Ate at the new tapas restaurant on La Brea (1/2 a block south of Melrose, across from the movie theater) on Saturday night. The food was OK, but I will not return.
We arrived slightly early for our 9 o'clock reservation and were offered a table on the patio right away. However, it was in the middle of everything so we preferred to wait for an end table, and they suggested we wait at the bar. The inside was quite beautiful, featuring gold booths opposite from generic banquette seating. Across from the bar was a lounge-like area with pillows strew about in a faux Middle Eastern sort of design.
Shortly after we arrived at the bar, our table was ready. After some suggestions from the waitress, we decided on 3 tapas, one small main course and side dish. She asked us in what order we wished the food to arrive. We said that we would like the 3 small plates first, then a break between that and the main with the sides. In the meantime, we enjoyed warm pita and other bread with a nice hummus dip.
The 3 tapas plates came out pretty quickly. The fois gras was cooked rubbery and I did not like it at all. It didn't come with it's own bread, so we had to use the pita with it. Weird. The mussel dish in pesto was nice, but the pesto was too much. It was overly flavored. We could have done with a lot less. The six mussels were large, although one of them wasn't fresh. The 4 pieces of salmon-wrapped asparagus were good, if not very ordinary.
As we were just getting started on our 3 tapas, the main dish and side came. We tried to explain to the guy who brought them they had arrived too fast. he offered to take them in the back and put them under heat lamps. We said no and kept them but asked for the waitress. She was very good about the whole situation and explained that she had asked the kitchen to hold off, but they didn't. She took them back and said she would have the kitchen prepare new dishes when we were ready, and she offered us dessert later on the house.
When we did eat the main and side later, they were ok. The steak was unfortunately smothered in creme fraiche--a dollop on top of each mini piece would have sufficed. The meat was also watery, not juicy but watery. The level of horseradish in the creme fraiche suace was nice, though. Not too strong or too weak, and just the right amount. The garlic and almond spinach was ok, a bit too garlicky i thought.
The complimentary dessert was a nice strawberry dish. The fruit was fresh. A nice end to the meal.
However, the restaurant is more about scene than anything. They really need to work on their pacing and do more with the food if they want to survive. Otherwise, it's just another trendy spot.
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