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Friday, July 3, 2009

Chaya Downtown and Casa: Skip 'Em

Another reason I like summer is happy hour outdoors. Although I don't need an excuse to have a drink, much less one outdoors, summer makes it better. With the onslaught of new restaurants popping up downtown, there was no shortage of options. Chaya Downtown was just slightly above average with some serious infractions and Casa was for the most part disappointing with a few saving graces.

Let's start with the good. The fish and chips were hot and crispy. They came with regular tartar sauce. The lamb sliders were juicy and cooked medium rare with a soft, fresh bun. These came with cornichons, which balanced out the heaviness of the lamb's meatiness. The albondigas (usually pork meatballs but these were chicken, I think) served what seemed Italian style -- sizzling on a hot plate smothered in cheese with some crusty bread on the side.
The meatballs were not too dense and pretty juicy. They didn't impart too much flavor, whether salty or spicy. Too mild for my taste.

Now for the not-so-good. The fried calamari was too thickly sliced and batter wasn't light and fluffy -- or particularly well-seasoned -- as it should be, so it ended up tasting bland and a tad soggy. The accompanying garlic aioili was unremarkable.

I wasn't impressed with the drinks either. A blood orange, lavender, lime and tequila cocktail called Seeing Red was drowning in Tequila and too sweet.

Then it got way ugly. We made the mistake of ordering California rolls and spicy tuna rolls. I'm not sure how an establishment that is purpotedly high-end has the audacity to serve imitation crab in its food! That is outright shocking and outrageous to me.

I'm going to spare you from having look at that monstrosity. No self-respecting sushi joint, even if it's got the fusion moniker, would serve this crap, er, I mean crab. That and the fact that I was never a big fan of Chaya Venice made me write off this restaurant.

A few streets over is Casa, a wannabe fancy Mexican place that is filled with office workers and best to be avoided for its mediocre, overpriced food and less-than airy and clean ambiance. The chips and salsa (that they charge for, gasp!) that came in three flat varieties were below average. Then the guacamole was bland. The ceviche was ok but on the bland side. The deep fried fish tacos were the only saving grace but the tortillas were too thick and except for the fish itself, it was average in its entirety. The carnitas mulita was not bad but somewhat ruined by the too-hard tortilla shell. I'd much rather go to La Taquiza for a decent mulita. I'll spare you the pictures since you shouldn't be going anyway.

For my money, I would hop over to Ciudad or Daily Grill for happy hour any day.

Chaya Downtown
(213) 236-9577
525 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 621-2249
350 S. Grand Ave
Two California Plaza

Los Angeles, CA 90071

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