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Blair's Silverlake Insults Our Intelligence

  • l

Blair's in Silverlake has been one of my favorite neighborhood bistros since it opened. Good food, great beers, relaxed service. But when we went for dinner on Wednesday night, we noticed that all of the prices had taken a serious jump. I know that food prices have increased and I expected to see prices increases here and there, but the increases are very large. Remember, the deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail appetizer? It was maybe around $9 (others probably remember), but now it is $15!! That is one egg and 4 shrimp. Beet salad went from $7 to $10. Lamb chops went from around $28 to $36. All wine by the glass are now $12 (even whites). Now, I have no problem with pricey restaurants (just went to Providence last week), but the food, service, and ambiance have to match the price. The food is good, but the service certainly doesn't warrant the prices. I asked about a wine and my server didn't even know the grapes in the wine that she was recommending - for a $12 glass of white?!? The tables in the 2nd room (newer expansion) look haphazard and one server covers the entire room. The busboy spilled water all over the table and didn't know that we didn't get bread. All of these things can be forgiven when you are dining at a neighborhood bistro in Silverlake, but when you raise the prices you force comparisons with better restaurants. It is a shame, but I will not be returning to Blair's.

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  1. That's too bad! I haven't been to Blair's for dinner lately but was there for brunch last weekend, and we enjoyed it. I had poached eggs, which were served with sauteed spinach and some super-tasty potatoes. Service was decent, and the price was reasonable.

    That level of price increase seems particularly problematic, given that Canele is pretty comparable and their prices are much more reasonable.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DanaB

      The owners/manager don't seem to care. I went for lunch the other day and a young father let his four year old run wild around the cafe and I mean wild. She was screaming (at the top of her lungs) and running behind the counter and no-one cared! They moved me to another room, but I just should have left. I could still hear her and all I wanted to do was have a nice lunch and read my book. The thing that got me most perplexed was -- why would they not just take care of the situation? Why would you want a four year old running and screaming in an upscale bistro. I was just at Johnny Rocket's and the kids there weren't carrying on like this one.

      I never feel welcome when I go for lunch and the servers always seem like it's their first day. I also don't understand if you're basically the only person there, why you have to wait over 20 minutes for a sandwich.

      By comparison, Square 1 does things right -- the owner reads this blog and if there's criticism, he fixes it. He takes pride in his establishment and I always feel welcomed. I don't mind paying a little more b/c it's always (except one time and the owner fixed the problem) a pleasurable experience. Blairs should take note.

    2. In deference to Marshall, beet salad almost everywhere around town typically runs about $10 and lamb chops are equally around mid-$30s. $12 glasses of wine - good wines can easily run that much, but it is hard to tell how much a bottle might run if you have never heard of it and thus not really know how good it might be when ordering and your server is of no help.
      In that area, Canele is nice, the wines largely unheard of and smaller pours, the food good, yet in the case of lamb chops - a smaller portion, with a much lower overhead and a staff with almost no knowledge of the wines.
      In fact in the Feliz/Silver Lake/Atwater area, lack of wine knowledge seems a common amenity to restaurants.
      And of course labor as well as all kinds of insurances including workers comp also need to be paid.
      Just some more input on potentially why the price increases.

      3 Replies
      1. re: carter

        "In fact in the Feliz/Silver Lake/Atwater area, lack of wine knowledge seems a common amenity to restaurants."

        I agree, but it just seems that reduced service should come with a lower price. When they raised prices, they raised my expectations. The higher prices put them in comparison with higher quality restaurants. At the lower prices, it seemed that Blair's could stay open for years, but the place is just not competitive at these prices. Begin the Blair's Deathwatch...

        1. re: carter

          $12 glass of white? It better be good, and the wait-staff should know why! Consider, oh L.A. Hounds, what a resto can do with wine prices when they want to, and their clientele doesn't insist on fancy crystal or a full-time professional somelier (neither of which Blair's has, IIRC):


          Yep, that first page is HALF-BOTTLE prices, not per glass.

          And, unfortunately, lack of wine knowledge isn't the only thing which stalks the service in Silverlake/Los Feliz restaurants. . . . there's the whole "we're too cool to care about what you want" attitude. . .

          1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

            what is going on with blairs? about two weeks ago my husband and i went in for dinner. i ordered a fish and my husband pasta. my husband was so upset because the pasta had half the pasta water in it and so we brought it up. the waitress had such an as if attitude when we complained. to make matters worse you could totally tell all they did was just tilt the plate! next time when you tilt the plate, at least wipe the rim so it's not so obvious!!! see ya blairs!

        2. There was a thread mentioning that a new branch of Blair's is due to open in the Valley. I guess we've found out how they're trying to raise the funds for it...

