Friday, April 2, 2010

District Restaurant: Not One to Visit

Bowery is one of my favorite gastropubs in LA. The moules frites are garlic and wine-drenched crispy perfection, the bartenders are charming and pour heavy, and the atmosphere is chillaxed chic. So when I heard the owner, George Abou-Daoud, who also runs Delancy (a decent high end pizzeria), Tamarind Street and The Mission Cantina, was opening a new bistro, I was elated.

But oh how the mighty have fallen.

Walking into District, just next door to Abou-Daoud's other new property, Mercantile, you can't help but be struck by the mahogany bar, cinder walls and vaulted ceilings. Without question, the aesthetic at District gets an A. Too bad the food earns a C- (and I like to grade on a curve).

Issue number one: If you want bread at District, you have to pay for it. That's not very neighborly. Especially when it tastes like this. From the three enticing options, Duck Fat Yorkshire Pudding with Thyme, Jalapeno & Cheddar Biscuits, and housemade Dinner Rolls (all $3), my dining companion and I settled on the Yorkshire Pudding, basically a gussied up popover. What arrived were bland, underseasoned mini bites of dough that wouldn't even give Pillsbury Crescent Rolls a run for their money. Booooring.

Bibb Lettuce with Roasted Grapes, Marcona Almonds and Garlic Vinaigrette ($11) didn't do anything to up the ante. Eight barely dressed leaves quivered on the plate, studded with a few grape flourishes and some scattered nuts. Seriously? Where was a the garlic? Where was the acid? Where was the salt?
Apparently, it was all in the Green Garlic Sauce which accompanied my Turbot with Asparagus and Pea Greens ($27). The watery green marsh below the bland fish fillet, which was primarily bones and fat, was one of the saltiest things I'd ever tasted. That is, until I tried the unforgivably vile white bean puree smeared under my friend's ultra fatty Braised Lamb with Artichoke Hearts and (too many) Black Olives ($24), and found myself choking on sodium overload.

Minute portions, severe under and overseasoning, steep prices, and a major lack of technical expertise (since when does a guest have to debone their own fish tableside?) ensure that this trip to District will be my last. Luckily, Bowery is just a few blocks away.
6600 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, Ca. 90028

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