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Dinner at Taix

Will Owen Sep 12, 2007 02:16 PM

After reading all the mixed reviews, what finally got us there was yet another request from Pops, who asked to go there on his birthday, as it had been 40-some years since his last visit...and now that we've been, I can say we come down firmly on the side of those who've defended the food and hailed the prices.

The place was not exactly crowded on Tuesday night, but busy enough to have us wait a bit for our 7:30 table. This was one of those U-shaped settee thingies, suitable for four to six diners, that I usually find uncomfortable - either the wrong relative heights or too tight - but this one fit just fine. The wine list offered two of my favorite Beaujolais (Morgon and St.-Amour) for pretty cheap, but as Pops and I were the only drinkers, and I was the driver, we just ordered a glass each of the generic Beaujolais ($7). The waiter was a personable guy named Christian, and we put his Christianity to the test over the butchered French in the menu, with three misspellings and one real howler, the "Pre-Fix" meal. Then we settled down and ordered dinner.

Mrs. O said she'd bet Maman would want the Moules Marinière and Pops the escargot, and so they did, and loved them enough not to offer us any. Maman ordered the onion soup as her main course, and then regretted her choice when the mussels showed up in a soup plate with a good meal's worth of very good broth, of which she happily ate all. Pops asked if it were possible to have rabbit on a Tuesday, but it wasn't, so he got the sautéed trout, a nice presentation boned and butterflied and spread with an almond sauce. Mrs. O requested the Tuesday special, braised oxtails with mashed potatoes, and I continued my pursuit of LA's best Steak Frites by ordering the grilled sirloin with fries. This was, I'm happy to say, a genuine contender, with a good if not brilliant steak cooked EXACTLY as I'd specified, and fries that were perfectly crisp without being burnt at all. The maitre d'hotel butter on the steak was nice, but was a smoothly cut oval shape that I'm sure was sliced from a tube of it bought somewhere. Its reluctance to melt and lack of any real herbal flavor would seem to confirm that. Mrs. O was happy with her bite, though, and I found her oxtail to be rich, melting and wonderful. Maman liked her soup very much, but it stayed a little too hot for her clear through the meal, and she'd had her fill from the mussels anyway, so she managed to finish about half of it.

The bus person demonstrated the dismal level of training common these days by asking each of us if he or she was done while others were still eating and removing plates immediately, but we're getting used to that. When Christian reappeared and asked if anyone wanted dessert, Mrs. O asked after some sorbet. "Sherbet," he said. "Pineapple." Pops asked, "How about ice cream?" Christian said, "I think we have some vanilla back there..." so the women ordered sherbet and Pops and I just finished our second glass of wine.

All of the above, with tax and 20%, came to a smidge over $130. Valet parking was $2.50, with excellent service, so we made that $5. Despite the few rough edges and the pretentious gaffes in the menu, we were all pretty pleased with the food and the experience, and won't wait any 40 years for the next visit.

Oh, and one more thing we all noticed and appreciated: NO MUSIC! That was probably the most French touch of all...

  1. ipsedixit Sep 12, 2007 02:20 PM

    Thanks for the review.

    An old friend of mine really loved Taix's "sherbet" ...

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit
      Will Owen Sep 12, 2007 02:22 PM

      I had a bite, and it tasted exactly like the stuff my mom used to make - and delicious. Given the age of the restaurant (both physically and attitudinally), I wouldn't be surprised if it were made from the same recipe.

      1. re: Will Owen
        ipsedixit Sep 12, 2007 02:58 PM

        Taix is REAL old school.

        If you ever go there for lunch, you will notice that hardly any tables will have only women dining other women. And when it happens I think the waiters consider it uncouth.

        I bet that place still has a stack of Ladies Only Menus in the back somewhere.

        Lots of the City Hall power players will lunch there.

      2. re: ipsedixit
        afs Sep 12, 2007 05:01 PM

        I grew up on that sherbet...
        my father was a main cook for over 30 years there and my grandfather another 30 before he.
        In the bar they have a sheet of paper with the names of the workers who have been there the longest.
        As an adult I still go from time to time and find their salmon, soup and the roasted chicken to still be my favorites.
        Great place for a pre Dodger game drinks and ....although I don't get how the place turns into a rock venue on the weekends.

