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Ortolan- Great food, hello service?


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Restaurants & Bars Los Angeles Area

Ortolan- Great food, hello service?

PrettyPlaty | | Feb 17, 2008 11:19 AM

I took the SO out to Ortolan for his birthday last night (Saturday). We both did the tasting menu and I added the wine pairing. (He declined because he was driving) I'll start by saying the food was excellent- well prepared and delicious. The foi gras with fig was an interesting combination of sweet along with the usual velvet richness and was paired well with a light white wine (I'm not a wine expert and don't remember what this was). The vegetables 5 ways was also interesting- my personal favorite was the pepper mousse. A few of the other standouts- the venison was cooked well and tasty- normally a somewhat gamey meat and not my favorite but very well executed here. The egg cooked in ash was delicious with a surprising sweet cream touch. The turbot wrapped in swiss chard over white beans and calamari was also delicious. Probably my favorite in terms of flavor was the langostine ravioli in chicken consomme with a quail egg. The ravioli was stuffed to near bursting with sweet langostine meat, again perfectly cooked, the quail egg was just done so that the yolk was just slightly runny, and the consomme had such concentrated flavor to add great depth to this dish.

Sadly, now I have to turn to my issues with the night. We were seated and waited about 20 minutes for our server, after initially asking us what we wanted to drink, to come back and take our orders. After that, we waited about a half hour to receive the amuse bouche. During this time, the server returned to ask if we wanted wine forgetting that I had already told her I would be doing the wine pairing. I had also, as always, informed the server that I was allergic to nuts. She actually made a return to our table to tell us she had left a note with the kitchen about my allergy and that no nuts would be coming out in my food. Then, she proceeded to bring out an eggplant puree with pesto. When I asked her if the pesto had pinenuts in it, she responded no. When I looked skeptical, she went to ask and came back, apologetically answering that it did indeed have pinenuts in it. (The SO reported that the eggplant was delicious) Next, during the vegetable course, the server, a different one, proudly announced that the artichoke ravioli had hazelnuts in it. When I politely told her I would not be able to eat it because it had nuts in it, she immediately took it back and brought back another dish minus the ravioli. I suspect that they had just brushed off the ravioli and smushed the remaining items together on the plate, but I wasn't in the mood to complain. In the meantime, the wines have appeared at least a good 10 minutes before each dish.

Next problem- the turbot showed up sitting in pesto. I had to again ask the server if the pesto had pinenuts in it, since at this point, I couldn't believe that they would make the same mistake twice. (With the pesto) She answered again, no, and when I again looked skeptical, she marched back to the kitchen and returned to report that it did. She took away the offending dish and brought it back sans pesto and also sans the clam that the dish was supposed to come with. I again had to flag down the server to ask if there was a reason why the clam was missing. They acquiesced by bringing me a clam by itself.

At this point, the wine, instead of coming too early, stopped coming altogether and for every subsequent course, we actually had to ask for the paired wine that was supposed to come with the dish.

The venison dish, which was labelled as having chestnuts in it, came out and the server proudly announced that it had chestnuts in it. I realize that she was probably just reciting what normally came in the dish, but I was understandably alarmed at this point and asked her to make sure this one didn't. At this point, the gentleman who had been providing me with the paired wines came to the table to announce that no, the dish did not have chestnuts in it because they didn't play that kind of game with their diners. Um, yah.

The last insult came when the cheese dish arrived with walnut bread. The SO lifted the linen to discover that the bread was chock full of walnuts. Again, we inquired, the server apologized, and brought me some ciabatta instead. We had to ask for the wine that was supposed to accompany this dish and by the time it arrived, another 15 minutes had elapsed.

I could go on about some of the minute details that I thought Ortolan missed on- the lights would flicker every time the heater/AC went on. Early in the evening, they were playing rock music, which though I enjoy, was out of place. And again, the service. Slow and later just plain obnoxiously nonexistent.

Again, I have to say that for the most part, the food was delicious. however, given the slow service, the repeated issues with needing to return items that had nuts in it, and absolute disregard for serving us the wine that I was paying $75 for, I have to give Ortolan the thumbs down for the night. Also, while I was glad to pay the price for the meal, I thought they should have at least offered to comp a part of it given the number of mistakes. I have never been to a restaurant of such supposed caliber that didn't at least offer a free drink for just one mistake.

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