North Hollywood: The Eclectic Cafe and Wine Bar

Salmon, Risotto and Mixed Veggies at the Eclectic


The Eclectic Wine Bar and Grille is a staple in the North Hollywood area. Conveniently located on 5156 Lankershim Blvd and near the corner of Magnolia Blvd, it is a great place to stop and eat before or after catching one of the plays at the nearby Theaters. The wide salad selections offerings also make this restaurant worth stopping by for lunch.




Among the appetizers, the baked goat cheese is quite delightful, complimented with capers, sun-dried tomatoes and a baguette . We enjoyed this with a Pinot Grigio. This offering is a great watch to have a light bite after checking out one of the shows nearby.  We also had a chance to try the tuna tartare but it simply didn’t stand out.  The crabcake is tasty; however, I went with two native Marylanders who frowned on the crabcake.  My take is that the crabcake will please most.  There is nothing offensive about the taste.  If one is a privy consumer of the Maryland crabcakes this may not be the choice for you.

Salad Options

The beet salad, Tri-tip steak salad and chicken salad are all winners. Each definitely pleases. The Tri-tip steak is rich with savory flavor and prepared perfectly. Visibly it is a show stopping salad. The beet salad consists of red, candy, and golden roasted beets.

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

Main Course

The foodie in me wishes that I could say that my favorite was some other dish but I have to admit the Greek Salad pizza is divine. Being a New Yorker, it is hard to impress us with a good take on pizza.  Although not a guilt free pleasure it comes with great ingredients such as spinach, feta cheese, roma tomatoes, red onions and Kalamata olives. However, my dining companions favored the Salmon with mixed vegetables and risotto. The salmon was slightly crisp and perfectly baked. The New Zealand Rack of Lamb is also a good dinner choice, great presentation.  Although one of my dining companion does not normally eat lamb, she enjoyed it. 


The pineapple cheesecake gets an A for originality. The flavor is not over powering and it strikes a nice balance of classic

pineapple cheesecake

pineapple cheesecake

cheesecake flavor fused with pineapple. The Tirimisu also did not disappoint, it screamed “Have coffee with me!”

Atmosphere: Casual dress but chic artsy decor



North Hollywood: The Eclectic Cafe and Wine Bar


See More Restaurant Review in the U.S. and Toronto at: Restaurant Reviews

Pasadena, CA: Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar

The 2009 Beaujolais Nouveau made its much-anticipated debut at a special wine tasting and dinner at Pop Champagne & Dessert Bar organized by the Alliance Française de Pasadena on Sunday, November 22 from 4:00 to 10:00 P.M.    Alliance director Fanchon, shares that the organization is very old and one of the first in the Southwest dating back to 1924.  The French school opened 15 years ago and is located across the street from the restaurant.  Fanchon describes the event as  “…just an excuse to have fun.”  If fun is what you are looking for then Pop Champagne and Dessert bar is the right place.  They have an extensive wine and champagne list to accompany your small plates. 


(Scallops Cordon Bleu)

My meals were from a prefix menu for the event.  Everything eaten except for the ice cream was paired with wine or champagne.   Chef Ray Velasquez is wonderful in balancing flavor and has a since of humor when it comes to food.  He told us that his mother always told him not to play with food.  Among his unique creations are scallops Cordon Bleu and popcorn ice cream.  Yes, popcorn ice cream is on the menu.  What does it tastes like?  It has the smooth flavor of kettle corn.   In the picture below give us a unique approach to serving poached pear on a tart.

Pop Champagne and Dessert provides a romantic and fun environment for an evening out.

Photos by Crystal Johnson

Review by Crystal Johnson Restaurant Critic, Los Angeles Examiner and the Valley Scene Magazine

Phoenix: Bomberos Cafe & Wine Bar

Bomberos Café & Wine Bar 8801 N. Central Ave

The Valley of the Sun lacks for authentic restaurants and bars owned by South Americans with South American themes, drinks and cuisines.

Whenever one pops up, it quickly becomes a magnet for transplanted South and Central Americans.

(There’s Inza Coffee in Scottsdale, a coffee house owned by a Colombian with specialty empanadas and international coffees. These kinds of places become hot spots for Americans from the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Now there is Bomberos.
Bomberos Café & Wine Bar opened on far north Central Avenue near Sunnyslope in late November. It features a Latin-themed menu with South American wines, Latin American beers, specialty coffees and teas, and a light but eclectic food menu.

Owned by Oscar and Kristi Mastrantuono, bomberos is Spanish for “firemen” and is located in what used to be a Sunnyslope fire station on Central Avenue just north of Northern. The renovations include an outside patio and dining.

Oscar is from Uruguay and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs in that country. Opening a wine café in Phoenix that specializes in his Latin heritage has long been a dream of the Mastrantuonos, and when this unique location opened in their own neighborhood, they knew that this was the time to fulfill that dream.

(Continued-Read more at):

*This article appears in the March 2008 issue of Latino Perspectives Magazine