If you needed more excuses to visit The Grove in LA, then here it is: Renowned pastry chef, famous for creating the ever-trendy Cronut- if you haven't heard of it, it's part croissant, part donut- has opened up his latest restaurant in one of the most picturesque outdoor shopping malls in LA; & it is about so much more than just the pastries. Don't worry, though, those are still there, too, if you get there early enough to snag one for yourself. There is some controversy, however, & some claim it isn't worth the hassle of eating there. My own experience raised a few questions regarding its overall worthiness, as well.
Considering how hard it is to get here, how difficult it is to snag a reservation, and the sheer height of those prices, one might be tempted to forego this restaurant altogether. The menu changes quite often, so if you read about something in the review, don't get too excited, as they may not have it by the time you get the chance to come. And even if they do have the thing you're craving- say, one one of those famed Cronuts- you would have to show up pretty early to get one before they sell out, (as they always do). “Why the whole 4 stars?” you ask. Well, the service goes above and beyond to make your visit comfortable & enjoyable. One of the head honchos himself came to ask what kind of cocktail I was feeling that wasn't on the menu and he went to tailor one to my needs straightaway. It was amazing, by the way.
Low points aside, the place is pretty snazzy; especially at night during the Holidays. There are a lot of seating areas throughout the restaurant, but you have to really plan ahead via the Resy Reservation site to ensure you grab a table near one of the windows for the view. The tables inside near the back leave much to be desired in terms of view and ambiance. I was alone, so had to be seated at the kitchen counter on the 2nd floor, but was pleasantly treated to a few chef-tailored dishes just for sitting there. I also got a good view of all of the action happening in the kitchen. (Mad respect for those chefs).
They call these dishes shareable, but I was able to finish each & every one by myself without breaking a sweat. They are all pretty small. However, everything is made to the highest standards & leave absolutely nothing to be desired. Each dish provides an orchestra of flavors popping with a unique essence from every exotic ingredient.
Highlights from my dinner include, the Pull-Apart “Elotes” Milk Bread with Parmesan Cheese & a few herbs. Smooth, milky finish cut with a sharp tang from the Parmesan. It was surprisingly-satisfying.
The Fruit-Glazed Short Ribs with Roasted Squash & Balsamic Reduction was also a clear winner, taste-wise. But at $32 for such a small portion, you have to ask, “Was it worth it?”
Dessert includes a sizable menu including a selection of dessert wines. For $15 a pop, you can get “The Well,” which is a chocolatey concoction with added panache, “The Roast” which comes with tiny hazelnut cakes, espresso beans, & activated charcoal ice cream, & a couple of other over-priced delicacies that may or may not be worth the calories you're ingesting. But hey, at least you're wallet is getting lighter, right?
Overall, if you plan ahead with enough time, get a good table, set aside a chunk of time to get here, park, walk around, & eat, you may be able to impress whoever you decide to bring with you. All told, for 2 cocktails, a starter, an entree, & a dessert, my total came to about $88, not including tip. You decide.