      3. Cicely Sep 12, 2007 02:29 PM

        Hmm, interesting. A friend had a birthday party here, in a private room that held about 20 people. But I wasn't impressed by the food -- I had the roast chicken, which I had read here was the thing to get. The meat was tasty enough, but the skin was completely flabby. Much like the cheapo roast chicken from Spain on Glendale Blvd. I don't think anyone got the dishes you mentioned, though, so perhaps it's worth another try.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Cicely
          Will Owen Sep 12, 2007 06:15 PM

          There is a school of taste that thinks "luscious" instead of "flabby" when encountering that kind of skin. My own preferences run the gamut: I slightly prefer crackly skin to gooey, but not at the cost of dry meat. I'll just need to go try it myself; one of us was going to do that last night, but it didn't work out. Good excuse to hurry back.

          1. re: Cicely
            lil mikey Sep 13, 2007 12:13 PM

            The short ribs are also very good.

          2. n
            ns1 Sep 12, 2007 03:32 PM

            WillOwen-

            Thanks for the review, been looking to try out this place for awhile as it's up the street, and DTLA news just did a small blurb about. What's a per plate price?

            3 Replies
            1. re: ns1
              DanaB Sep 12, 2007 03:40 PM

              Entrees range from $13-27 with most entrees under $20. For $4 more, all entrees include soup, salad and sherbet. You really can't beat it for value.

              Here's a link to the webpage, which has lunch and dinner menus with prices and daily specials: http://www.taixfrench.com/

              1. re: DanaB
                n
                ns1 Sep 12, 2007 04:04 PM

                awesome, thanks

              2. re: ns1
                ipsedixit Sep 12, 2007 03:41 PM

                All your questions answered here: http://www.taixfrench.com/our_menu.html

              3. rednyellow Sep 12, 2007 04:01 PM

                I love the place, especially the nightly specials. Good solid foot at a fair price. A lot of foodies dont care for the place, but sometimes a straight ahead meal sans culinary pyrotechnichs really fits the bill.

                4 Replies
                1. re: rednyellow
                  c
                  carter Sep 13, 2007 08:24 AM

                  One special to avoid is the pot roast which I believe is served on Sundays. It was meant for the bottom of your shoes, and no other place. It was dreadful. Soups are fine enough, and the side veggies are either canned or frozen, with a possible exception of the potatoes.

                  1. re: carter
                    rednyellow Sep 13, 2007 08:38 PM

                    It's been a while, but the few times I had the pot roast, it was perfect and fork tender.

                    1. re: rednyellow
                      c
                      carter Sep 13, 2007 09:39 PM

                      Mine was not even ax tender!
                      And you gotta love those side veggies, canned or frozen, who cares. Dennys does the job better than that last meal I ate at Taix.

                      1. re: carter
                        DanaB Sep 14, 2007 03:21 AM

                        You should try it again. The last meal I had at Taix was in the bar, and we had soup, salad, roast chicken and frites, and it was much better than decent. For the price, service and ambiance, it was well worth the money -- in any universe, better than Dennys.

                2. Tom P Sep 12, 2007 04:01 PM

                  Also, extended through Sept 14, a pretty good deal:

                  Celebrating our 80th Anniversary

                  Roast Chicken Dinner
                  $9.95

                  Dinner includes; Soup du jour,
                  House salad, bread & butter, potato, vegetable and sherbet for dessert

                  5:00-7:00 p.m.

                  Sunday-Friday

                  1. Hughlipton Sep 12, 2007 04:49 PM

                    Anyone remember the Original Taix when it was on Commercial Street in Central Downttown (where the twin towers is now) and if you ate family style on a Sunday night you got the chicken dinner, preceded by salad, pasta and soup for a whole $1.25?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Hughlipton
                      Servorg Sep 12, 2007 04:56 PM

                      I first ate at Taix in 1969 and it was at the same location as it is now. I call it dowager Aunt food.

                      1. re: Servorg
                        Hughlipton Sep 13, 2007 08:16 AM

                        I first ate at Taix in 1950. They built the present location because they know the one on Commercial St. was being taken by the City. I haven't been to the present location in about 15 years but I wonder if they still serve that wonderful vegetable soup for which they were so famous.

                      2. re: Hughlipton
                        Bob Brooks Sep 13, 2007 11:39 AM

                        I remember. It must have been in the late 50's and I was just a kid with my father. To this day, I can actually remember the taste of the large, communal bowl of chicken soup that was served at the table! It was a thin broth with a very generous amount of celery in the flavor. For some reason, I've thought about this many times over the years.

