Nine Thirty Review (www.ninethirtyw.com)
Being in the area (Westwood) - I decided to take whirl at Nine Thirty restaurant, the swanky Californian restaurant in the scenester W hotel in Westwood. Here's my experience there:
The scene/decor: I agree with SIV on her review with this one - definitely a hipster presence here, with people docked out in clothing ready for (just coming back from) clubbing. The decor is very lounge-like, dark woods, dim mood lighting, a mix of club and dance tunes in the background. Even in my business casual (came from work), I felt underdressed for the occasion. I think the ambience is great for a bar/lounge, but replicating it in the dining room makes it uncomfortable and off-putting for people who go to just eat.
The service: This place definitely has a facade of good service, the busser, server and runner/expediter were all very friendly. But there were obvious lapses in attention to detail -- empty water & coffee cups weren't noticed/refilled, and there was an unusually long wait between courses (the dining area itself is not packed at all.) Finally, there was no bread for me! Alas, I didn't feel the carb crave enough to bug the waiter about that. Finally, the server seems to be a bit overdoing it his upsell pitches.
The drinks: Alas, I only had coffee (illy brand) which tasted burnt but is also not piping hot (I did think it was cute that it came with rock candy on a stick to stir in.) The cocktail list did look interesting though.
The food: Thankfully a redeeming quality for this restaurant (which seems to have been mediocre/bad on other aspects,)
For appetizer I ahd the seared diver scallops with corn & truffle oil. The giant sea scallops were seared perfectly, crispy caramelization on the outside and creamy within - and the mildly sweet roasted corn was great in the truffle-flavored oil. It also came with an interesting multi-colored brocoliflowers which were delicious too.
Entree I ordered their wild king salmon (medium) with corn puree, chanterelles & pearl onions. The salmon was cooked perfectly, the meat buttery and flavorful and the skin a crackling crisp, the pearl onions were little bulbs of caramelized goodness & the chanterelles may have bordered on being overcooked (a bit gummy) but were good nonetheless. Turns out the "corn puree" is only a small amount of puree, topped off by the same roasted corn that accompanied my appetizer (a mild disappointment.)
Skipped on the dessert as nothing looked too interesting.
Value: around $15 for scallops, $31 for salmon, $4 for coffee. Even though the place has an emphasis of locally-grown, organic foods--still felt it was slightly overpriced, even though the portions were decent and my dishes did include some pretty pricey ingredients (chanterelles, truffle oil, wild salmon). And at $4 for regular coffee, I'd expect one heckuva cup!
Overall: while the food is great, coupled with the other factors (esp. lack of impressive desserts, something I'm always keeping an eye out for) I'd probably not visit unless it's a special occasion or if there's a discount/special going on there.