Not so Glad about Gladstones

Restaurant: Gladstones Malibu [1, 2]

Location: 17300 Pacific Coast HwyPacific Palisades, CA 90272. (310) 454-3474

Date: March 18, 2011

Cuisine: American Seafood

Summary: Fast bordering on brusque


Two months to the day after I tried the slightly revamped Gladstones (REVIEW HERE), we decided to go back for a dinner. The two of us walked in the door at 6:30. They had us walking out at 6:55. A new record in whirlwind service. So fast that I was in physical pain, my stomach in spasm from having wolfed down the food.

Dragonfruit mojito.” This concoction was disgustingly sweet, tasting of artificial strawberry and whatever weird kind of fruit is baked into “dragonfruit bacardi.” I dislike this trend of overzealous corporate marketing and lazy bartenders in which drinks are made with “flavored” alcohols instead of actual mixers. There is really no circumstance where this kind of factory flavored drink tastes better than just mixing. It is “easier.” Like pre-mixed Chernobyl green margarita mix. As the rest of the cocktails were this sort, I moved on to a glass of wine.

Bread. Warm sour-dour. Nothing to complain about here.

“CRAB CAKES  Remoulade, Arugula & Fennel.” These arrived as the words of our order were hanging in the air, but they were tasty enough. Not on the level of either the Houstons or Capo crabcakes, but respectable.

“BAKED SALMON CARTOCCIO  Saffron Potato, Roast Fennel, & Olive Herb Tapenade.” Must like what we made at our own dinner party the week before. But not bad either. Too bad it arrived while I was still working on my appetizer — and I’m a fast eater.

“CURRIED COCONUT SHRIMP  Jasmine Rice, Yellow Curry, Thai Basil & Passion Fruit.” I had ordered this two months before and enjoyed it immensely. Something was really wrong with it tonight. Maybe the fact that they cooked it in 3 minutes flat? The sauce was totally out of balance. The curry flavor very muted and the lime massively dominant. It just didn’t taste good that way, being almost unpleasantly sour.

The bus boy was pulling our plates from us as I was literally forking the last couple shrimp. I mean I had to reach into the air to get them. The waitress teleported over, asked if we wanted dessert, hearing the negative, slapped the check down. They weren’t rude or unpleasant, but it was all so rushed that I felt an almost compulsive need to hurry in order to match their pace. I don’t mind a fast dinner sometimes, but this was ridiculous.

More fundamental, I also worry about quality control in the kitchen. Things just seemed much more lackluster than the previous time I was here. And it’s very expensive — overpriced in fact. So I don’t think I’ll be back for a while.

Quick Eats – Gladstones by the Sea

Restaurant: Gladstones [1, 2]

Location: 17300 Pacific Coast HwyPacific Palisades, CA 90272. (310) 454-3474

Date: Jan 18, 2011

Cuisine: American Seafood

Summary: Updated classic coastal seafood


Just 48 hours after our Sunday trip down the coast to Paradise Cove (REVIEW HERE), the incredible January weather was holding in fine form. 80 degrees, sunny, nice breezes. I had heard that SBE, the food/club group which operates the awesome Bazaar (REVIEW HERE) had bought Gladstones down at the end of Sunset. Now I’d never been too partial to Gladstones, even though it’s nicely located. Despite the great view, it never made the best of it and the menu was a bit old school, over priced, and leaned toward the fried and over-sized.

They didn’t change the look too much, but it’s not much to complain about.

The menu, click as usual for larger.

And page 2.

We decided to try both chowders. First the manhattan. Not bad, broth like a Cioppino.

The New England. Not as good as Paradise Cove actually. Too much like canned stuff, i.e. thin.

The impaled sour dough was cool though.

When I’d come here in the 90s I used to get the “coconut shrimp,” which were fried. In their update of the menu they have replaced them with this. Those are shrimp with rice and dried coconut, in a kind of thai peanut red curry. Oh wow. They tasted great! I mean I always like red curry (HERE, FOR A THAI PLACE REVIEW), but this was pretty damn succulent. Not exactly what I expected, and very rich, but damn good.

Since my Paradise Cove meal had just whet my seafood tower appetite, and I now had a partner in shellfish slaying crime, we went for the 2 person cold seafood extravaganza. This WAS better than it’s equivalent at Paradise Cove. Not the best tower I’ve had, but good. Scallops, shrimp, oysters, clams, lobster with avocado cerviche, Alaskan Crab legs, and the sauces: Cocktail, tartar, and vinaigrette. Everything was great except for the crab legs which tasted too frozen.

But again the biggest winner was the view, and the weather. January!  East Coasters look and weep.

Another shot of the porch.

The menu certainly hasn’t been radically redefined. It’s gotten a bit of an update, and the quality has risen. Still, it would be neat to see what someone really creative — like Jose Andres! — could so with the beach side restaurant concept.

For a second review of Gladstones click here.