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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Enoteca Drago is a Drag

I should have seen it coming. I was never a big fan of other Drago joints like Drago Centro but I've wanted to try Enoteca Drago so dinela was a good excuse to do so. The food was utterly disappointing, as was the service, especially for a place with that kind of reputation and prices. For the first course, we had shrimp ravioli with lobster sauce and zucchini puree. Everything about this dish was a dud. The shrimps that came on top of the ravioli were not fresh-tasting. I couldn't taste the lobster in the sauce at all or the ravioli itself. Oh my: the ravioli seemed to have been hurriedly thawed from the freezer after having sat there for one too many days. Pretty awful.

We got adventurous and tried vitello tonnato, a dish that our server described as veal carpaccio that had been slightly seared. Well, this one seemed to be an interpretation of the classic as it didn't come in a creamy sauce flavored with tuna. Instead, it came with a caper and sundried tomato vinaigrette. First of all, I think the servers are doing a disservice to the restaurant by associating it with carpaccio, which it most definitely is not. There was nothing raw about it. So better to adjust expectations beforehand. I love being surprised, except this wasn't a pleasant one. The dish was bland period.

Unfortunately, the main courses weren't any better. The fish came pan-fried on a bed of lentils, some parsley flavored oil, tomato marmalade relish and topped with some fresh arugula. So bland. So blah.

The braised short ribs with far-too buttery mashed potatoes, onions, pancetta and mushroom ragout (not listed on the menu but I thought I also tasted some diced collard greens that actually added a nice bitterness) was alright, but I've definitely had better short ribs. It went well with the more full-bodied red wine we got as part of a three-wine flight (we love flights). There were some steamed carrots. Meh.

The desserts were really not even worth mentioning, except for the orange black pepper sorbet and almond ice cream. They sounded so promising (chocolate hazelnut crunch bar and peach Napoleon with peach chutney) but they both fell flat. The sorbet and ice cream were all we scooped out.

The service was spotty. I expected it to be more adept. Maybe they were busy tending to actress Milas Kunis sitting a few tables away? In any case, I didn't like that they kept trying to take our plates away before we were done -- a major pet peeve -- and that they didn't think we had enough of leftovers on our plate to box them. Hey! If we're going to pay for them, we're taking it all. We insisted, of course, and later repurposed the fish by adding more salt and pepper to good results. I think the leftover rib meat was used for some breakfast quesadilla...

I most definitely will not be returning. I don't think this place caters to food-lovers like myself anyway. It's more of a see-and-be-seen kind of place at the heart of Beverly Hills, where you could presumably people-watch or star-gaze. It's not even close to being a quality food joint. I've never been to Drago in Santa Monica but after being disappointed twice in two of his restaurants, not sure what would compel me to go. I'm sticking to my favorite Italian places, Girasole and Osteria Mozza for now!

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