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REVIEW: Vert at Hollywood and Highland - long

PRSMDave | Jun 21, 200201:40 AM

In honour of our one-month anniversary (CAUTION: cuteon emission level very high), my wife and I went to Vert, Wolfgang Puck's latest endeavour, high in the tower of Hollywood and Highland.

My wife had butter lettuce and endive with Roquefort, olives, and oranges, which she pronounced quite tasty and proceeded to finish. She then had pizza with potatoes, pancetta, and buratta, which I sampled. Tasty but very salty. $12 for the pizza, $9 for the salad. She drank water.

I started with salad caprese, about which more later, and had a pork chop with Alsatian cabbage and onion marmelade, and a glass of quite serviceable Pinot Grigio. $6 for the wine, $18 for the pork, $10 for the salad.

The service was acceptable but not warm, friendly, cold, prickly, or really anything at all. It was just there. The major complaint about the service was the usual waiter game of making the guests say "tap water" while pressuring them to buy some random imported water that probably flowed out of a tap in Italy. Finally I said, "A carafe of water. Please." The high point of the service is something that seems to be dying out. The utensils on the table were to be used for the course in progress... after that course, the utensils were cleared and new ones were laid. I hate the idea of having to use my appetiser knife on my dinner, and the practice of sticking a steak knife under the meat is no good either. I was glad to see that the utensils were switched BEFORE the plate made its appearance.

Now, my real rant. I don't understand why food in restaurants has to be so ever-lovin' SWEET. There are, after all, other flavours! Bencivenga tries too hard. The caprese, for example. Everyone knows a caprese is fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and good olive oil. I could see the addition of sun-dried tomatoes. But the salad came doused in balsamic vinegar, which rendered it sweet. It's a shame, too, because the cheese was one of the best fresh mozzarellas I've ever put in my mouth, and it had its limelight stolen by some cheap, sweet balsamic.

Then there was the pork chop. It was grilled to absolute perfection, perfectly seasoned, and went absolutely perfectly with my (dry!) Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, it came smothered in too-sweet onion marmelade. I've had great onion jams. This wasn't one of them. It got pushed off to the side.

In short, it needs to grow a little bit and they need to stop adding sugar in its various forms to food that doesn't need its help. They've almost got it. Then it'll be worth it... in the meantime, we'll go to Melisse or Jiraffe or even Ca'Brea.

Cost for two for the evening was $75 including tip and Metro Red Line fare.

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