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Comme Ca

g
globalgourmet Oct 29, 2007 02:03 AM

The food in this place is amazing. Truly authentic French bistro food. Some of the very best I've ever had outside of France. The salads, the entrees--and the cheeses--OMG!! Save room for the cheeses.

Other comments:

-The place is new. Service is uneven, but mostly slow and confused. The wait staff does not understand the relatively few dishes on the menu.

-Prices are reasonable; entrees in the 20's.

--The noise level is almost unbearable. Only shouting works, even to the person next to you.

-The "carafe" of white or red wine is, in fact, just half a carafe for $18.

  1. s
    search_for_the_holy_gruel Oct 29, 2007 10:24 AM

    I really wanted to love this place. REALLY wanted to. And I wish I had the same great experience as globalgourmet. But my dinner was AWFUL. We had 6pm reservations on Sunday and I was so excited. Sona is one of my favorite restaurants and I couldn't wait to see what Chef Myers could do with the whole French Brasserie concept. My fiance (who happens to be French) was also hoping this could be the great, easy French place we've been hunting for.

    The restaurant was pretty empty at 6pm and our server started out great - she was nice, attentive, patient and informative. I had a glass of their rosee champagne (which was lovely) and my fiance and I started w/their beef marrow and oxtail jam appetizer. The marrow was delicious but the oxtail was seasoned w/an orange marmalade of some sort (that's what it tasted like to me) which we felt was unnecessary. And it was salty. Slightly disappointed at this point but we were still very hopeful.

    We ordered the plat du jour - peppercorn encrusted cote de bouef for 2. It came w/a small green salad w/a lemon vinaigrette, pomme confit, and a peppercorn sauce for the meat. We also ordered a side of the pommes frites.

    Here is where everything went down hill:

    - We added the fries about 15 minutes after placing our entree order.
    - Our entree took almost an hour to come out.
    - Our fries came out 5 min. after we placed our order. They were EXTREMELY salty. Completely inedible. We had to send them back. However, the lemon/garlic aioli that accompanied the fries were delicious.
    - Fries came back 10 min. after we sent them back. Our entrees were still nowhere to be seen. Fries were still very salty. Decided to just keep them. Ended up shaking off as much salt as we could off of each fry.
    - Entree finally arrives w/the salads. By this time, fries are completely cold.
    - The meat was cooked beautifully - rare to medium rare (signon). The portion was more than enough for 2. It could have fed 3-4 people comfortably. However, the meat was also VERY SALTY. We each probably took about 4 bites and couldn't eat anymore because all we tasted was the salt. The peppercorn sauce was also very salty. The pomme confit was delicious and not as salty. We ended up just finishing those. To tell you how salty the beef was, we had plenty left over - enough to doggy bag it and take it home to our pooch. We didn't cuz we felt it was too salty even for our dog.
    - Salad was nothing spectacular.

    I also want to note that about an hour after we were seated, the place filled up and it was very loud. As globalgourmet said, it was unbearable and my fiance and I were pretty much shouting even though we were right beside each other. Also, our server, who was attentive and pleasant when the place was empty, got completely frazzled when the place filled up. We barely saw her throughout the rest of the dinner. The general manager pretty much took care of us for most of the evening (who was great, btw). I also found service to be uneven which is a shame considering we've always had impeccable service at Sona.

    We didn't even bother w/dessert. We just wanted to get out of there.

    After all that salt, we were not feeling so great after dinner. We were pretty much guzzling water all night and this morning I'm still feeling the aftermath.

    I don't know if I would give it a 2nd try. Maybe after 6 months once they've had a chance to work out the kinks. But I'd be very hesitant to go back even then.

    I hope everyone else has a better experience than I did. Comme Ca does have the potential to become an amazing place.

    Last thing - the chairs were also very uncomfortable. Waiting almost an hour for our entree sitting on plastic chairs was not fun.

    Note: Chef David Myers was not in the kitchen Sunday night. It was Exec. Chef Michael David.

    4 Replies
    1. re: search_for_the_holy_gruel
      j
      jacqueline f Oct 29, 2007 11:23 AM

      They are having a salt crisis over there!

