In what very well might be LA Weekly’s last restaurant review in a long time, with no indication that the alt-weekly would continue its tradition of comprehensive food coverage in Los Angeles, guest critic Javier Cabral files a review of ink.well, Michael Voltaggio’s second rendition of his ink restaurant in West Hollywood.
Reading the review, one can immediately sense that perhaps the piece didn’t get a full edit cycle. According to Cabral, he filed the copy before the LA Weekly sale to its new owners was completed.
There are some glaring mistakes like ink’s original location, which should’ve indicated it was on Melrose, not Beverly Blvd. But perhaps more obvious verbiage is a recitation of a truly explicit Nate Dogg lyric he overhears, which Cabral hints is somehow relevant to the food [censor added]:
"'Cause you gave me all your *****, and ya even licked my *****." The unabashed lyrics, it turned out, were a precursor to Voltaggio's food.
The rest of the review seems pretty enthusiastic for the fare:
Except when you take a closer look at them, every single dish has done serious time inside the head of the chef. That calamari is battered in a black corn masa/potato crust with a flavor profile closer to pakora than any fried calamari you've encountered. That Gem lettuce salad is halved, not torn, and draped with a vinegar-intense frozen blanket of crunchy avocado reminiscent of taqueria-style guacamole. The big-eye tuna tartare features tofu and is tightly rolled up with shaved celery root, looking more like a fresh Cohiba than any cylinder of raw fish.
He’s not all positive, however:
Though, his version of street corn, which I suspect was intended as an ode to esquite, is more like creamed corn than anything I've had in the streets. If you're into creaminess, it will be fine. If you were looking for a fun, cheffed up version of street corn, you will feel duped.
Cabral gives ink.well three stars out of five.
The Weekly recently announced it was cancelling its annual Sips & Sweets event because vendors pulled out. A widespread social media campaign to boycott LA Weekly for its murky new ownership group (and prior dismissal of most its editorial staff) contributed to vendors pulling out of the event, originally scheduled to take place next week.
Will this be the last legitimate starred restaurant review the LA Weekly files? It would leave behind a legacy of fine work from Jonathan Gold (who won a Pulitzer for the publication) and his successor Besha Rodell (who left in September 2017).