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REVIEW: Damon and Pythias, Calabasas

Das Ubergeek | Aug 7, 200908:23 PM

There's a pretty short list of restaurants I will never go to again -- places like Anarbagh, New Trieu Chau, the Good Earth. You have to be absolutely heinous at what you do to earn a place on the Schwarzlist vom Ubergeek.

Welcome to oblivion, Damon & Pythias. You win the prestigious Chaloshes Award ("chaloshes" is Yiddish for "something that makes you retch").

I was going to go to Brent's in Westlake Village. It's about 20 minutes' drive from the House of the Rising In-laws. But on my way to the freeway I realised I needed bicarbonate and decided to go to Ralphs in the Commons (this is known as "anywhere but Gelsons") and then take my little girl to Damon & Pythias for dinner instead, rather than making her wait.

Oh, we should have gone to Brent's. Oh, I wish I had a Time-Turner so I could go back in time and say, "Kiddo, let's get back in the car and I'll introduce you to the wonders of kreplach in chicken soup, and we'll get the bicarbonate in Westlake Village instead."

First of all, they advertise "kogi" short ribs and burritos and tacos. I call BULLS#%$.

I ordered mac & cheese and fruit (a kids' meal) for the little one and a burger with grilled marinated zucchini for myself. It took five minutes to get the order through because first there was one of the over-entitled Bionic Women (they're endemic to Calabasas) who kept pushing forward talking about how she wanted her Chardonnay colder, and then I had to deal with the language barrier at the counter. (I don't expect fluency ever, but you need to be able to tell someone how much money they owe you.)

The food arrived in short order. The mac & cheese was OK -- thin sauce, but fine enough and the little one ate enough of it. Despite my having substituted zucchini for fries on my burger, it came with both fries and zucchini. The fries were OK -- not crispy but not bad either. I would have liked real ketchup instead of the barbecue nonsense and ranch dip they gave me, but the language barrier was too great for me to try and procure actual, you know, ketchup.

Despite the dip weirdness, I'm glad the mistake was made, because the zucchini was as hard as raw. I'm honestly not sure how the grill marks got on there. Painted on? Charred on the edges and then absolutely raw in the centre.

The burger was a hockey puck that had CLEARLY had the cheese melted on to it previously and then was reheated (that glassy cheese look is not possible otherwise). Five pieces of white button mushroom were anchored in the cheese substance (gee, I wish they'd mentioned the presence of mushrooms on the burger...) It was on a bun that fell apart, with shredded lettuce that was brownish, thin-sliced onion, the most dismal tomato ever to grace a California table in August (tip, guys: when Taco Bell has nicer tomatoes than you, it is time to upgrade your produce supplier just a notch or so). It had some kind of Dijonnaise smeared on it.

The absolute worst thing, though, and the thing that caused me to make somewhat of a scene in front of the absolutely-could-not-care-less manager, was the fruit that came with my daughter's meal. It consisted of half an orange, half an apple cut into large chunks, and a strawberry, thinly sliced.

The strawberry was MOULDY. I don't mean that it had sat in the fridge and was kind of gelatinous-overaged, I mean that there was actively growing mould on the damn thing. And the apple was unwashed! How can I be so sure? Because there was a big streak of dirt down the skin of one piece. It was also uncored. I've never seen such laziness in my life. I was white-hot pissed, especially when I got the Big Shrug. I got two dollars back after I threatened to inform the authorities, which I then took to Ralphs to buy an apple for my daughter, who was crying because I wouldn't let her have the one on her plate.

The bill was $18 or so. Needless to say, I did not tip -- not even a penny. Let them rot. The sooner the place goes out of business, the sooner the possibility of something that doesn't suck gracing that space in the Calabasas Commons can come to fruition. When I leave and think, "God, I wish I'd eaten at Johnny Rocket's or Marmalade," there is something deeply, badly wrong -- and I should have been tipped off by the total lack of crowds in the place at 7 PM on a beautiful Friday evening.

Disgusting. A chaloshes. Feh! Eat anywhere else.

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