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Second City Bistro Review (El Segundo)

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Second City Bistro Review (El Segundo)

Bob Z. | Feb 12, 2004 06:10 PM

It had recently opened, and I had heard good things. We arrived just before 6:00 on a Sunday and there were about 4 other tables with one waitress and a hostess comprising the entire service staff. It is a white tablecloth kind of place with a formal feel about, butthe only utensils on the table are a fork and a steak knife. The menu is all over the map - scallops with ginger sauce, French onion soup, Tuscan chicken, rack of lamb, and about 4 different steaks plus filet as a special. Appetizers are $8-$10 and entrees $17-$25. At first glance the menu looks interesting, but after detailed examination it has a generic feel to it. The wine list is average and pricey.

The bread was gummy and elastic. Etiquette question: after using a steak knife to butter your bread does one lay the knife across the bread plate or does one put it back on table ready to use on your steak. At this point, you have that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach that if you let them take one of your utensils you will not get a replacement.

For appetizers we had French onion soup and a mozzarella and beefsteak tomato salad. When I see fresh tomatoes featured on a menu in February, I have a need to order them and see if they really have found a source of good tomatoes. The verdict: flavorless, watery tomatoes. The soup was overwhelmed with a sweet sherry flavor with none of the complexities of the beef broth coming through.

Taking the hint, we ordered steaks: one ribeye and one New York strip. The waitress made a big deal about how we wanted them cooked. This is almost always a bad sign, and indeed the ribeye ordered medium was served medium rare and the New York ordered medium rare was served medium well. If the waitress had even once made eye contact through dinner I would have complained. The meat itself was ordinary, your standard USDA Choice grade I presume. Both of the sauces, a cognac-pepper sauce, that we were warned was "really peppery," and a red wine-shallot sauce that were both cloyingly sweet and forgettable. The vegetables were undercooked (they were not el dente, they were raw) and unseasoned. Not even salt or pepper. The rosemary roasted potatoes were frozen, pre-cut, out of a bag. I kid you not. At $23 a plate this would be laughable if it wasn't so outrageous.

At this point dessert was not an option. By the time we left the place was full, probably about 15 tables, with a line out the door, and still one waitress.

It is hotel food at inflated prices.

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