Here you go dear Gringos, our first restaurant review by hipster chef Ricky D. Eat it up!
Let’s face it, no matter what the lame stream media is trying to make us believe Los Angeles is not a restaurant town. This fact perplexes me; great farmer’s markets abound and that big lake called the Pacific Ocean with all its mariscos is right there. We have the ingredients but not the content and if you read any blog you know that content is king.
The San Francisco restaurant scene thrives with ecstatic new openings and old stand bys. You are unable to sit down in any Chicago eatery without having the best meal of your life. Here in LA we have to settle for places like Wurstkuche that sells sausages that they buy pre-made. To many Angelenos this place is considered a great dining experience. Dear God.
I dare you to find one place in LA that has been open for more than 2 years that is consistently good. Please let me know. For realz.
Case in point, The York on York Boulevard. It’s name is about as clever as their menu which seems to not have changed a bit since they opened. To be fair they consider themselves not to be a restaurant but instead a “gastropub” – STRIKE ONE! Gastropub is a term I hate, it creates images in my mind of gastro bipass surgery being performed by surly Brits with bad teeth playing darts – unappetizing.
The York’s lack of originality is on display in their design. A copy cat of the popular Edison Bar with the bulbs to boot that was so popular years ago. You know that boring style of industrial Americana complete with the menus written on chalk boards which are barely visible and legible.
Then there is the annoying fact that there is no waitstaff; everyone has to order from the bar, get a number and then some poor food runner (who seems to be the only one doing any real work in the place) brings out the meals. Again something that was trendy years ago with places like Local in Silver Lake (take a visit there just to see another example of a place that once had a business but now is barely hanging on due to inconsistency in food quality). But back to the York, to order anything, everyone has to deal with the astoundingly rude bartenders. Ah the rude bartender, another trend here in LA that has worn out its welcome. STRIKE TWO! Plus, the lack of table service makes it nearly impossible to garner any information about the menu.
Now for the food!
By this point who cares right well unfortunately it seems no one in their kitchen cares what they’re putting out either. I’ve eaten here 5 times (mind you I only review places at which I’ve eaten at least 3 times).
On my first visit, I sat at the bar, waited, waited, waited…stood up to grab the bartender who said he’d be right with me. Ok waiting, waiting… finally he comes over. I ask what he recommends, “steak frites with chimichurri” – of course he recommends the most expensive thing but I go for it. It comes out way too quickly and pathetic looking and tastes not good at all. Steak – over cooked, chimichurri – bland and honestly not a chimichurri but just low grade oil, frites – too few, too sad looking, too tasteless.
Second visit, I met my friend for a beer and we ordered the sauteed garbanzos just for a snack and they were good! But then how can you mess up a simple dish like that? (See below)
Third visit, after a long night at work I came here as I knew they were one of the only places in my hood that serves food late thats not a taco stand. Actually the bartender this time, a super sweet and attentive woman, made an excellent Hendrick’s Gin concoction that was delightful and just what the doctor ordered. I started with the garbanzos. This time they were mushy and they forgot the cayenne. They should have just served them in the Goya can they came in. Consistency people!
The lovely bartender recommended the fish and chips (after first recommending the steak frites) so I tried it. Came out again too fast and…fish – soggy and tasteless, frites – again just so sad and bland.
But what about their brunch, Ricky D.? When they first started opening for brunch I came in to try it out. Ordered the brunchiest of brunchy things – Bloody Mary and Eggs Benedict, the drink was terrible, which whatever, but c’mon if you’re doing brunch you gotta have a rocking Bloody. And the Eggs Benny was gross, I ate the potatoes. One bite of the eggs and the gelatinous horseradish hollandaise was enough to know I didn’t want more.
My final visit – yes I know I’m a glutton for punishment – I asked for no recommendations . I ordered a beer and the Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich – and this last visit is why I’ve never been back. Forget about the rude bartender, who cares, but damn the sandwich was inedible, barely any pulled pork and there was a thick chewy piece of ham that I could barely bite into — di-digity–disgusting. I gagged – seriously. I asked for a refund and was grudgingly given one. STRIKE THREE AND YOU’RE OUT.
This place is basically a trendier version of an Applebee’s. They have a set menu that goes from freezer to plate in seconds! It has nothing special and is way below average. Even as a bar it’s just run of the mill; sure a great beer selection but what bar or excuse me gastropub doesn’t have an extensive craft beer list nowadays? Plus if I’m going out to drink it wouldn’t be here. There are plenty of better options in the area where the acoustics allow me to actually have an audible conversation with my drinking buddies.
But of course many people come here to drink and the food is an afterthought, too bad the food is an afterthought for those working in the kitchen as well. Why have a restaurant if you don’t love food? A question I ask myself way to often in Los Angeles.
The York is located at 5018 York Blvd. in Highland Park.
Chef Ricky D. is a chef living in Mt. Washington. He’s worked in established, top restaurants in Venice, Culver City and Atwater Village for the past seven years. He eats non-stop, makes killer patés, and is an LA native.