The Blair's Bitch Project
It was the night before our sprats returned from three weeks of camp and we wanted something easy in the neighborhood but a little bit fancier than our usual suspects. I love the patio at Cliff’s Edge and am so content to sit out there that I overlook the less than stellar food but Himself is not swayed by the art direction and won’t be dragged there. Canele doesn’t take reservations, another thing that my beloved won’t abide. I hadn’t been to Blair’s since the expansion. I had never been wowed by the joint but it is close and some of the Chowhounds had written warmly.
The room is a cute and it has a pleasant neighborhood feel. It was criticized for being a bit dark but I liked it. There is a good selection of beer on tap but $9.00 for a beer seems a bit usurious for about half a pint. The Chimay we ordered came in an even smaller glass.
We started with the macaroni and cheese. It really looks like Kraft slopped in a Melmac dish the way it’s served. It’s good enough. I make better at home and it certainly lacks the gravitas to be a signature dish. The buser whisked it away so quickly to replace it with our entrees that we didn’t finish it. Himself ordered halibut in artichoke broth with fingerlings and mushrooms. The skinless filet had a nice char but was cooked to a slight dryness. The accompanying spuds in broth was a murky flavorless puddle.
I’d ordered the starter of ginger yellow fin tuna tartar as my main and was presented the usual tower affair with the over fried wonton on the top (yawn). It was perched on some shriveled cucumber slices, probably prepped in the Nixon era. This was topped by a few gnarly knobs of tuna and some misshapen globs of avocado. The whole thing was drenched in sesame oil and there was no discernable ginger flavor. The pathetic after thought was a big painterly whirl of hot chili oil decorating the plate. I only needed a few bites to know that it was not a matter of the dish being something I, in particular did not like, it was, more profoundly, not good.
“Axe to grind” posts are ones I spot easily and avoid. Those “they were so mean to me,” appalling stories of shockingly bad behavior often reek of intense, beyond all reason, emotionality. They just scream “there are two sides to every story” and compel me not want to know either. We have just returned from Toronto, where, as I noted in a post on the Ontario Board, the service we experienced during our stay was genuinely warm as contrasted to the either falsely warm or genuinely cold we have become accustomed to here. I will spare you the Blair’s story but it is ironic that our first meal out since our return from Toronto was so dead on in affirming my observation about service there vs. L.A.
Ultimately, the ‘tude was reeled in a nonce and we were comped some doughnuts which were nice, albeit a bit tough and over browned. I like the room, the neighborhood feel and attention to beer. Maybe it’s just that I’m a bitch and the snark I got at Blair’s was deserved and our server is a Rosa Parks for all of those who toil in restaurants. Maybe we could return again and find the service warm and gracious, but to me, food just doesn’t warrant further investigation.
I think the menu is way overdue for an update. Despite living less than a mile away for all the time it's been open, I rarely felt the urge to go there. And of course your macaroni and cheese is better -- I'm sure it's like my cherry cobbler -- there's some dishes that once you perfect them, there are probably few restaurants on the planet that can do as well. It's kind of a wasted opportunity...but I think the neighborhood ultimately is happy with it, as they are with the Edendale Grill. Great title!
I really want to like it and tried three times. At the bar first, I overlooked the so so "kobe" burger and decided to try for dinner. The next dinner with table service was a disaster on all levels. We waited so long for our appetizers that we ended up with warm milky oysters, we shared everything at the table so I was able to sample a tough steak, and drenched gnocchi soup as well.
The last and perhaps final time, I decided that a decent glass of wine at the bar with some bar food would be nice. The food was again just OK, but my biggest problem at the self proclaimed wine bar was: when I ordered their one Barolo on the list, the bartender asked me if that was Italian and was it a red.
I agree that there is something lacking at Blair's. With so many interesting new places moving into the neighborhood, we haven't been to Blair's in the longest. Let this suffice: we went Tuesday evening, and it warranted neither a good write up nor a bad. There was nothing interesting enough about the meal to warrant a brag nor a complaint. This is probably why we don't go there anymore. Usurious. *gropes around for dictionary*
I haven't been to Blair's in months, but I've always really liked it. I agree on the mac & cheese and boy are their beef dishes generally boring but I've always had really excellent fish there and their wine list is well interesting and tightly edited. Also: I have deeply enjoyed a few pork chops there. I've always thought Blair's is bang-for-buck above average, and worth the occasional drive.
Excellent post, even if the news is disappointing!
Sounds to me that Layne's food was spectacularly BAD, and I for one will take her word for it, especially since she took such pains to say as many nice things about the place as she could. De gustibus and all that; I've said lots of good things about places other people openly despise, because I honestly liked what I had there, but I don't doubt for a minute that they didn't.
Concur on Blair's. Nothing great and the pricing is totally unproportional to the quality and service.
You might reconsider Canale. Arrivals prior to 7pm are normally seated right away. The food is well done and the service, while not high caliber, is at least warm and competent. The $10 corkage fee is a saving grace and the use of Riedel "Os" locks the deal.