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Jan 31, 2008 01:36 PM

Patina - DineLA - "Really? That's it?" Sums it Up

Boo, boo, boo, boo, boo.

Just returned from DineLA lunch at Patina. Had never been before, was dying to try, can now say that I will probably never return.

I went with a group of seven people. Two couldn't find an appetizer they liked, so they just ordered off the regular menu. The rest of us chose the "study" of market beets on watercress salad with citrus fruit, pistachio crusted goat cheese and a "goat cheese cloud." It was simply OKAY, a few pieces of watercress, some sliced fruit and a dollup of whipped cheese. Nothing inspiring and definitely no "wow" factor.

For mains, four of us went with the osso buco and one went with the short rib ravioli (the other two ordered off the regular menu and fared a bit better). I do not think I have ever seen such a small portion of osso buco, not that the THREE ravioli was a much better option. Nothing was provided to assist removing the marrow, so we all worked at it with our knives. Not entirely dignified. The highlight of the dish were the diced morsels of zucchini and the sliver of tomato adorning the dish. All in all, the mains were as weak as the appetizer.

The finale of petit fours rounded out our OKAY meal. Our socks were definitely not knocked off, so to speak.

Had I paid regular prices, I would have been angry, rather than simply disappointed by the mediocrety of the meal.

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  1. That's unfortunate. I was wondering about that lunch. And surprising that they didn't give you proper utensils; I don't eat marrow so have no idea about that, but did you try asking? I've been to Patina at its old and current locations, and have also had a dinner catered by them. I loved it each time, even the catered dinner, which I was quite impressed with, since it was for a very large event, and the chicken I opted for was moist and delicious.

    1. Here's my report from another post:

      Patina - Lunch

      Only reservation we could get was at 11:30 a.m. on the patio. Asked if they could seat us in the main room should there be a cancellation (reservation was made a week ago).

      Got there precisely at 11:30 and were greeted by the hostess who told us we would have to sit on the patio and needed to wait for two minutes. We ended up waiting eight minutes before being seated as the restaurant personnel had some sort of pre-luncheon meeting. I must say I would not mind having to stand in the bar in most restaurants for eight minutes. But, this is Patina and there was no bartender even if you wanted a drink, and they were the ones who insisted on such an early reservation. Soignee? Not so much.

      Finally we were seated on the patio, which was not unpleasant at all and reasonably well heated. Our effusive waiter came out to introduce himself and offer menus. We both started with the beet salad which was quite lovely. I had the short rib ravioli and DW had the braised lamb shanks.

      I was quite pleased with the ravioli; nice depth of flavor and a beautiful sauce. Wife not so happy with the lamb shanks. Although there were two very pretty small shanks on her plate on a bed of risotto, she felt that they weren't as good as the one's I make (in all honesty, I must admit she was right, they were tender enough, but slightly dry). She also thought the risotto was too al dente but I thought it was fine.

      Dessert was small plates of mignardise. They were fine, but we supplemented with an order of ice cream; Tahitian vanilla, Valhronna chocolate, sherry and, lavender. Very nice, although you could never identify the sherry if you were asked what was in that scoop.

      On a very positive note, I ordered a bottle of J.C. Boisset Savigny Les Beaunes that was out of stock. The sommelier was a very impressive and stylish young French guy who substituted a J.C. Boisset Pommard for the same price ($69.00). I must say I haven't seen anyone handle, open, pour and serve a bottle of wine as adroitly as he did in a very long time.

      Although they use a very nice coffee, today someone screwed up and it was brewed very weakly. Ah well.

      As we left at around 1:00 p.m. we noticed at least four tables for two in the main dining room that had not been occupied. Annoying.

      All in all, I can't say I'll be in a hurry to return to Patina. This restaurant is not performing at the level some think it has achieved.

      Permalink | Report | Reply

      Bob Brooks Jan 29, 2008 05:20PM

      1. WOH... sorry to hear about such a poor turn out it was. Thx for the heads-up.

        I made a rez cuz of LAist's article ( before... but now I just cancelled it.

        Hounder rocks!!!