      I went for dinner with my sister on Friday evening at 5pm. The place was empty (not surprisingly). I think it is lovely inside. Our cocktails were beautifully presented. I loved the giant block of ice in my negroni. I would say that the servers are all a little nervous at this point, not quite in the groove yet. Sweet, but a little awkward and perhaps too present.

      It is so much fun to read a menu with so many brasserie classics. It reminded me of France and a little of Balthazar in New York. We started with the frisee au lardons, which was delicious. The egg wasn't exactly warm, but because the yolk ran beautifully it didn't matter that much. We enjoyed the steak tartare. Not shockingly delicious, but solid. We shared the bone marrow and oxtail jam. The marrow was divine, and the oxtail jam was good, but there was a lot of it and it is extremely rich, especially when paired with the marrow.

      My sister ate every last bit of the skate wing in brown butter with haricot verts. Salty, but cooked perfectly and really pretty excellent. I had the steak frites. The steak is a cut that I am not familiar with. Something in french that starts with a P. I cannot remember the name. The serveuse said that it was the most tender cut after the filet. Well, that might explain why I didn't love it. I prefer something with more texture, steak that is chewier with more flavor, like a hanger or ribeye or skirt. Still, it was well cooked. The frites... yuck. I must disclose that I am a salt addict. If I could have a salt lick, I might just love it. So when I say the frites were salty, I mean extraordinarily salty. Over the top salty. I could rub off about an 1/8th of a teaspoon of salt from each frite. These suckers were crusty with salt! I let our serveuse know, and she kindly brought us a new set of frites. They may have been slightly less salty, but again these were inedible. I tried to explain to her that I just wanted to help, and that I was sure the kitchen would want to know. If you had that experience last night, they obviously are not paying attention. That is ridiculous. Don't they taste the frites before they send them out? They should.

      Overall, I really liked Comme Ca. There are a lot of things on the menu that I would love to order. I like the feel of the space. The candlelight makes it very cozy. I look forward to the service sorting itself out. I don't like it when I am being hovered over. And saying "my pleasure" is very nice, a very Ritz type thing to do, but 10 times from one server over the course of the evening makes it seem a little insincere. I'm sure they'll get it sorted soon. I'd be happy to return.

      1. re: jacqueline f
        s
        search_for_the_holy_gruel Oct 29, 2007 11:44 AM

        Thank you for confirming the saltiness! I looked around the place and wondered if the others were experiencing the same thing. What I did notice was that almost all the tables around us left as soon as they were done w/their entrees. They were all seated a good 30 min after us and they left a good 30 min. before us. And I mean every table around us. Not one of them had dessert and they were all pretty quick to leave. I wonder if they had an unpleasant experience, as well.

        1. re: search_for_the_holy_gruel
          hrhboo Oct 29, 2007 11:59 AM

          Sorry about your unpleasant experience! It's particularly bad that you and Jacqueline both sent back your frites and got over-salted replacements too. In my experience, cote de boeuf always takes a long time to prepare (at least 30-40 mins usually). Your server should have warned you that it would take a while.

      2. re: search_for_the_holy_gruel
        l
        lesleyb Oct 29, 2007 04:48 PM

        What's funny is our dinner on Thursday, I thought the frites needed salt and my dining commpanion thought her lamb shank was underseasoned. Is it a crisis or is it just subjective taste? Another friend who dined there told me she had to salt everything.

        For the record, I've enjoyed my two meals there so far, although there were definitely hiccups in service. Our wine, for instance, didn't come out until about half way through our meal, which is unacceptable. but they made up for it by having some lovely cheeses sent over. I think the sweetbread here are truly divine, as is the onion soup, the frisee salad, the tart flambee, the escargot. For my taste, it was to much butter on the steak in the steak frites, but delicous cut of meat, perfectly cooked. The first night our oysters weren't ice cold; a week later, they figured it out and we got beautiful, briny cold oysters. I look forward to the coq au vin, something I heard Nancy Silverton raved about.

        It is new, and that should be kept into consideration. I believe the glitches will be more than smoothed out over time. Myers is a great chef and a very good business owner, there's no way he'd do anything half-assed. Restaurants are always shaky at the start, even after weeks of mock service and training.

