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Badly cooked fish at Water Grill!

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  • lrhr Dec 20, 2010 03:38 PM
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Having not eaten here for a number of years, I was looking forward to a special evening. Most of the food was fine, if not exciting or cutting edge in any way. However, I got unevenly cooked salmon. Three quarters of the fish was perfect, with crispy skin and a moist interior and the rest was raw. RAW. (Not seared and rare, raw.) I pointed this out to the waitress, and told her that I was mostly finished before I got to the raw portion. I did not expect a replacement, as I had eaten the properly cooked portion, but there was no acknowledgement at all of this huge misstep. Most restaurants should be able to cook fish properly, but an expensive fish-centric restaurant must cook it perfectly! I would think someone in the kitchen would have been bothered by the knowledge that so poorly executed a plate went out to a customer.

This disappointment with the food only magnified our smaller complaints about service. We were seated at a dark table near the entrance. I believe this was actually intended to be a special table as they knew it was our anniversary. The table is the only one in the restaurant without any direct lighting. We both downloaded flashlight apps in order to read the menu. We weren't given the option of tap water; though we saw later that other tables had it. After being told we don't eat shellfish our waitress told us the lobster special. She offered to refill my husband's wine glass when he taken only a couple of sips. She tried to bus his dessert wine ($28) with 1/3 of the serving left. (Perhaps because the table was in the dark, she could not see the level of the glass?)

We did get a candle on our desserts. (The choices were not hugely interesting, but the maple pudding was quite good.)

I sent an email to the general manager outlining our disappointment about the poorly cooked fish. I was quite specific that I was NOT looking for a comp, only that he should know the quality being sent out from his kitchen. Again, I did not expect a comp...especially for the $38 entree, but a comp is a very good way for a restaurant to say, we made an error and we are sorry. Another way to say that is to actually say "sorry". We'll see if he writes back.

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Water Grill
544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

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  1. A lot of people who really like fish like the fish to vary in thickness so some parts are cooked more thoroughly than others. And of course, lots of people like truly raw salmon. I'm not saying your fish was cooked properly, but I'm not sure it was objectively flawed either. In fact, given that 3/4 of it was perfect, I think this is a matter of subjective taste.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sushigirlie

      if I go to a restaurant and order salmon I'm not expecting 3/4 cooked and 1/4 raw.

      1. re: ns1

        I get that. They probably should have cut the fish to make it more even in thickness. No diner would object to that.

        1. re: sushigirlie

          If it had been raw in the very center, I would agree that it was a matter of taste (and I actually love raw fish...when I'm expecting it). In fact a piece of fish cooked well on the outside and "fading" to raw in the center would be fantastic. However, the fish was raw at one corner --almost as though the whole piece didn't quite fit over the heat.

          1. re: lrhr

            Mistakes happen for any number of reasons, more importantly is how they are handled (even if it's a customer's matter of taste.) I would expect Water Grill to be much better at making things right than you describe. That said, I have had some slightly off experiences there so now I only go to the bar, but since the departure of Steve, even that is not such a great option anymore.
            FWIW, unless described otherwise, I don't think any part of the fish should be raw.

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            Water Grill
            544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

    2. Did you specify the way you wanted the fish to be cooked?

      It's generally, especially with salmon, to sear and prepare it so that it is rare in the middle.

      Now, I know you said it was "raw" not rare but people have different notions of what is rare and what is raw.

      This is like the oft-cited problem with steakhouses and complaints about under/over cooked steaks. You have a definition of beauty, and so do I. But more often than not, who I consider beautiful you will consider to be the gargoyle's ugly duckling sister. Neither of us are wrong or right, except both of us are entitled to our opinions.

      Long way of saying, if you want it a certain way, be sure to tell them!

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I was asked if medium rare was acceptible. I said yes. Most of the fish was done that way. But a corner (not the center of a thick section) was not. I had eaten towards that corner, and fish which had been flaking under gentle pressure from my fork stopped flaking. It tasted different than the rest. I took out my phone, turned on my flashlight app and looked at the fish. It had the slick, shiny look of uncooked fish. Looked raw to me. Had the entire serving been cooked to that doneness, I would have assumed that the problem was with two different definitions of medium rare...and I would have asked to have it cooked more. This was an instance where part of the fish was cooked to a different doneness than another part of the fish.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          As far as steak goes, there is an accepted definition of temperature that a restaurant should follow. As far as rare vs. raw, IMO if a diner says it's raw, then the restaurant should graciously handle the issue. It sounds like that was not the case.

        2. I did receive a response from the general manager, with an apology *and* a very gracious offer of a gift certificate. The gift certificate was over and above what was necessary. An apology at the time would have smoothed things over easily, and there is no question that the lack of it magnified my other minor quibles about service. However, I am pleased that he was responsive and caring. Kudos.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lrhr

            The Water Grill is a class act. I am not surprised with their response

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            Water Grill
            544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

            1. re: lrhr

              At least with the fish, it seems like it was more a server issue (lack of communication with the manager and/or kitchen) than just a poorly cooked piece of fish.

              Mistakes happen, but failure to correct mistakes should not.

            2. I had a similiarly disapointing experience at Water Grill recently. My girlfriend and I went for Dine LA. We don't have the largest restaurant budget, so Dine LA was a great time to try it.

              The food was good overall, but our entrees were not prepared correctly. Her entree was salmon served with a poached egg. The egg was served completely solid. My entree was halibut wish mussells. There were no mussells on the plate. To their credit, they did take our entrees back and bring us new and properly prepared dishes. Ther were a few other problems I can't seem to remember at this point as well.

              I posted a yelp review and was sent a message by a Water Grill manager who asked for my email and phone number so she could contact me about my experience. However, she never did contact me.

              However, there were several other problems with the service. We were served our appetizers and I had noticed we hadn't recieved our amuses.. I asked about that and they brought them right out. They also initially brought dishes meant for other tables

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              Water Grill
              544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

              1 Reply
              1. re: jsandler

                We went to the Water Grill also during Dine LA and had a somewhat different experience. It didn't start off too well, when we showed up for our 7pm reservations and still had to wait 20 minutes for our table. We came within 2 minutes of walking out and going somewhere else. The service and food otherwise was impeccable. I went there for lunch with our company recently (thanks boss!) and again had fantastic service. I had the sea bass, which was cooked perfectly, but slightly underseasoned, and I'm not a big salt guy. Still, we had a fantastic lunch.

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                Water Grill
                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

              2. I went to Water Grill today and had salmon. It was raw--indeed, slightly below room temperature--in the middle. It was delicious. I thought of this post, but I say bravo to Water Grill. I think it's the best restaurant downtown and one of the top restaurants in LA, and that there are a gazillion over-hyped places that are nowhere near as good as Water Grill. People who rave about the vegetables at Gjelina should try the blue cheese, grilled radicchio, and roasted squash salad at Water Grill and let me know what they think.

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                Water Grill
                544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071