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May 9, 2007 07:26 PM

Ketchup in W. Hollywood (review+pics)

If looks were everything, Ketchup would have at least 4 stars. I really liked the look of the restaurant from the white booths to the red balls that served as lighting to the ketchup inspired art on the walls. There was a cool LA vibe to the place which was further enhanced by the 20-something hipsters that served as the majority of the customers that night.

However, cool LA vibe or not, it's really the food that determines whether I'll return to a restaurant to dine and unless someone takes me for a free meal, I don't plan on making a trip back to Ketchup anytime soon.

Oh, one thing I did want to mention before I get into food. There's actually a "bartender" who pushes a drink cart throughout the restaurant who will give you free samples of some of their signature martinis. Considering that those martinis are $12 each, this is a nice service that Ketchup provides. After all, if you're going to spend the bucks on a drink, you might as well know if it's going to be worth it or not. Now I'm not sure whether they put a limit on the free samples or not, so don't assume that you'll be getting freebies all night.

So now let's talk about food. When we sat down, we got complimentary breadsticks and pretzel bread that came with a spicy mustard. I actually liked the pretzel bread a lot. It was soft and warm and had that nice hit of saltiness. The spicy mustard could have been spicier, but still it went well with the bread.

When we finally ordered, my group decided to share 3 appetizers. The first to arrive was the Scandalous Lobster Wraps, which were chunks of lobster meat, iceberg lettuce topped with mango ketchup. Given that this appetizer is described as being "scandalous", you'd think that the wrap would be so delicious that you almost felt like you were committing a crime eating it. That wasn't the case at all. In fact, the scandal quickly whimpered away after I took my first bite. The lobster meat tasted really bland. Even the addition of the mango ketchup added nothing to this dish. In fact, I found the mango ketchup to be too sweet. At least, the lettuce was crisp and fresh.

Soon came the Mini Chicken Tacos and I have to say that out of everything we ordered, this was the tastiest. The blue corn taco shells had a nice light crunch to it and I thought the chicken was moist and tender. With the addition of the cheese, salsa and sour cream, this little taco was packed with a lot of great flavor. I could have eaten a couple of plates just on my own.

The last appetizer we shared was the 3some, which consisted of three separate containers with the three different French Fries that they have on their menu. Those fries were:

Ketchup Fries (garlic-parmesan tossed)
Fire Fries (cayenne spiced)
Sweet Potato Fries

The fries were okay, but while I could taste a little bit of the parmesan on the Ketchup Fries, the garlic was missing in action. The Fire Fries had a little spice to it, but were certainly not that fiery and as for the sweet potato yams, they were mushy and could have been a bit crispier.

With the fries came 5 different ketchups: Chipotle, Classic, Mango, Maple & Ranch. Now I remember the mango ketchup being a little too sweet from the Lobster Wraps, but I don't really remember what the Maple & Ranch ketchups tasted like. That's how forgettable they were; however, I really liked the Chipotle ketchup a lot. It had a nice smoky flavor that was really appealing.

A few of us ordered entrees. I had the Beer Can Chicken which was a garlic studded whole chicken braised in Sam Adams and came with smashed potato, caramelized onion & baby vegetables. This entree cost $19 and wasn't worth it. Yes, the portion was huge so I did take most of it home, but it was one of the most flavorless chicken dishes I have ever had.

Just like the garlic from the Ketchup fries, the garlic was definitely missing in this dish. Garlic-studded, my you know what! The sides were just as bad. The mashed potatoes were a bit grainy and not smooth or creamy and the veggies were overcooked. It was just an awful entree.

Two other entree dishes people in my party ordered were the Diver Scallops and the Tuna Tartare dish. Apparently, the diver scallops were tasty so that's good and even the Tuna Tartare was apparently a hit, except for the fact that the basil potato chips that came with it were burnt. When the burnt chips were pointed out to the waitress, she took them away but never bothered to replace them. That certainly wasn't good service in my book.

