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Karen Salkin Out To Lunch Column

Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from
Karen Salkin

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Mr. Chow Beverly Hills

Marks Restaurant- La Cienega

"Without Walls"
Somewhere between 6-6-06 and World Cup Mania, I managed to go out and do a review, just to show you guys how dedicated I am to bringing you the latest happenings.

Just don’t expect a lot during Wimbledon . .

Mr. Chow

There was a lot of yin and yang at Mr. Chow last Tuesday night.

First, the yang. (The explanation if yin and yang is too long for this column, so let’s just go with my frivolous usage for now.) Anyway, my friends, Karen and Jerry, have been to every hip restaurant in town, but somehow missed this one, so off we went.

There appeared to be big doings in the private room upstairs. After dinner, Karen (how much do I like her to let her share my name?!) and I were headed up to the powder room, but had to wait for a procession of people coming down. There were about 24 in all, but the stand-outs were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, and Sean Connery and the missus, (still together for 100 years or so, which is amazing for show biz and actually marriage in general!) Paparazzi jackpot!!!

The occasion was a celebration of Sean being honored, later in the week, with an AFI tribute at the Kodak Theater. The gathering had Scottish tablecloths, but Chinese lanterns. (Is that an example of yin and yang?)

Whoever threw the bash had gone to the trouble of making cute favors of packs of chocolate-covered fortune cookies. Shamefully, almost every guest had left his or hers behind, unopened.

Remind me never to invite any of them to my parties! (I probably don’t have to worry about that.) Courtney was very skinny with an adorable outfit of a white button-down shirt, capris and tie-up heeled sandals. She and David had to be escorted out a side door to avoid the photog crush. And the whole night, I thought they were gathering to get a shot of me! (After all, the Brangelina baby is old news.)

Now the yin. First, my party was there exactly on time for our reservation. They made us wait at the bar for over 20 minutes, and seated us only when we finally inquired! Bad business.

I hadn’t dined at Mr. Chow for a couple of years (too many restaurants to review, not enough dress sizes) and was shocked to find the food mediocre at best. I had the pork and was amazed when it was 90% fat! The waiter said, “It’s like bacon,” and that the chef wouldn’t cut off the fat when I requested it.

Thirty-two dollars for 4 strips of bacon!!! Are they kidding?! And they overcharged by one drink. And they don’t list what you ordered on the bill! Just one total entitled “Food.” Totally offensive.

The last yang part is that Jerry, a true martini connoisseur, loved his that was quickly shaken by the bartender, Gary, and declared it to be one of the best he’s ever had. So, go there to imbibe and celeb-watch, but the only food I can vouch for is the yummy diced chicken in lettuce cups, that you can get elsewhere for a lot less money. But then you won’t get a side of Sean Connery.

Mr. Chow
344 N. Camden Dr.

Without Walls

Speaking of celebs, I saw a whole year’s worth on Sunday. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to many theater opening nights. Shamefully, I’ve usually looked forward to the after-parties more than the actual shows! (I never said I was deep.)

Such was the case this week-end with the Taper’s “Without Walls” starring Laurence Fishburne. I had never thought about him one way or another, which is strange for me because I’m often given to extremes. I am now a total fan! He was amazing, as was the play which was written by Alfred Uhry, who wrote “Driving Miss Daisy.”

So I should have realized “...Walls” would be great because I can’t get through “…Daisy” without breaking down. But, for some reason, I didn’t expect it to be the treat that it is.

Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite with the party grub by Patina. I have never understood their success, which is great. The Patina group owns so many restaurants in southern California that I’ve lost count. But their catering continues to get weaker with each party I attend.

This one was in the space on the top floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, as are many thrown by Center Theater Group. Until recently, it was known as Impresario and run by Piero Selvaggio of Valentino fame. During his reign, the food at the parties was not only delicious but clever, with menus to match the play’s contents, which always seemed to tickle the guests.

The evening’s fare (who am I, with all these grown-up expressions all of a sudden?) SHOULD have included chili, turkey sandwiches, brownies, and sweet potato pie, items even I could have whipped up! (You’ll have to see the play to know why.) That’s simple enough and we all would have enjoyed it. But they actually served bitter arugula salad, albino chicken on skewers, some grapes and cheese, bread and olive tapenade, and sliced salami!

Everyone seemed confused. Few menu items went together and there weren’t even knives, which would have been somewhat helpful. And I’m sure Patina charged the Taper a pretty penny for it all. They should be ashamed of themselves! Having a respected name counts for just so much, but you must deliver time after time.

Now to the promised list of famous audience members, all of whom left the theater at least, laughing and smiling:
“Lost”’s Harold Perrineau (I “Found” him!),
George Lopez, Maria Bello, Roscoe Lee Brown, the Dees (Billy Dee Williams and Heavy D),
Keanu Reeves,
Harry Lennix (from the lamentably late “Commander-In-Chief), and most impressively,
Jack Nicholson. (I turned around and he and my friend Denise were walking out together, chuckling!) Lucky for him the Lakers aren’t in the NBA Finals or he would have missed this great time!

