Cortez Echo Park, or, Where's the other half of what I paid for? (Long)
Decided to check out Cortez, a new restaurant from the owners of Cookbook, a great local organic neighborhood market over the weekend.
First, let me point out a couple things. I like/love Cookbook, the owner's store. I love going out to eat, and a $300+ tab at Mori, Mozza, etc, does not bother me at all (might pinch a bit these days, but I feel like it's worth it).
That said, I entered the restaurant excited and with high hopes, and left angry- actually angry- at myself for spending what I did for what I got.
The winelist prices are significantly higher by the glass than by the bottle, small, but has a couple interesting choices- we get an Italian red I'd like to try as it is 1/4 less by the bottle than the glass. The wine arrives ice-cold (server says "Oh, we serve all our reds chilled"), with flat bottom stemless glassware that I think is actually Ikea tealight holders- saving my rant about proper glassware for later, whywhywhy would you serve me a red at that temp? Now, I even like my reds with a "cellar temp" chill, but this wine took over 15 minutes once it hit the glass to warm to drinkable. But, fine- I can handle that if the food is great, let's order some food!
We start with some mixed olives- $6. Literally, this is 9-10 small sized olives in single layer in a 2.5 inch dish. That's not hyperbole- that's what we got. We finish this so fast we have to wait while our wine warms up to drinkable and our next dish arrives.
Rabbit Escabeche- $14 (I think?). This, and every other dish of the night, arrives on a small oval side plate about 6in long by 4 wide. My first thought is that the server dropped the wrong dish. Where's the rabbit? I see some raw bitter winter greens and watermelon radish. I finally find 2 walnut sized chunks of rabbit under some of the greens at one side of the plate and some shreds on the the other side. There was so little rabbit my pescetarian SO felt fine sharing the plate!
Tuna with Warm Potatoes- $12ish. Where's the tuna? Some tuna shreds, no tuna flavor, and about 3 halves of fingerling potatoes.
Roasted Delicata Squash- again, about $12-14. This had probably 6 or 7 slices about 1/4in thick drizzled with some sort of dairy.
At this point, we have 3 more dishes coming and have started to notice a pattern, growing more annoyed each time a plate lands because it's the same thing repeated- about $14, one tiny layer of food, and thrifty on the marquee ingredient.
Look, I love small plates places, even though I occasionally think they actually cost more than the usual app-entree-dessert style of dining, but I have never until this meal felt truly cheated by a restaurant. I left upset at myself for have spent over $150 and never once feeling satisfied. Now I get that at some places (in Beverly Hills maybe) $150 won't fill you up, but at a communal-table-only tiny place in Echo Park? Come on!