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Apr 22, 2001 09:00 AM

5 Dudley Experience

  • b

I called a week ahead and got a 6:30 reservation at 5 Dudley. The
only options were 6:30 and 9:00. We arrived promptly at 6:30 and were
seated. They offered us water almost immediately and about 10 minutes
later asked if we had made a wine selection. There was a 1996 Italian
Sangiovese that looked interesting. A few minutes later it was served
and at $28.00 it was a good value. They proceeded to ask if we had
been there before and when we answered in the negative our waiter
explained that there is no written menu and that there are some items
that are always on the menu and some that change every week. She
proceeded to recite the menu and describe the complex dishes amid the
din of a very small and densely packed room. The one thing missing
from the description were prices. The appetizers took about 15
minutes to arrive which was fine with us. We started with the Tomato,
Avocado and Brie on Toast which was very nice and the Duck Confit Soup
a very good chicken broth with some duck and a scattering of Israeli
Couscous it was served tepid but very good. The entrees took about
40 minutes to arrive. We felt that the pacing was a bit slow but
since the next reservations were at 9:00 we were not worried. For
entrees we ordered Braised Shortribs over potatoes, carrots and purple
cabbage. The meat was very flavorful and tender and the sauce was
amazingly good. The vegetables picked up the flavor of the sauce and
were just as good and satisfying as the meat. The other entree was
Gratined Root Vegetables. Served in a Creme Brulee dish with plenty of
butter and cream it was a delight and very filling. It had a frisee
salad accompanying it. The dessert chef came to the table and
described the offerings to us. The desserts took about 15 minutes to
arrive. We chose the Pickled Ginger Creme Brulee that came in a
ramekin with a nice crust and a custard that was very tasty and of
proper consistency and also the Chocolate Cake which packed more
intense chocolate flavor into a cake than I have ever experienced
before. Before the dessert plates were being cleared they brought us
the check. It was difficult to even find a place on the table to
write with the plates still there. I gave one plate to the server
just to make some room. The soup and the Brie toast were about $10.00
each, the Short Ribs were $28.00 a bit pricey, the Root Vegetable dish
was $20.00 the desserts were $8.50 each and coffee was $2.50. The
bill with tip was $110.00. As we were sipping the last of our coffee
at 8:30 and feeling very satisfied at our experience and now feeling
the meal was paced correctly and that we could sit and let our
meal settle for a few minutes until they had to make up our table for
the next party arriving, the owner came up to us and announced that he
would like to let us "schmooze" all night but that he needed the table
for the next party that had just arrived. We told him that we needed
a bit more time as we had just finished dessert literally a minute
before. Now the conversation turned from what a wonderful place this
is and we could not help but wonder why he allowed someone at 8:30
when the choices were 6:30 and 9:00. Why did our evening have to end
abruptly because he miss-paced our meal and also miss-booked the next
reservation? We left after about 5 more minutes feeling cheated and
unappreciated. I assure you that we did not talk excessively or take
a long time to finish our courses. With proper pacing 2 hours is
plenty of time for our dinner. I also felt that at the prices being
charged that one should never be asked to leave except in the most
egregious circumstances. In over 20 years of fine dining all over
the world I have never been asked to give up a table before last

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  1. Grubs were considering 5 Dudley soon. No longer. Thanks for the report.
    Not reciting prices with recitation of specials is a Top Ten restaurant peeve. For decades, sometimes to the embarrassment of La Grubbe, I have asked for prices with specials. ("If you have printed prices on the printed menu, why not spoken prices on the spoken menu?")
    A recent experience at the cacophonous Parkway Grill is on point. As guests of la mere de La Grubbe, we dined at PG. When our server began the specials, I asked for prices. She obliged, sort of. Having just returned from a cruise around S.America & having eaten wonderful Chilean sea bass almost daily, La Grubbe was interested in that special & was told it was "around $17, I'll check." Upon her return some time later, she said yes, "around $19."
    When the sea bass arrived, it was raw. Slimy raw, not firm raw. When we next spotted our server, more than 5 mins later, she agreed to return it to the kitchen. Unfortunately, by the time the dish returned, probably another 10 mins later, everyone else had finished our meals & the sea bass was still very watery. Nicely seasoned & sauced, but wrong texture.
    End of sad story: when the check arrived, the sea bass was $29. Because our hostess, la mere de La Grubbe, is fragile at best, we chose not to make a fuss. I did, however, point out my displeasure in private to the strapping 19-yr-old maitre d' whose response was, in its essence, "Huh, imagine that."
    Needless to say, not only will we never return to PG, but we are advising others to patronize PG at your peril as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mr Grub

      Although there have been some good experiences in the 15 years I have patronized the Parkway Grill, I, too, have ended up with the feeling that the profit motive is just a little too transparent for pleasure there. When restaurants in the Pasadena area are discussed, this one has dropped from the radar. The Arroyo Chop House is rapidly following the same trail.

    2. It has been awhile since my boyfriend and I ate at 5 Dudley, but the experience was very similar, except we found the seasoning of the dishes to be heavy-handed. We were pretty sick of it, and really ready to leave before being kicked out, but the people at the table next to us were actually enjoying themselves, and we got to witness them being unceremoniously booted out. Too crowded, too rushed, too much salt. Very overrated.