to make a landing page for my own site using Wix as well. One of these days I’ll revamp this blog. That’s next on my to-do list. For now, check out (shameless plug) Lady Ducayne!

Anyway, back to Rustic Eatery! I have to reiterate what Lisa said at our meetup Saturday. THANK YOU Min and Alex for opening up in SCV and giving us some new options! So, SCV? What are you waiting for?

Hustle on over to this place and check them out. Keep in mind that they are fairly new and still finding their way. At lunch it tends to get busy, but its worth the wait! Its been a while since I’ve been so happy about a new place in town, and its good! Promise! You can thank me later.

Did I mention they have Orangina and Mexican Coke? JACKPOT!

(Parting gifts courtesy of Scott Groller)

Rustic Eatery

25343 Magic Mountain Parkway

Valencia, CA 91355

http://www.rusticeatery.com

Sidenote: If you happen to be visiting Santa Clarita from out of town because of Six Flags Magic Mountain and need a place to eat before heading into the park, or perhaps on your way home? This is a great alternative to the usual fast food places. Its essentially the same exit as the one you take for Six Flags, and super close! Pro Tip!

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Larsen’s Steakhouse opened last week along Town Center Drive and naturally, I wanted to check it out. V told me that there was one in the valley too, and told me it was pricey. Then Derek brought some shills to my attention (one compared it to Mastro’s) and I told him I would check it out after browsing the menu online. I knew it would be expensive, but I probably drop more money on food than the average person (SoaG’s shrimp toast adds up) and I don’t mind if its worth it. I mean, I just ate at the Vagrancy Project last night, you know?

When we walked in, it was obvious that the whole interior of the former South Point Grill had been gutted. It is hardly recognizable (which is a good thing). I stepped up to the hostess stand and I kid you not, got a stare. After a few awkward seconds I said it would be two for dinner. I was asked if I had a reservation and of course I didn’t. Its Wednesday night in Awesometown. She looked at her seating chart and after like two minutes (fine maybe one) I was informed there was a table for us! I expected to see a packed dining room after that experience, so imagine my surprise to see there were plenty of tables available. Geez. As we sat down, I thought great. Its going to be one of those places. I have eaten at some of the top places, the hip hard to get into places, and I’ve eaten at some poser places. You know, where the hostess looks you up and down and makes you feel like you should be honored to be eating there? Yeah. Like that. Sometimes I want to say, you realize you are the one that works here, right?

Back to Larsen’s! The place is gorgeous. Classy, dim, waiters in suit jackets, faux earrings Coco would be appalled at, menus that light up (for serious), and the choice between sparkling (sparkle water) and still. We ordered two entrees and two sides, but before those came out we got a huge round loaf of bread. I think its to help fill you up since the steaks don’t come with any sides. I want to say, the service was fantastic and professional. It is apparent that the FOH has been well trained. The place is dim so I don’t have good pictures of our food. I had a porterhouse though. It was okay. The sides were a letdown. As we were eating, and overhearing the loud (and mildly inappropriate) conversation from the group of older, single men (like players that grew up) at the table next to us, it occurred to me that there is a niche for this type of place in town. A place that is selling you on the image. Want to impress your date? Want to pay a premium for a steak? Want to impress your friends? Perhaps you want to close a business deal? This is your place. And the reality is, we don’t have a true fine dining place like this in Santa Clarita. The steakhouse for closers has come to town. If you are truly craving and interested in a phenomenal steak, venture out to LA and check out Cut or Mastro’s for real quality at a comparable price point to Larsen’s. If you don’t need your waiters to be in suit jackets, but want quality at a similar price point, check out Flemings. If you want to close and stay local and feel like you are fancy because you overpaid for a steak in Aweseomtown, then this is definitely your kind of place. Oh, and they have valet out front which I’m a huge fan of! Can’t wait to roll up in my BMW and close.

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After months of anticipation…Sycamore Kitchen is open on La Brea. I had been seeing a lot of my food friends rave about it and couldn’t wait to check it out myself. Its been open about two weeks now, and it was worth the wait. What a great spot!

Karen and Quinn Hatfield are well known within the City of Angels, and this is their new cafe spot located on La Brea (across from Tinga). We got there around 4:30pm which was a little sad because they close at 5, but as we ordered pastries we were told that they were half price since it was almost closing time. Score! So these are the pastries we all got:

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Essentially we filled up this huge box. All the pastries looked amazing and I can’t wait to go back and try more.

Karen Hatfield is a pastry chef so of course all of her creations are standouts.

I never used to like cookies much, but lately I have come across some really amazing cookies, and this berries and cream cookie was no exception! Love.

Since it is a cafe, we were able to order some sandwiches. I opted for the salmon toast and was amazed by how good it was. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since Monday. In fact I’m planning on going back tomorrow just to have it again. It was THAT good.

I was so happy to see that they serve Stumptown Cold Brew! I’m having that next time, but on Monday I wanted a nice cold Medio Litro Mexican Coke.

This place is such a win for my beloved City of Angels. Such a nice space, simple, great fresh food and pastries. This is definitely one of my new favorite spots.

The Sycamore Kitchen

143 South La Brea

Los Angeles, CA

(323) 935-2977

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I first wrote about The Poached Pair a year ago. It was my first stop after officially starting my summer break and their pastries were fantastic!

Last week, with The Hustler being back in town, I suggested it as a meet up spot for lunch. I had read that they sold focaccia sandwiches and wanted to try one. The Hustler had been finished up pharmacist school in Arizona for the better part of the last few years, and had yet to try this place. Perfect.

I don’t think they always have sandwiches, but they are very much up to date on social media so you can check their Twitter for info on what is available that day, or you can call ahead and ask. On this day they had freshly made veggie sandwiches which were fresh and great. I have never ordered a veggie sandwich in my life (what can I say…I love meat) but I ate it all (minus tomato of course).

I paired mine with iced tea and he opted for coffee. The Poached Pair actually uses beans from SilverLake’s own Cafecito Organico, which is pretty interesting. After eating our sandwiches, we decided to pastry…and pastry we did.

Parmesan Thyme Cracker

Red Velvet Cupake + Mocha Cupcake

(the frosting was perfectly light)

Scones

(best I have ever had in SCV)

Coconut Macaroon

(not to be confused with Macaron – different spelling)

Coffee Crumb Cake

So as I leave you with this picture of my sandwich, I must say that if you live in Santa Clarita and have yet to make it out to The Poached Pair, I’m not sure what you are waiting for. I’m amazed how many of my friends have either never heard of it or have never been. Go check out the pastries, have a scone, hang out, maybe eat a sandwich, and you can thank me later. It is located behind The Egg Plantation with plenty of parking, only a few doors down from Brave New World. I would suggest going early since they tend to sell out of their baked goods.

The Poached Pair

2722 Lyons Avenue

Newhall, CA 91321

(661) 260-1696

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