DineLA: Wilshire Restaurant
Last night was our first DineLA outing and after a few snafus, we ended up at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica. It was our first time there and we had a terrific evening with friends. Absolutely beautiful outdoor heated patio, impeccable service and outstanding food. Sometimes when the restaurants participate in special events like this, the servers have attitude and the portions are small, but this wasn’t the case at Wilshire. If part of the objective of DineLA is to introduce diners to places they might not have normally gone to in hopes of drumming up return business, in the case of Wilshire it really worked, we would go back for sure.
I went to Wilshire on Monday night and agree 100%. Both my dining companion and I got the grilled octopus salad to start and I thought it was very good, although he thought it was a touch salty. He got the morrocan spiced lamb stew for a main and I got the duck pot pie, both of which were fantastic and presented quite dramatically (waiter cutting off the puff pastry top of my pot pie to release the steam and then placing the top in another bowl where he labeled the contents of the pie over it). Oh, and I loved the fregola sarda that came with the lamb and can't wait to try cooking with it at home. Had the fresh donuts with espresso affogato for dessert and the apple tarte tatin, also both wonderful. And agree that the service was pretty much perfect.
My dinner at Valentino last night was a little less stellar. While the service was generally very good, our waiter had a little attitude and it was almost impossible to get the check after probably close to 40 minutes of waiting after the last of our plates and wine glasses were cleared. The portions were also fairly small; we ended up eating part of a chunk of cheese left from this weekend when we got home because we were both still a little hungry. I started out with the veal tonnato, which was very good and he started with the duckling and tomato filled crespelle. My date felt this was the best dish of the night, but I didn't find anything particularly exciting about the flavors. For mains, he had the grilled sea bass and I had the lamb osso bucco. While both were well-executed there was nothing remotely memorable about either dish and the portions were, again, quite small. For dessert, I had the fruit crostata and my date had the ricotta canoli. For me, the sorbets that came with both desserts was probably the high point of the meal, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Anyway, it made me damn glad I live so close to Wilshire.
Molly: I'm glad to hear you had a similar experience. Between the four of us, we had everything (except the Octopus). The presentation on the lamb and pot pie were a lovely touch. I had the cod and was sad that I didn't have any special plating! I had the tarte tatin but got to taste my husband's donut (nothing like fresh donuts).
Valentino is one of those places that stories of aloof service have always prevented me from visiting. Also, we don't drink wine, so I suspect if ever went there, they'd provide anything but attentive service.
Mollyomormon: Sorry you had a disappointing experience at Valentino's. We're big fans of the restaurant and have had many great meals there with excellent and warm serice, both high and medium end.
Hi Muhlyssa: Our experience with the service has been nothing but warm with no sense of aloofness. During DineLA last year, it slipped somewhat in the crush of people during the 2 weeks. I would recommend not going during DineLA.
When things are less hectic, we like to go to the bar area, when they have a Prx Fixe $35 special.