          1. Thanks for more bad news about Blair's. I took 4 friends there a year ago, after having sung its praises. 4 out of 5 of our fish dishes were cold and hastily presented. I wrote a letter the Marshall Blair who promptly called me, saying to ask for him next time we're in. I've never gone back and now definitely won't at the new price levels.

            1. My husband and I ate breakfast at Blair's the other day and we were unimpressed. Our waitress wasn't mean, but she sure wasn't nice. The servings were small, not terribly good, and way too expensive. We won't be returning.

              1. I agree that the service is lousy. My husband and I took another couple there fora business dinner a few weeks ago, and we two girls had a good laugh about the actress, I mean waitress. She fawned all over the husbands, bringing them refills in fresh glasses and clearing their plates herself, while she basically ignored us. I had to ask three times for a glass of water without lipstick, and my dirty plate sat in front of me even after she presented the bill. Little did she know who was picking up the tab (moi).

                But I've always found the food tasty and consistent, and that night was no exception. Those short ribs were beyond divine. Perfection on my plate, and even on a Sunday night (chef's night off). I'll be back my first free night.

                But Mr. Blair, if you're reading this, please train your staff. You have a great wine list, but your servers, frankly, stink. I come from a restaurant family, so I notice the little things. But even my husband noticed that I had to wait for a fork while my food cooled. And there's NO excuse for the entrees for a table of four to come out in three batches.

                You have a real asset in your food, but please focus some attention on the dining experience. Have your wine reps give your wait staff a class or two. Train your kitchen to time their firing correctly. At your prices, you can afford to hire professional waiters instead of slacker/writer/actor/waiters. Go for it, out of respect for your loyal customers. Because the next time I come in for those short ribs, I'll be bringing my friend, the chef who can figure out any recipe by tasting it, and I'll just make them myself at home, where I have clean water glasses, forks to eat with, and where the only person flirting with my husband is me.

                1 Reply
                1. $15 for one deviled egg and 4 shrimp.

                  edit: that left me a little speechless.

                  1. Anybody got any recent updates for Blair's?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Hungry4Good

                      they are no longer open for breakfast.

                      1. re: Fat Billie

                        we went last night.
                        I think the food is always delicious.
                        The service is still pretty pathetic.
                        The wine knowledge HAS NOT improved at all.
                        We asked for flavor profiles for a few different wines and were given a look of total loss. Then we were terribly misguided, but hey... after a few glasses it was fine.
                        The expanded room is horrible! horrible!
                        If you are seated in there, cut your losses and go elsewhere.
                        We weren't really put off by any price increase... in fact, I didn't even notice :(... but it's true, since the owner went off-site it isn't as strong.
                        I'm still a loyal patron though... will continue to keep going once a month.
                        And they still have a "brunch" menu up for outside view... so I think they are still open for Breakfast on Sundays.

                        1. re: skinnydave

                          I've been going there a lot for lunch lately. I've had some medical problems, and it's become my "go to" place for a late lunch after a visit to the doctor. I've found the food to be good, the service to be quite nice (but maybe they're being a little more attentive to a woman in a back brace), but I do agree with many of the comments about the wine cost and selection. They're often out of the "wines by the glass" that are on the list. And I think that it's a shame nothing is offered for under $12 a glass, while most are $14.

                          1. re: perk

                            this thread confirms my suspicions. i was thrilled when Blairs started serving breakfast, lunch, and Intelligentsia coffee because it was so convenient. i had quite a few good dinners with good service there over the past few years. but i have been boycotting it for several months now--the breakfast food was mediocre, the daytime service horrible and inept, and the espresso inconsistent (clearly not everyone was well trained in this art). but the real kicker was when one female server--who i suspect is an assistant manager, due to lack of uniform?-- was super rude twice in one week. first she vastly overcharged my friend and me for our espresso drinks, we called it to her attention, and she claimed that was what they really cost. funny, no menu was presented to confirm her claim, nor was she perturbed that we were perturbed. we knew the bill was out of line, because we had been meeting for coffee there every week for 2 months! we paid but didn't tip. second, i went in the evening with a friend for a drink and a light dinner at the bar. my friend ordered the roasted vegetable plate, and when it came, it was drowning in butter--really drowning. he very politely pointed out to this server that it would be nice if the menu had mentioned the butter, since it's the only vegetarian entree and one might assume it was dairy-free, as roasted veggies usually are. she gave him a look of pure, undisguised hatred and said, butter is part of eating at Blairs--and everyone should know that. my friend thought the dish so repulsive he sent it back--even though he's not vegan. oh yeah, and the same server provided me with painfully ignorant wine descriptions that evening. i agree, Blair's is on deathwatch. and i see weekday breakfast has now been discontinued--it's too bad, with better service and a better breakfast chef they could have made a perfect all-day cafe. I get my espresso from the sweethearts at Zanzabelle (recently expanded to "Lunchbox") across the street now.