I was excited to come here because I've heard about their opening for months now and the location is just two blocks from my office. I figure the Mid-Downtown location would be a prime spot for some delicious Nuevo-Mexicano cuisine. The chef's bio reads well and the concept seems strong enough.
Decor is well thought-out, open and clean with nice modern chandeliers and dark brown leather banquettes. A bar-counter overlooking the cook's work and a monstrous waterfall is available for solo-diners. The main bar also looks inviting with TVs and a slew of interesting tequilas to please any connoisseur.
But the food left something to be desired. "Bread" service was a bland, from-the-market tortilla barely heated and some cheese "croissants" or empanadas cutely wrapped with banana leaf and served with a spicy, limey sauce.
Ahi tuna with margarita gelee and poblano was run-of-the-mill. Tuna was mealy and bland (again), with the spicy-sweet-sour gelee really there to mask the deficiencies of the fish. Sorry, but you can't find lack of flavor.
I order the shredded chicken torta since it was the cheapest entree on the menu. A healthy selection of hard and soft tacos, sopes and tamales grace the menu but I wasn't really set on ordering them since they seemed like they wouldn't fill me up. My server recommended I come back rather than trying to eat both the torta and duck confit sopes in one sitting. Hm, does he know I can eat a lot?
Anyways, the torta took an inordinate amount of time to come before the maitre'd apologized and blamed some computer error for the delay. The torta finally came and it was pretty small. I knew it wouldn't fill me up but I tried it anyway. It came sided with a three-frijoles salad, decently seasoned, cloying cold and filled with an oddly chewy bit that I couldn't identify. But there was a large chewy bit in the torta when I bit into it - a fat piece of chicken cartilage. I lodged it out of my mouth and kept eating at the paltry sandwich.
The meat to bread ratio was about 1 to 4 (1 being the meat), and the chicken was dry and relatively flavorless.
I also had a standard-issue pineapple juice since I don't usually like drinking just water with my meals. Tequila was out of the question since it was lunchtime and I had to head back to the office after.
Maybe I ordered the wrong dishes. I saw that other orders of the torta were better portioned. The tacos look pretty tasty, but they're just two an order and cost $9. That's pretty steep in my opinion.
The rest of the entrees cost over $20. Do they not realize that they're catering to a lunch crowd and that they shouldn't go too much beyond $10-12 to serve that crowd? For dinner I can understand if they go over $20 - there's gotta be a way to pay for the 3 dozen employees rushing back and forth all over the dining room. But lunch shouldn't cost $38 for one person, unless it's a business lunch. If I wanted to get a decent business lunch around the area, there are plenty of other options - Roy's, Daily Grill, maybe even the upcoming Chaya Brasserie and Drago Centro. Shoot, even Ciudad is just a few blocks away and they have a near identical concept with MUCH better execution.
So what's left for Provecho? Well easy, even if something isn't that exciting on the menu make sure it's tasty. And reorient the lunch menu so that it caters to the Downtown lunch crowd. Ordinary people will give you much more brisk business than the expense accounters, who will head to Chaya, Drago, Roy's or Ciudad over this place.
If you're a downtown loft denizen you might want to check out Provecho and judge for yourself; see how it compares to Ciudad. If you're going to make the trek out here for lunch, you're better off going to Mendocino or even Wolfgang Puck Bistro. I've been to both of those establishments and they serve much better lunch fare for a fraction of the cost.
800 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90017