        1. No big surprise...
          I've been to Patina about 7x in thte last 2 years and I was totally confused about why people say they like it.
          I've loved the sommelier each time we've visited, but the food and the service really baffle me.
          The only reason we contiue to go is because it's the only place we can relax after a night a Concert Hall.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tatertotsrock

            We were there yesterday. I found the food just fine, it was my first time at Patina but I've been to plenty of other Patina group places. I liked the room a lot and the service was very good. In the past I've found on restaurant week we've gotten major attitude from the servers who probably hate the idea since people spend less than they normally would.

            For the people in your party who couldn't find a starter they liked, why did they even go? It's not like they didn't disclose in advance what the limited choice would be.

            I liked the beet salad even though it lacked generosity. My lamb was a bit dry like the other poster had mentioned but the flavor was good and the portion was more generous than I had expected. I would have preferred less risotto and more veg. I thought the dessert was a cop-out especially since dessert is about the cheapest thing to produce it could have been more impressive. I felt like that plate of petit fours is something they give everyone who dines there at the end of a meal gratis.

            I agree, I'd have been upset if I'd paid regular prices. I suspect for a regular price, the portions would have been more generous and I wouldn't have ordered such a weak dessert.

            Since this was about the only way I'd be experiencing Patina, I was glad for the opportunity. Our wait person did make sure to mention that they have a prix fix two course lunch every day for $25.

          2. I would never judge a restaurant like Patina based on its DineLA or Restaurant Week menus. They are just so outside of the normal presentation and usually are smaller portions and less expensive items. As a result, the things for which a restaurant like Patina are noted -- innovative food, high-quality components, etc. -- rarely come through in these menus. This isn't just a problem with Patina; it is a common refrain from people who go to these meals. I know I have been decidedly unimpressed with the posted menus; they just don't reflect the quality and innovation of many of the restaurants involved.

            Having said that, I think it is a major flaw with the DineLA and Restaurant Week promotions. The point should be for the restaurant to give people a good idea of their food so they return and order off the regular menu. The restaurants should see the week as a promotion and, perhaps, take a small loss on the meals. Perhaps they should do higher-end items but provide smaller portions -- all the while making sure that customers know that in advance.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jwsel

              But Jwsel, if you think Patina is limited by the $-budget on the menu... then how about Grace? So far all the comments (as well as my personal experience) with their dineLA menu have been great.

              I think it's more of a matter of the consistency of the chef's skill, to craft some delicious delicacies with the limited-given resource, don't you think? :-)

              p.s. I'm not a basher, and I haven't tried Patina myself b4, so I'm merely suggesting another point of view~

              1. re: kelvlam

                I think Grace's food, while good, its menu is a little less dependent on expensive ingredients than Patina's. IMO, Grace is about high-quality, simple, rustic food. Patina is much more focused on high-end food and artistic presentations. Both are fine, but I think Grace's food is geared better to the DineLA modifications.

                However, even then, as many of the posts have indicated, some of the items on Grace's DineLA menu require a supplemental fee. If you want the more unusual items on the menu -- hamachi as an appetizer and boar as an entree -- you have to pay extra. Suddenly, dinner is no longer $34, but $54. That's still less than normal, but not by much. I suspect that if Patina had a bunch of supplemental options using fois gras and truffles, the menu might not be as disappointing.

              2. re: Jwsel

                i completely agree with you jwsel, during the pellegrino dine out la weeks it was always chicken breast and salmon... as a result i never went...
                i think the menus look okay this year, but would never consider them representative...

                especially considering sunday supper at lucques for 40 and josie wednesdays for 35, they no longer look like such great deals...

                i also think that people who don't do fine dining too often expect to have some transcendent meal blow them but i'm afraid that isn't going to happen most of the time! especially for 34 dollars.

                1. re: Jwsel

                  I don't think this is accurate in Patina's case. The lamb shank is listed on their regular lunch menu for $25.00; so it's not a huge reduction on their part to knock of $3.00 and give you a beet salad and some candy for dessert. I'm sure they did not reduce the portion size.

                  Also, our waiter was very eager to show us that they regularly feature a $25.00 businessman's lunch with two courses that he highly recommended we return to try. He was clearly trying to sell the concept that Patina needn't be a special occasion restaurant.