Tuesday, June 16, 2009
James Beach was featured on a travel show as the hosts' favorite places in Los Angeles, so after watching that episode, I decided to see if my experience would be as favorable as a tourists'; unfortunately that was not to be the verdict either because the travel hosts were treated to better food and service because they were filming, or because after a year or two the kitchen and staff had changed (both are likely to have happened).
The entryway is in the patio area and to actually get to the host station, you must go inside the building on the right, so you get a feel for both seating areas before you state your preference for either. I definitely preferred the patio because the indoor area was stuffy on a warm day and seemed more diner like than diner friendly.
I was seated by a waitress in training who was very pleasant and who took my order with a smile; it was a good start. The lunch menu online had more than twice the items actually offered and several of the dishes I came to taste including the Texas Filet Steak Tartare, the Oysters in the half shell, the Tilapia Ceviche, the Spring Beet Salad, and the Cobb stuffed artichoke, were all unavailable. I settled on the Chirashi bowl pictured above, and thought, "How bad could deconstructed sushi be?". The answer was "You really don't want to know."
A crudite platter was brought to me as an appetizer with jicama, radishes, broccoli florets and a ranch dressing. A nice touch, but all the vegetables had obviously been sitting out for some time and every piece had a dried out veneer. The waiter came by to confirm my order to the waitress in training and came back with chopsticks and soy sauce; fortunately the soy sauce was sitting in a small dish so I could mix it with wasabi for my dish, but unfortunately the soy sauce container leaked and dripped so that even touching the container stained my fingers with dark dried soy sauce. I mentioned this to the waiter who apologized and replaced my container, but the replacement was only slightly more sanitary; this made me wish for the hospital like conditions of establishments that may have mediocre food but spotless condiments.
The food arrived and it looked good; the fish was decent, not the freshest, but also not as stale as the crudites. As you can see from the photo, the presentation wasn't bad, even though it was a bit sloppy with a bit of food hanging over the edge of the bowl. By the time I finished my meal, I had seen a nearby table get the dessert tray which they declined and I thought that I would do likewise because the desserts looked as old as the crudites.
The wine menu looked good, with nice wines from $5-$15, so maybe this is more of a place to come drink than to come eat, or maybe the food is better when you come in with a television crew; I don't know and I will probably never find out.