Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stefan's at LA Farm

Stefan's at L.A. Farm on UrbanspoonWe've been focusing lately on some of the restaurants favorite Top Chef contestants own and/or work. Stefan Richter, a finalist on season 5, was a favorite because he consistently came out on top with his dishes, but for some reason lost in the end. In my opinion, either he, Carla, or Jamie should have won. But, oh well...

So, when we found out Stefan's restaurant, Stefan's at LA Farm, is literally right around the corner from our apartment, my boyfriend was sweet enough to take me there a couple of weeks ago for a nice dinner. Here is my review:

The food was pretty good. We started with a couple of "small plates." We got the Beef Tartare with Poached Quail Egg and Breadstick. This was pretty gross.. it tasted more like cat food than anything else. This was the most disappointing dish of the evening. We also had the Truffle Arancini with Cracked White Pepper, Smoked Salt and Griddled Brioch which was tastier, bu not as flavorfull as I would have liked and it was TINY. These are two dishes I could not resist on the menu because for some reason I am compelled to try any tartare I see and arancini is a traditional Italian snack I am used to getting in Boston. Stefan's version of arancini was obviously much more gourmet than the fried rice balls we used to get at the bakeries in Boston.

I need to now start commenting on what I didn't like about this restaurant and why I wouldn't return. The service and atmosphere were both terrible. The waiter was just horrible. Here are some of the things he did:

  • When he first arrived at the table, he asked if we wanted any wine. We had not received a wine list yet so I said I was not sure yet as I looked for the wine list. He took our two wine glasses and walked away! When he returned a while later, I asked him for a wine list. Maybe he didn't hear what I had said initially because the place is so LOUD, but shouldn't they automatically give you a wine list?
  • It took him FOREVER to return to our table in between the basic stuff. When he eventually returned and we were trying to order, he didn't know much about the menu. I asked him what kind of vegetables came with a dish and he had to guess and did not offer to go find out. As I scanned the menu to try to make another choice and didn't see anything I particularly liked, he said, "I know, there are so many good choices on there." ! Contrare mon frere!!
  • As I was scanning the menu, my boyfriend asked if there were any specials. The waiter was like, "yeah" and he pulls out his notebook. HE DIDN'T EVEN OFFER TO TELL US THESE BEFORE. And, not to be super picky, but he should know the specials by heart.
  • I ordered a glass of wine and he never brought it to me. I sat there staring at it on the bar because the bar tender had poured it, the waiter just never picked it up! After we finished our small-plates sans-vino, I got up and picked up the wine myself!
  • In terms of atmosphere, the place was SO LOUD we couldn't hear each other. I couldn't hear what the waiter was saying either. I don't know if it's the acoustics or what. I mean, yes, you are sitting 4 inches from the next table which sucks but in some places they manage to make the acoustics work anyway.
  • For a $100 plus dinner, I just expect more.
  • We also sat as far away from the open patio as possible and we were still freezing the whole time!
Back on to the food. I did end up getting a special they had which was a Stuffed Quail. The bird, greens, and stuffing were good. The potatoes were pretty flavorless. My boyfriend got the Halibut dish on the menu which was tasty and interesting. We also got the Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream. OK, a CRISP should have something crispy on top, not just a crust at the bottom. That would make it a PIE. Also, I don't think the ice cream was homemade, but I am not sure.

Overall, there are too many fine dining establishments with tasty food in the LA.. I don't need to settle for one with crappy service and atmosphere.. I don't care if Stefan is walking around everywhere (he was) or if the food is tasty.

The pictures that came out OK withmy iPhone were the Tartare, Halibut, and Apple Crisp shown below: