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Restaurants & Bars 4

Noe' this place is gonna make it!

jcwla | May 7, 200402:42 AM

Went to Noe' (pronounced "no way") at the Omni Hotel downtown for dinner with a friend tonight.
This place is not long for the world.

First of all, it's hard to find even once you're at the hotel; it's on the third floor, down a hallway, past a bar, and past a couple more turns. Once you've made it all that way, you'll definitely want to eat outside as the view among the skyscrapers at night is beautiful to behold -- better than Cafe Pinot because you don't have to deal with some of the less savory types at street level. Really a beautiful setting.

So out first came a little amuse of creme fraiche with cucumber on a piece of soggy bread with some type of oil drizzled on top. The creme fraiche wasn't yummy. With it came what the waiter called "an Earl Grey orange tea" but what tasted more like a muted, watered-down pineapple juice.

For starters, my friend had the Mimosa salad, which has a nice kick and a beautiful presentation. (She took one sip of the way-too-sweet "mango frappe" served with it and by then we had quickly tired on the tiny side drinks.) I had the Santa Barbara spot prawn and bean sprout "martini," which involved way too much work to get the shrimp out of their shells and keep everything intact in the pretty neon-blue martini glass. At my friend's suggestion, I gave up and dumped everything onto my plate to create a kind of salad. Unfortunately, the "salad" was overdressed with way too much of a peanut sauce with some surprisingly potent spices.

For her entree, my friend had the jidori chicken and I had the arctic char. Friend noted that neither dish had any fragrance to it when served. Her chicken was just okay; my fish and vegetables weren't even that good. When I asked a waiter to have it reheated, he asked, "Is it too cool or is the temperature on it too low? Is it cool to the touch or is not cooked enough?" I understand that rareness/doneness is not exactly the same as temp, but it got to be a comedy routine; my friend said she wanted to smack him.

There were very few people in the restaurant -- maybe a dozen, dozen and a half -- and the serving staff must have had too little to do. They hovered, they brought three or four napkins, they changed the silverware constantly, and the waiters all spoke very reverently of Gadsby's cooking and in laughable, pretentious accents delivered superciliously. Everything about Noe' gives the lasting impression that this place won't last the rest of the year.

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