We tried the new spot on the corner of 19th/Clement called "Lika", a California Wine Bistro. This spot most recently housed Locanda San Pietro and for years prior to that, Laghi.
This is one of those places that we really wanted to like for a variety of reasons:, it's within walking distance of our home, there is nothing quite like it in the neighborhood and who doesn't have a soft spot for a charming little bistro. Alas, 'twas not to be.
At the outset, let me state that the chef has obvious talents, nothing was really bad, however, nor did it shine with the exception of one or two items. The real problem with this place is the concept.
We've all seen the increase in the number of places serving tapas, small plates etc. Lika takes the word "small" to new levels. Try bite-size. Literally.
Examples- The menu lists Short Ribs (BTW, this was highly recommended). In reality, you get a Rib, with a small knob of meat, doused in sweet, pomegranate bbq sauce. This theme is repeated throughout the evening.
Corn meal encrusted oysters are two fried oysters with a roulade sauce. Tasty but how many plates of these would I have to order to compose a meal??? Next was one of the more laughable items, beet "gratin" with goat cheese. A ramekin sized portion of cubed beets swimming in a piquant cheese sauce. Tasty but miniscule. Now the kicker- we wanted to sop up the remaining sauce with some bread, guess what??? Bread?? We don't have to give you no stinking bread!! However, the server says, you can order a baguette!! Ok, I want to eat some bread so I do so. What do we get? Three slices of grilled bread, brushed lightly with Olive Oil. For this privilege, we are charged either 2 or 3 dollars, cannot remember.
We ordered a couple of more items but you get the idea, adding any more descriptions would be to guild the lily. The dessert list was to put it mildly, strange and unimpressive, ahhh but there was a cheese plate. Sort of. Two tiny triangles of cheese with apple slices, olives and a couple of crackers. Good grief.
As for the wine, very few selections by the glass, in fact, only Chardonnay by the glass in whites. Markups? Here's all you need to know- Pepperwood Grove Merlot, $8.00 a glass. I mean, if you bill yourself as a wine bistro, a) have ample selections by the glass and b) have a little more imagination than Pepperwood Grove.
Service was adequate, nothing more or less. This place simply does not seem to have the right formula for the right time. By the time you order several plates, you are looking at $100.00 with one glass of wine each. ($10 & $12 respectively for domestic Pinot Noir)In this economy and in this neighborhood, sorry, no way.
I know Keller's take on one little taste at a time but come on. Finally, when I got home, I had a steaming bowl of homemade Lentil soup. Alas, I was still hungry when we left Lika.
Don't know how much longer this place will be around but we will not be back.