Went to Clementine, the sandwich shop on Santa Monica and Ensley, near Century City. This place is always packed at lunchtime with office workers from Century City, all presumably tired of the food court and Houstons.
We went there because the place is always brimming with punters. I don't need to tell all you 'hounds out there that the number of people going to a restaurant is rarely an indicator of its quality. So it proved in the case of Clementine.
First things first: parking is a nightmare, so unless you're going very early or very late, resign yourself to an appetite-invigorating walk, or brace yourself for a frustrating wait.
The frustrating wait continues inside. Not only is the place usually packed, but it has its fair share of selfish, pretentious, surgically enhanced and fake-tanned table-hogs, who'll sit for hours over a glass of iced water stopping hungry hounds from chowing down.
There are two long lines at two seperate tills inside. Make sure you join the correct one, and be aware that the restaurant doesn't help you here - there's no clear indication of which one's for eat-in and which one's for take-out (eat-in is on the right).
And beware the waitstaff, by the way - some are very pleasant and very professional. Some are downright rude - something of a lottery.
OK. So you've ordered from the very colorful and maouth-watering menu, you haven't allowed the staff;s rudeness to light you up after your half-hour wait, and you've managed to find a table. Good for you.
After running this gauntlet, we found ourselves saying the usual: "After all this horror story, the food better be good."
Unfortunately, it wasn't.
Pastrami reuben on rye - $7.95. Across the road in the Stage deli, the same cash amount will get you a brick of a sandwich, with several inches of pastrami dwarfing the bread slices. At Clementine, you get a few scraggy slices of pastrami and no mustard- way more bread that meat.
Chorizo and Jack cheese sandwich - $7.25. Seven quarter-sized slices of processed chorizo and a couple of melted slices of cheese. This much have cost about 70 cents to make - it certainly tasted that way
Chicken salad sandwich - $7.95. OK, thumbs up for this one. Very nice curranty bread and a thick pile of chicken salad with spinach garnish.
There you have it. A thoroughly unsatisfactory experience at the hands of the Clementine's crew. This place is over-rated, overpopulated and overpriced. Wild horses couldn't drag me back.