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dRed 0 - The "Mr. Chow-is-to-Chinese" Mexican Equivalent

In contrast to the favorable reports I have seen so far, I and two friends had a (nearly) uniformly horrendous experience at Red O last night.

The guac, as others have mentioned, is acidic, and oniony....it is basically fine: but the chips were simply awful little, skinny ones (exactly like what they have at Sharkey's). The guac comes rather tightly compressed, not soft and fluffy, and these anemic chips broke like twigs underfoot when used to scoop it...highly unpleasant.

Most of the other dishes we had ranged from slightly above average [Alaskan Halibut Ceviche], to tasteless [tepid Short Ribs on small flavorless Sopes], to terrible [grossly undercooked and under flavored chicken that we sent back] with a few exceptions:
Goat Cheese and Veggie Tamales - very tasty
Tinga Poblana - really, really yummy.

The drinks were divine and the restaurant/bars shockingly beautiful (except the ugly homage to Beijing’s Birds Nest that one sees from outside).

Service could not have been nicer and could not have been much worse: they brought us first the wrong bottle of wine, and, later, the wrong check (much, much less than we owed...we told them, thank you very much). I don't really care too much about service in a new place so I don't hold this against them -- but the disappointing food I do. This is a city with such amazing Mexican food, do we need a "Mr. Chow-is-to-Chinese" Mexican Equivalent? I don't.

Red O
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

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  1. Wow, that's too bad, Ciao Bob. Sorry to hear of the crappy experience, especially about the food.

    Hate to think that just b/c Bayless is not running it, and has probably collected his $$ and left the staff to be on their own, that it would have gone downhill that fast, what about a week?? {{sigh}}

    1. Hi Ciao Bob,

      I respect your opinion a lot, and this has just made my slight curiosity about Red O dwindle to Zero. :(

      Bummer. Thanks for the warning.

      Red O
      8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

      2 Replies
      1. re: exilekiss

        Thanks, but I would wait for more yeas or nays to come in, with time, EK. It is sooo very new and entitled to a chance at righting the (many) wrongs.
        If you remember Sonora Cafe on La Brea, my sense is that Red O will achieve that level of "quality" and, perhaps, surpass it. But to me it is gussied-up/gringo-ized/over-hyped soul-less Mexican.

        Red O
        8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

        1. re: exilekiss

          Not mine - I will definitely still be trying it... but maybe give it a few months to iron everything out.

        2. Yikes, well I guess the shortened version of its namesake is apt!

          1. To people who have eaten there, how did you get a reservation? I have been calling for a week now and no answer! It rings once, a message comes on and says do not leave reservation info. I want to go on my birthday, the 14th.

            21 Replies
            1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

              No reservation, walked in early (6:30) and sat at bar communal table. Stayed till 10:30, no pressure to leave at all.

              1. re: Ciao Bob

                Thank you for that. I kept calling today and finally got someone on the phone, it was a chore. They were very nice on the phone, put me on hold and came back a few times and told me they hadn't forgot about me and would be right back.

                bsquared2 - Their website is AWFUL! When it loads completely it covers up the phone number, I had to refresh the page a few times to get the number. No info whatsoever.

                1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                  Yeah, I don't get their non-website at all. It's as if they don't want anyone to know about the restaurant at all. Very very disappointing. I'll save my money and pass.

                  1. re: granadafan

                    if i understand you correctly, you're going to forgo a restaurant because you don't like their website?

                    1. re: linus

                      That is the one of the funniest things I have ever heard.

                      Declining to go to a restaurant because of a poorly executed website = Chowhound Credibilty Denied! Ha!

                      1. re: linus

                        Hey, if they can't get their shit together on a website, as in basic information, imagine what the heck is going on in the kitchen.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          No proven causation or relation there. To dismiss anything out of hand because of something as superfluous as a website (a new website at that) is about as contrary to the Chowhound credo as it gets. Any resto may turn out to be bad, but plenty of great places blow the marketing portion of their business, while others have a fantastically organized web presence and put out bland, or worse, cuisine. All that matters is the food.

                          1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                            I tend to agree but in this case the correlation is exact...both bite.

                            1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                              All I'm saying is it's not that hard to put out basic information on a website. And you'd think with the amount of $$ they put into the place, they would want a decent, informative website to reflect that. It's just that simple.

                              And most places that "blow the marketing portion of their business" usually don't stay in business very long.

                            2. re: Phurstluv

                              call me wacky, call me irresponsible, but i'd prefer they focus on the kitchen than on the website.
                              did lutece ever have a website? how 'bout that taco joint with all the guisados for tacos in mexico city? did they have video?
                              gosh, how was the design and java capability on the ginza sushiko site?

                              1. re: linus

                                I agree. They should focus on the food, rather than the marketing concept or website. But apparently, according to Ciao Bob and fooddude37, they don't.

                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  I am speaking in the general case, not this soecific instance in which some people are of the opinion that both food and web marketing are bad. Still only exhibits correlation, not causation. Ultimately the food is what counts, nothing else to me. If they have poor marketing perhaps they suffer an early demise, but still doesn't change the food, only my access to it.

