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Feb 16, 2008 09:37 AM

Wilson - What to order?

Headed to Wilson tonight in Culver City for a rare night out. Any insight into the must or must-not column would be appreciated.

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  1. i posted just below on Wilson from Valentines dinner with my girlfriend. i strongly urge you to go somewhere else. it's way over priced, the food is not good, and there are places that are much better and close by, like Fraiche in CC and Taste on Melrose

    2 Replies
    1. re: DeLobster

      Can't go elsewhere - won't bother explaining why.

      I saw your post, and appreciate the warning, but I think we all have to remember to underweight anything that happens in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. That day is strictly amateur night - the night that people who've never eaten in a restaurant go all out and do so. Proprietors match that with greedily priced and schmaltzy set menus (heart shaped lobster ravioli d' amore - $36, for example), and then the food is served by people who are bitter to be working on Cupid's big night because they're away from their special someone, or who are boozing it up more than usual on the job, because they are single and can't stand to see so many happy couples on display in one place.

      Any recs for Wilson from someone who's been recently other than ammateur night?

      1. re: techbod

        Love the potato and fig pasta -- though it is very rich (often a special). I also like the tomato salad with humboldt fog blue cheese (that might be a special too) and the onion soup.

    2. Don't let DeLobster spook you, I had a pretty good experience here. The pulled pork is what they're famous for so go with that. More opinions...

      1. The grilled octopus salad is a must! It's so simple: grilled octopus, sugar snaps peas, oil, malt vinegar, and toasted almonds. The flavor combination is fantastic.

        1. My Wilson outing is complete. Thanks for the input. It was certainly a pretty happening spot, with requisite celeb sightings, and standing room only by 8PM.

          Service was okay to mediocre, food was okay to good, desserts were okay but tiny.

          Charred octopus was the stand-out dish. Best I've ever had.

          The "famous" slow roasted pork was edible (though I only "ed" half of it). It fell far short of a half-dozen bbq places I know - especially on the sauce front.

          Large sea scallops were large, but came undercooked (rare, in chef parlance, I guess), and were overly salty to boot. The person who ordered them didn't realize they should go back until they were half eaten (and all cut open to test), so he didn't bother sending them back to the harried kitchen.

          If you're going to have an open kitchen, putting your chef and cooks on display, they should act like they're on display. They were obviously NOT having a very good time back there last night, (and not just because they were busy - lots of places make a busy dinner service look like a choreographed show). The vibe in the kitchen spilled over to the salad station/bar, and then into the dining room. Perhaps the back patio, out of sight of the carnage, would be a better place to enjoy Wilson.

          Wedge salad w. huge chunks of lardons was pretty good, thanks to the lardons.

          Bar service was slow, and oddly resigned. A general note about the service - two servers came across as very unknowledgeable and apathetic about their short menu. For example, the correct answer to "What kind of cookies are on your mixed cookie plate?" is not "A bunch of kinds." It is either, "I don't know, because it varies nightly, but they're always really amazing" or "peanut butter, oatmeal, mini-madeleine, sage punjab spice, and old fashioned chocolate chip."

          Though other posters have complained that Wilson is too expensive, I have an unconventional solution to the few issues I mentioned above. They should raise their prices by 50% - either permanently, or just on weekend nights. $26 iceberg wedge salads, $40 piles of pulled pork, and $15 girlie martinis would scare away about 1/3 of the clientele. The kitchen could cook slower, the servers could serve more personably (and rack up bigger tips for less work - presumably making them at least economically happy) and the restaurant would still be 85% full, making plenty of money for its owners. Everybody wins.

          1 Reply
          1. re: techbod

            The service at Wilson is a big problem. I've eaten there about 6-8 times (it is in my neighborhood) and there has almost always been some glitch with the service (rude, unfriendly staff, can't get sugar for iced tea, etc.). Also, it bugs me that they store their wines right above the kitchen area. Red wine comes out way to warm.