Okay. I did someone important a favor, and had a LARGE gift certificate to this restaurant. I might not, otherwise, have picked it, because I'd heard of a chef change, and there were rumblings that the new chef was odd/different. That the place had gone from a serious, expensive, serene little restaurant to something kind of... weird.
The rumblings were right.
Lovely, zen room. Solicitous, even hovering, service. Fabulous French wine list.
We open the menus...
Being adventurous eaters, it isn't very often that we find almost NOTHING we want to order on any menu. But this chef has it in his mind (and I'm guessing it is, for what that's worth, an original idea) to combine pretentious nouvelle cuisine with white trash ingredients. Here, I kid you not, was Poulet marinated in Pepsi Cola, with "a Gummi Bear emulsion."
At this point we snicker. Surely this isn't the real menu. Surely this is a satirical piece from The New Yorker by Steve Martin.
Item after item was just like that. There was pureed glazed donut, or Rice Krispies combined with, say, foie gras.
Needless to say, the taste was in line with the promise of the menu. Which is to say -- yuck!
Meanwhile, this very hardworking staff attempted, with straight faces, to put all this over as a first class dining experience, but they must, in their secret hearts, have been mortified.
Even the desserts, which were MEANT to be sweet, were strangely muted in impact. We've had better souflee in downscale restaurants.
As it was free, we ultimately zenned past the yuck of it all, and began to laugh, realizing that this was an only-in-L.A. experience, and we would be telling our grandchildren one day about the Pepsi marinade, the strawberry soda-and-uni shooter, the INSANITY!
Just for storytelling panache, I'd almost recommend it.