the house restaurant
The other night I happened to stop by the house restaurant (I belive non-capitalized letters is correct) on Melrose. I was actually on the way to try Jar on Beverly, but while driving there, my friend pointed it out, and we were really hungry, so it was a change in plans.
I was never really compelled to try this restaurant before because judging from reviews I read, I somehow concluded that this place catered to the tragically hip scene. But upon stepping in it was surprisingly empty. About two of the inside tables and two of the outside tables were occupied. Throughout the meal, there was never more than five tables in use, which would constitute about half the restuaurant.
The interior was very very simple, no more than a few dim Ikea style crepe paper wall lamps and a couple of landscape mirror frames to break up the monotony of the wall. Judging by the decor, the name and menu, theme the restaurant probably intended to give the place an atmosphere of being at a person's home for the dinner.
The simple sheet menu listed no more than 5 or 6 appetizers and entrees. Some of them had cutey names like "names what is red and white and good all over? answer: our version of strawberry shortcake". The cuisine is American cooking, with a bit of refinement, organic ingredients, and creative license in implementation.
We started with the tomato salad, which I am a sucker for. It came with slices of green zebra, brandywine, and whatever the heck regular red tomatoes are called. Also some balled honeydew melon just to be different.
My dinner was the grouper on lentils, topped with creme fraiche and "American Caviar". Now, up to this point the only exposure I've had to fish eggs is the little orange roe that you can get on various sushi, so I can hardly tell the difference between Ostera and Beluga, and certainly not between American and Caspian Sea stuff, but the brininess of it combined with the zing of creme fraiche was pretty addictive!
My friend had the lamb with acorn squash puree, which she enjoyed. I though the puree was an excellent stand in for mashed potatoes, and it came with little yellow sqashes the size of tomatillos that I don't know the names of (baby acorn squash??).
For dessert I got suckered into getting the plate of cookies and milk. Shoot, they must make a HUGE profit margin on these. It's litterally a couple of shortbread cookies, a small macaroon, a white chocolate cup, a smigen of a peanut butter brownie, and a shotglass of milk. You know, I've been to a few restaurants where they'll give these to you for free with the check.
I don't know if weekdays are normally that quiet, but if stays like that without going out of business, I'd be satisfied with a restaurant like that.
Well I took my mother to the house for her birthday last year based on the great review by Meredith brody and we were both pretty disappointed. First off, the menu changes frequently, so everything Brody raved about that seemed interesting to me, (including the pate platter) were absent from the menu. I really couldn't find much in either the appetizer or entree section very interesting or appetizing for that matter. Neither could my mother and before even ordering i was regreetting choosing this place.
So I ended up ordering the steak au poivre with A-1 sauce and my mother ordered the chicken and dumplings, cause she just didn't feel compelled by anything listed. This is kind of revelant, cause both of us never order chicken dishes since we usually find chicken to be boring and quite bland. Well I will admit that my steak was a good portion and quite good. A nice black pepper crust on the outside and bloody rare on the inside, just the way i like it. And we both thought my mother's chicken and dumplings was surprisingly good. The chicken was moist and full of flavor and the dumplings were divine, if only the dumplings wouldn't have been so tiny and sparse. There were like four half inch size dumplings total!
For dessert, I ordered the farmers market fruit of the day dessert which was a banana rice pudding. Well from what little flavor it had, it probably was banana but it was hard to discern since it was literally two teaspoons worth. Presented in an espresso cup, there was hardly anything there! And it wasn't even good! And after seeing the chef, who is a rather large woman, we just couldn't fathom how dainty her dishes were in size. I work in the restaurant industry and know about cost control, but this was ridiculous. Unless I'm indulging in a tasting menu, I really don't appreciate having dishes which are only one semi-mouthful and cost more than the majority of restaurants. And obviously I'm not the only one to be upset about this as not only did the original post complain about this, but the L.A. Weekly critic Michelle Huneven also complained about being hungry after dining at the house. No wonder business seems to be waning there.
We had a similar "penny-pinching" experience. Please see the link below. I should point out that they called a few days later and agreed to remove the hidden service charge. We appreciated that, but by then the damage had been done. All of these problems suggest that they might be having trouble. Sad because the food is very good.