DineLA descended upon the hungry citizens of Los Angeles last week. For $26/$34/$44 (depending on where you dine), you are offered a pre fixe dinner menu from a wide variety of restaurants throughout LA. My previous experience with DineLA has been really hit and miss. Locanda Veneta was superb, but Craft was stinkin’!. Sometimes Dine LA may not be reflective of a restaurant’s true quality because you may not necessarily be offered the best things off the menu or the restaurant gets lazy and does a half ass job (ie Craft). So I made reservations at various restaurants hoping for the best, but not surprised if I got something average.
The Water Grill seems like a restaurant that has been around for ages. As you could imagine, a well established restaurant serving more traditional American cuisine doesn’t generate much buzz in the food community. I was hoping the food would quell any doubts I had about dining at a place nobody talks about. Besides, Amanda works here, and I was very much impressed by her sous chef skills.
Amuse Bouche spicy tuna
Served on ice cold spoons, the amuse was a singularly harmonious bite of perfectly brunioused accoutrements and tuna wrapped in a thin cucumber slice. It was refreshing and clean with well balanced light flavors.
Water Grill Clam Chowder weiser farm potatoes, neiman ranch bacon
Although the soup was tasty, some joked that it could have easily come out of a can. Of course it was more refined than that processed junk, but it was nothing spectacular. It was a solid chowder without the heaviness of the canned stuff. The bacon offerred a smoky essence that enhanced the seafood broth and added an interesting note. The clams were tender, but too small to appreciate.
Calamari Fritto Misto sword-tip squid, lemon, harissa sauce
Hates Asian Food ordered the calamari. I had a bite and it turned out to be freshly fried and crispy. The batter wasn’t too overwhelming, the dipping sauce was not too heavy. I can’t say much else.
Wild Jumbo Pacific Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork Belly black miso glaze, cashew forbidden rice
I love shrimp. I saw shrimp. I ordered shrimp. I ate shrimp. The end. The shrimp were totally boring, just lightly seasoned and grilled. No kick of flavor to relate them to their porcine neighbors on the plate. The pork was glazed in a wonderful mizo glaze that carried a great balance of sweet and salt. The pork itself was incredibly fatty, to the point where I had to pick it apart for fear of eating globs of fat. It was not properly rendered of its fattiness and was too overwhelming. Totally unappetizing.
Wild Coho Salmon poached jidori egg, rapini, salmon roe, polenta cake
I had a bite of Wontuan’s salmon. It tasted pretty standard to me. Wontuan did not seem too impressed, but he was too busy being an ID nerd rather than a food critic. He preferred to drone on about necrotic jaws and draining sinuses harboring fungal vs. Tb infections, or how he likes for his patients to call him Dr. House. Soprano Man only fueled the flames.
Speaking of our compadre, Soprano Man insisted on ordering a side of the bacon biscuit. I will admit, it was all the flakey, buttery, bacon-y goodness that Soprano Man claimed it would be. He was singing its praises while gobbling down the fat laden carbs. My only ding was that it was a tad too salty.
Red Velvet Pudding Cake raspberries, marscapone ice cream
This was the BEST part of dinner. It was very reminiscent of the Sprinkle’s Red Velvet Cupcake in its flavor and moistness. It had a slight crispness on the exterior with a falling apart cakey richness within. It also trumped its cupcake counterpart being served warm and a la mode. How can you go wrong? I had to restrict myself from eating the whole thing. I wish I could eat one now. Soo delicious!!!!
The Water Grill failed to impress me. How could it? It serves traditional American fare without any tricks or gimmicks. This food may be perfect for some folk, but it left me wanting more. I need my food, especially at this price range, to be full of flavor, perfectly executed, and innovative. The Water Grill faltered slightly on all aspects. Overall, the place is a solid, but not what I’m looking for when I want to drop some cash. I sure did love that pudding cake though!!!
The Water Grill
544 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90071