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sona is just terrible

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catbae Dec 10, 2006 06:48 PM

we ordered the 6 course tasting menu priced at $89 per person. the waitress, who cheerfully asked us if we would like truffles sprinkled on top of our last course, neglected to mention that the cost of that would be another $100 per person. for a party of 6, that adds up quickly to a total bill of over $1200.... which would have been fine at a "mere" $200 per person. however, when each course came out, the size of each morsel was (NO JOKE) less that the span of a penny..... we left craving an in-n-out hamburger to at least fill our appetite and placate the terrible feeling that i had just been taken for a very expensive ride..... bottom line... This place is terrible and a complete RIP OFF....

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    RicRios RE: catbae Dec 10, 2006 06:59 PM

    Entirely agree.

    1. SauceSupreme RE: catbae Dec 10, 2006 07:02 PM

      This is a common complaint with regard to truffles. It should be the restaurant's responsibility to inform the diner as to the cost.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SauceSupreme
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        RicRios RE: SauceSupreme Dec 10, 2006 07:18 PM

        OP's complaint is not just about truffles, but the entire dinner.

        1. re: SauceSupreme
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          Griller141 RE: SauceSupreme Dec 12, 2006 01:56 AM

          Agree entirely - I think the lack of warning for such a substantial charge is tantamount to fraud and I would politely refuse to pay it.
          One of the few good things I can say about Patina (I am a sucker for their occasional truffle menu) is that they do not charge extra for generous shavings.

        2. hooliganyouth RE: catbae Dec 10, 2006 07:44 PM

          Wow. Seems like if someone would pay that much for dinner in the first place then they wouldn't mind paying extra for over-priced mushrooms.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hooliganyouth
            DanaB RE: hooliganyouth Dec 10, 2006 07:54 PM

            Adding a supplemental fee for an item that more than doubles the per-person charge isn't quite in the same realm as "paying extra" for the item, in my opinion at least. I would have been outraged to have an additional $100 *per person* added for a "sprinkling of truffles."

            On the other hand, since every single restaurant in town that features truffles charges a premium for them, I probably would have asked the waiter at the time the truffle offer was made if there was a surcharge before ordering them. Caveat Emptor.

            1. re: DanaB
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              kjs RE: DanaB Dec 10, 2006 09:51 PM

              hmmm...buyer beware...no...seller beware....i have officially removed sona and boule from my radar !!

              1. re: kjs
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                Marco Polo RE: kjs Dec 11, 2006 11:38 PM

                I have been to SONA once and left thinking I should try it again one day. Haven't been back yet in three (?) years. However, I have been to BOULE many times and remain impressed with the quality of their chocolates, ice creams, macarons, and tarts. They are not inexpensive, but quality rarely is.

                1. re: kjs
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                  epop RE: kjs Feb 5, 2007 11:07 PM

                  ditto. who needs to be fed by people hoping to dupe you

                2. re: DanaB
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                  cls RE: DanaB Dec 11, 2006 12:27 PM

                  Unfortunately, with large parties esp. there are usually diners who are not aware of the cost of truffles, especially when they are presented in an offhand way. This same thing has happened to me at a restaurant with a large party and it's the way the waiter/waitress says it in the sort of "would you like a refill on your coffee" way that makes most not think twice about it. It is difficult to warn other diners politely and not embarrass them. And. of course, the waiter/watress knows it. I would complain to the manager and let them know that I regard this as a deceptive and offensive practice. I will never return to Il Sole after they tried the same with truffles rather aggressively or to Il Picolino after they sold us a $90 off menu ribeye special without warning.

              2. russkar RE: catbae Dec 10, 2006 08:27 PM

                We ordered the Sona 9 course Chef's TM and left starving(3 courses were dessert?) After 3 visits to Sona we have removed it from our dining radar.
                Now for the good news, The White Alba Truffles at Valentino's last Wed night were stellar and the whole extravganza dinner was only 150-ea and no one left hungry after 5 hrs of non- stop dining.

