Fiddling while Rome burns...
- roger simon
In the interest of keeping the economy going, Sheryl and I and another couple went to Jar the other night. That's the new upscale "comfort food" restaurant started by Mark Peel of Campanile and Susan Tracht of Jozu at the old Indochine location on Beverly and Harper in WeHo.
The consensus was that the food was excellent, if pricey. We had wanted to order the fried Ipswich clams, vaunted by S. Irene in her preview, but they were gone when we arrived (even though early) so we started by sharing a lobster cocktail (very good) and a salad with prosciutto (superb!). After that Sheryl and I split the house special porterhouse for two which was as good as any I have had in LA, in fact up there with the best NY steak houses. Our friends had lamb shanks and a veal steak, which also put you in mind of NY (not far from any of us these days). All were first rate, as were the a la carte sides we ordered--the potatoes Anna served in their own frying pan and the roasted artichoke. Trying to preserve some caloric sanity after all this, we shared the desert, a banana cream pie which was as good as I've had.
Now the bad part. The decor was mundane, over-simplified modern and the seating slightly stiff. I like my comfort food/steak joints comfy, thank you. Even old school. This was not. And the service was surprisingly bad. Part of this may be ascribed to newness but the owners are not exactly newbies in the restaurant biz and I personally have had only good service at Campanile and Jozu. Of course, you expect that at the prices. An example: even though I'm not called Liver Boy, I'm definitely a boozer and I want my cocktail at a place like this. I had read they were experts at the Manhattan -- a drink I hadn't had in so long I couldn't remember what it was, but I sure as Hell wanted one--and there it was recommended at the top of the menu. Sheryl and I each ordered one straight away when we sat down. But it didn't come for twenty minutes! Barely before our food. And the restaurant was half empty. Also buboys repeatedly tried to remove our plates before we were finished.
I feel like a true schmuck complaining about this in this day and age with what's going on all around us. (Tell the woman in the burqa she had to wait twenty minutes for her Manhattan, sir!) But there you have it. All problems are finite--or however you want to look at it.
Dinner was about $70 a head including tip, cocktails and wines-by-theglass for three (one teetotaller). Wines-by-the-glass were excellent, by the way, as were the Manhattans when they finally arrived in individual frozen martini shakers.