                        1. re: Bob Brooks
                          Will Owen Sep 13, 2007 11:57 AM

                          According to the info on the menu, the only non-vegetarian soup they serve nowadays is the clam chowder. Had I not eaten a very large lunch I would have ordered the lentil soup, which is du jour on Tuesdays.

                          Does anyone have a date for the move from Commercial St.? Pops was remembering the restaurant as being much smaller, though he insists it was on Sunset...but I know how creative memory can be sometimes.

                          1. re: Will Owen
                            afs Sep 13, 2007 02:53 PM

                            1960ish I think 61 or 62 the old location was was a hotel and a restaurant

                            1. re: afs
                              Hughlipton Sep 13, 2007 08:18 PM

                              It was an hotel as well as a restaurant and 61 or 62 might have been the year. It actually was a very large restaurnat taking up most of the first floor. They had the family style and they had another section called booth service which gave you your ownprivate table. I remember the family style never had "dessert" but you always got frsh fruit and cheese at the end of the meal.

                            2. re: Will Owen
                              s
                              samwise77 Mar 1, 2008 02:32 PM

                              I know this is a delayed reply, but...

                              Your Pop probably remembers correctly. The large lounge and bar area was not part of the original new restaurant when it opened on Sunset, and there were two less banquet rooms taking up space. The bar and lounge used to be where you now find the hostess' stand.

                              In fact, if you inspect the entrance to the lounge next to the hostess' stand, you will see the gigantic metal sliding doors that slide into the wall. They remain open at all times now, but used to be 10' tall exits to the outside of the building.

                              The majority of the staff has been there at least 25 years, several over 35 and 4 over 45 years each. Bernard is straight off the boat from France and has been waiting tables there since 2 years BEFORE it moved to Sunset (about 46 years now). The experience of some of the waiters and bartenders certainly adds to the nostalgia of the place, though newer additions (particularly in the lounge and behind the bar) demonstrate the same comittment to service and wllingness to go the extra mile.

                              I highly recommend having dinner on the weekends in the lounge around 9. It's a more hip atmosphere (though very dark), and you've got prime seating for whatever bands are playing. Lounge seating is first-come, first-served (skip the hostess!) and you can always eat at the bar as well (where the 'tenders are very generous).

                        2. m
                          missy85 Sep 14, 2007 03:56 PM

                          My husband took me there for lunch today, as we've driven by it many times and never stopped in. Though we went for the curiosity factor, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the friendly service. The setting (as others have noted) is definitely a bit like traveling back in time, but it held its own charm in that way.

                          We got the Escargot, which were actually quite flavorful. The six you get are more than enough, as the sauce is rich and tasty and you can easily make a meal out of it with the bread provided. Even so, we also ordered a sandwich each which came with an unending bowl of soup. The soup of the day was clam chowder, which was as good as any I've had around town. It was also incredibly filling and we were both quite stuffed by the time our sandwiches actually arrived. They were very good, but we didn't have the room to finish them.

                          All in all, I'd give the place high marks for food, service, and value (even atmosphere -- if you don't require a trendy-hipster-swanky vibe --- because that it's not). It's more for those who can be amused and appreciate the semi-kitsch quality while enjoying a straightforward meal. We'll definitely go back again to check out the wine list.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: missy85
                            n
                            ns1 Sep 14, 2007 04:03 PM

                            awesome, thanks missy!

                            will probably have to take the gf there VERY soon, as she's been nagging me about it ever since we moved.

                          2. Mr Taster Nov 9, 2012 05:13 PM

                            Mr. Owen,

                            Thank you for this review, which is the most helpful I've found. I've lived in LA for almost two decades and still have never visited, so when I saw the $40 Amazon voucher I snapped it up.

                            Heading there tonight with my Lovely Tasting Assistant™ and will let you know how it goes.

                            If you've got any recent experiences to share, please let me know.

                            Mr Taster

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Mr Taster
                              ipsedixit Nov 10, 2012 12:07 PM

                              Not sure how your meal was, Mr. T, but give it another 5 years and Taix will be what Little Joe's was before it shuttered some 15 years ago -- an anachronism of a dining institution that time has left behind.

