Went for Sunday dinner with Dad. Before we'd even sat down they started with the flat or sparkling water routine. As Harold Gould said on "The Golden Girls," "Tap water, actually -- I have a fluorine deficiency." Water glasses were not refilled until we prompted the busboy.
Bread was served with no accoutrements -- no butter, no olive oil, nothing. It's not good enough bread to serve plain.
We perused the menu for a while -- it sounded promising. Lots of interesting choices. I picked out a salad of baby frisee, gorgonzola and poached pairs. Sounded delish. "Oh, I'm sorry sir, we're out of that." Said Dad, "How do you run out of a salad?" More to the point -- why not tell patrons when something's not available before they decide they want it?
So Dad started with a minestrone type soup with some pasta in it. He was hungry so it was good. I contented myself with just a pasta.
Dad's pasta with bolognese sauce came -- not bad but nothing to remember. And out came my "candy-shaped pasta stuffed with vegetable mousse" -- enough to fill a cavity. Excuse me, sir, is this the standard portion size? "This is like Italy, you start with the pasta."
Uh huh -- so they're doing the Rocco thing. Trying to change people's behavior instead of giving them what they want. Rocco also tried to get people to order three courses, and we know where that got them. I don't know anybody who orders an appetizer, a pasta, and a meat course -- this is Los Angeles, for chrissakes.
More to the point: 1) Dad's portion was about half again as big as mine -- if only it merited more than a taste. 2.) Why say nothing when someone orders in such a way that he's obviously going to be making a meal of the pasta course? The pasta itself was fine but again nothing memorable.
Dessert did not tempt us.
Prices are high and the wine policy has already been the subject of well-warranted criticism.
Service alternates among snooty, unresponsive, and phony-baloney. Everything is "perfecto" and "ciao" and such -- like the Mercedes ad where the waiter says, "I am Jacques, and I'll be right back with sparkling water pour la table," and the announcer says, "His name is Jack, and he'll be back in half an hour -- with tap water." If only.
Valet parking is $6 and while we were waiting we were treated to one of Santa Monica's finest: an obviously drugged-up itinerant who was screaming at everyone and came right up to a man waiting to cross the street and screamed in his ear. Charming... As Dad said, "I'd never go back there."