It's rare to see S. Irene Virbila on the attack. Last week, she gave Ca 'Brea half a star, but the review felt more "We don't like it, but obviously others do, so there you go." Sometimes if the Critic's Notebook is really negative, we never see a full review. This week it's as if the critic couldn't wait to get her hands on Abode in Santa Monica, and she goes straight for the jugular. By proposing a hypothetical---Abode = romantic restaurant---she took it to task for not being romantic at all, then proceeded to trash just about every dish chef Dominique Crenn and her kitchen puts out.
After several meals at Abode, I can't help but feel the kitchen has taken a wrong turn somewhere. The cooks are spending too much time on arts and crafts projects -- painting the sauces, primping the ingredients, whipping up those foams -- and not enough on considering how the food tastes to a hapless diner. Crenn is not alone in this. Many chefs want to be fashionable; some become fashion victims.By the by, she hates the design, too, peppering her review with undiluted snark (the tables are "coy," the chandelier looks like "an insect"). Nothing but negative was expected from the LAT especially after Leslie Brenner's Critic's Notebook, but the idea that Abode is a romantic spot seems out of thin air. Still, it's why Miss Irene thinks it fails---who wants fussy when you want romantic? There was little Crenn and Abode could to to please the critic: It gets half a star. Today the "S." stands for "scathing." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: Bar-B-Kosher keeps the Fashion District fed; Off Vine an oasis in the middle of the day; not-so-hot Hunan Mao Jia "swimming in oil"; sno:LA tops Pinkberry; Triplecreme hearts Intelligentsia; and American Flatbread: the Los Alamos Mozza?