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Downtown LA restaurant reviews

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Lazy Ox
Grilled chicken with tangy red sauce. Pretty good. Overcooked and dry, but not badly so.
Spaghetti squash with butter, cheese, and herbs. Very good.
Blistered shishito peppers. Same old same old, but I knew this when I ordered them.
Butterscotch pudding. Excellent.
Beers. Good.

The Gorbals
French fries. Very good except oversalted.
Grilled shrimp in anchovy butter. Good. I prefer shelled.
Seared broccoli in soy sauce and vinegar sauce. Too much sauce. Too salty. Too oily. Rather poor in my opinion.
Toffee pudding. Excellent.
Beers. Good.

Patina
Yellowtail carpaccio. Good. The mustard flavor gave slight interest to what otherwise would have been a real yawner.
Foie gras terrine with apple (or pear). Good. Standard Michelin-starred French fare.
Grilled vegetable mosaic. Chef's signature dish? I thought overcooked, bland, and boring.
Seared dayboat scallops with black truffles. Excellent. Scallops were perfectly cooked, raw and delicious inside.
Butter poached lobster. Good, but stringy.
Desserts. I forget.
Wines by the glass. Insipid.

Drago Centro
Grilled squid with lentils. Very good. The squid had a nice char and good texture. It paired well with the earthy lentils and olive oil.
Spaghetti with swordfish. Disappointing. Meaty fish didn't seem to go well with spaghetti. Capers and raisins overpowered. Dish was oversauced and heavy.
Grilled scallops. A bit overcooked. Too much char flavor. Oversalted.
Espresso affogato. Why waste the calories?
Wines by the glass. Good.

Border Grill
Chips and three salsas. Chips were stale and oversalted. Salsas were watery.
Spinach/mushroom empanada duo. Very good. Attractive dish.
Peruvian ceviche. Rather bad. Fish was tough and chalky. Diced too small. Overmarinated. Sauce was overpowering given small dice size.

Cucina Rustica
Caprese salad. Garbage.
Chicken pesto pizza. Garbage.

Bottega Louie (brunch)
Smoked salmon millefeuille. Rather impressive and tasty. Good mix of flavors--salmon, cream cheese, mustard, puff pastry.
Roasted potatoes. Good.
Turkey sausage. Not so good. Dry, tough links.
Coffee. A strong point of Bottega Louie.

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  1. Chaya. A core LA/Santa Monica restaurant.
    Bread with tapenade. A nice Chaya staple.
    Grilled octopus with shimeji mushrooms on sliced radish. Quite good. Tender, flavorful octopus.
    Salmon with kale and fennel. Not bad. Salmon cooked all the way through, would have preferred medium rare. Rather sloppy and unimpressive looking dish, but still enjoyable.
    Apple tart. Surprisingly bad. Lacked richness and flavor. No caramelization on apples. Crust seemed batter-y and undercooked. Accompanying ice cream lacked richness and was really quite poor.
    Sake/wine. Good

    Gills. An inferior Indian restaurant.
    Sambar. Did not have the appearance, taste, or texture of sambar. Thick brown lentils in an oily stew. Not dreadful, but not good.
    Chicken pakoras. Garbage. Thick clumps of dry, tasteless batter around tiny pieces of chicken. Purchased frozen and microwaved?
    Saag aloo. Okay.
    Vegetable biryani. Mediocre. Heavy, unrefined spicing. No redeeming qualities.

    Local Express. My first visit.
    Turkey burger. Pretty good. Burger was good; buns were mediocre.
    Shoestring fries. Just okay. Rather droopy and greasy.
    Fry sauces. Wurstkuche this is not.

    2 Replies
    1. re: AlkieGourmand

      Cuccina Rustica:

      Almond/Chicken salad: a perennial on the "specials" menu: pretty darn good; various pastas with scallops/shrimp: mostly pretty good, and priced more reasonably than:

      Bottega Louie: the loudest restaurant I've ever eaten in that didn't involve amplified music. Food unremarkable, though as noted, they make good coffee. Service ALWAYS spotty.

      Gil's (lunch only) an acceptable AYCE Indian lunch buffet; naan very good.

      1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

        Second Gill's - yes, it has two "L's."

    2. Honest reviews appreciated. I'm always looking for options in/around DTLA.

      1. Wurstkuche
        A vegetarian sausage. Flavorful, but dry and grainy. I want a juicy vegetarian sausage. But the onion and pepper toppings and selection of mustards make this enjoyable.
        Fries with truffle oil. Excellent. Wurstkuche's fries are my favorite in LA.

        Drago Centro
        Burrata and pesto on toasts. Tastes good, as you'd expect.
        Pappardelle with pheasant and morels. I've tried much of the menu at Drago Centro, and this is my favorite dish. It's unusual and full of flavor. Love the pappardelle themselves.
        Butternut squash agnolotti in brown-butter sage sauce. This is good, but not as good as the similar dish at Spago.
        Branzino. Very nicely prepared. Crisp skin, moist interior.
        Bombolini (doughnuts) with lemon curd and apricot. Tasted fine but weren't interesting. Pretty much a waste of calories.

        Chaya.
        Tuna tartare. Good.
        King salmon roll. Good.
        Roasted duck and arugula salad with fourme d'ambert. Pretty good. The duck didn't do a whole lot for me; it wasn't very flavorful.
        "Banana banana banana." Pretty lame really. A frozen chocolate dipped banana, mediocre banana ice cream, and a decent banana tart.