                1. JeffW RE: catbae Dec 10, 2006 08:53 PM

                  In New York until tomorrow, but was homesick to read some L.A. hound posts. Regarding Sona, our experience at this restaurant was a mix, which I've called "Sona, the good, the bad, and the ugly". The bottom line is that there is no way we would ever return. Our anniversary dinner of a year ago in November was spent there, and we left so unsatisfied. My post of a year ago was the above title and I received a lot of comments from my detailed post. I thought that I'd adhered to rules of posting, but after a month my post was nowhere to be found. I am always happy when folks have good experiences at restaurants and I hope that people have had good experiences at the above restaurant. We didn't.
                  Cheers all,
                  Jeff

                  P.S. After 9 nights in New York, GAWD I miss sushi! Going to Sushi Zo on Wednesday and i am SOOOO psyched.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: JeffW
                    DanaB RE: JeffW Dec 10, 2006 09:15 PM

                    Your post is still there:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/75866

                    1. re: DanaB
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                      carter RE: DanaB Dec 10, 2006 09:45 PM

                      You beat me to it!

                      1. re: DanaB
                        JeffW RE: DanaB Dec 11, 2006 10:22 AM

                        WOW DanaB, you are so appreciated right now! Thank you for resurrecting my post. I really thought it had been removed.

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                      AquaW RE: catbae Dec 11, 2006 08:19 PM

                      Wow - that's outrageous, but as a customer, at the risk of sounding cheap, I would've asked how much extra per person for the truffles, though they should've volunteered that info right from the get-go.

                      ~AquaW
                      http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

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                        fooddude37 RE: catbae Dec 11, 2006 09:08 PM

                        I had one experience at Sona and won't be going back. A friend and I shared some appetizers to feel it out before we went all out and everything disappointed. Rabbit ravioli were bland, pasta was thick and not cooked well. Lobster risotto was drowned in truffle oil, couldn't taste anything else. We let them know we were a couple cooks from the area and they sent out a HUGE dessert assortment, I really think it was one of everything. While it was a very very nice gesture, I have to say every dessert had a problem...too much confusion in the flavors. Textures were off, the gelees were too thick, foams were weirdly flavored. The best thing about the meal was the martini which my friend ordered for me (Half Ketel One, half Bombay Sapphire, Lillet instead of Vermouth, up with a twist, hooray for $15 martinis...)

                        And I'm sorry, but the letters from the famous chefs in the bathroom struck me as a little contrived.

                        About truffles: Unless a restaurant is VERY VERY well known for their use of truffles, I absolutely won't order any dishes involving truffles because:
                        1) More often than not, the cook/chef will throw in truffle oil to augment the flavor, instead killing the flavor of the entire dish.
                        2) Peak quality, ripe truffles are extremely rare. Even in truffle season. Premium truffles are so much more expensive in the states than their country of origin that restaurants would lose money unless they charged prices that customers wouldn't be willing to pay for. Oregan truffles or "B-grade" truffles seem to make their way to the table much more often than a large, fresh, ripe Perigord or Alba truffle.
                        3) There seems to be an attitude out there that a truffle is a truffle and that customers should expect to pay a premium for an often non-premium product...Truffles must be ripe to be worth using in my opinion. And once it's ripe it's good for a few days. The only way to preserve it is to dry it out, like the typically used "store-in-rice" method, thus killing the flavor.

                        I've heard good things about the Valentino white truffle menu, I'll have to look into that. Can anyone elaborate as to the quality of the truffles, the use of truffle oil (hopefully the lack of) and the generosity of truffles doled out?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: fooddude37
                          omotosando RE: fooddude37 Dec 12, 2006 01:50 AM

                          I agree about the desserts. I've only eaten at Sona once (didn't go back because the only thing I thought was really good was the cheese course) and I found the desserts particularly disappointing.