Overall, Ketchup was a real disappointment and when you add $10 for valet parking, that just adds insult to injury. Like I said earlier, unless someone is planning on paying for my meal, I will definitely not be making a return trip to Ketchup anytime soon.

To see pics, go to:

8590 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 289-8590


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  1. Normally your pix make the food look great but in this case the food looks sloppy and not so good. I dislike restaurants that care more about the scene than about the food.

    1. Agree with your assessment - went when it first opened (not my choice!), and was completely underwhelmed. The waiter recommended the lobster wraps, which were disappointing. A standout were the sweet potato tater tots, which were almost like dessert. Friends who got the scallops liked them a lot too. The worst part of the night, however, was dessert. We got a banana split and the strawberry shortcake, and both were blah (the shortcake was even underbaked).

      1. I'm going to open a restaurant and call it Mustard...

        The concept is idiotic...the fries did not look good at all...neither did any of the other entries...I like the idea of free samples for the drinks though.

        1. I thought the tacos and fries looked good. But at what kind of prices? Probably not worth driving out of my way.

          8 Replies
          1. re: LisaStitch

            7 of us shared the 3 appetizers (2 of each of the tacos and wraps and only 1 of the fries sampler) and we put in $10 each, which isn't too bad, but you should check out the entree prices, which ranged from the $19 I paid for that worthless Beer Can Chicken dish to $26 for the Drunken Scallops I mentioned above (and while the person liked their dish, it didn't actually look very appetizing) to a whopping $69 for a 44 oz Porterhouse Steak (which is supposed to be a dish that is served).

            Those entree prices were up there and I honestly don't mind paying good money for a good meal, but if what I've had that night is an example of what I might get eating another meal there, I'd definitely pass.

            1. re: pleasurepalate

              you can't really be surprised by these experiences/reviews...? don't forget that ketchup is a 'dolce group' restaurant. these guys can get away with mediocre food & bad service...all the twenty-something hipsters will still flock there in droves because they want to be "seen" at the latest hotspot. most of them barely eat anyway! these places are for scenesters, not foodies.

              1. re: 1_healthnut

                In truth, I wasn't expecting much, but I always like to form my own opinion, which I did. :)

                1. re: 1_healthnut

                  What are some of the other Dolce Group restaurants? I'd like to avoid them.

                  Why do 20 something hipsters like bad food and service?


                  1. re: Bon Vivant

                    Not all of us 20 somethings like bad food and service :).

                    Their other restaurants include Geisha House, Bella and Dolce...

                    1. re: Bon Vivant

                      dolce, bella cucina, les deux [more of a lounge than a restaurant], and geisha house.

                      1. re: Bon Vivant

                        The Lodge Steakhouse and Memphis are also their places as is the newly opened Charcoal at the Arclight - all brought to you in varying relationships from the founder and owner of Gaucho Grill!!!
                        Ah, gourmet you say!

                        1. re: carter

                          No Carter, The Lodge and Memphis are Michael Sutton/Adolfo Suaya restaurants. Also just opened Charcoal at the Arclight. Just about the same thing though, very scene-y, not a huge emphasis on food. However I hear some people still rave about the Lodge. I haven't been since it first opened so I can't say if it's great or not. Memphis...not so much.

                          But the Dolce Group's first restaurant, Dolce, if you recall, opened big. Huge. Ashton Kutcher just one of the celeb investors, which they touted. It was impossible to get a table for its first year. Mirko Poderno, now the chef at All' Angelo, was the opening chef. Unfortunately, the Dolce group hasn't had success with food in their restaurants; even Dolce now serves more pedestrian Italian fare. In theory and executed well, Ketchup should be at least good. Fun food: who doesn't love tater tots and sloppy joe? When I went, first night, the fries and mini chili dogs were good. Chopped salad was decent. Nothing else was at all great, but it was day one. I've noticed a lot of calls for cooks in that kitchen, so it sounds like a rotating door of undertrained line cooks that don't have the chops.

                2. The worst part about this place called KETCHUP is that they couldn't even cook 4 little kobe burgers...DON'T PASS THE KETCHUP