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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tasting Kitchen: Excellent Pasta and Bread but I Don't Like Paying for Bread and Butter

Tasting Kitchen on the trendy Abbot Kinney strip in Venice was good but I couldn't help but feeling a bit ripped off for paying for bread and butter. Who does that?

Yes, the bread was fresh -- crusty and substantial enough to withstand my vigorous butter spreading -- and the butter, well, it was good although I liked the butter at Bouchon Bistro as much if not more. But charge for it? That's outrageous. That's like charging for kimchi and banchan in a Korean restaurant.

My favorite dish was the tagliarini pasta (similar to fettucini) with crab meat and serrano peppers. The dressing was a light cream sauce that was barely there, which was good because the crab was almost sweet in its freshness and deliciousness and it was complemented very well with the kick from the peppers.

I'm a sucker for all things crab, so this was a veritable treat. They thankfully didn't skimp on the crab meat, which was nice.

The second favorite was the fries. My dinner companion and I concurred that it must have been fried in duck fat several times to achieve this kind of extra crispiness. The fries were the only item that came to our table piping hot, straight out of the fryer. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was that the olive oil fragance was too overpowering. I liked the sage touch on them but after the initial euphoria over the texture, the olive oil took over everything and not in a good way.

The flat iron steak with fingerling potatoes and oyster mushrooms was just ok. Considering the caliber (and price tag) of this place, I didn't think the quality of the meat was all that. Hard to go wrong with roasted fingerling potatoes and mushrooms, which they had skimped on (like two each). They hadn't skimped on the quantity of meat but apparently had on the quality, so that's one thing it needs to improve on.

We also had radicchio salad with lemon and olives, which was far too bitter as I had somehow expected the radicchio to have been grilled or slightly cooked to get rid of the bitterness. It had shavings of parmesan cheese but I only had a bite, which I didn't enjoy.

Dessert was a tad disappointing. We were full so got the sorbet and gelato three-scoops combo. We had the coffee and chocolate gelato and lemon sorbet but none was any good. Again, I expected to be blown away like at Gordon Ramsay (not documented in this post but went back recently) when I got the plum sorbet. Now that was amazing and tasted like I was biting into the fruit itself.

I had several other beefs with this place, good-tasting as it was.

All but the fries came out lukewarm, which didn't affect the pasta's taste so much but the steak, oh the steak. Steak's gotta be sizzling hot on the outside, right? It wasn't.

And last but not least, what's with the uber rushed service? I liked the attentive water service, but the rush to get us out was ridiculous. This isn't Fatburger, y'all. This is one thing American restaurants need to learn from their European and Asian peers. Do not clear the table unless the last morsel on the plate is gone. Do not come by five times to check whether we have paid our bill. Do not bring the bill unless we ask for it, for that matter. This is such a basic notion that I'm flabbergasted at how rude some servers at these supposedly fancy restaurants are in bringing it to you. Special occasion meals last for hours and that's why we're here. Get used to it! This isn't some go in, eat and go out-kind of place.

Also, our server was ok but not as good as the down to earth, Danny Meyer-esque trained folks at Jose Andres restaurants. Don't just hire beautiful people. Hire servers who can talk intelligently about the menu and prompts one to want to get that and return for more. Ours didn't.


the actor's diet said...

argh i HATE paying for bread!!!

ironchef442 said...

glad u agree :) it's virtually a human rights violation!