                          1. re: omotosando
                            truefoodie RE: omotosando Feb 5, 2007 05:33 PM

                            That is so funny - we went on Sat. and asked them to add the cheese course to the 6 course TM - the best part of the whole meal was the only thing they didn't cook!! THE CHEESE ROCKED!!!

                          2. re: fooddude37
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                            RicRios RE: fooddude37 Dec 12, 2006 02:30 AM

                            "Premium truffles are so much more expensive in the states than their country of origin ..."

                            Well, it turns out that is not quite true.

                            Magnatum Pico retail prices last week:
                            Fauchon, Paris: 5,000 Euro/kilo, which translates into U$S 3,000/lb
                            Beverly Hills Cheese Store: 4,000 $/lb
                            Fairly good deal, considering distances.

                            Wholesale, same week:
                            Italy, Serralunga d'Alba: Euro 2,000/kg, roughly $1,200/lb
                            USA, Los Angeles: $1,600/lb

                            1. re: RicRios
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                              Griller141 RE: RicRios Dec 12, 2006 07:49 AM

                              That's a 25-33% markup - well above shipping costs, even in small lots. In 1/2 lb lots that's $200 to $300 for the trip + handling. Maybe it is true.

                              1. re: Griller141
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                                RicRios RE: Griller141 Dec 12, 2006 12:57 PM

                                Wine has similar, if not higher, markups: a 5 Euro bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba usu.retails for $12-15. With a much longer shelf life.

                              2. re: RicRios
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                                fooddude37 RE: RicRios Dec 14, 2006 07:54 PM

                                I appreciate the info, I actually haven't checked this years truffle prices, but also please keep in mind that truffles are sold by weight/quality classes. I have a purveyor who can get B grade alba truffles (one ounce or less) for $1500/lb. The golf ball sized ones (roughly 5 oz) go for $2700/lb right now. (!!!)

                            2. jcwla RE: catbae Dec 11, 2006 09:27 PM

                              It is a shame.
                              My first experience at Sona was just delightful.
                              Even the second was very good.

                              But since then it's been downhill all the way.

                              1. adelly RE: catbae Dec 11, 2006 11:24 PM

                                thank you!!! i thought i was the only one who didn't appreciate sona! i went here for valentine's 2006 based on exceptional reviews from citysearch (i couldnt find one bad one). had the tasting menu, too, and i felt ripped off. true, most french restaurants serve these miniscule courses (9 course sounds like a lot, but if you mashed up the food i ate, it probably would fit in a 1/2 pint container), but these were already tiny AND lacking in flavor. i blamed it on my cold, as i felt horrible that night, but i don't think that was really to blame. i couldn't understand why i didn't like it when so many people did, plus all those great commendations from thomas keller, etc... paid more than $300 for me and my hubby. with that, i could've enjoyed myself & more at providence, l'orangerie or some sushi restaurant.

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                                  chefthisguy RE: catbae Feb 5, 2007 06:25 PM

                                  those recommendations are now 3 years old....when his wife left, so did the ceativity...it was fantastic 2 years ago.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chefthisguy
                                    russkar RE: chefthisguy Feb 5, 2007 08:23 PM

                                    Fantastic NOT! We were there 3yrs ago, 2yrs ago, 1yr ago, NOT Very Good , Period!

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                                    Diana RE: catbae Feb 6, 2007 05:16 AM

                                    uh oh..I'm saving for a tasting menu there...should I switch to somewhere else?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Diana
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                                      carter RE: Diana Feb 6, 2007 07:00 AM

                                      Yes!

                                      1. re: carter
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                                        Diana RE: carter Feb 6, 2007 07:15 AM

                                        where to? Chowpatty, Carter, anyone-advice?

                                        1. re: Diana
                                          russkar RE: Diana Feb 6, 2007 07:22 AM

                                          Providence, Spago, Valentino, Melisse, La Cachette

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