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I did not hate Kate Mantilini

Pei Oct 24, 2007 10:08 AM

I've avoided KM for a long time because of the negative posts on this board. But yesterday I found myself in the area with my parents. Fearful of trying to repark two cars, we settled on lunch at KM. I figured, how bad could it be if we just kept it simple?

First off, it's a lovely space! Concrete and glass, but done in a way that lets a lot of light into a large open dining area. Big open kitchen, noisy and bustling but under control.

Service: slow but super duper friendly! The restaurant was maybe half full for lunch, but our server was buzzing around and had to be stalked and snagged down each and every time we needed something. He handled all our requests quickly and with a smile though, so maybe he's just new and doesn't know he should scan the room constantly to see if his tables need him.

Food: not half bad! I think the tactic here is to keep it simple. We had a nicoise salad, lentil soup, and seared ahi. Nothing was special enough to describe in detail, but it was solid food. So many lunch spots oversalt the food. The fact that we had fresh ingredients, cooked just right, judiciously salted, served up attractively in a timely manner was enough for us. Sometimes, that's all you want!

Portions are huge, so two entrees and a soup was plenty for three people. $50ish after tax. So maybe the biggest quibble is with the price point, but considering that a $17 sandwich looks big enough for two people it's really not too bad for the area.

Bread: great! Warm, crispy crust, soft interior. It's from La Brea

  1. Servorg Oct 24, 2007 10:12 AM

    A very fair and accurate review from my perspective. We go a couple of times a year on average. When I branch out and try something "different" I am invariably unhappy. When I KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) I normally walk away satisfied. Thanks for your review.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg
      Servorg Oct 24, 2007 10:18 AM

      One other thing regarding the service. We have only gone for dinner and we have had the older guy who looks like a younger Kurt Vonnegut several times (he has been there a looooooooooong time). He is a very good waiter. Don't think he is trying to break into the movie biz but rather is doing this as a profession, and doing it damn well.

    2. r
      RicRios Oct 24, 2007 11:10 AM

      "because of the negative posts on this board"

      Yeah, but never from yours truly.

      Not to be missed: the Friday special milanesa, the pea soup, the cobbler.

      1. f
        Fidelixi Oct 24, 2007 11:15 AM

        You know why you did not hate it? Because it's good. It's the rare thing in LA: a solid place, totally professional, attractive and open late. The bread is great, the specials can be good, the ahi salad is excellent (a bit pricey perhaps), the steak sandwich is fantastic and the service has generally been excellent during the many years that I have gone there.

        1. scrappydog Oct 24, 2007 11:39 AM

          I think your review is fair and accurate. KM is not a destination place for me, but if I am nearby, it works. I like the soups, salads and sandwiches. The ingrediants have always been fresh and well prepared. As far as the prices are concerned, in BH, $17 for a sandwhich is somewhat in line with market, but if you are at the KM outpost in Woodland Hills, you can do better elsewhere for the money.

          2 Replies
          1. re: scrappydog
            trojans Oct 24, 2007 12:38 PM

            I haven't been back there since I ordered the chicken. I took a bite out of it saw that it was raw in the center so I sent it back to the kitchen. A few minutes later they brought me back the same piece of chicken with the bite taken out of it that they had finished cooking on the grill. Yuck. That's ok to do at home but it's a real no no at a restaurant.

            1. re: trojans
              TBird Oct 24, 2007 12:49 PM

              i worked across the street there for awhile. solid lunch. i wouldn't dis it but also wouldn't go back for dinner.

          2. o
            omakase Oct 24, 2007 08:27 PM

            I like Kate too. But for some reason, I like the Woodland Hills location better. It used to be a Houston's. The look is great - lots of wood and earth tone colors. Which one did you go to?

            1 Reply
            1. re: omakase
              Pei Oct 24, 2007 10:49 PM

              I did not know there was a WH location! I went to the one on Wilshire.

            2. rednyellow Oct 24, 2007 09:28 PM

              I didn't hate it either, but never felt compelled to return after one visit. Just ok.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rednyellow
                tag heuer Oct 24, 2007 09:39 PM

                oh, you just reminded me that I want to go there again soon. I always get the sliced steak on a bed of arugula with shaved parmesean. mmmmm good.

              2. brekkie_fan Oct 24, 2007 11:54 PM

                Thanks Pei, I've been wanting to check it out every time we drive by it.

                1. b
                  Bite Me Oct 25, 2007 12:15 AM

                  <<so maybe he's just new and doesn't know he should scan the room constantly to see if his tables need him.>>

                  nope, they never look at the room. tonight i was there for dinner and two waiters were sitting the bar talking to each other. they all tend to face away from the room and chat with each other -- even the manager. it's just what they do and they've done it for years. really quite infuriating. they also have the poorest "greeting" in town when you come in -- either the host/hostess isn't at the front, or their back is to you, or they have a look on their face like they have no idea why you've just walked in.

                  having said all that, i have lunch there at least 2x a week and dinner 1 or 2x a month. It's close to my office and I happen to love it there -- the food is good and consistent.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Bite Me
                    Pei Oct 25, 2007 01:28 AM

                    Ha, good to know! Oh well, it takes all kinds. Sometimes you want the best service and are willing to sacrifice quality so you can eat in a candlelit room with fawning staff. Sometimes you want a quick cheap lunch and don't mind the scary Chinese lady slapping three dishes and a rice into a styrofoam container. KM is in the "kinda high priced, pretty nice ambiance, ditzy staff, not bad food" category, for me at least. Not bad, popular with nearby officeworkers, not a destination, but not necessary to avoid. It's nice to see others generally feel the same way.

                    1. re: Bite Me
                      RicRios Oct 25, 2007 09:28 AM

                      Manager a little weird.
                      Nice guy though, as long as he's in the right mood, which doesn't happen very often.

                      BTW, I haven't seen the owner in a long while.
                      The old man used to be there some nights, in his impeccable white suit.

                      1. re: RicRios
                        Servorg Oct 25, 2007 09:42 AM

                        Harry and Marilyn Lewis (who started the Hamburger Hamlet chain in 1950) own KM's. Because Harry was an actor and supposedly always wanted to play Hamlet on stage they named the restaurant (first one on Sunset in what is now WeHo) after the burgers they featured on the menu and the role he coveted.

                    2. r
                      rickym13 Oct 25, 2007 12:25 AM

                      its been years since we been there.....love their breakfast. their french toast is to die for!

                      1. q
                        QualityMart Oct 26, 2007 09:27 PM

                        I absolutely love their white chicken chili.

                        Basically the biggest problem with the place is that it's overpriced for the quality. It's essentially an upscale deli.

                        But I don't mind paying for it occasionally if I'm right there doing something like attending a screening.

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