Room with a Vu

Restaurant: Vu [1, 2]

Location: 14160 Palaway Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 310.439.3033

Date: July 28 & 30, 2011

Cuisine: Modern

Rating: Interesting, but a little all over the place

ANY CHARACTER HERE

My brother and I were out for our weekly lunch adventure and after Gjelina had a 45 minute wait we made our way to Vu, which I had tried a couple months ago for dinner.


Vu does live up to its name, sporting a nice patio with an excellent view of the marina.


I was a little surprised to find the lunch menu, PDF here, a bit “more conventional” than the modern tapas centric dinner menu.


Bread.


“Grilled Polenta: Asparagus, tomato, pickled red onion, aged balsamic.”


Green Curry Soup: Mussels, coconut boba, micro cilantro.” This was quite good. Fairly spicy, coconuty, definably rich. The mussels, boba, and pork lumps inside were like little prizes to hunt for.

“Seared King Cole Duck Breast Salad: mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cherries, chocolate-spiced cashews, red wine vinaigrette.”  This was pretty tasty, the duck was good, and the various elements. But the mix was overall a little weird. I’m pretty sure there was sisho in the greens, as they had that distinct flavor. Now I like sisho, but the overall flavor profile of the dish was a little helter-skelter.

“Blue Crab Cakes: charred tomato, orange, brioche bread crumbs, pickled red onion, mache, mustard ice cream.” These crab-cakes were way over fried, and inside they were stuffed with tarragon. So much so that they tasted like tarragon cakes. This wasn’t ideal, masking the crab flavor (as did the heavy fry). No where near in the league of the crab-cakes from Houstons or Capo.

I also popped down to Vu two days after this with my toddler from some brunch as we were already in the Marina.

The brunch menu can be found here.


Pancakes. Pretty conventional. I think the syrup was vanilla syrup, which was tasty.


My son likes a mix in with strawberries.


“Lobster Omelette: asparagus, shaved fennel, niman ranch pork belly, pommery hollandaise, home fries.” This wasn’t bad at all, but the overall flavor profile was again a little weird. The sour mustard clashed a bit with the sweetness of the pork and lobster.


Some VERY good fries, with a cumin based seasoning on them.


And some fantastic Neiman ranch bacon. Really really good bacon.

Overall Vu is trying interesting stuff, but the chef is too wild with his palette. I’m all for crazy and interesting combinations and new modern techniques — really all over them — but they need to be employed with care. Dishes still have to work together harmoniously, which isn’t really going on here.

Click here to see the previous review of Vu.

or other LA restaurants.

Quick Eats: Houstons

Restaurant: Houstons

Location: 202 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 576-7558

Date: December 17, 2010

Cuisine: American

Rating: Solid High-end Chain American

 

As any reader can probably tell, I’m not too big on chain restaurants. Frankly I consider the Olive Garden, Outback, Claim Jumper ilk to be demonic evil blights on the face of American cuisine. There are, however, a few high end chains that serve their purposes. Houstons is one of them. Although a tad over priced, its not bad for a chain.

The menu.

Their wine list is all American. While I’m a huge patriot and a grand believer in our role as the best genuine republic since the Roman Republic, our wines our too by the book. Certainly the case with this pinot, over oaked, and just not a burgundy.

Clam chowder. I am a fan of well done American food. Houston’s clam chowder used to be better. It used to be loaded with cream and have butter floating on top. It’s still good, but they lightened it up. In case you’re curious, it’s my opinion that clam chowder is descended from the classic Irish peasant soup that combined cream and potatoes – in ready supply in Ireland. New England — and this is New England chowder — is full of Irish. Go figure.

Fish of the day, livened up with cheese and fried shrimp.

They have a very good veggie burger. Not one of those soy patties. The fries aren’t awful either.

The fish sandwich. The slaw is really good too.

Or you could go with cous cous. They mix in a lot of good stuff there, almonds, mint etc.

Maryland lump crab-cakes. Yum! I love blue crab. These were quiet good, with a buttery mustard sauce.

And the apple praline nut crumble — ala mode. The nuts are glazed and delicious. There isn’t that much apple, but the candied nuts and ice cream alone is enough.

So when one wants a reliable quick American fix, Houstons isn’t a bad choice. Still, I’d take the smaller chain Coastal Flats, but that isn’t on this coast.