Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Satirist and fourth meal enthusiast Alex Blagg has some thoughts on the best and the worst of the after-dark options.
I sit at the A-Frame bar sipping a ginger beer and waiting for Alex Blagg, comedian and self-proclaimed digital media expert. His satirical social media site, Bajillion Hits, features a video of Blagg bragging about his dominion over the entire internet. (He's read it about five times, you see.) "I don't think outside the box," he says. "I put the box on Twitter [and] get it a million followers..." His character is too funny to be real, but Blagg is so great at acting self-obsessed that a small part of me fears he'll show up and berate me for my paltry Twitter following. Turns out, Blagg is a grown-up foodie who is definitely Internet savvy but doesn't even like Yelp. We sampled the A-Frame menu and talked adulthood and the word "moist."
Laurenne: So ... Can you get this article a bajillion hits?
Alex: I'll definitely do my best to cross-promote and virally brand-jack your content by leveraging the appropriate platforms and social graphs.
Laurenne: Does Bajillion Hits take clients?
Alex: Bajillion Hits started as a joke. I was in between projects, and I made it just for fun. I knew so many real social media 'experts' like that, so that character was easy to write. And then it sort of took off. I get to speak at conferences now and I'm actually developing a show about that character. But, no, I would feel too bad actually taking money from people to put their box on Twitter.
Laurenne: So you're not going to tell me I need to improve my platform?
Alex: No, but I like that you think I might be able to. My goal was to not seem too over the top. I like when people think it's realistic.
Laurenne: You're developing a show?
Alex: Yes, my real day job is Serious Business. It's a development and production company I started with two ex-agents from UTA.
Laurenne: Does that job keep you out late? What are your reasons for eating midnight snacks?
Alex: Well, I used to have crazy hours when I performed stand-up. Now I don't really do that anymore. But, I enjoy food so much that I have incorporated the fourth meal into my repertoire.
Laurenne: Tell me more.
Alex: Taco Bell pioneered the idea of a fourth meal. I considered it a flag in the sand.
Laurenne: How do you look so fine if you eat four meals a day?
Alex: I wouldn't say I look fine, but I work out almost 7 days a week.
Alex: Well... I really love food. This way I don't ever have to watch what I eat. I'd rather work out than diet.
Laurenne: That is some hardcore dedication to food.
Alex: Yeah, I'm kinda into food. I think of each meal as an opportunity to really taste something delicious. I do not believe in wasting any meal.
Laurenne: I will not tell you about the PBJ I had for lunch then. Where did you have your last bad meal?
Alex: Ooh! This place in Los Feliz [ed. note: Echo Park]. It was so bad that I wanted to write a letter. It's called Mohawk Bend.
Laurenne: Sounds horrible.
Alex: Exactly. They spent all this money to design it to look like a hipster's basement. So it's a total scene and full of douchebags. But then they didn't put any care into the menu. It is sort of the epitome of the LA stereotype -- people just caring about what things look like but not what's actually at the heart.
Laurenne: Did you write about it on Yelp?
Alex: Nah. I don't review much on Yelp. Sometimes the reviews are helpful but other times people think they're going for a Pulitzer on there.
Laurenne: But you're a social media expert! You should have a bajillion Yelp friends by now.
Alex: I like to go to places that aren't even on Yelp. Real holes in the wall. I'll go to Highland Park and find the real authentic guys with an ice chest and a little handwritten sign that says 'al pastor.' That's where the good food is.
Laurenne: Ghetto meats! I'm sure they make for an amazing fourth meal.
Alex: Yes! Sometimes restaurants with C ratings are where it's at.
Laurenne: But this place has an A. What do you like about it?
Alex: It's like a modern picnic.
We order furikake kettle corn, an A-Frame staple. It's buttered and spiced popcorn served for sharing. We also grab some Beer Can Fried Chicken, Baby Back Ribs, the Island Farmer's Market Salad with tofu, and various pickled heirlooms. It's all picnic food with a Southeast Asian flare.
Alex: The ribs have hoisin and soy. They're sweet and salty, my favorite combo.
Laurenne: This guy mixes Asian with everything. [Chef Roy Choi, of Kogi Korean taco fame, is also the creator of A-Frame.]
Alex tears into his Beer Can Chicken. My mom always said to never order ribs or fried chicken if you want to impress someone. Alex obviously doesn't want to impress me, and I'm insulted.
Alex: The chicken is crispy but not like you have to tear it crispy.
Laurenne: Does it taste like beer? Or beer can?
Alex: No. I think the beer just keeps it moist.
Laurenne: Lots of people seem to hate that word.
Alex: Yeah, I almost feel like it's a cliche to hate the word 'moist' now.
Laurenne: I agree. People need to get more creative in their word-hating.
Alex: I hate the word 'Snausage.'
Laurenne: I hate the word 'finicky.'
Alex: I also like this place because it's one of the few places in LA that's casual and approachable but still innovative and experimental. NY has tons of those places. LA needs more.
Laurenne: Do you like New York better?
Alex: Oh no! I swear I'm not one of those guys who goes around comparing NY and LA all the time. I swear.
Laurenne: But NY has better restaurants?
Alex: I just think there is more opportunity for restaurants in LA. But I'm not a hater. I think LA is great for where I am right now in my life.
Laurenne: Where is that?
Alex: I guess I'm just more serious now. NY is such a serendipitous place. It's meant for running into random people and being spontaneous and getting home at 4am.
Laurenne: And LA is more for adults?
Alex: Yeah, I live in Los Feliz. I can walk my dog with my wife at night, and it feels right. And grown up.
Laurenne: How did you know you were grown up? What was the first sign?
Alex: Hmm... I guess I'd say that I knew I had grown up the moment I stopped giving a fuck about being cool.
Laurenne: So that's why you ordered foods that required you get sauce all over your face?
Alex: Yeah. Who cares?
Laurenne: I really like that. Who cares?
12565 Washington Blvd., 310-398-7700
[Photos by Hagop Kalaidjian]
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