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Restaurants & Bars 6

Sona- - the good, the bad, and the ugly

JeffW | Nov 26, 200512:13 PM

Hi all,

Last night we decided to try Sona for our 29th. anniversary din-din. I can't say that we had a full on bad dinner, because some parts were brilliant. However, there were enough negatives which will keep us from returning. As well as some parts of the cuisine being brilliant and some not so brilliant, we had the same experience with their staff. I'd asked one of the staff members what was on the property before Sona. His reply was "How should I know, I've only been in L.A. for a couple of months". On the other hand, we had the most engaging sommelier, who was very helpful and knowledgeable regarding wine.
O.K. time for food talk.
Cocktails consisted of a martini for hubs, and my choice was Lillet.
A variety of breads, highlighted by mini foccacia rolls which were great, and a type of thin cheese stick that was about a foot long.
We were served amuse bouches, and they were little bites that were quite pleasing. A piece of albacore sashimi, a bite of japanese cucumber with crab, a flavorful piece of Daikon which had been pickled, and I forget what the fourth bite was.
We'd decided to forego the 6 or 9 course degustation menus, and we ordered off the menu. Perhaps this was our mistake, and I guess we'll never know.
As I said, the sommelier was wonderul. I'd told him that we didn't want to break the bank, wine wise, as there were some over the top expensive wines on the list. He was very accomodating, and he brought out a Sauvignon Blanc for us to try. It was a little too light and tart, and he made us feel very good about trying a different wine. We ended up with a delicious Melville Chardonnay from Santa Barbara, and it was a very reasonable $44.
Our first courses had hubs ordering their beef tartare, and I had an "off the menu" Foie gras preparation. The waiter said that sometimes they prepare Foie gras "torchon", which I really dig, but last night it was to be a pan seared slice. In my bowl, there were a small type of bean which was highly salted, and on top were the two tiniest pieces of Foie, I've ever seen. In anticipation of loving it, and wanting to make it last, I decided to cut each tiny piece into halves with my fork. This was the first time in my life that a fork could not achieve this feat. I used my knife and fork, and when I put the foie gras in my mouth, it was as if I were chewing new york steak---and flavorless to boot.
Hubs tartare was hugely disappointing as well. Too rough of a chopping, and bland.
Our second courses had hubs a little happier than me. He ordered a beet salad, which was served with a type of pate made from veal tongue.
I ordered what sounded like a nice segue before my Jidori chicken entree. It was to be a mushroom ravioli, with celery root puree and an onion confit. On my plate were little squares of what looked like won ton pieces. A few mushrooms were strewn on top, and there was the tiniest dab of celery puree on the side. This appetizer was a joke beyond compare. Absolutely no flavor, and another tiny portion.
Our meal then began a gradual improvement, but not overly so---except for the cheese---wow was that great.
Both the Jidori chicken and swordfish entrees that we'd ordered were prepared "Sauvide" style. The meats were sealed in a vacuum device, and then slow poached. My chicken was moist and I enjoyed the flavor, but there was little more on my plate than the chicken, and nothing to play off of it. Hubs swordfish was average, but he said it was actually a little bit dry. Our waiter did a very nice thing by surprising us with a portion of their beef shortrib, and I have to say to folks who are thinking of trying Sona---DEFINITELY order this dish. It was ummmazing. Intense beefy flavor, with crispy and meltingly soft yin and yang textures.
After our entrees, we ordered their cheese course. In my definition of a perfect world, I love to see cheese carts, where you can select and hear about the various offerings. Sona plates their cheese, back of the house style. However---whatever cheeses our waiter selected were brilliant. This course was over the top perfect. I am a huge fan of Epoise, and it was perfectly runny and so creamy. I had my first taste of a cows milk Roquefort called something like Cachel, and it was delish. A buttery an intense Peccorino melted in your mouth. Our waiter brought us a small glass of something red, and a small glass of something white to accompany the cheese. We thought that was a very nice touch, but when the bill came, we learned that it was something we had paid for.
We shared one dessert, which our waiter said was the Sona "esque" dessert to try. It was a chocolate and beet ice cream sandwhich. Interesting and good.
Petits fours came at the very end, and each of the 4 bites were wonderful. The highlight was a little meringue with pink peppercorns.
With tax and tip, our tab was $345.
Dinner ended up with a little too many contrasts of quality and service for the steep price that we paid. A week ago we dined at Providence. We feasted and had service which was flawless. That night our tab was about $100 per person.
Time to wrap up this long winded post. I've re-read it, and I'm wondering if it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder regarding this particular restaurant. It just seems that for big bucks, one should have experienced the "Full Monty" of what dining in a fine restaurant is all about.
Cheers all,

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