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Restaurants & Bars 9

MacArthur Park: a public service report

Ruth Lafler | Mar 17, 200506:19 PM

We had a company lunch today at MacArthur Park on Jackson Square. Since it rarely gets mentioned here, I figured my meal should not have gone in vain.

Not that it was bad. It wasn't. It just lacked any spark.

We had the private room at the back which was more tha roomy enough for our party of 35. They started with trays of litte appetizers (the little phyllo cups with spinich, feta and pine nuts were okay -- I didn't try the others but no one seemed too enthused) and a fruit and cheese platter with little cubes of supermarket cheddar and some white cheese, which I totally didn't get the point of. First, I don't see the point of little cubes of bad cheese, and second, I don't see the point of a fruit and cheese platter before a three-course sit-down lunch. Like any of us were going to starve without bad cheese?

Our set menu was a green salad, a choice of three entrees and a choice of two desserts. The iceberg-romaine, bits of tomato and shaved radish salad was pretty awful, but I think that was more the fault of the fact that good salad greens are hard to come by with the bad weather we've been having.

The entrees were grilled salmon, roast chicken and ribs. I've been having a craving for ribs for weeks now, so I ordered them. They came with a mountain of fairly decent medium-cut fries and some slaw (which I didn't try because of the mayo dressing). I belong to the Unitarian branch of the church of bbq -- I pretty much eat any type or style without any judgements except whether or not it's tasty. These were clearly of the "parboiled, baked with sauce" school but they were edible, as the sauce, although sweet, wasn't cloying or ketchupy. The salmon was clearly the hit from all the people I talked to -- it was visibly medium rare in the middle, which turned off a couple of people, but at least it wasn't overcooked.

Dessert was a choice of Mudd pie or apple Pie. I went with the apple, and it wasn't bad. The crust was limp, but not in a bad way, and the filling was neither gloppy nor too sweet. Everyone said the Mudd pie was good.

Basically, it's exactly the sort of place Chowhound exists to warn you away from. The food looks appealing, and some of it is even well prepared. But it has all the soul of any other mass-produced, mass-market product.

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