The return to Spago. I’ve been to this current Spago a couple of times before, and to the original location on Sunset once. This visit was to try the tasting menu, as I’ve ordered a la carte the previous times. Their 5-course tm w/ wine pairings is $20 more than the same at Providence, so I figure this better be damn good. But everything about Providence is better.
The bar. It was like Cheers—only, an expensive version. Everyone knew everyone. I happened to sit next to a bunch of men who are in the liquor sales biz, all drinking on the company dime. Very friendly guys. The list of cocktails had no prices. Hmmm. I ordered the cucumber lime caipirinhas, made with cachaca. The first few sips were good, then it started tasting like the after-taste of vomit. It cost me $16, that’s $19 with tip.
Dinner—the Excuse Me?? part. There was no printed menu for the tm, so you have no idea what it is and can’t read the ingredients, and can’t peruse the wine selections for the pairings. I’m sure the chef knew that morning what he’ll be serving for the tm that evening, and probably the week. Too much trouble to print it up?
Apparently no one communicated to our server our various food preferences. I wonder how they handle serious food allergies. Our server tells us very basically what the courses are, including fish, pasta, and beef. I don’t eat beef and had told Spago twice prior to arrival. There’s a conference with the chef in the kitchen. The word now is if I want to substitute something else, the entire table has to do it. There are only three of us. And anyway, that’s ridiculous. I should be able to sub out the beef, while everyone else should be able to keep the beef. We were not pleased. Our server talked to the manager, and the manager righted this wrong. Two beef, one duck.
Dinner—the good part. They decided it was in their better interest to please us instead of displeasing us, and went about so, very graciously. Four amuses: tuna tartare in some sort of sesame cone; tiny bacon en croute; lump crab meat and caviar on blini; a palate cleanser of tomato sorbet and poured tomato water.
First course: heirloom tomato with 50-yr aged balsamic. Second course: fish (yikes can’t remember what fish), with Indian flavors. Third course: pasta filled with corn puree. Fourth course: the duck (forgot to take a pic and already can’t quite remember). Dessert: I believe it was a sort of mascarpone soufle-ish, with strawberry ice cream. What I remember most about the dessert and possibly the entire meal are the strawberries. I think they are a type of wild strawberries, they are tiny, part white and part red, and some of the most beautiful, perfumey strawberries I’ve ever had. Thank you, Sherry Yard!!
The wine pairings. Nice, but all just taken from their list of wines by the glass, and at least two of them are two of the lowest priced ones. But we did end with a nice burgundy. The pours were generous. Also, they served a glass of champagne (Billecart-Salmon) with the amuses.
The food was outstanding, all the ingredients top notch, well executed. Our server was great, very friendly, helpful, and knew what to do.
With so much dining competition in L.A., plus at this price level, Spago needs to get it right, up front, not after the customer is already made unhappy.