So made my way to gr/eats on sawtelle last night. They're having their grand opening week this week btw (where you can win free dvds and cds, etc. - go figure), but I guess they've been open for at least a few days now.
It wasn't quite what I was expecting, and I have to say it didn't really live up to the hype. The menu is a hodgepodge of California-Asian concoctions...tofu burgers, fried chicken with teriyaki sauce, etc.
I somehow ended up with a seafood paella, which was servicable but rather heavy on the bell peppers (just a personal dislike). The seafood as well - mussels, squid, etc. wasn't as fresh as it could have been. I guess you could say that overall, it wasn't particularly memorable. My friend had a pasta dish that left a lasting impression of being 'really really salty.'
Prices, tho, were very reasonable. Give the place some time and maybe they could hone their recipes a bit.
What the restaurant does excel in has, of course, nothing to do with the food really. gr/eats excels in pretentiousness. For example, it names the chef (someone I'd never heard of, not that I pay much attention to chef names) and the 'artist' on the menu in the obiligatory sans-serif font.
And by artist, I'm referring to the hyper-trendy Japanese woman who has decorated the place with some spare, amoebically-shaped-superflat-post-modern-neo-ukiyo-e-whatever wooden panels and was no doubt introduced to our uninformed shores through the pages of Giant Robot magazine.
Basically gr/eats looks just like their second retail store(about 5 paces away). All white with blobs of pastel artwork here and there. The whole time I was there I was thinking this should be some sort of art museum commissary, only without bland sandwiches and with more of an asiany twist.
Ironically, their pseudo-hip interior minimalism definitely worked against them when it came to the loo. The bathroom is painted a steely blue-grey and was about as inviting as a stall in a hospital. Not a single flower or decoration in there, save for a lonely white toilet brush under the glare of the harsh lighting.
I mention this because one of the previous incarnations of this space, the Japanese restaurant Don Don Tei (R.I.P.), boasted one of the most cozy washrooms on the planet... warm walls, mood lighting... flowers... not to mention incredible food.
What was I talking about again? Guess I kind of forgot, since our meal at gr/eats was... well, you know...
Maybe tofu meatballs and stuff like that really isn't my kind of thing.
But don't take my word for it. Try em out for yourself. Or more like, go in, order a soda (they do carry Boylans, which is a plus), and just gawk at Ai Yamaguchi's superflat goodness, the very existence of which probably funded the magazine, the shops, and this restaurant, in the most indirect way possible.