Friday, February 8, 2008

DineLA on Simon LA

Last night, Celeste and I went to Simon LA for dinner, against many people's better judgment on the DineLA lunch being better than the dinner. This would be our first foray into Simon LA and a general first into Kerry Simon's cuisine, though I've heard and seen a lot of both in printed publications as well as on TV, victorious over Iron Chef Cora. His cuisine is described as "a witty interpretation of American comfort food" and for the most part I agreed with that. The night was enjoyable and the food was good.

Here in lies the dilemma. Thinking about the night critically, I find that maybe, had I gotten this exact meal on another (non-Dine LA) night, I might have felt a little ripped off. Kerry if you're reading this please don't take offense to it. The night was nice and yet something was a little off. Let's dissect this a little bit further by examining the meal.

The appetizer course that was had was the Grilled Radicchio Salad with Toasted Pistachio, Dried Cranberries, Bermuda Triangle Goat Cheese, California Orange Vinaigrette and the other one was the Yellowtail Carpaccio with Cilantro Mint and Citrus Vinaigrette. The radicchio salad was pretty slamming being fresh, well balanced and very flavorful. I particularly loved the Bermuda Triangle Goat Cheese which played nicely with the sweetness of the overall salad. A very well done "finer dining" salad. The carpaccio, one of his signature dishes, was tasty in a simple way.

The entrees we chose were the Tandoori Wild Pacific Salmon with kumquats and beets and the other was the Braised Beef short ribs with broccoli rabe and sweet potatoes. They were both slightly different than what was on the posted Dine LA menu, but not by much, and so we were fine with that. The meat in the ribs just fell apart to the stroke of your fork and the flavors displayed the description of a "witty interpretation on American comfort food". The salmon on the other hand had the problem of being a little too overpowered by the sweetness. At times it almost felt like the fish (which was wonderfully done) was disappering from marmalade like sweetness. Not unsatisfactory, but once again just not what I would expect from a finer dining moment unless you love sweetness. Price was still a deal by a lot, especially in comparison to the short ribs plate.

The desserts that we wound up getting were the Soft Chocolate Tart with Lemon Sherbert and the glazed doughnut bread pudding with salted gooey caramel. Both were excellent. The flavors of the chocolate and the lemon were refreshing after the entrees and the glazed doughnut bread pudding was killer! I particularly moreso loved the bread pudding, even if it was a little rich for me. Definitely worth the money and was a steal at the Dine LA price.

The Dine LA event price made it all worth it, especially as I'll probably go back to have other things from the normal menu, but I'm torn at the same time. The food was good but I wasn't in love with it. Was I expecting too much? It was a deal, but going back would I still feel the food is worth it? I'm sure the location also adds to the price as well. This will all be answered later on when I revisit the place obviously. Significantly more plusses were, as I said earlier, aimed at his lunch menu over his dinner but still this was not bad in any kind of way just less than mind blowing. Chef Simon, who I saw chatting away as we left, seems to be playful enough with his ideas that some are bound to be hit or miss. The end game is to make sure you have less misses when it matters.

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