                              The best part of Taix is going at lunchtime. Some of the major LA power-players (from elected officials, to judges, to lobbyists, to guys with their, ahem, "lady friends") are there for lunch. Great people watching.

                              Curious to hear your thoughts on your dinner.

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                Mr Taster Nov 10, 2012 02:57 PM

                                Unfortunately, I arrived at the restaurant suffering from a bout of motion sickness and was unable to truly enjoy the experience. I can tell you that the lounge/bar area was incredibly warm and inviting, with a cozy fireplace, loungey with brick and wood, and bustling with a talkative crowd. My wife ordered a $5 glass of Beaujolais. The bread was ordinary, factory produced stuff. The never-ending tureen of soup (clam chowder) was tasty-- large pieces of clams, surprisingly tender and not at all rubbery, not overly thickened. The caesar salad was fine (though anchovies were served in whole fillets rather than macerated into the dressing). The iceberg wedge with bleu (which I had never ordered before, but felt I should see one in person since it came with the meal) was horrifying-- though it was exactly as I imagined- a hard, white chunk of lettuce, more cabbage-like than lettucey, drizzled with a watery bleu dressing and a few diced pieces of red pepper for color. The trout almondine was a little oily but otherwise well cooked, light and tender, almonds were perfectly toasted and not burned. Roasted potatoes, asparagus and small carrot fork tender and well cooked. Fish + salad and soup was $20, and my wife's soup and salad was $11. Total with tax came to just over $39. If I wasn't feeling so miserable, I'd have tried a scoop of the house made "sherbet" for $1.25. I had a voucher for $40, so this covered the whole bill (including the $5 glass of wine). Valet is still $2.50. The only real problem was our server, a lady with long blonde hair who sloppily slammed down our soup bowls and messily ladled the soup into the bowl. She also forgot to bring a beer, but that's fine.

                                It would have been a great, affordable experience had the evening not been marred with nausea. If I see another voucher I'll definitely snap it up. I'd love to give it another shot one day.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  ipsedixit Nov 10, 2012 07:16 PM

                                  A great friend of mine loved their sherbert. Just loved it. And he was diabetic too.

                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                    c
                                    carter Nov 11, 2012 01:17 PM

                                    Well, subsequent to my post back in '07, I have probably eaten at Taix around 20 times, proving every place deserves a second chance.
                                    Always eat in the bar area, never the big, cold dining room. If Laker home game on, go on a different night, as the bar and crowd get more rowdy than you would probably want, unless of course that is your reason for attending in the first place!
                                    Mussels or clams with frites are very tasty, around $12-$15, and can satisfy for a lighter bite pre-Disney Hall or Music Center.
                                    Lamb chops are always properly prepared, the Monday night filet special equally so.
                                    Have not tried much of the seafood, except the mussels and clams.
                                    Regular wine list is ok, but there is a 2nd one if you ask for it, where some very good wines at even better prices can be found, with few over $50, btw.
                                    Corkage is $10, so byo if so motivated.
                                    One of the better vallue restaurants in town.
                                    but I will not reorder that pot roast, but might take a bite of it if a dining companion orders it.

                              2. d
                                Dogbite Williams Nov 11, 2012 09:20 PM

                                I took a look at the lunch menu which is more within my economic reach. I am piqued by the Thursday special - pork sausage and lentil casserole.

                                Has anyone tried it?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Dogbite Williams
                                  Servorg Nov 12, 2012 03:26 AM

                                  A cassoulet by any other name is still... ;-D>

                                2. b
                                  bopdd Nov 12, 2012 01:01 PM

                                  Misspellings on the menu? Bussers who take plates away when you're done eating! Oh dear God! What has this world come to?!!!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bopdd
                                    Will Owen Nov 13, 2012 01:54 PM

                                    Bus persons should wait until the diner has clearly indicated no further interest in the dish, and a properly trained one has no difficulty figuring that out. "You done with that?" or similar queries (especially the ghastly "You still workin' on that?") will get you canned in a good place, or at least firmly reprimanded.

                                    And if you're going to do a menu in French, get someone who's literate in French to handle it. Although the former headwaiter who did this one was French, he was as illiterate as too many English-speaking menu writers. Nor, speaking as an editor, do I see any sound excuse for misspellings to appear in print anywhere, except maybe for "Lost ornje & wite kittie" signs on telephone poles.

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