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Disappointing eating week - Anapurna; Al Gelato; VIP Seafood (long)

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Disappointing eating week - Anapurna; Al Gelato; VIP Seafood (long)

Sasha | May 2, 2005 04:19 PM

Anapurna middle of the week last week. It was my first time and so's 2nd, but because we were catching a show in Culver City and I had read so much on the board, I gave it a try. Normally, I like meat, so I was a little concerned about the all vegetarian. But I have had so many good Indian veg dishes, with so much variety, I was hopeful. We ordered the appetizer sampler plate (I think it had about 5 different items on it) and the spring veggie crepe (sorry forgot the name). Really disappointing.

The only appetizers I liked were the samosa and one of the little fried balls that had a strong fennel/anise taste. The rest were all fried doughy heavy things, basically with little taste difference between them. Other than different shapes, you could barely tell that they were intended to be different food offerings. The crepe was not too great either, but at least not as heavy. It was filled with spiced potatoes and some crunchy diced veggies (onions, carrots, garlic, the like). The texture of the soft and crunchy just wasn't right and it was too big.

I think what really disappointed me is that I couldn't find anything on the menu that was appealing. It seemed that everything was either a lentil dish, potato dish, or cheese dish. I miss, for instance, the spiced garbanzo dishes, the many kinds of daal, various potato/cauliflower curries, and eggplant stuff (Bombay cafe has many of these) I have gotten elsewhere. To the extent that the menu at Anapurna had any of these on the menu, they were buried amongst the lentil, potato, and cheese dishes. Oh well, you win some you lose some.

On to Al Gelato. We had only been for dessert before, so we tried for dinner this time. We went in craving pasta and were a little surprised that there were so few to choose from. Basically, ravioli (meat, spinach, or cheese), gnocchi, or straight up pasta (any shape except rigatoni was extra $), all in the same tomato sauce or optional (extra $) pesto. We got an order of beef ravioli and one of gnochi. In all honesty, we probably would have enjoyed them a good deal if they weren't both swimming in a small lake of their tomato/basil/SUGAR/parm sauce. You literally need a fishing rod to get the pasta out. Bit of a turn off. Also, as I was duly warned, the sauce is love it or hate it. Well, we didn't love it. Just too much sugar in there. More sugar than people with a sweet tooth put in their coffee! Almost more sugar than in the gelato. In fact, if they froze the sauce, they could serve it as a tomato basil cheese gelato.

The bread though, as promised was good. The gelato also good. Our breakaway favorites were the hazelnut chocolate and the cappucino. Fantastic and no complaints. Next time (if there is), we might opt for the pesto, because actually the pasta was quite good.

Next, VIP for dim sum yesterday. I know there are not many loyal fans on this board, but I was one of them. Have had many a good experience, but not this one. Waited in line for an hour. Finally were seated in the side room farthest from the kitchen. For some reason, all the carts move in one direction and some (many) didn't even make it our way. We were the last table (I believe, before they headed to the kitchen to restock. As a result, much of what we ordered was lukewarm, many of the dishes we wanted were out, or never came around, and when we asked about missing dishes, they did not readily offer to bring us some when they were ready. Also tried a new offering - curry shrimp balls. Will pass next time. Shrimp mouse formed into a ball, steamed in a yellow curry sauce. The curry was too mild, not salty enough, and the texture of the shrimp balls was too squishy. Like they were waterlogged.

Oh well. It just makes me sad, remembering a much better eating week the week before (Josie for birthday dinner - duck and shortribs, cuttlefish/sausage/lentil and blood orange/arugula/candied kumquate/burrata salad appetizers); Mandarin deli lunch - handpulled noodles in bean sauce, scallion pancake, steamed fish and pan fried pork dumplings, boule for croissants, sables, kuile amman - so good!; wla zankou chicken/tarna/extra garlic sauce/mutabal) Here's to a better dining week ahead!!

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