When was the last time Joachim Splichal earned less than one star? Honestly, we can't think of one. No top dog is in every kitchen that has his or her name on it. Fact. But when Paperfish opened at the end of '07, Splichal was around to smooth out rough edges. Not enough, according to S. Irene Virbila. Whether chef de cuisine Yianni Koufodontis isn't ready for a Patina Group stage, or the Patina Group finally lost its Patina luster, something's not working:
The execution is inconsistent. One night almost every dish is too salty. Chestnut soup has a skin on it. Fried oysters are tepid. Another time, the cooking is crisper, but only just. Sauces are over-reduced and sweet; the rice is almost inedible, it's so unevenly cooked. Is it simply a bad match between the chef and Splichal's signature California-French cuisine?Miss Irene liked Koufodontis when he was at Petros, but for Splichal: "You'd think that for his return to Beverly Hills and the Westside after an absence of 22years?Splichal could do better than this -- much better." Paperfish gets half a star. Today the "S." stands for "slamalicious." (A shout out to wine guru Bonnie Graves pictured in the story.) [LAT]
It's more than that. With the possible exception of Patina at Walt Disney Concert Hall and Leatherby's Cafe Rouge in Costa Mesa, the cooking at outposts in the Patina empire doesn't have much of a personal stamp. The food is so anonymous it could be mistaken for a hotel or corporate restaurant's. In fact, Paperfish is a corporate restaurant, just one of the 20-something restaurants Splichal's Patina Restaurant Group owns and runs.
ELSEWHERE: Even carnivores can become vegan converts at Akasha; nothing revolutionary about the NY-style pies at Brownstone in Eagle Rock, but still satisfying; a post-Irene visit to Izakaya Zero in the OC; discovering Tara's Himalayan Cuisine in Palms; comforting brunch with long waits at Dish in La Canada Flintridge; Bar Pintxo is not for the carbophobes; and Little Dom's, uneven?