I finally went to Limon this week, after not having enough money to go when they first opened, then being too lazy to go to their second grand opening when they moved to Valencia, then debating whether to do to their restaurant or rotisserie until the rotisserie finally shut down...you get the picture.
To sum up: my experience at Limon really highlighted for me the reason I keep coming back to Chowhound. There are a lot of above-average restaurants in this city, and I'm picky/savvy enough to probably root out a good number of them. But in order to find the restaurants that are on top of their game at this precise moment in history, Chowhound is invaluable.
My lunch at Limon was good; I certainly don't regret going. The Ceviche Limon was colorful, flavorful, fresh, had at least half a dozen various seafood items, and so on. My friend's sole was nicely done on a bed of roasted potatoes, and my Chupe de Camarones was delightful: half a dozen large prawns floating in a custardy chowder bursting with seafood flavor. The prawns were arranged in a circle and topped with a gently poached egg.
And yet, at the end of the meal, I thought to myself "This probably would have been so much more kickass a year ago, when Limon really was the hottest reservation in town." There was something complacent about the service and food at Limon, as if the staff and chefs were an auto pilot. Our waiter was unbearably lackluster and difficult to find, despite the restaurant being half empty. He repeatedly told us it would be impossible for the kitchen to split my order of Chupe (essentially a bowl of soup). He even refused to bring an extra bowl when I said I would split it myself: "No no, it would be very difficult." *@#)!!!
The food was fine, but none of the dishes sang to me the way dishes at Tamal, Fresca, or even Mochia have in recent months. The beauty of restaurants at the top of their game is that the chef works his/her magic and the ingredients become greater than the sum of their parts. The remoulade on Tamal's empanadas, for example, made me open my eyes and say "WOW!" even though it's probably "just" mayo, garlic, and roasted red peppers. The perfect crust on my seared halibut at Fresca, paired with a tomatoey white wine cream sauce, re-newed my faith in non-Asian preparations of fish. The ceviche at Mochica made me promise myself that I'd try every version I could get my hands on.
Limon? Well, no epiphanies. I didn't feel the desire to linger over my dish or scoop up every last drop of sauce. It was just a nice lunch. No reason to go back, no lasting memories. And in my experience, that's how it is: if the 'hounds aren't buzzing about it, it's might not be bad but probably not going to be the best meal of the month. Thanks to all, for continuously steering me in the right direction.