Comme Ca? You're kidding, Right?
- rednyellow Dec 18, 2008 12:55 PM
Well, after reading numerous posts about the great burger, and the food over all at Comme Ca, I decided to try it for lunch.
Oh well, I've made bigger mistakes.
I should have gone with my gut instincts from my first impression, but I didn't and I stayed to order.
FIrst, It's not my kind of room. I don't like the stark black and white interior. I don't like the simple, institutional clean lines of the stainless steel bar, the flat metal barstools, and I really don't like the shiny plastic chairs.
When I was seated I was presented with a warm mini baguette wrapped in brown paper and a small ramekin of hard cold butter. they do not use bread plates. just the brown paper. I don't like that either.
I started with an iced tea and it arrived cloudy and below average.
The waiter came and I ordered:
I'll have the soup and a burger, medium rare
Is that the pumpkin or the onion.
What else are you having?
The burger, medium rare.
How do you want that cooked.
Medium rare, Pleeeeeze.
On to the soup. It came quickly and looked very nice, served in a traditional semi-spherical white bowl with plenty of cheese melted down the sides.
Pretty low on the flavor scale. I had several spoons of the broth to bring the level in the bowl down enough to get to the cheese and bread and hopefully onions with out making a mess. The bread was a big let down. Odd texture, stale flavor, just not good. As I got further into the soup, there really was not much onion. I stirred around and looked, but really no more than a spoon full of onion inside. I pushed it away and waited for my waiter. A buss boy offered to take it away, but I wanted to show it to my waiter. The Waiter asked me how my soup was and I told him it was disappointing. I said that I thought onion soup should have more than a small spoon full of onion and I asked to have it removed from my bill. He took it away and very graciously apologized.
The burger came next. Under the shiny bun top was a heap of shredded lettuce mixed with a ton of mayo. It covered the top of the burger and most of one side and ran down into the fries. I scrapped most of this off. The meat was perfectly cooked, very juicy and totally void of any hint of seasoning. A thoroughly bland sandwich it was basically a mayo flavored cheeseburger. The bun did not make it thorough the meal with out falling apart, and I eat fast when I'm by myself.
I didn't know the burger was served with fries, so I guess I could look at them as a sort of bonus, too bad they were a disappointment also. They were quite dark, beyond what you might call golden brown. Ever the optimist I was hoping their interior might not be what the exterior indicated.
Nope. They were hard, no fluffy goodness inside, and like everything else, horribly under seasoned. Not a trace of salt, and we all know that fries have to be salted fresh out of the hot fat. Oh well, at least they are consistent.
Maybe I don't get "it". It's just not my kind of place. I found the interior bland, stark, loud and uninviting. Their culinary aesthetic matches their decor.
I completely disagree. The meal I had at Sona was incredible. Bland? Wow, I must have been there on a good night or we have very different palates, because the flavors were balanced and the food impeccably prepared. The service was out of this world compared to most of what I've seen in L.A. If I were wealthy, I'd eat there often. I liked it better than Providence.
YES YES YES -- I agree, Sona is WAY better than Providence, esp in respect to the paired wines with the degustation menu. And I don't usually care as much about the wine as the food, but with Prov I was seriously underwhelmed by their selection. Loved the service, the food, the wine and also the room at Sona. A truly memorable evening.
NB - my experiences at Sona and Prov were both about 1.5 -- 2 yrs ago... six months apart from each other...
We just had an exact 180 degree opposite meal at Comme Ca. Great burger and the bun is fantastic (I loved the clean, very umami tasting high quality beef and the toppings were spot on) the best fries in LA that I have had in years (not hard, perfectly cooked with great flavor) and very professional friendly service. I even like the rooms decoration and look. Different strokes and all that.
Yeah, like servorg I had a markedly different experience. Top to bottom, service, food, decor ... everything was great.
Same with Sona, except on another level food-wise.
My only problem with either place is the noise level at Comme Ca, but it is certainly not enough to be a nuisance.
I think every restaurant is subject to issues of consistency, but numerous posts have made it clear that Comme Ca has more than its fair share. Some people - and some doting reviewers - have adored it but plenty have had crap experiences like yours. Unfortunately, I'm in your boat: lousy meal, unbearably loud room, several incomprehensibly stupid choices, like the cold butter, the lazy bread service, the unseasoned meats, the flavorless soups. Unlike you, I got great service and even found the place strangely attractive (points deducted for the lawn chairs), but it wasn't enough to make me go back. At the end of the evening, instead of angry, I somehow felt more like a fool for letting it happen.
I'm sorry, but cold butter and no bread plate isn't "lazy bread service", it's FRENCH bread service. You're expected to get crumbs on the tablecloth because that's what it's for, and that's why it's taken up after the meal. And cold butter simply tastes better, does it not? What I'm tired of is foil packets of half-melted butter that gets all over my fingers while I'm trying to open them...and I've been in a few restaurants that had butter dishes sitting on ice, a nice idea I think.
Loud room would be my only turnoff.
re: Will Owen
I HATE those foil packets. What's gross is when a restaurant re-serves and unused packet. And don't think it doesn't happen to you because it most certainly does.
However, to be fair to rednyellow, if the butter is *too* hard then it's impossible to spread. It should be cool, but not hard.
I think we can agree to disagree about the butter. Soft butter does have MORE flavor, but warm milk also has more flavor than cold; I simply prefer the less intrusive flavor, the more austere creaminess, of cold. As for spreading, although smearing soft butter onto slices of bread is what most of us grew up with, breaking bread into one- or two-bite pieces and applying a sliver of butter to that is I think a much more fun way to eat it, and helps to focus one's attention onto what it actually tastes like instead of letting it be just an edible mop in one's hand.
If the foil-packet butter is too cold/hard, a discreet placement of the packet in one's arm/pit crevasse for a leisurely count to 100 should soften it right up! Same applies to that sweet spot between the under-breast and ribcage (one for the ladies!). Not too long, though, especially if one's core temp tends to run hot. And make sure the foil packet is adequately sealed, or you'll need to wedge a biscuit in there too, as a sop! And if dining with genteel companions, only employ crevasses found from the waist upwards(basically, limb-related folds). We are a civil society, after all...
I don't know, it seems you had an ax to grind the moment you walked in. Your "gut instincts" and "first impression" told you it was going to be bad because of the black and white interior and simple and clean lines of the bar? The fact that they didn't give you a bread plate, but brown paper? Well, maybe your sour attitude affected your palate? Just a thought.