Tuesday, August 7, 2012

dineLA Summer 2012: Sadie Restaurant - the One in Which I Shoulda Stuck with my OCD Self

Every time dineLA rolls around, I eagerly comb through the extensive list of restaurants looking for the most exciting menu items and/or the best deals.  I collect my findings in an easy reference post, as much for myself as anyone else who might find it helpful.  I follow my list, for the most part, wherever I can score reservations.

But this time, I deviated.  I let go of my OCD self and tried to be spontaneous, one day when I got out of work unexpectedly early, and found myself with time to get ahead of traffic and slide in somewhere for a table right at opening.  I'd seen many, many mouthwatering photos (of regular menu items) from fellow foodlovers at Sadie Restaurant - so even though I hadn't done my usual research yet on their dineLA prix fixe menu, I decided to live in the moment, and go check it out.

I fell in love with the covered back patio-style space as soon as I set foot in it.  Love the outdoors-indoors decor and the soothing sounds of flowing water in a cobblestone-rimmed, ground-level 'fountain' that ran the length of the back wall. It's a serene oasis steps away from the sensory-overload stretch of Hollywood.
I kicked off the meal with a delicious cocktail: Friar Fresh 12 with Plymouth gin, velvet Falernum, lemon juice, honey and grapefruit juice, which was light, well balanced and refreshing on a hot summer day.

But when the 3-course, $35 dineLA menu arrived, I was a little disappointed to see Sadie fall into the lazy 'steak or salmon' camp, like so many other dineLA restaurants unfortunately did this time around.  But the starter held promise of possible excitement (after the fact I saw that the 3rd option wasn't what was listed online): Duck Confit Croquettes rich lady peach, curly yellow endive, coffee duck jus (similar item $14 on regular menu).  I love duck, and was interested to see how it would taste breaded and fried, with the peach and coffee duck jus.  The plating was quite pretty when it arrived, but the balls ended up being disappointing: from a deal perspective, it was good that they were generously sized, but when it comes to texture and taste, its size worked against it - the ratio of crunchy exterior to what-could-have-been-a-juicy-flavorful-filling was way off, the breading was too thick, dense and lacked the pleasing crispness I was expecting.  The texture of the duck was also sort of mushy and stringy at the same time.  I actually could only finish one of the two balls, and left the other one on the plate.
For the entree, I went for the Prime Hanger Steak potato cremeux, roasted forest mushrooms, hearts on fire ($29 on regular menu) - mainly as I had no idea what 'hearts on fire' were and looked forward to one element of surprise.  Turns out they are a leafy veggie with beautiful red 'veins' - though they elevated the presentation of a basic plate of sliced steak, potatoes and mushrooms, at the end of the day their role was pretty much garnish. That said, the mushrooms were flavorful and the steak (medium rare) was fine - not mind-blowing but a decent dish, and enough to be filling as an entree.  (I saw after the fact that the menu posted online featured short rib for this dish, not hanger steak, so that's 2:2 for not delivering whta was advertised).
Last course of the prix fixe meal was Keffir Lime Creme with whipped sweet goat milk, cocoa soil and salty peanuts (most desserts on regular menu $8).  I figured this one would be like panna cotta, with their own fine dining flourishes.  What arrived was a gelatinous creme that looked straight out of a boxed mix and jello mold - the whipped sweet goat milk sounded interesting but was a misshapen what I'm guessing should have been a quenelle that kept sliding off the creme, because the creme was so slick and slippery like jello.  Had the creme been more...creamy...it would have been nicely counterbalanced by the cocoa soil. There were maybe 3 pieces of salty peanut that tasted like they came straight out of a Planters jar - not what I would have expected for a gourmet dining venue.  The only silver lining on this one was the pretty flower garnish on top.  Assuming same portion sizes though, the deal ended up being $51 -$35 = savings of $16, and if you checked in on Foursquare with a registered Amex, it would have been another $5 credit for a total of $21 saved.  So I guess that makes everything a little more palateable.
Luckily, when looking at the regular menu "charred" Bone Marrow had stopped me in my tracks ($14) - I had added it as a supplement to the meal and was very glad for it, as the saving grace for dinner that night. The marrow was beautifully lush and fatty, and the toppings were interesting: peppadew peppers, leek ash, and citrus chive vinaigrette.  However, having tasted the amazing bone marrow at Black Hogg, which set a high bar (#foodgasmic and 2 bones for $12) - I couldn't justify returning for the $14 price tag on a solitary bone.

People whose opinion I trust still rave about Sadie, so I'm sure that the dineLA menu they chose to feature was not reflective of the quality of their regular menu.  However, that I think is the downfall of participating in dineLA if you are only going to do it half-heartedly: since many use dineLA as a lower-cost way to 'sample' restaurants before committing to a full and more expensive meal - going halfway on your dineLA menu may turn off would be new customers, who may not return and risk more money to give you a second shot.

As for me, sometimes I wonder whether it's healthy to be so OCD...and then I go spontaneous and this happens.  So, back to OCD it is, at least when it comes to dineLA.

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$$ 3 bite marks regular menu)
Probability of return visit - 65% 

Sadie Restaurant

1638 North Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Ph: 323.467.0200
Website: sadiela.com

1 comment:

  1. Food is good with reasonable portions.Love this place, very relaxing, and good service from all staffs.



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