Went to Red O with mom to celebrate her birthday (belated). Were planning on doing the DineLA menu, but decided to order off the regular menu instead. Apparently, my mom had been reading some reviews (I think they were Yelp, uh-huh) as she systematically notified me of reviews as they were debunked. It was pretty fun to listen as my mom has never been a foodie. But, since I have taken her to Bayless's restaurants in Chicago and am a huge fan myself, I think she took some interest. At the end she even said "Oh! I forgot my camera!!". Strange lady.
Anyway, we arrived 10 minutes early for our reservation at 7:30 and the valet pointed to where the entrance was <mom: "That's good - a lot of people complained that it was very hard to find the entrance". Thanks, mom>. Entered and walked into a very warm welcome from a host. He said that he had a very nice booth for us in the Tequila Room and would we be interested? Absolutely! Hostess led us through the very cool tequila wall and sat us in a comfortable booth. Amouse bouch arrived - fried plantain chip with queso fresco and crema. Very nice. Waiter appeared, mom ordered wine. <Mom: "Hmmm, I don't understand why people said that they had to wait forever. We have had 4 people speak to us and we have not even been here 5 minutes! However, they did also complain that you had to ask for the DineLA menu (we didn't get one but didn't ask)".>
Anyway, after much debate (with myself since my mom was enjoying her wine too much to waste her time considering what she wanted to eat) I decided upon a half-dozen oysters $15 (after I asked the waiter (Justin - cute!) what kind of oysters they served - Kumamoto - my Fave!; Traditional Albacore Ceviche $15; then I asked Justin's opinion on one of the sopes, but he recommended the pork belly ones $14 and the sweet corn and goat cheese tamales $12. I ordered both. I thought it was nice that he didn't recommend the most expensive versions on the menu. Then, since mom had never had Mole (I told her I will be taking her to Guelaguetza next) I ordered the Mole Poblano Enchiladas $20.
The oysters were the first to arrive. I would marry Kumamoto oysters if I could. You think I kid - I am dead serious. They were small, icy cold and delicious. They came with 2 sauces: 1) a smoky chipotle-garlic salsa which we quickly kicked to the curb (not because it was bad, but it was too strong and you could not taste the oyster though it) and 2) a tomatillo habanero minoneta. Oh My God! This stuff was good. So good, in fact, that I poured it into the empty shells and drank it. Really. It also came with salted limes - a nice touch. Those were gone in no time flat. I really like the way they staggered the food arriving at the table. We never got anything that overlapped on another item except for when they brought the enchiladas (last). If you like oysters, I recommend these. No grit - clean and delicious.
Next out was the ceviche. It was a very good, general ceviche. 4 tostada chips with about 2 tablespoons of ceviche on each. I could not detect the green olives, though, and that was the main reason I ordered this one.
Third, the sopes. These were very good. I am not a huge fan of pork belly, but this was good. Actually, upon further reflection, I think I am not a fan of a big chunk of PB, but these were cut in small pieces to fit onto the 1 1/2" sope. Very good. I would recommend these. They came atop a smear of mole - 4 to an order.
Ten came the corn and goat cheese tamale. 2 smallish tamales. My mom was crazy about this dish. It was very good. Goat cheese added a nice tang to the sweet corn. Crema on top. A small amount of dressed (maybe the tomatillo-habanero minoneta?) frisee garnished the plate and was quickly gobbled up. While we were finishing this dish, the enchiladas arrived.
Three enchiladas stuffed with chicken which had been mixed with the mole. Then more mole on top with sesame seeds and some pickled red onions. Very good. I am not a mole fan, but this was very good. Black beans that came on the side with queso fresco sprinkled on top were very, very good. I only ate half of my enchilada and gave my mom that and the last one and some of the beans to take home.
Then I started dreaming about the oysters again. So, even though she was "so full", I ordered a dozen oysters. They also had Malbecs, but I still opted for only Kumamotos. Half dozen came out. I mentioned it to the waiter (even though he had put in a full dozen order) and told him that the half-dozen was fine. I got 5 of the 6, so I was not complaining!
Then he came with a "Happy Birthday" dessert for my mom with a candle on top. It was the Mexican Chocolate Torta with Canela Ice Cream. That ice cream was amazing! It was surprising to see how quick mom can make room in her stomach for chocolate!!
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to return. Afterwards, I asked mom what her favorite dish was and she could not decide. Everything was different so hard to compare. Mine, hands down, the oysters and that minoneta! Meal came to $115 not counting tip. About the same amount as eating off the DineLa menu (if you don't count mom's $15 glass of wine).
On a final note, my mom decided that the people who reviewed Red O did not know what they were talking about and if you go into a meal (or anything) with a positive attitude, you get out of it what you put into it.