      3. s
        strawberryfield Oct 29, 2007 06:11 PM

        My boyfriend and I celebrated my birthday dinner there on Sunday night. We got there early and were seated at the bar, where we had two excellent cocktails (even if bar service was a little slow.) We were then taken to our table, and the waiter took the bottle of wine I'd brought and told us there'd be a $20 corkage fee.

        I ordered the moules frites appetizers and my boyfriend ordered the escargots. They then brought out perfectly delicious, warm bread, and some hard butter (which spread perfectly on the warm bread.)

        The moules were....fine. I've had plenty of moules and I've never disliked them, but these were nothing special. The french fries didn't bother me in their saltiness, but some of them were nearly charred from overcooking. The escargots seemed not as garlicky as my boyfriend and I were hoping and expecting (I've only had them once before in France and there were very garlicky), but did come with lovely little garlic crouton bites.

        For dinner, my boyfriend got the boef bourgignon which he loved. I had a bite - it tasted a little salty to me, but all in all good.

        I got the duck confit. It was tender and tasty, and I liked the cabbage and spaetzle, but I think the cabbage was overly vinegery. And I think that the combination of too much vinegar, coming after the cream and butter rich moules frites was a very bad idea, and did not agree with me at all.

        I wasn't able to finish very much of my duck, but opted to take it home. The waiter brought back the duck - sans all the left over cabbage and spaetzle. I actually never complained to him about the cabbage and spaetzle (and in fact didn't notice the vineger was bothering me until a little later) so I didn't understand why the majority of my "dish" was tossed when I asked for it to go. This upset me very much!

        We then ordered the profiteroles for dessert, which I have to say tasted doughey and AWFUL. My boyfriend reminisced on the lovely beignets with Nutella sauce we love to get at Dominick's. And at this point, I started feeling not so great....partly I think dehydration from all the salt, and perhaps just not responding well to the combination of cream and vineger.

        The one saving grace was that they forgot to charge us the $20 corkage fee, which seemed fair enough by the end of the meal. I forgave some service issues, but in the end the food really was not that good. I've had better dishes at many other places around town - including places such as the much maligned Cafe Stella. I don't really blame Comme Ca for my upset stomach - I think it was partly the combination of foods I put together and how it agreed with me - but I don't think I'll be going back there again. In fact, I'm going to have to throw out my leftover duck, and I'm not sure I'll ever eat duck confit again either. (My boyfriend is convinced it was the moules that did me in, since he said he felt a little not so great himself this morning and he had some of those too.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: strawberryfield
          c
          carter Oct 29, 2007 09:24 PM

          Here is my review of Comme Ca from a visit last Thursday night, including the duck confit, which I would definitely go back and reorder every time, unless I wanted to try new items, which of course I do.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454266
          But I agree with your assessment of the doughey texture on the profiteroles - cannot place exactly what the texture is similar to, but another poster will do so one of these moments and I will say, aha!!!
          Over all, no salty issues and the chairs are fine enough. Will order moules frites one of thse days, maybe sans cream in the next item!!!

          1. re: strawberryfield
            j
            jacqueline f Oct 30, 2007 09:11 AM

            I forgot to mention the bread. You are right; the bread was fantastic!

          2. mmontgomery Oct 30, 2007 11:28 PM

            I also ate there on Sunday. The fries were salty! Our waiter recommended them enthusiastically and they were sort of okay, but I've had better fries. We had oysters and I had the duck confit and enjoyed it. After, we shared the cheese plate which was very good. The bread is good too. But they are all so smug and self-congratulatory about serving filtered water.

            1. d
              donnival Oct 31, 2007 07:57 AM

              I was there on Monday and had a great time, with the exception of a bungled order (dozen oysters instead of a half-dozen; we ended up taking the full dozen anyway and they were delicious and fresh).

              The marrow and oxtail, beef tartare, sole meuniere, snapper and beef bourguignon were all delicious if judicious with salt (but not so salty that anything was inedible).

              Will definitely go back!

