SINCE YOU ASKED...
I love good food, I'm a good cook and I adore fine dining therefore it's very difficult for me to go out and eat just anywhere. It's the absolute worst to go out to dinner and pay top dollar for food that I know damn well would've tasted better had I made it at home.
My favorite places to eat are pretty much holes in the wall where the food is absolutely wonderful and the ambience and "scene" are non-existent. Los Angeles is a great place for restaurants like this. All the different cultures afford me multiple opportunities to pursue tatalizing gustatory experiences.
I adore Jonathan Gold's book CounterIntelligence because not only does he point me to places that I would never go (often in neighborhoods where I'm frightened to park my car), but his writing is divine. He just won the Pullitzer! For FOOD writing! That's how good he is.
Because it is my prediliction to eat good food rather than to ponder the see and be scene, I had sort of forgotten that Los Angeles can also be a mecca of mediocrity when it comes to those restaurants that celebrities are lured into during the first weeks they're open so that there is lots of press and the impression is created that the restaurant is "hot". Dolce and Spider Club come to mind when I think of places like this - places where you pay lots of money to eat so-so food in room full of people who are would be excited to breathe the same air as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, two young women who don't appear to eat so why anyone would follow their lead is beyond me.
There are also a lot of wonderful "foodie" restaurants in LA which are usually populated by old people. I don't know why this is true but it is. It's gotten to the point where if I don't see bald heads and bifocals when I walk through the door I seriously worry about what's coming out of the kitchen.
The other night I went out with a friend who wanted to go someplace where we might meet men. Ahem. The only men I've EVER met in a restaurant were bartenders or waiters, or on one occasion a busboy, but I figured it was better than a bar. I don't get my drink on so well anymore but I do eat dinner so this felt like a compromise. She could look for men and I could dine.
She mentioned The Lodge, a fairly new place in Beverly Hills. I really should've listened to that little intuitive voice in my head that said, "um, no," but I didn't. The place is modeled after a ski lodge and it is dark and cozy and comfy looking when you walk in. I think it used to be a coffee shop or pancake house and the lay out of the tables in the dining room pricked my memory of poassibly having a short stack there many, many years ago, but we ate in the bar. Because of the whole man meeting agenda.
As we walked through the mostly empty dining room I noted the low light glistening from a bald pate here and there and this made me optimistic. There was also a greasy pony tail sitting with a platinum blond that was pushing her food around on her plate, but she looked like a non-eater so I repressed the urge to flee to my favorite taco truck at Hoover and Pico.
I have to say that the wine list is quite good and although they were out of the Kunnin Zinfandel that I wanted, the Strange Syrah that I ended up getting was amazing. The food was not so good. I ordered the skirt steak and substituted sweet potato fries (my favorite). The meat was okay, a bit too seasoned without enough char to burn it off, but otherwise edible. The sweet potato fries on the other hand were a massive disappointment. They were bland! How is that possible? Where the steak had too much seasoning the fries had none. All I could taste was the oil they'd been fried in. I was sad.
My friend has been suffering from severe food allergies so she's pretty much eating steak or chicken with nothing on it and she'd ordered the Chicken Milanese. Now granted we didn't really know what that would be, but what showed up breaded and fried and it was perched like a hockey puck on the mountain of shiny sauteed spinach she'd requested instead of mashed potatoes.
We sent it back.
It's a good thing that our really nice waiter was also really patient.
Now you may be wondering about the man meeting. There were definitely people pouring into the bar. Mostly people who looked like they'd be tickled to hang out with Lindsey Lohan. Throughout our meal there was a tall, slender guy with dark hair who was lingering and looking, okay staring, at us. When my friend got up to go to the bathroom he made his move.
I've known my friend, we'll call her Jane, for years and I am used to the amount of attention she gets out in public. She's quite pretty and has a stunning body which motivates men to make utter asses out of themselves. She has always handled the attention with aplomb and often used to remind me of a cat playing with a mouse out in the garden. So this guy asks me if my friends name is Jane and I smile and tell him that it is.
He's actually very sweet without the usual predatory vibe that most of the men she attracts give off like radiant heat. He says he remembers her from about 10 years ago. I smile and nod. He asks how I enjoyed dinner and I tell him I am pretty much underwhelmed, but that I'm a food snob so don't mind me. He asks for more information like what I had and what didn't I like and I'm thinking that he is just killing time waiting for her to come back to the table.
Except that he kind of starts making excuses like, well you ate in the bar and ordered skirt steak and very slowly, excruciatingly slowly, I'm sad to say, it dawns on me that this guy may own the restaurant.
And of course he does.
I was completely mortified and I felt really bad for telling the truth although if I owned a restaurant I would want people to tell me what they really thought. He was actually very sweet about it and said he was glad I'd said something. He also said that if we came back and ate in the resaurant we would like the food better, but I'm thinking that's probably not so. At least not in my case because whoever is in the kitchen is cooking for both locations and I was not impressed with the foot that was being put in that food.
When Jane came back from the bathroom he was very sweet to her and seemed like an eminently meetable man because she doesn't really care what she eats.