Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eating my way through the Fairfax District

Here are the highlights (and low-lights) of my gastronomic adventures this week...

Bulan Thai - 7168 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90046

Now, I'm no vegetarian, in fact I sometimes refer to myself as an omnivore. I love all things you can consume, and frankly when I'm invited out by my vegetarian friends, I shudder at the prospect of eating food that to my palette might as well be cardboard. So, it was with some trepidation that I went to Bulan Thai for dinner with my significant other.

What I experienced was nothing short of amazing! We ordered the vegetable dumplings and the Pad Thai with tofu, and it was fantastic. The combination of flavors, preparation and presentation combined with a iced mint tea was a perfect meal. If you have a skeptical carnivore who sneers at the idea of eating vegetarian, bring them here.

Cobras & Matadors - 7615 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

When Cobras & Matadors first opened its doors back in 2006, it was one of the most hyped restaurants in Los Angeles. With most places that open to that hype, it's usually less about the food and more about the celebrity sightings, the crowd that's there, and the decor. Well, now that the hype has died down, what this place does incredibly well is the food!

With their distinct take on Spanish tapas, Cobras & Matadors has carved out a niche with their amazing selections. Their Bacon Wrapped Dates with blue cheese, almonds and port wine is a personal favorite, as is the Cheese Selection that's served with grilled bread and apricot jam, but at the end of the day, there's nothing bad on the menu. It is an amazing restaurant and I highly recommend it.

Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro - 189 The Grove Dr, Suite H10 Los Angeles, CA 90036

As a rule of thumb I never go into a convenience eating situation and expect to be amazed by the quality of the food. With that being said, I expect any restaurant that opens its doors to have a baseline for edible food and decent service. Recently I took a trip to the Grove with my partner in culinary crime to hunt for a birthday present. It was getting late and we decided to stop for a quick bite to eat, and went to Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro.

Upon taking our seat on the patio I immediately noticed that the table we had been seated at was dirty. The entire dining experience went down hill from there. The bread was stale, the shrimp cocktail we ordered as an appetizer tasted like it was going bad (this was one of two items that were sent back over the course of the meal) and the service was dismal at best. Since we were only offered the "bistro" menu we had a limited number of options for our entrees. Having already sent back the shrimp, I opted to order something that would be fairly difficult to mess up, the Angel Hair Pasta with Bolognese.

When my food arrived it was barely edible. It tasted like the sauce had been sitting in a pan for hours, it was discolored and had a pungent and sick smell to it. I immediately sent it back to our waiter, and ordered the fish and chips as a replacement. When the new order arrive, it was barely adequate, greasy and served with stale fries and coagulated tarter sauce.

The service was lack-luster. At one point the server seemed to have forgotten that we were there. Multiple times I had to flag down someone from the staff to get waters refilled and drinks replenished.

It was a horrible experience. Even with two items sent back, we had no member of the management team visit our table. I can't in recent memory remember having a worse dining experience. The only way this place stays in business it by holding mall-shoppers and tourists hostage. The bottom line, don't eat here unless you're in the mood for bad food and crappy service!

Honorable mentions for the week

Café Gratitude - 639 North Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles

Amazing vegan food, interesting crowd and a surprising birthday party experience.

Currywurst - 109 N. Fairfax

Sausage slathered in Curry. Awesomeness.

9021Pho - 490 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills

Always an amazing bowl of my favorite soup. This is my current favorite Pho spot in LA.

The Newsroom Cafe - 120 N Robertson Blvd
Los Angeles

A great bloody mary, an eclectic brunch selection, great music playing and the rare low-key celebrity sighting. (Sunday is was Selma Blair)