Went there tonight and was sad to see the space that had seemed so full of life at the birth of 5 Dudley feel so drab and lifeless. Perhaps it was the lack of almost any lighting, which might be okay around sunset if the restaurant faced out onto the ocean, but since it doesn't, it was just dark and depressing. We were seated right away upon arrival at 7:15 -- they don't take reservations -- and during our hourlong dinner only maybe half a dozen people were waiting outside. If a place this tiny, located where it is, doesn't have a line out to Rose like 5D did, you know there's a problem. Perhaps they were deterred by the consistently seedy types promenading up and down Dudley. Or perhaps they've already been here and know it's nothing good.
First, the hostess, who waited on us, was unable to answer any of three or four questions about the wine, the dishes, the prices, the specials without consulting the chef. Then she brings out a basket of bread that has to win the award for worst in town. We literally each took one bite, looked at each other, and wordlessly put it down and handed the basket back to the busboy. Yecch! Totally tasteless!
The menu contained four or five soups and salads at or just under $10, half a dozen or so pastas around $15, and some secondi around $20. Very boring and uninteresting menu. Almost no thought put into it. I remember SIV had talked about the potato and fig tortelli, so I tried that, while friend had the chicken "airplane" (a double breast) with cannellini beans and a side of green beans (which cost extra). Waitress recited a fish of the day and a pasta with truffle oil and shaved truffle -- didn't volunteer the price and had to find out when asked -- but needless to say this is not the place for truffles.
Neither of our two dishes should have taken much time to prepare, but somehow we were kept waiting about half an hour. Finally out came the chicken dish, which was boring, overcooked and tasteless, and my pasta, half a dozen or so little tortelli in an exceedingly rich, gelatinous-looking sauce. Friend said it looked like an appetizer portion and was right. The dish was yummy but only because it was so cloyingly rich. A nice glass of pinot grigio sufficed to wash it down.
The chef made his way to two or three tables but never got to us -- which I was happy about, not knowing what I'd say if he asked how everything was -- but I couldn't help overhearing him bestow endless "va bene"s and "perfetto"s and other obsequious talk on the couple next to us. It reminded me more than anything of the Mercedes ad about how nothing in Southern California is as it seems, in which the waiter says, "I'll be right back with some sparkling water for la table" and the woman doing voice-over says, "He'll be back in half an hour...with tap water." I mean, really phony.
Again, the lack of lighting just put a pallor over the whole place. It's a very small space and needs to be expanded, but when you think of the energy that a space like this could have, and has had, at a location like this, it just makes you sad to see that they have done so very little with it. Really bad.