Space is nice, with exposed brick and concrete floor. Interesting light fixtures featuring retro light bulbs in birdcages (trapped ideas?). It felt warm on a cold night. In summer, I expect the sidewalk seating would be nice, and I assume they open the large windows.
Menu is not large, with one or two items in most of the major food groups (meat, fish, noodles, veggies, etc.)
Fried peanuts with anchovies are a good appetizer, and better with a cold beer. This provides an opportunity to practice your chopsticks skills trying to pick up the peanuts. Or you can just use a spoon.
The deep fried cauliflower was the only dish served hot. (The rest were lukewarm except the peanuts, which were cool.) I liked this dish, served with a sweet vinegar and jalapeno dipping sauce.
Grilled bone marrow would have been unique and exotic if it wasn’t being served in other restaurants in town. And there wasn’t enough of a difference to make this stand out.
The noodles with asparagus, pork belly and sambal were fine. It didn’t suck, but this dish didn’t really stand out, either.
The beef Rendang was lukewarm like the other dishes, but it had a nice balance of flavor and texture, with the same peanuts as in the appetizer served alongside the rice and sauce. This added crunch and salt to the dish's spicy/creamy coconut milk sauce. The meat was tender and well prepared.
Overall, the food reminds me of Lukshon, but they don’t do it as well. The flavors and textures don’t jump out like they can at Lukshon. But the prices are about the same. There is also some borrowing from Animal, with the bone marrow and pig’s tail. As Lukshon is all the way over in Culver City, this may be the place to go if you’re downtown and need a fix.
And let me say a few words about service. It’s structurally faulty, and poorly executed. Specifically, they had one waiter who would take the orders and a host of busboys who would bring the food/water and clean up. This works to an extent, but was clearly insufficient as the one waiter discovered a friend at the bar and consequently all proper waiter work stopped. This led to a domino effect of trying to catch up. He was unsuccessful in his efforts, and despite running around, he never did catch up. Service suffered. At a minimum, they need two waiters.
Further to the execution problem, upon approaching to take the order, the waiter first took the menus. As it is recommended to order 5-6 dishes for two people, one is challenged to remember what you wanted if he takes the menu first. And to complicate things even more, he explained the specials as he was taking the order….AFTER we had the menus for quite some time, and had decided what to order for the meal. So to then go back and rearrange our order, AFTER he had taken the menus, was clearly out of the question.
The space is nice, the food is fine but nothing special, and they need to re-engineer the service aspect.
The Spice Table
114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA