This year's Gourmet on Fire event at the Loews Santa Monica hotel was kind of a bust on Sunday. Plenty of people showed---sold out, we hear---maybe because it was an evening event vs. a daytime one. Now we've enjoyed this event every year (two previous at Loews, one at Viceroy) but something was amiss this time around, and we can't exactly put our finger on it. The chefs were almost all there---Neal and Amy Fraser grilling for Grace and BLD; Joe Miller made a quick appearance at his Bar Pintxo table; a bundled up Akasha Richmond passed out spiced grilled shrimp; the chef from the Loews manned his table, as did pastry chef Zoe Nathan from Rustic Canyon. Not in attendance: Govind Armstrong at Table 8 table, which also ran out of food about an hour in. (To be fair, the restaurant is closed for now.) You know what happens when there are only six or seven restaurants represented and one drops out too early? Lines at the other tables get ridiculous.
Waits climbed to 20-25 minutes at two tables; those who stood for something from Pintxo eventually got a grilled onion and some romesco---and that was it. Grace's burger was good, as were Akasha's shrimp; the sushi roll at Katsuya was, well, a crab roll. Wines weren't anything to speak of; the rum drinks were cloyingly sweet; the hotel didn't plan for the chill and supply heat lamps, so people warmed themselves by the grills. As our friend The Knife mused: "C'mon Gourmet, you're Gourmet." On the plus side, because food was hard to come by unless you had the patience of a warrior, we ended up at Animal on Fairfax for the third time in one week. Yes, third time.
· The most exciting new restaurant in LA? or, A Day in the Life [The Knife]
· Eater Sneak Peek: Animal [~ELA~]