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Harbor Dirve (Redondo Beach) - painfully mediocre

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Harbor Dirve (Redondo Beach) - painfully mediocre

OCElizabeth | Jun 5, 2006 11:11 AM

Hello all - I have gotten great advice on this board before, and it is my turn to share my experience. I was on asking about Harbor Drive in Redondo not too long ago, and got no responses...now I know why - somehow, all my fellow chowhounds knew to stay away from this place. While there were a few perks, overall, the experience was really disappointing. But here's my review anyways...

First, the good stuff:

The view is beautiful!! We went at sunset, and watching the boats on the harbor turn pink and gold, and the water sparkle in the sun was gorgeous. The cucumber mojito was really light, crisp, delicious and refreshing. And the restaurant was really really empty...yes it was a Sunday night, but there was literally no one else sitting when we arrived (about 6:45pm) By the time we left, there were maybe 4 other parties. To me, that would make it a great place to stop and get drinks before going somewhere else for dinner, or if you arent hungry. The bar area looked really nice, and the dining room was really nicely done in wood paneling and big windows.

Now the bad...

OK, where to start...our server was completely inept, he could barely even speak, let alone serve. His opening line was "What are you going to drink...oh wait, we have this special (he picks up the specials menu, looks at it for a minute and then continues)...uh yeah, these kinds of steak are $20 tonight and then you can get wine half off." And then he wandered away. It only got more comical from there. I had a gift card for $200, so we were in the mood to spend some cash, but you would have thought we were two bums off the street from the way he treated us. We had to flag him down for water, and even to order our meal. Given the prices and the emptiness of the restaurant, I figured the servers really should be a lot more attentive than he was, and to be fair, it looked like the other server was much more on top of everything. We ordered panko-covered artichoke hearts and seared ahi for appetizers - they were both just ok. There was a dash of feta and sun dried tomatoes in the artichoke heart, but nothing too thrilling and the seared ahi was too cooked for my taste, and was in a really cloying teriyaki type sauce on a bed of over marinated cucumbers. Not only were they not exciting, the apps were really small (three artichoke hearts and 6 pieces of ahi) for I think $12 to $15 each.

For the main course I ordered filet au poivre and my bf got the rack of lamb. The filet was pretty good, nice hearty pepper sauce and the meat was really tender. But it was still just ho hum. And oddly enough it was served on bok choy(?!?!) I ordered a side of rosemary garlic risotto, which was actually just soggy rice in sauce. Yuck. The lamb was cooked well, but they were attempting to get a little too creative and the white chocolate mole was a little too sweet for the lamb. It came with the so-called risotto and bf ordered a side of mashed red potatoes. Pretty tasty, good amt of red skin in there (which I like) and a hint of garlic - good standard, homey food. We also ordered a bottle of wine, which was luckily half off b/c the menu listed the same bottle of BV Reserve that I buy at the grocery store for $15 at over $60. Geyser Peak (which is I think is under $10 at the store) was selling for over $40. Call me crazy, but I dont think Geyser Peak belongs on a nice restaurant's wine list, and I definitely dont think you should try to sell it for $40. The wine was pretty good, but watching the waiter open it was painful...he almost cut himself with the corkscrew a few times and then seemed ill at ease with pouring it, at which point he dribbled wine all over the table without even an apology. As a side note, the restaurant was also really really warm,to the point where we were sweating. Yuck.

Since we had money to burn on the card, and having obviously decided never to come back, we decided to try out dessert...it can't be that bad, can it? Oh yes it can. To cut it short (my quick review has since turned into a really nasty rant, I'm sorry!) the self-styled "authentic New York cheesecake" had buttercream frosting and still tasted a little frozen like they picked up a Sara Lee cheesecake and spread a little Betty Crocker vanilla icing on it. My bf, an authentic NYer himself actually had to call his mom to laugh about this travesty being presented as cheesecake. I had the vanilla gelato, which was tasty, but I could have lived without the dollop of Reddi-whip on top.

The Conclusion

First off, I apologize for ranting, but I really had high hopes for this place, the website looked great, the menu sounded interesting but grounded, and the view looked amazing. The only thing that didnt let me down was the view. This was supposed to be a special night for us (anniversary), and while we still had an enjoyable time together, it definitely wasnt the experience I was looking for. The total for our meal was $156.58 which I suppose isnt bad, but I am really glad I didn't have to pay it. Unfortunately, the server didn't know how to use the gift card for gratuity, so we did have to put cash down for that...if he'd been willing to take the 5 seconds to figure out how to use the gc for his tip, he would have been a much happier camper, as I was going to leave him the remainder of the card (about $43, much more than he deserved) but instead we left $20, skimpy I know, but he was just so awful.

So, moral of the story, don't go here, even if someone else pays, unless you are just getting cocktails, in which case please enjoy a few of those delicious cucumber mojitos for me (but don't try the bread, it's terrible!)

:) Next special occasion, we are going back to Jiraffe!

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