When will I learn? If Snotty Irene raves, it usually sucks.
First of all, the place is very poorly designed in many ways. The bar is at one end of the restaurant and has no stools, so there was literally a party of four clutching drinks and standing by the bar, not two feet from the adjacent tables. Also, who wants to eat outside on Bundy? They should have put the bar on the Bundy side, left the main restaurant facing Wilshire, and placed the patio -- enclosed prettily -- in the too-big space they are using for parking.
The acoustics are horrible -- you really have to strain to hear the conversation at your table. The "bookcase" motif with a little question-mark-shaped window hole at the table for two next to ours made for a freezing dinner at 7:45 tonight. The literary-themed paraphernalia is "kitschy," as my friend called it. She also noted, "I've never seen such an old collection of people gathered at one restaurant in my life." The difference between the crowd at Beechwood -- our previous stop -- and here is, to quote Carla on "Cheers," not just May-December, but "December of the following year."
We sat down and, as SIV noted, were offered flat or sparkling water -- by the busboy. My friend asked whether they offered a rose' by the glass (her preferred wine). "Red zin?" the waiter asked -- the wait staff ain't real bright. "Do you want a bubbly wine? I could bring you a Ketel one with some cassis..." Um, no.
The menu sounds better than it tastes. Arugula and endive salad is ninety percent endive -- not exactly a flavorful or easy-to-eat salad. A few tiny little nuts and cherries thrown in. Somewhat better, though very one-note, was the caulfilower salad. Salad portions are too large for one-- one is enough to split -- although the size might be right for lunch or anytime you wanted to make the salad your meal.
For main courses, my friend chose the rotisserie chicken -- dry and lacking in flavor. I tried the grilled sand dabs -- a mistake. You can get the fish de-boned for a charge of $5, and it seemed like they added extra bones when I declined. The fish also lacked flavor -- perhaps to compensate, they doused it an unfamiliar, vaguely exotic, spice that the lady next to me also complained about. Served with a thin layer of what was not recognizable as creamed corn and with peas that screamed Bird's Eye, the dish is a mess.
Service is also VERY slow -- the place is busy, though we both believe not for long -- and it took us a half hour after being seated to get our salads, another half hour for mains. We had the penguin movie to get to so passed on desserts, none of which piqued our interest -- churros? I think not.
We would not go back, and the four under-thirty girls who took one look inside and quickly scurried out seemed to share our view: There's nothing of interest here, in terms of crowd, cuisine, atmosphere or anything else.