It might be a lot like yours (or not at all)

the role of the restaurant reviewer.

In beauty and the biz on August 6, 2007 at 2:51 pm

so…i have wrote my first few restaurant reviews in about 5yrs. they are going…good. improvement is needed, i need to expand my repretoire of words to descibe food and restaurants.

anyway, i have this favorite, undercover restaurant in Santa Monica…this bistro…called Bistro of Santa Monica (creative, eh?). the food is some of the best Italian i have ever had the pleasure of devouring. but before i reviewed it, i wanted to go again to be sure.

so NF and i headed there Friday night to enjoy. however, the server was horrible…this younger kid who didn’t have the maturity and elegance of the more experienced gentlement waiters. basically, there were two disturbing instances:

1. my request for the Turkey Balognese, asking what he thought of it – the server said that “you could make that dish better at home”
2. NF’s desire to have his Calimari Fettucini with the White Clam Sauce instead of the Red Sauce – the server (who accidently placed an order for Red Sauce and was clearly trying to cover up his blunder), came out before the dishes came out and told NF he really recommends the Red Sauce because “people are always sending back the White Sauce saying it’s too bland”

HORRIBLE!! honesty is cool, but negative comments on your restaurants food twice is unnacceptable. NF stuck with the White Clam Sauce and it was delicious…comforting, warm, and brothy with the calamari. because the Turkey Balognese seemed so uninteresting based on the server’s description, i went with the Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Ravoli…which was great…the sauce was punchy and tangy with a hint of cinammon and the suprise of walnut bits…a creative and inspired combination.

so i was miffed. i was disappointed and despite how tasty the food was, had a problem reviewing a restaurant under my name, for fear someone might encounter the same horrible server bashing such wonderful food.

as i sat home and contemplated my review on Sunday afternoon, i decided to call the restaurant to speak with the manager, maybe he could alleviate my concerns. i gave him the entire run-down. when i told him the server said i could make the Tukey Balognese better at home, he was outraged saying, “no way! no way could you make that better at home! i just brought that dish home to my weekend guests! it’s magnificent!”

i told him i know that their food is delicious and that’s why the server was so frustrating. i also explained that i want to review their restaurant, but am a little put off.

so what did he do? he invited me back to their restaurant to try the Turkey Balognese that i had wanted from the start, meal on the house!

so i made my way there in the dinner hour, very excited. on my way there, i realized i had no idea what i was doing, how to act, or what to say. i enlisted the “fake it till ya make it” mentality and sort of seduced my inner-restraurant critic out and into the public. i was polite, conscious of all restaurant ettiquette, mostly kind and generous with compliments where they were due…but carried myself in a professional, elegent way, with a slight amount of snobbery in order to make my first-timer role believable (they didn’t seem thrown off by the lip ring and nose stud…that’s good.)

they totally bought it! i was treated with the best restaurant service i have ever received. i felt like food-royalty. princess of the restaurant.

from start to finish i had:

– their warm, savory, perfectly crunchy Foccacia bread…dipped into their herbed olive oil.
– the best-fit, full-bodied Malbec red wine.
– the Balognese with Linguini which was like nothing even your mom could make back home…basically the dish is a simple “spaghetti and meat sauce”…very well executed. i would have ate more, but i’m watching my starchy-carb intake.
– then they brought out a sampling (just for me!) of their garlic bread…they bake pesto and parmesan into their foccacia, a recipe they will soon be debuting on their menu…it was full of life, the flavor was unique and took center stage for a few minutes
– to close out my meal i had decaf espresso with cream, it was good but didn’t taste as fresh as i would have preferred
– i brought home a slice of chocolate mousse which was good, but too sweet for my liking…shoulda went with the bread pudding!

all in all, the entire experience was phenomenal…i felt like i had arrived (tho i haven’t yet, but maybe a tempting little taste of what’s to come?). the entire meal was on the house, i’m very grateful and will never forget that experience. this restaurant has been romancing Santa Monica for 22 years, and it remain one of my L.A. favorites.

  1. ok, for one, I love the way you TOLD this story. captivating and fun. and secondly, WTF with that waiter?? that is just not the proper thing to do, yikes. he really had no sense of decorum there.

    I get what you’re saying about words to describe food and the food experience. in that vein, I love the “creative and inspired combination” remark. I also love what you happened to have with the spinach and ricotta, and I can imagine that the sauce was thus described perfectly. you know I have to bookmark that place to visit now. 🙂

    that’s so amazing that you had that kind of experience. treated like the urban princess you are hehe.

    I also noted that you said the mousse was too sweet for your liking – I’m not as into overly sweet/indulgent desserts and tend to prefer something more mild or creative. I kind of stopped having a taste for sweet things the older I got (unfortunate? or a blessing to my figure LOL?) so I am really picky about dessert stuff.

  2. THANKS!!!

    yes, i have a systematic (yet creative) plan to expand my food vocab. if i can’t do that, what kinda writer am i? 😉

    girl, as i get older i’m kinda over sweet flavors myself? fav dessert by far: creme brulee! yours?

  3. that’s funny. ditto. creme brulee.

    my favorite, still, is/was my first – the raspberry creme brulee from the mansion on turtle creek in dallas (used to visit my dad some nights when he was playing there). but I also had one at emeril’s in orlando – it was three mini creme brulees, one plain custard, one chocolate and one strawberry and lordy that was good.

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