Saturday, March 12, 2005
Food, Celebrities, Money and Public Relations, all sort of end up in a sticky pudding sometimes…take for instance the “celebrity restaurant.” There are many celebrities (read: People with money who’s names attached to something attracts press/patrons) who invest in restaurants for a variety of reasons, (free food, cool place to hang out, etc) including just plain making an investment. (Wait! You mean to tell me people with money use it to make MORE money? What a fantastic concept!) What boggles my simple little mind is – as it is even when a celebrity ISN’T involved, - how bad some of these spots can be and yet the celebs still stay attached. (And props to Justin Timberlake for Kitana and Chi for being quite good, btw)
For instance, before popping upstairs to my friends huge, raging, all-kindsa-Hollywood par-TAY (celebs were in full effect, which was funny considering…well, I wont get too gossipy) in the private Moon Room (the roof retracts) at The Geisha House a few nights ago we decided to have a bite to eat (hey, when you are out to party serious it is a good idea to make sure there are some carbs in your tum, am I right?), which turned out to be a terrible, terrible mistake. First off, you should be warned that unless you drive an 88 Toyota Tercel, your car is not safe in that neighborhood, so you absolutely have to valet. But alas, the valet was full. I’m not going to tell you what sort of car I drive, but I certainly wasn’t about to let it sit out on Hollywood Blvd all night. Boyfriend actually thought a bribe might work, and shock of shocks, for $20, they managed to find another spot (On the street, I’m sure) So, fine, whatever. Not an auspicious start, but nothing we could do.
We go in and it is dim (good) and funky (good) and loud. We are told our table isn’t ready, so we sidle up and order some weak and overpriced cocktails at the bar. Literally the second the transaction is complete we are told our table IS ready and are escorted over (to, I admit, a pretty great location). We sit down and admire the ultra fab atmosphere. After about 20 minutes we are finally greeted by our floppy-haired waiter-actor who was easily pushing 27 but behaved like he was still gunning for pre-teen roles. He chatted mercilessly about his “lady friend”, and mispronounced the name of the $10 bottle of Welsh water he was shilling (which the boyfriend ever so politely corrected him on – to save him from further humiliation – FOUR times. Not that he paid attention.) and then forgot to take our order before flitting off. When he magically appeared 18 minutes later (luckily, my buzz was on, but I still noted how long it took. The boyfriend, being magically patient was non-plussed) When we did give our order, I swear the waiter-actor jumped up and down with glee. It was beyond bizarre.
Exactly 7 minutes later our food arrived. Wow. That’s mighty fast! Yes, yes it is, but it wasn’t just our appetizers that showed up, it was EVERYTHING. Edamame, tempura, miso, sushi, salad, entrees, everything. SPLAT, right onto the tiny table. Hot, cold, you name it, it was all there. Had we ordered dessert, I’m sure it would have shown up too. Not so good in my book.
Now, as for the food itself, here is the breakdown. Edamame had no salt and there was none on the table. The waiter never showed up again, so it wasn’t an option to get some either. Since I have a thing about salt - I love it - I missed it. The salad was absolutely too bitter to eat and there was no dressing on it. Not a drop. Fine whatever, I’m over it. But then the miso was cold. Not tepid, not lukewarm – COLD, and had no tofu or green onion as advertised. Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura? Oddly lacking any sort of discernible batter, yet greasy, and the asparagus was uncooked. The rice surrounding the maki rolls on the other hand was overcooked and smushed into an unappetizing paste, (and there was no nori, just that rice paper, which is fine, but should have been noted on the menu), the yellowtail was bizarrely slimy, the Mongolian Lamb Chop was sickly sweet, the Hamachi tasted like bell peppers and the black cod which came without the vegetable and starch mentioned on the menu was the lone item that actually tasted fantastic. Can you IMAGINE? What a DISATSTER this joint is! I was willing to overlook one or two problems, it being a new-ish restaurant, and let’s face it, not really about the food, but this was beyond acceptable. Our urge to leave combined with the noise level (deafening) would have made it impossible to complain, so we just paid and ran upstairs.
The upshot is that like most of Hollywood, this place is all flash, zero substance. Had we not ended up at the party with enough free alcohol to balance out the cost, (which was pretty much average, thankfully. Actually much less than it would have cost to go to a real Japanese place) I may have bothered someone with my concerns, but I didn’t (the boyfriend sort of frowns on that sort of thing anyway. Seems to be part of being British.) I will just have to make sure never to set foot near that flashy place again…unless there is another guest list only party and my name is on it.
Two-thirds of American adults are overweight, having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, or obese, with a BMI of 30 or more.
Celebrity Owned Restaurants I can think of:
AGO – Robert DiNiro and Christopher Walken
Backstage Café – Sting (ok, not really. I think his brother owns it actually. Who cares though, its terrible)
Chi and Kitana – Justin Timberlake
Geisha House and Dolce – Ashton Kutcher (among other That 70’s Show cast members) and Jamie Kennedy (who I have inexplicably developed a crush on recently.)
Hollywood Fries – Danny Glover
House of Blues – Dan Akroyd
Kenny Rogers Roasters – Kenny Rogers
La Boca del Conga Room – Jimmy Smits, Sheila E, Paul Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez
Madres – Jennifer Lopez
Mulberry Street Pizza – Catherine Moriarity (who gets points for actually WORKING there)
The Clubhouse – Kevin CostnerThe Cutting Room (NYC) – Chris Noth