        1. Ocho
          Mahi mahi burrito in whole wheat tortilla with brown rice. Not bad. Hearty and flavorful. On par with Chipotle.

          Spice Table
          Deep fried Cauliflower with fish sauce. Good flavor. While the texture was pretty good too, I would have preferred the cauliflower more al dente and the batter thinner and crispier.
          Laksa. Pretty good. Certainly the best Singaporean-style laksa I've had in the U.S. Good flavor but thin on ingredients, especially seafood.
          Beer selection. Good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: AlkieGourmand

            Spice Table

            had the deep fried cauliflower and the laksa at Spice Table during DINELA week and thought they were excellent....well prepared and easily the most memorable of the dishes that I had. On the other hand, I also had a chicken liver dish that was also the most aesthetically unattractive dish that I have ever been served in a restaurant and the taste of the dish did not overcome its unpleasant appearance.

          2. Sushi Gen

            Lunch omakase. Fish was generally pretty good, though the uni was suspect. Selection was okay, not great. I didn't like that I was served two of each nigiri. The warm rice was slightly gummy and sweet. At $100, this was not a good value.

            Chaya

            Lunch chirashi. Disappointing. The fish was generally okay, except for the unagi, which was terrible. The chirashi was served on a plate instead of in a bowl, perhaps to cover up the fact that there wasn't enough rice or sashimi to fill a bowl.

            WP24

            Complimentary shrimp toast. A perfect rendition.

            Complimentary cucumber salad. Decent. A little too sweet for me.

            Complimentary curry shrimp dumpling. Good.

            Lobster-shrimp spring rolls. Excellent. Filled completely and tightly with lobster and shrimp. Beautifully wrapped.

            Salt-baked sea bass. Very good. I loved that this was filleted at the table so I could enjoy it without picking around the bones. Should have been served with rice. It was strange eating this as a standalone dish.

            Singapore-style prawns. Disappointing. The prawns were bathed in a thick sweet and sour sauce that didn't seem very Sinagporean. I thought the sauce was too heavy for the prawns and found it too sweet for my tastes. The prawns themselves, though difficult to taste through the sauce, seemed gummy and lacked the toothy bite I find ideal. The fried buns served along with the prawns were fine but didn't do much to make this dish appealing.

            Tobu banana. Excellent. Lots going on in this delicious dessert. Beautiful little cake topped with caramelized banana and tonka bean mousse, accompanied by banana ice cream, streussel, and pieces of palm-sugar-roasted banana.

            Wines by the glass. Good. The waiter made a good suggestion of gruner veltliner to accompany the first half of this meal and a less good suggestion of a heavy white Burgundy to accompany the second half. Lighter, zippier white wines are the way to go.

            1. Rivera (Dine LA)
              Oaxacan Peace Pipe cocktail. Great.
              Sopapillas with butter. Sopapillas too bitter, butter too cold to spread
              Mussels in saffron sauce on tortilla. Pretty good.
              Grilled seabass with feijoada. Pretty good.
              Chocolate-chile sorbet. Pretty good.

              Water Grill
              Herbed ricotta appetizer. Fine except the toast was a little burnt.
              Scallops crudo. Good.
              Skate in brown butter and capers with arugula salad. The skate was very good. The lemony arugula salad was an unwelcome side.
              Pear-cherry tatin. Not particularly good. The fruit was sickeningly oversweet. The crust didn't taste quite right.

              1. -- Drago Centro --

                Beet salad with goat cheese and pine nuts. Quite good. Two different kinds of beets. Healthy and delicious.

                Basil spaghetti alla chittarra with tomato-almond pesto. Good, but not as special as I hoped. This needed more kick somehow. When I hear the word pesto I think of real Genovese pesto, and this just wasn't there.

                Mushroom risotto. Good, solid choice.

                Diver scallops. Good. Perfectly cooked.

                Truffle crusted chicken breast. Fabulous. Juicy and oozing flavor. One of the best dishes at Drago Centro. For all those people who say chicken breasts are bland.

                Margherita pizza. Unremarkable.

                Brown sugar cake. Fine.

                Drago Centro, though not perfect, is my favorite restaurant in Downtown LA.

                -- Water Grill --

                Fish and chips. Blah. Neither the fish nor the chips was particularly good. The fish I denigrate below. The chips were too soggy inside and just weren't "right."

                Fish tacos. Blah. Much like the fish in the fish and chips. Batter is too thick and crisp and separate from the fish, which can hardly be tasted.

                Tuna nicoise salad. Really good. Loved the quail eggs and anchovies in this.

                Polenta with melted fontina. Yummy.

                I'd say the fish and chips and fish tacos epitomize the decline of this once great restaurant. It's like some business folks got together and pondered how to make the restaurant more profitable, and they came up with the ideas of more deep-fried fish, cheaper, crappier menu items, louder music, and hotter staff.

                -- Cabbage Patch --

                Falafel plate. Rather lackluster falafel. A rather lackluster falafel plate. I do like the warm, moist flatbread served with this, however.

                Lentil salad. Pretty good -- in the sense that most restaurants in the U.S. are really bad and any restaurant that puts out something wholesome and palatable, however simple it may be, is a winner.

                Chopped salad with chicken. Blah. Healthy but really boring.

                Pan seared salmon. Okay.

                Basically, I consider this place inferior to Mendocino Farms, which is really quite good (from sandwiches to salads).

                1 Reply
                1. re: AlkieGourmand

                  AG: for falafel downtown, you need to hit the alley in the JEwelry District; a number of places there compete.