Saturday, October 18, 2008

Edendale: There is Food There Too.

Edendale Grill
2838 Rowena Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039 (323) 666-2000

So incensed was I at the hipster take over of the Edendale that I forgot all about what we ate! And perhaps not to bad effect. One never goes to the Edendale for the food.

With some of our favorite people in town from Lake Havasu, ex-Silverlakers, we wanted to stick close to the neighborhood and eat somewhere relaxed, so we headed for the patio at Edendale Grill. Hands down, best outside eating area on the east side, maybe in all of LA.

I have done 5 hour Sunday brunches, closed down the bar more nights than I can count, Mothers' Day, birthdays, and so on into infinity. A balmy fall evening is one of my favorite times here. The atmosphere is somehow magical. No one is hurrying you to leave the table, the service is decent even if the food is suspect.

I love the lights, the trees, the fact that you will drive past the restaurant 5 times and still miss it if you do not know exactly where it is.

There is so much history in this grill. The owner, Melanie Tusquellas (who also now owns the slightly refurbished El Chavo on Sunset) has imbued the decor with pics and artifacts that belie very early Hollywood's strong presence in the neighborhood. Edendale itself is housed in an old firehouse, the bar is where there main engine was kept, as is evident by the huge swinging double doors.

This used to be the front entrance to a firehouse, circa 1925. And onto the food:

First out were the infamous meatballs. These are maybe the best tasting thing on the menu. The sauce is slightly spicy, and the herbed ground beef and sauce are covered in melty mozzarella, baked in the dish.

Next stop were the salads. The above Caesar was decent, but not even a trace of anchovies. I don't remember ever having eaten a Caesar here before, so I am unclear whether this is their recipe or the kitchen just ran out. But a Caesar needs that fishy kick, IMO. This cannot even come close to touching Pat's recipe.

I loved the flavors in my arugula and fig salad. Fresh arugula, lots of figs, thick rich balsamic vinegar, chunks of bacon and ricotta cheese sprinkled throughout. However, the pantry chef must have been asleep on the job. The arugula was served, literally, in little branches. I tried to put some of this on D's plate, but when I dug in the entire salad moved because the branches were interconnected like layers of plant life in a rain forest.

In order to eat the arugula, I had to lift an entire branch and chew the leaves off with my teeth. I suppose I could have cut each leaf off with my fork and nibbled at it in a more civilized manner. I have two issues with that approach: 1) separating the leaves from the branches is not MY job, and 2) it would have been far less interesting to watch.

C orders mac n' cheese almost wherever he goes, T says. Mainly I think he likes to know if there is another one anywhere that measures up. I know C's cooking, and I am guessing there is not. This one failed the test. T wonders why he does this, subjecting himself to inferior mac n' cheese. I will posit he does so because even bad mac n' cheese is still mac n' cheese.

This one was extremely reminiscent of Kraft Shells and Cheese from the box with the pre-made cheese sauce in the foil package. You know the one.

There is one word for my roast chicken: weird. Roast chicken is a favorite of mine. This one was dry and weirdly crispy on the outside, reminiscent of deep fried turkey. C touched it, tasted it and decided all the other entrees were ready and this one was still pink in the center. So the cook did what cooks all over the world in lesser restaurants do and dropped it in the fryer real quick to finish it off. Not good but not horrifying. Just ok. The kale it sat on was delicious.

Blue nose bass, by all accounts was ok. D says this am, "It was ok. The food there is ok. The atmosphere is awesome."

C's pulled pork sandwich was dry, without a lot of zing.

And I have the same problem with the bleu cheese fries I always have. The bleu cheese is not melty. I like my cheese fries to have a melty cheese, so the fry itself gets slightly sticky. It's a prerequisite for a cheesy fry.

It was a beautiful night, in good company with lovely and accommodating service and an entertaining floor show people watching. There is nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful southern California night with my friends who know me the best. I could eat cheese and crackers sitting on the front porch stoop and have a smile on my face.

Edendale Grill on Urbanspoon


Exile Kiss said...

Hi Food, she thought,

Nice review. The outdoor areas do indeed seem really nice and pleasant. :) It's unfortunate the food sounds like it's nowhere near the level of the ambiance.

t said...

You were correct madame. C ready the post and concurred "mac & cheese is still mac & cheese." So if that's the way you feel mister, stop complaining when it sucks!

Food, she thought. said...

It is nowhere near the level of the ambience. We go there to eat outside and not be hurried. It is just so unfortunate that the owner will not spend the money on a decent chef, with the regularity of the crowd she gets she can certainly afford it.