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dineLA: Citizen Smith

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One thing you may have noticed about LAist is that we take our mac and cheese very seriously. Luckily, so do the good folks over at Citizen Smith. The trippy junk store-chic hotspot that has inhabited the Cahuenga corridor for four years is known more for its nightlife, but they definitely take their food seriously.

The dineLA menu highlights their American comfort food with a Southern twist. Sometimes restaurants surprise you. And sometimes they really make your tastebuds stand up and holler, "Holy Cow!" Citizen Smith's Mac and Cheese was an epiphany, and angels could not have dreamed up a purer version of the rock lobster salad sandwich that followed.

It took awhile to get the server's attention, as they were swamped by two huge ten-plus parties, but once we had it they doted on us, patiently answering our questions and making sure our courses came in time for us not to lose our life savings on the ridiculously expensive parking meter. Seriously, those meters suck ass, but I digress.

Smith's Mac & Cheese is made the Southern way with a milk and egg custard -- in this case using buttermilk and heavy cream. "But what about the cheese?" you must be wondering. Fret no more. We have the answer, well, sort of an answer. Citizen Smith uses a three cheese blend and adds another cheese on top; the cheeses vary.

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The basil in the Roma Tomato Basil Bisque was intense, but managed to not overpower the full tomato flavor and silky, creamy bisqueness. The option we did not select was Mesculin Greens, Smokehouse Almonds, Avocado, and Pear Tomatoes, with a Lemonade Vinaigrette (Lemonade vinagrette? That sounds fascinating!)

We also eschewed the less intriguing Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Gruyere and Chipotle Aioli on a Toasted Brioche Bun. Served with Fries. Two other sandwiches beckoned.

"The Citrus Poached Shrimp-Lobster, Roasted Garlic Aioli, French Loaf. Served with Fries" [takes a deep breath] tasted clean and fresh, the meat was sweet and tender. The server explained that is poached with sugar. The bread was so fresh I slapped it.

The Barbecue Brisket Sandwich had huge slabs of meat that flaked off into large chunks when disturbed (so don't shake your sandwich. You have been warned). My sole complaint throughout the entire meal was that the barbecue sauce was too sweet for me. Next time I will order it on the side. There will still be a next time; this is a sandwich that deserves a second chance.

Another reason we chose this menu was the refreshing dessert choice of fresh berries. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries were all perfectly ripe, at the tipping point just before they might fall over the brink. The healthy choice was made less so by the raspberry drizzle (for shizzle. It's irresitible. Damn Snoop).

There was also a bread pudding, marbelized with cinnamon and studded with plump raisins. It was not overly sweet, but could be sweetened by dipping it in the familiar raspberry drizzle (

Although designed to par-tay, the room is perfect for the daytime. The sun doesn't glare into your eyes and there are no uncomfortably cool breezes from hidden air conditioning. The music selection was varied and unusual, hip enough to make your friends think you're cool, but not loud enough to piss off your mother. That pretty much sums the place up. And if anyone does get pissed off, the food is good enough to shut them up. Hang on, I have to go feed the meter again...

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