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Last night, my sister (a.k.a. Tuna Toast) and her husband (a.k.a. "J") decided to try out the brand-spankin' new 750ml restaurant in South Pasadena. We heard they just opened a few days before, so we went in assuming that there would be some imperfections - no biggie. However, what we experienced was way beyond opening-week kinks and jitters.
The first and most notable issue is that 750ml seems to be going through an identity crisis. It's being touted as a wine bar, but there are only about 5 chairs at the bar, and the rest of the seating is restaurant-style tables. Not a big issue, really, but noticeable. The menu, however, was a problem all together. French bistro fare, such as foie gras, duck confit and steak frites made up the majority of the very small (about 12 options total including appetizers and entrees) offerings. There was no cheese or charcuterie plate to be found. Is this a bistro or a wine bar? Still, we hunkered down with some glasses of wine (red for me, white for them) and tried to keep an open mind.
Other abnormalities abound: The first appetizer is an artichoke dish. Any sommelier worth his salt knows that artichokes are a wine killer. And, they put lemon in the water - another wine no-no. The wine list itself, according to my bro, was less than impressive and showcased more Spanish than French wines. On a positive note, I will say that the service was friendly and our waiter was very accommodating.
We started with the beef tartar, which, according to the menu, would come with bagel chips. It came with a toasted half of a mini-bagel. Something as sophisticated as beef tartar being served with half a bagel is just weird to me. The tartar was excellent, as was the small side salad, and the bagel was fine. At one point, we asked if they had a bread basket, and the waiter said, "No, we don't offer that." So we asked if we could buy a side of bread, and he said, "No, we don't have bread here." No bread at a wine bar? That's like Donny without Marie: confusing and irritating.
For dinner, I ordered the chantrelle ravioli, as did J, and my sister ordered the striped sea bass. To our surprise, the ravioli portion was very small - two large-but-flat ravioli in a very liquidy broth. The ravioli was bland, and filled with chopped onions and mushrooms instead of a mushroom paste, which was what I expected. There was little flavor, but, with no salt or pepper shaker on our table, we couldn't season it ourselves. I don't understand restaurants that force customers to ask for salt/pepper; it's very uncomfortable for patrons to do this as it almost always means that the food isn't seasoned well. Why put us in that predicament?
My sister's trout was also served in a broth. Why would a restaurant serve brothy food but offer no bread? The trout looked good enough, but after slicing into the meat, she noticed the inside was still raw. Not rare, but raw. At this point, we were all fed up and still hungry and decided against a replacement. We paid the check (a hefty sum for such mediocre food) and left.