6525 Sunset Blvd.
8.26.06 - Saturday, 7:00 PM
I'm not sure Social Hollywood even has a wing and a prayer. Jeffrey Chodorow, however, has a reputation, so if anyone can pull off such a lofty goal, one would think he has the mojo. This time, it's a case off bad judgment. I predict a large scale failure.
I had a delightful editor in town who wanted a true Hollywood experience. I chose Social out of curiosity and trust; I knew, regardless of how the food wound up tasting, that it would deliver on scene. And as a big fan of the Hollywood Athletic Club space Social now occupies, I was admittedly excited to see how it was transformed. It so it was. We all descended rather early in the eve, and as my editor was in a whirlwind preparing for a Entertainment Weekly party she simply did not want to be late for, the first half was a whirlwind.
The space is pretty, but not breathtaking. It's separated into distinct sections, and we sat in the front near some lovely stained glass windows. The Moroccan flavor is apparent in the decor, and certainly by spying the menu, but it's a half-ass attempt. Even the wait staff emphasized it's just a "theme" - and honestly, it felt gimmicky, right down to the tacky porcelain the dishes were served on. The problem, I truly feel, is the history of this locale - Valentino fenced here, for crying out loud, how on earth to you encompass such a monumental past full of greatness and glory? It's going to be lackluster. And it was.
I have to say the service, however, was outstanding. Marjorie the editor needed to dine and dash, and they were very accommodating, efficient, courteous, and on the ball. The captain herself took care of us, and I felt pampered. That was a surprise.
The food - oy vey. It was rather what I feared. All kinds of pomp and circumstance, with rather poor execution. Here's the specifics:
A bottle of Jade Mountain Pinot - average price, average flavor. Didn't ever really open up - notes were hard to decipher, and it was just a so-so bottle ($40). Our captain was, however, incredibly helpful at assisting the selection - I ordered this before Marjorie arrived, and because she had volunteered to pay, I wanted to keep costs down out of respect. The wine list was actually full of medium range prices, so that was a big bonus.
(see additional after-dinner cocktails at the end)
My favorite part of the meal (that's always sad when they peak at the beginning) - several bread varieties served with hummus and a trio of condiments; a spicy rub, sea salt, and dried herbs. Tasty.
Roast Duck breast and confit leg, sweet and sour orange glaze, stewed Israeli couscous
* Hmm. Close, but not quite. The duck was overcooked and a bit tough, and the sweet/sour orange glaze was actually all about the sweet. Too much so to strike any balance. The couscous was standard - no special spice or pizzazz. If you're going to go Moroccan, don't be afraid to give a serious punch of flavor - this was rather bland and disappointing.
Wild Salmon Filet braised with artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes and truffles
* The salmon was slightly more successful - nice and raw in the center, with a noticeable wild taste, the artichokes matched perfectly. Still, there was simply no wow factor. Since salmon is the ingredient du jour, it's nice to have variations, but this had none to offer.
Aged Strip Steak with celery-truffle gratin, foie gras nage, gremolata
* This dish was also an improvement; buttery smooth steak cooked medium rare, with a sweet foie gras edge and a really lovely gratin. The whole table liked this one a great deal.
Lobster Risotto, with marscapone
* Wow, OK, this made my eyes pop, but only because it was so incredibly rich. Very flavorful, with a healthy dose of lobster, but the extra mascapone sweetness, while quite heavenly for one bite, just overwhelmed the protein. I couldn't handle a second bite, and I'm a lobster addict.
Mashed potatoes with fried olives
* Ohhh. Very, very good tubers. Ultra smooth, not too buttery, and the fried olives were far superior to those I've recently had at Eat. On Sunset.
* I believe they served us straight chanterelles, and there's no complaints here - not as mind blowing as those at AOC, but not bad at all.
Social Chocolate Decadence
* Chocolate coconut cake with chocolate gelato and a candied coconut topping
Fine, fine, so you can bake a decadent dessert. Well, who can't? Of course it was tasty, it was almost solid chocolate + butter. But without any ingenuity, this is just another chocolate cake.
* Absolut Citron Vodka and Fresh sweetened Lemon juice shaken with Fresh pomegranate juice and topped with a edible flower
Not a bad cocktail - more acidic than annoying sweet, I have to see the edible flower is a nice touch. But no, I didn't eat it.
The Social Martini
Ultimat Vodka and a whisper of dry vermouth, shaken tableside and of course the shaker is yours to keep
* Interesting, as we did not receive this shaken tableside, nor did we score a shaker. This was a $20 martini. Good, but not THAT good. Maybe if I had gotten a shaker out of the deal . . .
The damage for 1 bottle of wine, 2 cocktails, 4 entrees, 2 sides, and 1 dessert was about $270, before tip.
RESTAURANT REPORT CARD - Social Hollywood, visit 1
Ambiance - B-
Service - A-
Food (Taste) - C+
Food (Presentation) - C+
Wine/Drinks - B
Value - C-
Vibe/Energy/Scene - B
Overall Experience - C+
Final word - While we were taken care of, the food execution does not add up to the dollar amounts. Social has bitten off more than it can chew.
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