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Week in Reviews: Akasha, Amarone, Yum Cha Cafe, Father's Office Cocktails and MORE

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We expected a total S. Irene Virbila love-fest for Akasha, Akasha Richmond's uber-green restaurant in Culver City, and everything is something: eco-friendly uniforms, great space, lighting is just right, noise level is "spirited but manageable," there's a pizza she's ordered more than once, her friend got all "dreamy-eyed" over a vegetarian bowl with Punjab beans, desserts are delcious. So what gives?

With the main courses, the difficulty of the stretch from caterer to full-fledged restaurateur shows most. The execution can be uneven, too. Roast Rosie chicken tastes like a real chicken but looks like something you'd get from an amateur cook who doesn't have experience in plating or making food look attractive. Asian-style short ribs are cloying. Lamb osso buco is a mess on the plate, braised too long and its flavor drowned out in a strong reduction. It's $30, incidentally, and the short ribs are $29. At that price point, Richmond is playing in the big leagues, competing with Lucques, or with Fraîche down the street.
Ah, so that's why Akasha gets one-and-a-half stars. Miss Irene is "confident" the "fledgling restaurant with a strong point of view---and big dose of soul" will pull through. Today the "S." stands for "straightforward." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: Amarone Kitchen & Wine on the way to becoming a "neighborhood institution"; hearty crepes at Creperie by Jack n' Jill's; SGV's Yum Cha Café now open in Chinatown; there's something to be said for rotating restaurants: A night at the BonaVista Lounge; classic cocktails at Father's Office 2.0; there's still lots of reasons to like Comme Ca; sweet love memories and strawberry donuts from the Donut Man.