              1. s
                search_for_the_holy_gruel Oct 31, 2007 09:59 AM

                Believe me when I say that I really wanted to love this restaurant. I did take into consideration that maybe my expectations were too high. But when the food is so salty you can barely keep it down, I think it's a pretty big problem. I paid for it that night and the following day - I ate fruit and drank water all day on Monday because I still wasn't feeling good. My fiance was the same and we shared everything.

                We did notice that the diners around us who were seated way after us (our section was empty when we were seated) left as soon as they were done w/their entrees. Nobody ordered dessert (and I know because I wanted to see what the desserts looked like) and a few of them even asked for their check without finishing their meals. The plates were about 1/2 full w/food when the diners left (again this was the case with several tables). To me, this spoke volumes (and several of them did order the beef marrow appetizer and the cote de bouef special).

                I'm not trying to slam this restaurant but speak honestly about our experience. I really do hope they succeed (I'm positive they will). I plan on giving them another try in a few months when hopefully the dust has settled and the novelty has worn off. And I hope I end up loving Comme Ca as much as I love Sona.

                1 Reply
                1. re: search_for_the_holy_gruel
                  l
                  lychee Nov 4, 2007 01:22 PM

                  I too really wanted to like this place as well and after reading all the reviews prepared myself for some kinks in the service and the "salt" factor. Unfortunately I was unprepared for the horrible night of service and bad food.

                  First off, we had reservations but was told right off that it would be another 15-20 minute wait. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, it was a new restaurant, they were working out the kinks, etc etc. After about 30 minutes of waiting, we asked again about our table and they said it would be another couple of minutes. Meanwhile we noticed select VIP-ish looking people getting seated right away. Tried not to think there was favoritism involved and again, gave them the benefit of doubt. It wasn't until after 1 hour of waiting, and mind you we had a reservation, that our party started to get a little upset. After complaining to the hostess (mistake #1 - they don't really care so don't know why I even bothered...) they tried to cram us into a table for two even though there were 3 of us or gave us the decision to wait another "couple of minutes" for another table that was paying their bill. Again, I understand this is a new restaurant, but come on... what a weak excuse, I don't remember other notable and new restaurants using this line of reasoning to justify the fact that they screwed up and took too many reservations.

                  Their food was really quite mediocre.Within our party we had the steak frites which was average at best and although it was ordered medium, came medium rare. The fries -- salty. The beef bourguignon which was supposed to be "so tender that you don't need a knife" was riddled with huge veins of fat and was so tough that a sharp hunting knife would have been more appropriate.
                  Walking over to Luques across the street would have been a better use of my time and calories....

                2. f
                  foodiemahoodie Jan 26, 2008 05:14 PM

                  The bacon and cheese flatbread was very good.

                  But in our group - too much bacon. Coq au vin? Should have a nice hit of bacon, or a hint of bacon - or somewhere in between, but this tasted like bacon with a chicken and wine sauce. And chicken. The bacon dominated the meal. At LEAST twice as much as was called for.

                  But that was as bad as the sweetbreads - in which bacon dominated the plate. This time I'd say well over twice as much bacon as was necessary. Half the bacon and the bacon would still be the boss of that meal. Doesn't this chef taste their own food?

                  The paleron was good to very good, but not great. A bit too heavy on the salt.

                  French fries? Very good! Most enjoyable part of the meal. Mussels were also good (I've had better, but these were still very solid bistro quality. You won't be disappointed)

                  Skate was terrific. I'd get that next time,

                  And yeah, noisiest restaurant I've ever been to. But I say, just get another bottle of wine or two, get a good buzz on - and talk (and laugh) loudly.

                  But if the chef is reading this - save some money, cut way, way back on the bacon!
                  (This was a table of six - and two were chefs. One said "I'd never thought I ever say this - but too much bacon!". )

