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report: beechwood restaurant, venice

wow i'm a dog | Jul 9, 200512:23 PM

i hesitate even taking the time to write this report as i could sum up the experience in just two words: "don't go." or "no good." or "style trumps substance" (well, that's three, but you get the picture).

from what i've read, i expected the bar to be the spot to be spotted. and it was, though i did feel a tad bit on the "mature side" in the crowd of twentysomethings. it was a tad loud for me, but then again, maybe i am getting old.

i do give the place snaps for design. the bar is well-designed, comfortable and airy. the quintessential la experience in that regard. i will also give points for the staff accommodating our reservation when we increased the number in our party by 100%. quite friendly. i also liked the casual service. our server didn't rush us to order and let us take our time (well, at the beginning anyway). the pace of the service was very good.

the poor server. i asked for his drink recommendations and i ended up with a key lime martini, which was a frightening neon green and had the texture of melted watery yogurt. it tasted like it looked. he graciously replaced it for me when i asked and i didn't sense any snarkiness (is that a word?). the blood orange martini (with hangar 1!) was fresh and not too orange-y. a solid choice for summer.

then i went on to quiz him further about vegan options on the menu. he suggested the breakfast radish & fennel salad (with ricotta salata and orange-coriander vinaigrette), but i'm no fan of fennel. i asked if the chef would prepare something special and he said everything is already prepared. uff. no points for that. i then moved myself onto to the expected choice: sugar snap and english pea salad (buratta cheese and whole grain mustard-citrus vinaigrette) with no cheese. i would have chosen the beets, but my confidence wavered due to the "everything's prepared already" comment. i thought that meant there might be dairy already involved in the other options i was considering. granted, it was pretty loud in there, so maybe the server and i just had trouble communicating.

the salad was, at best, an odd combo, and at worst, tasted like a crudité on a plate. i'm not sure what the chef was going for with this. the bell pepper was extremely bitter and really distracted me from experiencing the flavor. my compadre ordered the chilled cucumber soup (with smoked trout and dill cream), which he truly enjoyed.

we ordered a bottle of opus for dinner which needed to breathe. maybe i'm getting to be a wine snob - or i'm super ignorant, which is probably more accurate - but i didn't feel like it was that great for the price. we've had some more interesting wines at half the (retail, not restaurant) price. we also had to ask for cab glasses, which is a pet peeve of mine. especially if we're drinking a fancy pants bottle.

two in the party ordered grilled dry aged new york steak (cabrales butter, parmesan-potato gratin, baby spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette). no complaints though my better half said he could have a steak like that pretty much anywhere. nothing special. our other dining companion ordered the slow roasted white salmon (red potatoes, beet tops, crème fraiche, shallots and cilantro), which he said he had the last time he was there. he seemed to enjoy it though we didn't talk much about the food. i had the roasted spring vegetables (with spinach-parsley pesto and melted cheesy toasts), minus the cheesy toasts. i was expecting the expected, but i was pleasantly surprised at the robust garlic flavor and lovely presentation of the dish. it wasn't a stack of roasted vegetables, but sort of a salad i suppose. and it was filling! quite unusual for me with my finicky taste. too bad i didn't have my camera. it was excellent and i would order this again.

for dessert, we ordered the trio of cupcakes (devil’s food, red velvet and cupcake du jour, which i think was a yellow cupcake). the table said it reminded them of second grade, which they felt was a negative. i think the whole cupcake comeback is kind of fun though. i didn't taste them, but the table didn't finish even one whole cupcake, so i'm assuming they weren't great.

here's where everything fell apart. i realize that the restaurant is small. that it is friday night. that people are waiting. but don't rush us out of there. don't clear away our cupcakes when we're still munching, our water when we're still drinking, our napkins when we're still sitting. we were considering ordering after-dinner drinks and when we asked our waiter, he said that if we could please move to the bar since there was a party waiting for the table for over an hour. um. not our problem. especially considering the amount of our bill and the amount of the bill the last time the same party was there (it was over $1,000 and the server was the same and yes, he remembered them). as my better half said, this is something i would have expected at a low-end bar.

but maybe that's what beechwood really is. it just happens to have a pretty face.

Link: http://www.beechwoodrestaurant.com/ho...

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