Having had many wonderful meals in the past at Spago in Beverly Hills, we returned last evening for dinner to see and dine at the new, improved Spago. We were disappointed and left feeling very "ripped off".
First for the good. The redesign is quite attractive. It is sleek, modern, clean and fresh looking. Although not as warm as the previous iteration, it has a very nice, contemporary vibe. Unfortunately, the modern vibe includes the now virtually omnipresent loud music and noisy ambiance that can make conversation a shouting match. This sadly, is becoming the norm, and is something we don't like.
Disappointingly (and we knew this before), many of Wolfgang Puck's homey Austrian specialties which were on the previous menu, are now gone. Gone are the wonderful chicken soup, the wienerschnitzel, the goulash, and most regrettably, the kaiserschmarrn. The current menu, was to me, not especially interesting. Although there are several items on it that sounded good, it was not the kind of menu where there are so many wonderful choices that it's hard to decide what to have.
The food was all very well-prepared and good. Nothing was outstanding or extraordinary in any way. What bothered us the most, were the prices. Now, we knew that Spago was expensive, and we've had other more expensive meals in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, but when we left Spago we felt truly "ripped off". Some examples of unconscionable pricing included the drinks and some entrees. For example, my Bombay Sapphire martini was $20 (with tax and tip this translates to $26+)! This is the most expensive martini I've ever had. Requiring minimal labor and expertise to make (I've been a bartender), this is ridiculous. Likewise, my $42 scallop entree included 3 very nice scallops with minimal garnish or anything else on the plate. Adding vegetable sides (one per person is recommended and not at all excessive) adds $11-15 to the cost of the entree. This is, imho, for a very good but not extraordinary entree, quite excessive.
Dining at Spago easily exceeds $200pp, and that is with taking much care with ordering and having, perhaps a few glasses of their less expensive wines. To my mind, there are way better choices in southern California for a special and expensive meal.
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