A couple of months ago, I read my own preview of Los Angeles’ first Restaurant Week, so decided to put my money where my mouth is. (Kind-of.) I had time to try only four lunches (out of a possible twelve,) but they were definitely interesting.
The best by far was Luna Park on LaBrea, but I’ll write about that at some later date. Conversely, the worst, by far also, was Wolfgang Puck’s relatively new Red Seven in the green building of the Pacific Design Center. The food was mostly delicious, but on the whole, the experience was off-putting.
First of all, I called near 2PM on a few different days, and was always told that they close at 2. Turns out, they really close at 3! Seems like the phone-answerers just didn’t want to be bothered with having to start a new table with an hour to go. (Or else, they just recognized my voice!) When I asked about that in person, they tried to tell me that they had closed for a private party “that day.” But I had called several times and hadn’t said for which day I was inquiring.
The room itself is laid out in an uncomfortable pattern, and with the end being just a full-wall window, the brightness was almost painful to my eyes. The worst part was the service. The guy was nice enough, but never once did he check on us, no one ever offered to refill our water (that sat on the edge of the table begging for it,) and the waits for both dessert and the check were interminable.
The food was good enough. As with most Restaurant Week menus, there were three choices each of appetizer, entrée, and dessert. My appetizer was chicken in lettuce cups and was delicious. Mr. X chose fried green beans with cashews, and loved it. We had high hopes for the rest of the meal.
This is where the portion discrepancy came in. While my $13 burger (the regular menu price) was pretty giant, and came with good-size (and delicious) sweet potato fries, his $16 Miso Broiled Butterfish was miniscule. I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of them side-by-side to share with you. His whole entrée was smaller than most appetizers! He said it was great-tasting, though, but had to eat half my burger to be almost, but not even quite, full.
I’m always happy to share with Mr. X anyway, (and usually foist more on him than he really wants, prompting him to point out that he’s not the garbage man), but in this case, I didn’t really like the burger with strangely sweet accoutrements, so foist I did. He loved it.
The highlight of the meal was those fries. They were perfect. But again, they were accompanied with iffy service. I had had my choice of regular fries, green salad, or the sweet potato fries, chose the last, and guess what came on my plate? The salad, of course! I had to ask for my original order, which shouldn’t have happened. (The salad, btw, was tiny, while the order of fries was a good-size. Go figure.)
The dessert was the best, though. And I use that phrase the way we NYers do--meaning the worst. We waited 25 minutes for them to arrive, so we couldn’t wait to see how special they were. I think I actually laughed out loud when they finally did.. Each one was smaller then the small teaspoon accompanying them! I’m not kidding! These I took pictures of.
Here’re the descriptions of them, followed by what we actually got:
Mine--Milk Chocolate Ovaltine Bar, Jivara Chocolate, Puffed Rice. It was a minuscule rectangle of tasteless chocolate foam. Period.
Mr. X’s-- Almond Roca Samosa, Caramel Banana, Chocolate Dipping Sauce. This was 2 bite-sized churros with chocolate sauce inside. Oh, the banana? A less-than-one-biter slice.
Those were downright offensive. Even Mr. X who never complains, mentioned it the rest of the day, and said the outrageousness of the desserts ruined the meal. I’m with him on that one. If I didn’t think it was downright comical, and knew I could vent in this column, I would have been really upset.
And the whole purpose of Restaurant Week is to introduce us to regular menu items from the participating restaurants. I have a feeling these desserts were just made up for the week to make sure that no one got a deal. Combining the prices of the appetizers and entrees, our meals came out to the exact price they would have on any day. The desserts were really just throw-ins, which made the Red Seven meal no bargain at all.
And with having to pay extra for parking due to the abysmally slow service, we the customers, really lost out on this one. But hopefully, you won’t because you have fair warning.
Red Seven 700 N. San Vicente Blvd. 310-289-1587