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Jul 24, 2010 07:23 PM

First and Hopeful

Was at First and Hope downtown recently and just fell in love with the place.

The Praise the Lard Appetizer was fun and tasty. Sweet corn polenta, fried egg, snappy pig ears with a sweet maple butter sauce -- all sounded as good as they tasted. Popcorn Shrimp and Grits was also good, though not as authentic or rich as what you'd have in NOLA.

Soul Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Salad satisfied even though the Pork was cold and I wished it had been warm. The baby red onions and goat cheese were flavorful additions. Their Hamburger is alright, though it's Helpers (like mashed potato fritters, referred to as tater tots) were the most addictive thing. I ate all of my friend's basket of them without realizing and then had to order another. Fish in Chips was soft and tender, but I didn't find it crispy like "chips" or fries would have been. On the other hand, the Trout was great and how mysterious that pecan flavor can be when smoky...

For dessert we got the 7 deadly sins, which sounded like we might get 7 miniature chocolate desserts, but instead it was one (albeit beautiful) composed dessert. Frankly, I could have made it better myself. Next time I'll try something different. My friend ordered a scoop of the Strawberry Black Pepper Ice Cream and it was SO intensely black peppery on the first bite that both of us erupted in coughs. Good concepts, not well executed.

The drinks were good, if light on the alcohol.

The service was adequate. You got the feeling that lots of beautiful servers were wandering around, but when you wanted more water or for your finished plate to be taken away, no one appeared. Our server acknowledged my friend's drink order, but then the drink never materialized. It wasn't on the check either, so a true mistake. Forgivable, if annoying.

Now I hear the chef is on her way out. Something about them only getting 2 stars instead of 3? Could this be?

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  1. How southern did you feel the food was?
    Don't think this location will support her cuisine, if it is fairly southern.
    Yet fish & chips is hardly southern.
    Any way, the review garnering 2 stars mentioned southern food, yet this place will have to cater to the music center/Disney Hall crowd fairly heavily, and I truly do not feel they will be desirous of southern food in any serious way.
    Key question, would you return on your dime?
    Or if someone else paid?

    1 Reply
    1. re: carter

      The food had a hint of the South, no more. There were lots of worldly influences and plenty of straight French technique.

      I was on my own dime. And I would return on it as well.

    2. I don't have an answer to your question, but, you say you "fell in love with the place" but you have complained about every aspect of it?

      2 Replies
      1. re: cls

        It's like those women who love the men who beat them, love/hate sort of thing . . . their dishes have really religious-y names.

        1. re: cls

          Something about the ambiance made me "fall in love with the place", but I cast a more critical eye on the food and drink. There was enough good to make me wonder about the rest of the menu and hopeful that it would be just as interesting.

          Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I would return. For a restaurant this new, I think it deserves a bit more time to work out kinks in service. Then again, kinks in service in LA are part of the dining scene. Unless -- and sometimes even if -- you're going four star, service in this town often just sucks.