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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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HOUSE OF BLUES
12-12-06

Between, parties, events, and regular dining, I’ve eaten at House Of Blues more times than I would ever choose to. The food is so awful that I vowed to never return. I knew it would have to be something truly special to get me to eat there again. (And to leave the house on a Friday The 13th, to boot.)

karen frankie

Well, that something special came on Friday, Oct. 13 in the form of Frankie Valli. I attended a luncheon to preview the Spring ’07 arrival, at the Ahmanson Theater, of the Tony Award winning musical “Jersey Boys,” which, in case you’ve been out of the country for the past two years, is the story of the Four Seasons. The singing group, not the hotel, for you Beverly Hills folk.

Before I tell you about my private conversation with Frankie, here’s my review of the restaurant. I actually thought it was a good venue for what the event was. To start, bagels and coffee were served in the Foundation Room, while we got up-close and personal with Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, another of the Four Seasons, who is a very successful songwriter and record producer, (not to mention a handsome man.) FYI, not as up-close and personal as legend has it that groupies may get in that same room at night.

Then we had a buffet luncheon; some of us downstairs, on the stage floor level, and others of us one floor above, on club level, where my friend, Judy, and I sat. They served Italian food, which I assumed was a clever tribute to the show. (Italian guys from Jersey. Duh.) Here’s the funny thing about the food: Judy had finished hers by the time I started mine (which happens with just about everyone I dine with!), and told me not to bother, as the food was “absolutely unacceptable,” and we’d eat somewhere else after the presentation, which was fabulous, by the way.

Having eaten here before, that’s what I was expecting, but I’m always willing to give everything, and everyone, another chance. (My old friend, Gene, dubbed me the most tolerant person ever.) So, I gingerly approached my chicken parmagian and pasta. And guess what? I liked it! Judy thought I was joking and then we both realized my deep, dark secret as to why I did: I love cafeteria food! I was the only one in high school who ate the hot lunches. Not just ate them, lived for them!

And when I was a skinny, new elementary school teacher, the cafeteria ladies piled up my plate, while the rest of the faculty brought salads from home. I even ate their fish sticks!!! People who know me know how unusual that is, since I refer to the food that used to swim as “the four-letter F word.”

And, after I quit teaching at a private nursery school in BH, they lured me back for the next Monday with hot dogs, mashed potatoes and canned beets. (I hope none of you are eating while reading this.) Last one of these food confessions; a few years back, I was just four days into my summer in Aspen, when I unexpectedly had to return to LA for a few days. I had an open ticket, so it was my choice of when to go back to Colorado. Mr. X’s birthday was on Monday, so my friends were surprised to hear that I was flying out on Sunday. That is, until they heard that lunch at my mother’s Aspen Senior Center was ravioli.

So, the point is, I actually liked the fare at House Of Blues on this occasion. And even Judy loved the make-it-yourself bruschetta. We both ate a ton of those. It is perplexing to me how one dish can be so great at a restaurant and the rest be so much lesser.

But the focus this day wasn’t the food; rather getting to hear a panel discussion from the inspirations for “Jersey Boys” and the guys who wrote it. I usually just space out during such events, but this one was great. No one left early, or even stirred. Now I wish we didn’t have to wait six months for the show to come to the Ahmanson. I’m ready to see it right now.

So, as promised, this is what my close personal friend, Frankie Valli, and I talked about. I mentioned that I thought it was disgusting that the guy who won the Tony for playing him didn’t thank him in his acceptance speech, let alone even mention his name!!! Mr. X and I were in shock watching it. Frankie said he got very many calls saying the same thing. I asked if the guy was mortified that that he forgot the mention, as Hillary Swank was when she won her first Oscar and neglected to thank Chad Lowe, her husband at the time.

Frankie said that the guy has never said anything about it to him!!! For once in my life, I was speechless. I can’t fathom it. How is there such an ungrateful person??? Does he think he ever would have received a Tony without someone so fabulous to portray? I’m seriously sick over this. I really expected Frankie to tell me that the guy was so apologetic he gave him his first-born. I’m still sick that I forgot a close friend’s birthday ten years ago! I just hope that the ingrate is in the show when it comes to LA because I’ll be ready with my grilling lamp.

House of Blues 8430 Sunset Blvd. 323-848-5100 www.hob.com

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