Tuesday, July 24, 2007

LA: Koi's Waitstaff Is Sooooo Snotty and The Little Door Serves BIG Wonderful Meals

Okay, I'll be completely honest and tell you that my story about Koi happened a year ago, but that doesn't make it any less bad. The fact that I'm still complaining about it means that it was pretty egregious.

7 of us were going out to a special occasion dinner and Koi was supposed to be great. We were seated at a nice table. Our waiter came over reasonably promptly, but from the moment he addressed us, it seemed like he had somewhere else to be. He brought us our drinks and then proceeded to take our order. The menu at Koi is very complex. It's lots of little dishes that are basically sushi and you order for the table and stuff gets brought out in random order as it's ready. 7 people can order MANY different dishes. Halfway through taking our order our waiter actually LOOKED AT HIS WATCH. I have NEVER seen such a thing.

He also refused to write anything down, claiming that he always remembered everything. Well, not this time. He got one dish wrong and forgot two, which worked out to be fine, since we had over-ordered anyway. I might have said something to him, but there were a lot of people and it was awkward. So I'm saying it now: Koi has (had?) one really horrible waiter who should be relieved of his misery. Yes, I know, I should have called the restaurant the next day and complained OR done it that very minute...

Okay on to happier topics:
This week we needed a nice restaurant for D's* birthday. I said she could choose, but that I would prefer fusion cuisine and famous people, in spite of my problem at Koi. She gave me a couple of choices and I decided on The Little Door, which isn't the normal Asian/French fusion...it's French with a Moroccan twist. Less than a week before our reservation, I saw on paparazzi television that Posh and Becks had dined there!!! So that certainly counts as a celebrity hangout.

A real Frenssschhhhman greeted us and showed us to our table. I'm pretty fussy about where I sit and I was unsure if we had gotten a bad table. It was the second or third one back on the outdoor patio.

Later on, I decided it was ok, because a world famous director was seated 2 tables away from us. I'd love to tell you who it was, but then I'd have to kill you...Not really. I can't remember who he is for the life of me and noone else knew either. I made H** ask the Frenssschhhhman as we left and HE had no idea. I think Monsieur was actually telling the truth, because he even asked a couple of waiters. The director's identity was further clouded by the fact that I thought he was American, my husband thought he had heard some kind of European accent and the Frenssschhhhman said he was English. Anyway, I KNOW he was famous and I will pursue every lead to track his identity down.

To the food:
D and I started with a Kir Royale. (We were in an island of Frenchland in the middle of LA, after all.) We started with one "Mezze", an assortment of falafel, spanakopita, kibbeh with homemade pita. All were delicious, a little heavy, but fried food keeps you feeling well-fed - a necessary state of affairs in skinny LA.

We had one peach gazpacho, which was glorious. A wonderful base of fresh tangy gazpacho with the added sweetness and aroma of magnificently ripe peaches. So crisp tasting...the sweet and sharp played off each other splendidly.

The last starter that we passed around was a salad with arugula, peaches, gruyere and walnuts in a walnut dressing which was on the list of specials. This being California it was almost a complete meal. Each ingredient was perfect and tasty. The slightly sweet dressing was a good complement.

I have to admit I didn't much notice my husband's salmon, which he said was fabulous, because I was so delighted with my Seven Vegetable Couscous, a restaurant speciality, presented in a wonderful tagine and served with harissa and an onion confit. D ordered a special - Tiger Shrimp with Pappardelle Pasta and Pesto.

Great dishes, just one problem. The servings were immense. Sometimes it's nice to take a dish or two home, but each one (including the starters, which we didn't take home) were just too big. May I respectfully suggest to the proprietors that they reduce the portions and lower their prices? Twenty eight dollars for a vegetable couscous is a bit pricey.

Dessert was a triple sampler of creme brulées. Rich, tasty and SO not necessary after such a big dinner.

The restaurant is absolutely charmingly decorated and very quaint and cosy, but, a little complaint here, it's too dark. It's one thing to have a romantic candlelit glow, it's another not to be able to even identify what's on the plate. The food is so wonderful, it would be nice to see it just a bit more.


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