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Restaurants & Bars 3

marmalade cafe, rolling hills estates - yuck! (long)

wow i'm a dog | May 2, 200205:25 PM

My Better Half and I were entertaining our sister-in-law's mother last night and since she is staying in Torrance, we were clueless as to where to go (more on that later). We were recently up at the Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates and saw that a Marmalade Cafe had opened.

Although it's a chain, we just had a fairly good meal at their Malibu location just two weeks ago, so we figured we would be safe. Lots of options. Nice area. Good past experience. It was around 7:30 and they had a nice crowd, so I was optimistic - maybe this too will be a hit?

First, our waiter sauntered up and was clad in a far-too-tight shirt that looked like he should be in Gold's Gym, not a restaurant. He proceeded to introduce himself by interrupting our conversation mid-sentence. No, "excuse me." No apologies, just the rude interruption. Let's just say he wasn't trained well in the art of waiting tables.

After reviewing the wine list for more than a few long minutes, he came back and asked us for our selection. At this point, we were all ready to order, but he just left to get the wine. OK - maybe he has a plan here. He brought the glasses and the wine and left again - before any of us could say a thing.

More long minutes. Finally, he comes back to take our order. When my Better Half asked what kind of soup they have, he replied with a sigh, "Well, we have like 10 of them." And instead of reciting the 10, he opened the menu and pointed. Nice.

Two of us decide to have the ahi tuna and a salad and my Better Half orders pasta with bowtie instead of penne (quirky, I know) and a cup of mushroom soup.

He describes the soup as "surprisingly good," so I am heartened, since our salads contained pieces the size of a child's head and the dressing had little flavor.

The entrees arrive (served by another person) and they look decent enough, although they messed up the whole bowtie thing, while they managed to get my special order correct (blackened ahi, not with soy-ginger; mashed potatoes, instead of rice). Whatever.

The ahi was seared rare and I'm not sure if flavorless is too strong a word. It just didn't have *any* flavor. The potatoes were fine and the vegetables were standard fare - nothing exciting. The best thing on my plate was the soy-ginger sauce which they (thankfully) brought along anyway.

The pasta (Italian sausage and marinara) - with bowties - finally arrived. After we dropped off our guest, my Better Half described it as "the worst thing I have ever eaten."

We decide to have coffee and before I could finish my wine, the tight-shirted waiter swiped my glass! Hey, I was still drinking that! I couldn't even grab him because he practically ran away.

The highlight of the meal? The end. The ceaseless interruptions, the pathetic service and the horrible food made this visit to Marmalade a severe disappointment.

To this end, where *should* we have gone in the Torrance/PV/RHE area? We didn't know our guest's tastes so we wanted a varied menu, not too overpriced, in a nice area. I am desperate for recs...

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