Restaurants & Bars 3

Oh Brothers! Los Olivos report

Mr Grub | Nov 18, 200205:38 PM

Beguiled by the LA Times S. Irene Virblahblahblah’s bestowing of 2 ½ stars on the Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, the Grubs dined at said stellar establishment over the weekend. With mixed results.

We arrived for our 7:30 reservation promptly at 7:30. We were told there would be a 10-minute wait. The very charming & rustic parlor/bar area was full of mostly beautiful young energetic people. A pleasant, bouyant place to wait.

The Obergrubenfuehrer checked back with the hostess at 7:50 to be told, “We’re just about ready for you.” We were seated at 8:15. Not a promising start.

Our harried waiter announced to us that he had good news & bad news. The good news being that we were to be comped dessert because of the wait. The bad news being that, “We JUST ran out of prime rib.” For those not fortunate enough to read S. Irene’s review, she said, “think prime rib, because Brothers’ is the best I’ve had in recent memory. … it’s magic … incredibly flavorful … glorious jus.” Most of which the Grubmeister described in mouth-watering detail to our guests during our wait. Not good.

Ordered & shared 2 orders of “Nantucket” scallops for starters. Turns out Grubs & guests of Grubs all scallops lovers. Who knew? Terrific dish. Perfectly seared – if too few – scallops around a bed of shredded cucumber in a fiery marinade. Lovely.

Then began an interlude of perhaps 30 minutes before our mains arrived. Entertained ourselves by eating vast quantities of wonderful freshly baked breads & watching diners come & go from tables about us. Not good.

Momma Grub selected & thoroughly enjoyed a large filet, perfectly rare, overwhelmed by a warm Gorgonzola sauce comprised mostly of excellent crumbled Gorgonzola. Mr Grub selected the rack of lamb, rare. The 4 chops were adequate in size & pleasantly seasoned. Unfortunately, 2 of the 4 appeared to be ends, overcooked & unrelated to their succulent brethren. Our guests chose top sirloin – cooked perfectly, but not so tender, and pork chop – a very comforting version.

The best part of the meal were the sides. All potatoes – gratinee, garlic mashed, Grubman’s olive mashed – just perfect. A true sense of how potatoes can carry seasoning and flavor. Vegetables fresh & flavorful.

Entrée dishes promptly whisked away & comped desserts ordered. Coffee duly delivered, & then another inexplicable wait. 2 coffee refills later, desserts arrive. Crunchy crème brulee w admirably smooth custard, servicable mud pie, interesting brownie & banana ice cream thing that didn’t quite work because the fudge sauce was thin & cool. Nothing extraordinary.

Very accessible wine list of local vintners. Would be disappointing to high-enders expecting a Valentino-like carte, but great for those of us who just like drinking the stuff.

Lovely setting. Grubs ate comfortably in glassed-in patio. “Inside” rooms are nice balance of formality & comfort. Noise – even in packed bar area – does not begin to approach LA ear-bleeding standards.

Menu nicely priced. As described above w a $30 bottle of wine, tab for 4 before tip was $165.

Is it good? Why yes. Does it have problems? Yes there, too. 2 ½ stars? I don’t think so.

PS to the Brothers: If prime is your specialty – the attraction – you should probably keep a spare steer on call.

Thoroughly enjoyed a luncheon at the Vineyard House in Santa Ynez. Straightforward Italian-accented luncheon fare well prepared & presented in a beautiful, comfortable setting in a small Victorian house. Like the Brothers’, a highly accessible wine list of local varietals. Next time, we’ll check out their dinners.

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