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Aug 2, 2006 05:46 PM

Playa del Rey, dining doldrums, is it the weather?

What’s going on in PDR? Last night we had a poor experience at Il Penguini. There was a long wait between courses for mediocre food. The chichen carciafollo was like naugahyde, difficult to cut with a steak knife and served up with shriveled roast potatoes that were tough too. And a scowling, unwelcoming manager/owner who was waiting tables, was either nasty to folks or ignoring them entirely. The busboys were the only friendly faces in sight! With a hefty tab that was not deserving of that type of treatment, I wonder if there is any hope for dining in this sleepy little town.
I noticed that someone has opened up in the space formerly occupied by Chloe. It looks like the name is Minataur but my spelling maybe wrong. It says tapas on the sign in the window and they were mildly busy. Does anyone have something nice to say about this new venue. I really hope so.

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  1. yes indeed it is a sleepy little town where retired people hang out at cafes and chit chat all day, everyone knows each other. That's why don't expect any worthy nightime dining spot. There used to be Chloe, which close down because of landlord problems. I haven't tried Minotaur but with so many 'scene' winebars these day, it is possible that it's just another one of those tapas place with no real dining substance.

    The biggest restaurant there is Outlaws, which I'd never step into as I'm not into huge greasy American BBQ food. But it is probably the only attraction in this area. There's Bistro du Soleil, an okay but rather bland French bistro. The Shack is a so-so burger joint. And Cafe Penguini is already the only slightly 'upscale' restaurant there. There just isn't any place special enough for outsiders to pay special visit. It is a very local-centric area.

    I worked right by the beach and my walking distance lunch spot is a neighborhood cafe called Cafe Milan. Good salad, sandwich sets and lots of bakery delights (danish, bagels, etc.), but it's really a cheap everyday lunch spot kind of place.

    There was a local rumor that they will tear down one of the historic buildings here to built new luxury condos. Perhaps some developer is interested into 'develop' this place? I surely hope not, the locals were pretty against it, I guess they like to remain sleepy and undisturbed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: melodyn

      Totally agree about Bistro Du Soleil. Went there with my parents a little more than a year ago for brunch. I found the food mediocrere and very overpriced. It's one of those places that charges for everything... they had a fee, like $3.50, if you split a dish. I think that's totally ridiculous. The owner also walks around and tries to converse with you, except she's cold and frigid. I wouldn't even bothering giving it a try.

      1. re: Bandini

        The Bistro du Soleil is a drag. The Cliff House at least had a little local charm. About 6 months ago I heard that La Marina was destined to close due to the break-up of the owners. But dang! its still standing. It's a reliable option for PDR. We had a really nice quiet evening there not too long ago with good steaks and good service. So all is not lost, I guess. But I still think they're closing.
        Bandini, do you sometimes take a taco-sabbatical and dig into a hunk of prime?

        1. re: sassille

          absolutely :) can't live on tacos alone (I've tried though)

          I usually order the veal at La Marina though

          I hope they don't close. One of my fav resteraunts.

          1. re: Bandini

            i do believe that they've recently been sold.

          2. re: sassille

            I loved the Cliff House (esp. breaskfasts), but haven't been there in a long time. Do you mean it's closed and replaced with Bistro du Soleil?

            1. re: Scotty

              Replaced - More $$ less quality

          3. re: Bandini

            imho, la marina is the WORST.
            the less than mediocre food might be almost tolorable if it wasn't so expensive.

            1. re: Bandini

              la marina = horrible food at high prices.

              i live in pdr, and do not consider any of the local restaurants as being good.
              that said, there are nearby places that are excellent:

              ayara for well prepared thai food
              cafe del rey--just had an EXCELLENT brunch there yesterday
              metro cafe -- the local place that i WISHED was in pdr
              kc's crepes -- a boba place that serves decent japanese-style crepes open to 10:30pm

              1. re: Bandini

                Sorry to disappoint, but LaMarina Inn has been sold to the people that own the "Brigg" in Venice. It is so sad because the food and service was right on. I hear is is closing in October to be re-modeled

                1. re: cnlsdad

                  doesn't disappoint me.
                  i thought the food was vile and expensive.

              2. I've tried Cafe Pinguini several times and recommend that you drive out of town before eating there. Cantalini's has good homemade pasta (we like the lobster ravioli.) and friendly service - although watch the price of the "not-so-free" wine while you wait on a busy night. Shack burgers are great on a lazy Friday night at the beach. And, we haven't gotten over to Minotaur yet - but I'm guessing we'll be semi-regulars just because it's a wine bar in walking distance. Have to agree with the other poster's re: Bisto du Soleil, La Ma, and Cafe Milan. Outback's major selling point is it's long beer list. Great place to take tourists who want a drink after a walk on the beach; Horrible potato gravy.

                India Tandoori Oven, on Pershing just North of Nicholson, is very good (especially samosas and chicken tikka) - although we always get take out (delivery is exceptionally slow) because they seem to earn and sustain their B rating. And, Singapore Express (on Lincoln/Maxella) delivers their always fantastic soups and curries to Playa, as does Vinny's Pizza in Westchester.

                1. What is your take on Berri's on Pershing? Went there when it first opened and was optimistic but then the menu changed and it became rather disappointing. Would appreciate a review from someone who has been there recently.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Signora

                    Berri's has also just been sold and has been closed for the past two weeks for "re-conditioning." The chef there was fantastic but he is no longer there. He moved to Truxton's, a new terrific restaurant in Westchester. Atmoshpere, service is fantastic. And all at a reasonable price. Great bar. Great asset to the area. Try it. Truxton and Manchester, just east of Sepulveda.

                  2. Well, I live 1/2 mile a way - walk past all the time and never go. I ate there a few times two years ago and thought prices were high for the food quality, decor and service. I have friends who drive down from North Hollywood for the Pizza -- but Pizza for us is delivered by Vinny's - so I wouldn't order it out.

                    Anyway, if you do end up there again - do report back.