                                  1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                    Right, and my point is that there is a correlation in that if they have a hard time figuring out something simple (designing or hiring someone to design a website with basic information), how can you imagine that they will excel at something much more complicated, as in exceptional execution of the concept of running a high-end kitchen and serving excellent food.......I am not implying one is causing the other. Yes, ultimately it is the food that counts, and they apparently don't get that right either.

                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                      It's not even a correlation. When two things exist at one time, in one instance, it is called a "coincidence." A correlation is only shown after repeated instances in which two conditions are found to exist together.

                                      But it looks like the food at Red O sucks . . . which sucks. But if the food was good then a poor website would matter little.

                                      For what it's worth, the website is a basic shell (kind of a cool one, I think) that will be fleshed out later, presumably. And the phone number issue seems to be solved as it looked great in my browser and was not obscured.

                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                        And another "marketing tool" that you would think indicates possible restaurant competence; a name that can be seen from the street, isn't a good predictor of food brilliance either. Case in point - Animal. No name, but some of the best food in LA. So much for making a decision to avoid a place based on something like a web site.

                                      2. re: Phurstluv

                                        How do you know the fault is on their end, and not on the web designer's? And if you fault someone at the restaurant simply for hiring the web designer, how does that have any bearing on the kitchen's recent decline? The mere existence of two symptoms (good food gone bad, and bad website) at the same restaurant doesn't prove that the two share the same root cause. Nor is fault for any and every issue equally distributed among everyone at the restaurant (your nebulous "they").

                                        1. re: mrhooks

                                          Obviously, I don't know whose fault it is, only that running a restaurant is a business. And if you expect to run a successful business, one would hope the business manager of the restaurant has a clue as to whether the website is working well or not.

                                          To clarify for you, "they" are those that are running this restaurant.

                                          1. re: Phurstluv

                                            I don't want to pile on here, as I suspect that your comment was much more innocent than it appeared.

                                            However, what is lost in this whole issue is that the website does function. It just doesn't do much as of right now. The restaurant is not fully wired to take Open Table reservations, the menu might not be fully ironed out in the first few weeks so the forthcoming menu link is not up, and the photo gallery probably isn't up because the photos would look better with dinners in them.

                                            There really is nothing wrong with the site. Much ado about nothing.

                                2. re: Phurstluv

                                  Maybe they are focusing on the food???

                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                    Apparently not.

                                    Hey whatever about the stupid website, I'm over it. It just seems that with all the hype made over the place, you'd think they'd have that shit together, before they open and get all full of themselves.

                      2. When you bring up "Mr. Chow", that brings my interest to 0 (that's zero, not "O"). I do think it is weird that they have a link for reservations but you can't make reservations. They actually have the worst website of any major restaurant I can think of.

                        I will wait to hear more feedback. Or maybe try it for lunch when the start serving.

                        1. Feeling compelled to chime in here.

                          Decor, I was blown away. The space is truly gorgeous, probably the most beautiful restaurant I've ever seen. I don't think it's clubby at all. I could gush for hours on the details, the alternating textures, the different rooms...

                          4 of us walked in Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend at 10:00 PM sharp, no reservation. The door man, who I'm pretty sure is a manager, treated us like we were trying to walk into Industry on a Saturday at midnight. Reminder buddy: you're greeting guests at a high profile restaurant, not some exclusive SBE club. He had to clear it with the kitchen apparently, even though we were perfectly fine with just drinks. "Bar, kitchen, it's all the same, it all closes at 10." Really? 5 days after opening? Memorial Day Weekend? Don't you want to try to make a GOOD impression? Second manager inside was very welcoming but our interaction with him was brief. We sat at the bar and when the bartender asked us what we'd like we responded that we were still deciding and figuring out how we were going to proceed. His literal response was throwing his hands in the air and saying, "Well, that doesn't help ME much now does it?" in a half smug, half sarcastic manner that completely fell flat. Nice way to start the evening. The drinks tasted great but the balance was off, too weak too....watery. We ate the pork sopes, hali ceviche, chicken tamal, and lamb tacos. Sauce on pork was superb, pork meat was dry and tough, sopes were fine. Halibut was a major letdown, the halibut did not taste fresh, I tasted it about 5 times, incredulous that they would serve this. Not bad mind you, it tasted about 3-4 days old. I understand there are no fish deliveries on Sundays but for a ceviche here you would expect better. Lamb was decent, underseasoned. Chicken tamal was great. One of my dining companions is a manager at a high profile bar in the city and decided to order a mezcal cocktail. Their liquor manager happened to be there and was reluctant to sell him a mezcal cocktail, even talking down to him, "Have you HAD mezcal? Most people don't like it." He had to repeat 3 times that yes, indeed, he knew what mezcal was, and yes, indeed, he wanted to order it in a cocktail (the drink was great, the best of the bunch)

                          Soft opening, I'd understand. We're talking half capacity, I saw two servers chatting in the dining room, no packed madness going on, open to the public? Not a great first impression guys....I'll be back for the room and some mezcal. Food and service were MAJOR letdowns.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: fooddude37

                            Really, fooddude? You walked IN at their CLOSING time and expected to be greeted warmly and with their best efforts? That's really the height of arrogance. Restaurants take, often, hours to clean and close. If I were in the kitchen, I would have just slapped together whatever was still passable and sent it out, too--in the hopes that you'd never come back.

