Like a slinky feline, Miss Irene practically purrs over the most minute details at Blue Velvet, the newish spot in The Flat, a former Holiday Inn, just west of the 110 freeway downtown: firelight dancing in the bling of a nearby diner, his companion not eating, two peas placed on a plate as garnish. So enamored, she awards it two-and-a-half stars:
Early on, Blue Velvet's menu seemed too similar to every other trendy restaurant's to telegraph a clear identity. But in recent weeks, [exec chef Kris] Morningstar has risen to the occasion. He's worked hard to bring his distinctly modern style into focus. And as the kitchen has evolved into a coherent team, the execution has stepped up a notch too.We just hope all those "friends" don't live only in her head. She also notes that the restuarant is practically empty on every weeknight visit and wonders if the kitchen can handle a full room. Other than that, it's smooth sailing, which is what the "S." stands for today. [LAT]
I've brought a diverse group of friends with me on every visit, and Blue Velvet appeals to each of them in a different way. The hipster loves the look and the action. The aesthete enjoys the design and the fairly subdued noise level. The wine aficionado is quite taken with the wide-ranging wine list. And everybody enjoys the food.
ELSEWHERE: Two thumbs up for Opus (one and two); Sideways and Ford's Filling Station have potential; the Valley's new ZenChi Café does not; Malo's habanero salsa spices things up; Langer's still hits the spot; Celadon is worth a return visit; ex-cholos serve up interesting twists on Mexican-American classics at Homegirl Cafe.