Overall: promising; concept is there but lacking slightly in execution.
The space is great. Large outdoor seating with its own outdoor bar when you enter. Perfect for the upcoming summer nights. Inside seating is also spacious. Open layout including kitchen and a second bar. Industrial décor with good lighting. Visually, it’s one of the nicest restaurants in the valley, hands down. On to the most important part (for me), the food.
Full disclosure: we went there on its opening night, Saturday, and my partner and I only sampled 4 dishes. Two aperitivos, one taco dish, and one plato principal.
First up – cocktails. I tried the Lankershim Fizz (Hendricks’s gin, Sherry, lemon, and egg white). Very refreshing for a summer night. Not as crisp and sour as I expected from description. Served in a highball glass and almost top fourth was frothy egg whites. I love egg white based drinks, but the thick accumulation of the foam was a bit too much. Also, not a big drinker, but could hardly taste the gin. SO had the Dolores Park Swizzle (Milagro Tequila, Sherry, ginger, and lime). Way too much ginger. Almost to the point of unappetizing. With a bit less ginger this drink will be awesome.
A quick aside. Service was great. Our server asked us to provide feedback and be critical since it was their first day open to the public. She offered to re-make the Dolores Swizzle.
Shrimp ceviche which included jicama, aji chile, red onions, and mango was served with plantain chips. Sweet flavor of mango was contrasted by the sourness of lime and spice from chile and onions. Shrimp was fresh and sweet but only got a handful of pieces. For $10 I am not expecting ½ lb of shrimp but there should be enough to have a piece of shrimp with every bite. I thought the ceviche could have benefited from a pinch of salt, but SO thought it was well seasoned as is.
Next up was the clam bowl. Clams are served in a spicy tomato/sherry based broth. Menu also mentioned andouille but could not taste that at all. Clams were cooked well. Veggies, which included peppers onions and carrots, not so much. Sizes of veggies were all over the place from tiny to large and were thus cocked unevenly. The broth was definitely spicy, and I love some heat. Unfortunately, the sauce tasted as if the broth was cooked first and then some tapatio, guacamaya, or Victoria sauce was added at the end. My least favorite dish of the night.
Chorizo meatball tacos are served with a good amount of cilantro, cotija cheese, and green salsa over freshly made corn tortillas. The chorizo had a nice complex and spicy flavor. The cotija added a nice saltiness to the dish and the generous amounts of cilantro cut through the fatty chorizo. Very good dish that could be wow if the tortillas were cooked a bit more, they were slightly underdone. The chorizo meatball could also benefit from a bit more cooking or at least a nice sear to provide some needed texture to the dish.
Lastly, we tried the scallop main entre. 4 good size scallops served next to a creamy saffron polenta and a cold corn and pepper salsa. Dish also came with a separate roasted pepper sauce, which I believe included piquillo peppers. When I first saw the polenta I was disappointed. No red/orange hue at all and was really hoping for a fully infused saffron taste. After smelling and tasting it, however, my apprehension was thankfully proven wrong. Sweet, bitter and earthy distinct flavors of saffron went great with a well cooked polenta. The scallops were cooked okay, in that they were not over or under, but no visible sear on them. Corn salsa was okay by itself, but did not go very well with the rest of the dish. Same for the pepper sauce – great smoky flavor that paired well with scallops but not with the saffron polenta.
Dishes were very promising. With some more attention to detail and execution I think we can have a great restaurant in this area of the valley. We plan to go back and sample the rest of the menu and report back.