I can’t believe I almost forgot the best part! See the pic below and you’ll agree. One of the three actors in the play is the gorgeous (and nice!!!) young actor, Matt Lanter, who played the President’s son on the aforementioned “Commander-In-Chief.” He’s at least 5’10”in real life (I’m 5’6’’ and wearing heels), so I said, “You look so much taller than on TV.” He pointed out that the show, starring the at-least-6’ Geena Davis had to have everyone around her at least near that height. Good point. By the way, Matt’s very good in the play, too. And, if you’re lucky, you just might get to see those abs. Twice! I was sitting pretty close, but definitely worked those binos!

“Without Walls” at the Mark Taper Forum through July 16
135 N. Grand Ave. 213-628-2772

Patina Group No info because you’ll only be disappointed

Mark's Restaurant

For you “Rent” lovers, Jonathan Larson’s first play “tick…tick…Boom” opened at the Coronet Theater this past Saturday. I thought it was good, but everyone else seemed to really love it. (I just wish every show were “Drowsy Chaperone.”) The three actors were talented enough, and the lead, Andrew Samonsky, is adorable. And on stage the entire 90 minutes! And seemingly enjoying every second of it.

I, of course, couldn’t wait to find out where the party would be. Surprisingly, (I’ll tell you why in a sec), it was at Mark’s Restaurant. It was the perfect venue, again with excellent food and cute waiters, but here’s the reason for my surprise: it’s been around for 18 years and I have never reviewed it on my show, or even eaten there. Now, the last two Saturday night events I’ve attended were either catered by them or, in this case, at the actual restaurant! So, one of these days, I’ll go in and do a real review because they seem to be all the rage. I’m glad to see a restaurant last that long in fickle Los Angeles.

“tick…tick…Boom” at the Coronet Theater through July 16
366 N. LaCienega Blvd. 310-657-7377

Mark’s Restaurant 861 N. LaCienega Blvd. 310-652-5252

Lastly, congrats to Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s, the Valley’s new supper club. They had a gala opening this week-end, that I unfortunately couldn’t attend due to a previous commitment. (Unlike many others, I try not to cancel on anyone, no matter what more attractive offer may come along . But all bets are off if Nick Lachey ever calls!) It sounded great and I will review it at a later date, especially if my favorite Los Angeles singer, Adam Lambert, ever appears there.

Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s 4349 Tujunga Ave. Studio City 818-769-0905

Karen's Restaurant Revue next show airs on Adelphia Cable at 4PM on June 15, channel 98.

Matt Lanter With Karen Salkin
Karen with actor Matt Lanter after the play "Without Walls"..
photo by Joe Chang
"Okay Matt, I know you're in love with her but you want no part of Mr. X- got it?"
Laurence Fishburn with Matt Lantern in "Without Walls".

Missed one of Karen Salkin's previous restaurant reviews?

Find them below
Out To Lunch Oct. 27-
Karen reviews Deli Boys
Out To Lunch Oct. 27-
Karen reviews Chakra
Out To Lunch Oct. 16-
Karen reviews Cinespace
Out To Lunch Oct. 6-
Karen reviews Aphrodisiac
Out To Lunch Sept. 26-
Karen reviews Ugo and Patina Catering
Out To Lunch Sept. 14-
Karen's Food Court Guide
Out To Lunch Aug 29-
Locanda Del Lago review
Out To Lunch Aug 17-
Karen reviews CUBE on La Brea
Out To Lunch Aug 9-
Karen unveils her quick breakfast, lunch and Chinese menu favorites and visits Nathan's
Out To Lunch July 31-
Karen does a NY restaurant run-through extending from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Out To Lunch July 20-
Karen talks about The Greatest Show On Earth
Out To Lunch July 13-
Karen's Dark Secret
(okay, one of them) and reviews
Osteria Latinia
Out To Lunch July 6-
Library Tea Asia de Cub
Out To Lunch June 29-
Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s
Jurlique Day Spa
"Back On Broadway"
Out To Lunch June 20-
Organic To Go, Cafe 50's
Out To Lunch June 13-
Karen reviews Mr. Chow's
Out To Lunch June 6-
Karen reviews Amici

Missed one of Karen Salkin's entertainment and theater reviews?
Find them below
Karen reviews Champions On Ice
Karen comments on Andre Agassi
Karen reviews the annual Emmy Suites
Karen reviews "Curtains" and Burton Morris
Karen reviews "Water and Power" and "Hayfever".
Karen reviews "Much Adoobie About Nothing".
Karen reviews "So You Think You Can Dance?" and "Beehive".
Karen reviews "Doubt?" and "Fat Of The Land ".
Karen reviews "Sweet Charity" and the "Marvelous Wonderettes".
Karen reviews "Nightingale" and "Souvenir"
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