                  Comme ca? Bacon!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodiemahoodie
                    w
                    walessja Apr 19, 2008 11:02 PM

                    well, i was there tonight and i expected much more from what I heard.
                    i was there at 6pm with 2 friends at the bar, with an empty room we waited 10 minutes before getting the wine list and we got the food menu from a guy who was next to me, otherwise i don't know how long we should have waited. I ordered a glass of gewurtztraminer and they had 3 bottles of the same wine open, at the end I accepted what they gave me as I understood they didn't want to open a fresh bottle. anyway, i cannot say anything about the quality of the food and the bread is the best thing i had outside france (i am italian) but guys, if you thing the food here is amazing, you didn't taste anything better... there's nothing original on the menu, i saw everything somewhere else (and i travel pretty much), decently made and quite flavored ingredients but, when they said that a spicy aged cheese from Loire matched perfectly with a sauvignon from Loire just because they are from the same region... I think that was enough, I don't thing it's the right place for me... as a food&wine pairing consultant I cannot accept these suggestion and smile at the waiter who is just waiting for me to pay the bill and get someone's else tip

                  2. m
                    MissCast Apr 21, 2008 09:46 PM

                    Took my boyfriend there for dinner Sunday night. Seriously disappointed. Service was erratic (and they've been open for how long now? Can't keep blaming 'new restaurant' syndrome) and the food was just okay. I think what makes it annoying is the price. If I'm going to spend $300 for 2 people for dinner I need something more satisfying. I won't go into details since the OPs seem to have covered them pretty well.

                    My test is simple: when I walk out the door, do I feel great, well-fed and don't care how much I spent or do I feel a little ripped off?

                    1. DeePocketChopra Apr 22, 2008 09:51 AM

                      could be the onset of the dreaded CCS...Culver City Syndrome!
                      we've eaten at 3 of these much-talked-about additions to the
                      foodscape there, only to be happy with the Wilson joint (although also freakin' loud).

                      1. o
                        omakase Feb 10, 2009 09:33 PM

                        I realize that this post is over a year old, but I just tried this restaurant tonight for the first time and loved it. I got there right as they were switching from lunch to dinner (5:00 PM), and snatched a wonderful seat by myself in the corner near the entrance off to the side in one of the half booths. First a comment about the parking. They do have a valet parking lot, but there's available street parking along Melrose at that particular time - 4 quarters in the meter and forget about it. Now to the food. I ordered a half dozen oysters, the salmon tartare, the escargot, the roasted chicken with fries, the lemon tart, and coffee. Oh, and with the help of my server, some very nice white wine. This is a place that knows how to roast a chicken - crispy skin and juicy meat - perfect. Everything was great, and I lingered for awhile without feeling rushed. I'm so glad I went, but may never have if it weren't for you Chowhounds giving this place a great review. Thanks.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: omakase
                          Servorg Feb 11, 2009 06:03 AM

                          We love the fries there, but that particular subject has been hotly debated on this board. It sounds like you thought they were good too?

                          1. re: Servorg
                            o
                            omakase Feb 11, 2009 12:53 PM

                            Sevorg, the fries were awesome. My server told me that they fry them twice in duck fat. When Bin 8945 was around, they too had excellent duck fat fries, and I fell in love.

                            1. re: omakase
                              Servorg Feb 11, 2009 01:18 PM

                              Thanks. I feel a little saner with your report. I was having a hard time trying to figure out how I could find Comme Ca's fries so unbelievably good as to make them my favorites in LA off my last visit, and to read the reports of others who found them almost inedible.

                              1. re: Servorg
                                rednyellow Feb 12, 2009 09:18 AM

                                The one time I ate at Comme Ca, their fries were terrible - hard, very dark, over cooked, unseasoned -no trace of salt.

                                1. re: rednyellow
                                  o
                                  omakase Feb 12, 2009 10:52 PM

                                  Rednyellow, I've only been to Comme Ca once - 2 nights ago. The fries were great, just the opposite of what you had. When did you go? Maybe they've changed for the better.

                                  1. re: omakase
                                    rednyellow Feb 13, 2009 12:21 AM

                                    about a month or so ago,whole meal was bad.

                        2. e
                          epop Feb 13, 2009 01:52 PM

                          I too wanted to love this place. Ok Lunch instead. J gold, who I usually like a lot, loves their burger more than any other and I thought it was nothing special. The fries were weak and a white bean soup was overly flavored with pork. Returned it and got a french onion soup a step up from campbell's; it was watery and lacked the crispy cheese/bread combo that make this a good dish. I won't go back. It is just another restaurant to avoid.

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