                            1. re: conor610

                              I've worked in many areas of restaurants for years. I understand the need to get your staff out in a timely manner. However, for the first weekend they are open, and they are treating customers rudely and with condescension, that doesn't fly. Hey, call me a stickler for service, but service does matter. And If Bayless were there in the kitchen I highly doubt that at 10 pm, he'd be as careless about the food as they were. It's just poor business practice, plain & simple. They could have turned the party away at the door, if they didn't feel like serving them, it is their right. But they could also do it with a smile. And imagine how fooddude's party would have felt if they were treated very well, even with it being at closing time. Maybe you subscribe to the business model, "Surly service, mediocre food, only trendoids apply."

                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                Who cares if Bayless is in the kitchen? He has no authority, all he does is consult and train the staff. They will ultimately succeed or fail based on the people here not hired guns from Chicago.

                                Yes service is very important and you last guest is just as important as your first. Hopefully you can chalk up some of the service issues to 1st week cob webs. Jury is still out on this one IMO

                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  I wasn't really excusing the restaurant (well, maybe a little), but more criticizing the sense of entitlement evident in fooddude's post: "Really? 5 days after opening? Memorial Day Weekend? Don't you want to try to make a GOOD impression? "

                                  Personally, I don't care how long the restaurant's been open; if it closes at 10, it closes at 10, and they're really being generous by letting you in at all. But mainly, I wonder why anyone would even try to get in at that time.

                                  1. re: conor610

                                    You're not doing much for the reputation of the L.A. dining scene....10PM is considered early in other metro areas, let alone Europe. Sheesh.

                                    Agree with the poster above. Give us the good stuff, or nothing at all. As I mentioned, we would have been fine with a few drinks. We mainly wanted to check out the space. I never go out with a sense of entitlement. I could have easily gone down the street to Mozza and eaten until midnight if I wanted. What's more, is we saw them admitting more guests after we arrived. I never enjoy mentioning this but between the four of us that night we have over 20 years in the restaurant industry, most of it in L.A. If that Sunday was any indicator of what's to come, I don't see Red O taking off. They should take a cue from Mozza or The Bazaar. Both of those restaurants have more than their share of faults, but every time I've been to both they are incredibly accomodating and professional. Seeing as how Bayless has such a name, I would expect him to surround himself with a similar team of service-oriented individuals.

                                    Oh, and P.S.
                                    arrogance: overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors. Reread my post. Do I express incredulousness? Yes. Disappointment? Yes. Criticism? Yes. No quality restaurant ever "slaps something together and sends it out in hopes that you never come back". Think they do that at Craft or Providence? I dearly hope you don't actually work in a restaurant, for the owner and chef's sake.

                                    Red O
                                    8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                                    1. re: fooddude37

                                      Whether we like it or not, 10 p.m. IS late by L.A. standards and no amount of complaining here will turn us into other metro areas, let alone Europe. Everyone has to be in make-up by 5 a.m., dontcha know.

                                      1. re: Cubancoffee

                                        I don't think the people that have to be in makeup by 5 AM stop partying at 10 PM;. ;-)

                                        1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                          Of course they don't...that's what the makeup is FOR!

                                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                                            Now you both have me hungry for pancakes. Got to get over to the Griddle Cafe soon. If only they would open at 7 AM on the weekends my life would be both complete, and in danger from hardening of the arteries.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              Griddle at 7 on weekends would be key!

                                            2. re: Ciao Bob

                                              And lighting. And camera lens screens. And airbrushes...........

                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                Indeed. The bane of the hard partying superstar is HD and the trend towards "filming" digitally. Drat that Red One clean image. Perhaps the new caveat should be, "Well, the camera does add ten years." ;-)

                                        2. re: fooddude37

                                          Well lets see. I was there last Saturday. Reservations at 10:45PM and we were there well past midnight as were lots of other people. I saw the restaurant and the sign quite easily. Don't know what that issue was. In any case, we had the address. Don't care about the website. The restaurant just opened. I am sure it will be more complete soon for those to whom it matters.
                                          Yes they had someone out front checking a list. Yes it was kind of goofy. I just laughed. Its LA not Chicago I guess. But it didnt bother me in the least, and the young guy checking people "in" out front seemed to be having fun so not sure what the issue is there
                                          The food was marvelous from the sopes and goat cheese tamale, to the sea bass and the suckling pig,

                                          Of course the next day we were at Moles La Tia and I had a huitlacoche mole that had me considering moving to the neighborhood just to be closer to it.. The corn soup just added more pleasure as well as pain since we live 350 miles away.

                                          Moles La Tia
                                          4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                                          1. re: tomritza

                                            Moles la Tia will do that to you. It's just so good.