What: The Valley Food Guide
Where: Los Angeles
Who: BFFs and co-owners of The Bellwether, Chef Ted Hopson and Beverage Director Ann-Marie Verdi bring life to the San Fernando Valley through classic cocktail infusions and rich seasonal menus. Before Ann-Marie's dream restaurant opened its doors in July 2015, she worked alongside Ted at Father's Office in Santa Monica. Together, the duo has created a unique and flavorful experience, with a perpetually packed dining room and rave reviews from LA's food critic king, Jonathan Gold, among others.
Studio City, $$
Ted Hopson: For drinks, I am a classic guy, which is why I love the Grapefruit Negroni. We have it on tap, and it is absolutely amazing. I'm actually drinking one right now. When it comes to food, it’s really hard for me to say, and people ask me all the time! Sometimes my favorites are very seasonal dishes, like the Cavatelli Pasta we have on the menu. For this, we use fromage blanc in the pasta, and serve it with heirloom tomatoes, basil, and a Calabrian chili oil. Then there are other times where I want to have something more "new”. My other favorite will be the Hamachi Sashimi, served with green onion miso, dashi, and wasabi oil.
Ann-Marie Verdi: My favorite drink, hands down, is The Bellwether Manhattan. It is just a perfect version of the classic cocktail, and I can drink them all day. Honestly, it’s the best manhattan I have ever had. My next favorite is the Grapefruit Negroni, because it a perfect example of how we update classic cocktails by infusing local ingredients, which in this case, is infusing gin with grapefruit. It’s a bit more difficult when it comes to food because our menu changes often. I'll fall in love with a dish, and then Teddy changes it! But right now, my favorite is the Fromage Blanc Cavatelli. It just brings me back to my Italian roots, but yet is different enough to make me realize what an amazing dish it is. I can eat it every day, but I still get blown away by how perfect it is.
Sherman Oaks, $
Ted Hopson and Ann-Marie Verdi: It’s a tiny dive bar, but it's the best place to go to unwind and have a drink. The bonus is that you can order food from the restaurant next door, Carnival, and they will bring it over. You really get the best of both worlds here!
Iroha Sushi of Tokyo
Studio City, $$$
TH and AMV:The magic of this place is that they are open late and are serving some amazing traditional Japanese sushi. You can walk in at midnight and get pristine mackerel. When you work the long hours we do, this is the freshness that you need at the end of a long shift.
Joan’s on Third
Studio City, $$
TH: After I drop my daughter off at school, I have some time to kill in the morning. What I love about Joan's is that I can go and grab an espresso and a snack. Sure they are famous for the short rib melt, but their salads are amazing.
Sherman Oaks, $$
AMV: When I get tired of eating at my own restaurant, I want to have something great, simple and crave-able and that's why I love Boneyard! I can order a wedge salad paired with a cocktail and it's the perfect lunch.
JINYA Ramen Bar
Studio City, $$
TH & AMV: Jinya Ramen is one of those indulgent after-work treats where we can go get a bowl of ramen and be totally content. They are always upping the menu, which is great when we want to try something new. They always keep the classics, so when you want that super comforting bowl of ramen, this place hits the spot.
Sherman Oaks, $$
TH and AMV: This little gem of a place is right around the corner from us. They have some of the best egg tarts in the world. We are never afraid to go and grab a box, then snack on them all shift long.
Pho So 1
Van Nuys, $
TH: This pho place was recommended to me by a few chefs I know. The first time I went, I didn't know what to expect. When I started eating and it was so good, really just spot on. I loved everything about it and the broth was perfect. Every time I can sneak away for a few minutes for lunch, this is one of the places at the top of my list.
TH: This place just opened near us, and it was one of the best days of my life. Imagine having all of your wish lists on a sandwich. Sure you have had an Italian grinder before, but have you had it with fried mozzarella sticks inside?! Sure you have had BBQ, but you need to have it with fries and onion rings literally shoved into the bread. It is God's gift to sandwiches in LA.
Claudine Artisan Kitchen & Bakeshop
AMV: This is a magical spot in Encino where you can get all of your baked needs and still have an amazing quick lunch or breakfast. I like to stop in here before work and get some food for the crew to snack on.