Red O

1541 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90401(310) 458-1600

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I know Rick Bayless is a name in the industry, but after that performance his name should be Please Cookless, because nada was bueno. Well, in terms of the food, anyway. The décor and energy (code for noisy) of the place is actually great. And they sport a nice range of tequilas should you want to go that way. They also have a pretty long list of cocktails as well, which I can only assume is designed to get you all liquored up so you’re awareness is impaired about the mediocrity you are about to eat.

Unfortunately the booze wasn’t enough to distract me from the piss poor service. Friendly for sure, but sloppy and slow. She completely forgot our guacamole order and missed on every recommendation, granted the fact that there’s nothing truly great on the menu makes it awfully hard to win in that scenario.

Amid the sea of asi asi (translation: so so) are the goat cheese tamales, which are okay on taste, but very mushy on texture. The duck taquitos, which were dry and tasteless, needing the addition of one of the salsas from the chips to give it moisture and make it worth half its salt. Oh, which reminds me… it needed more salt.

For the entrees, the shrimp and rice was “pretty standard” (to be read like Dr. Evil), the fennel lobster tails were a big ho hum and the NY strip with chimichurri, while the best of the three, is certainly no reason to come here.

Hell, they even managed to fuck up the churros, which are a foodie lay up, if you ask me. Way too hard and dry. And the chocolate and caramel dip wasn’t even close to being rich or flavorful enough to save them. But perhaps I’m to blame for not heeding the warning on the door. After all, “Zero” is right in the name. And that’s what this place is, a flaming red zero.

1 tooth

Pure Food & WIne

54 Irving Pl. New York, NY 10003(212) 477-1010 •

After hearing SO many people rave about this place, expectations were pretty high. Which is always dangerous. That said, it held up pretty well.

First: The garden is very charming. Clean and simple. Perfect on a Summer evening.

Second: The service was very good. Our waiter made some excellent recommendations.

Third: All four entrees we had were spot on. The lasagna (of course), the squash blossoms (my fav), the tamale and the BBQ portobello mushrooms.

Fourth: Both desserts were killer. The peach cobbler was as good as anything I’ve had at a non veggie/raw place. And the chocolate semifreddo was also quite solid.

So, that’s why it got three knives. But why not more you ask? Sounds incredible right? And it was. VERY impressive for raw/non-dairy. So much so that it’ll have you you questioning if it’s really vegan or not. And had that been all we had, I’d probably be throwing out another knife or two. But, things actually got off to a rocky start…

First: The white sangria was terrible! Worst I’ve ever had. They use Chardonay, which admittedly I hate. And what a horrible choice for Sangria, which is supposed to be refreshing! Chardonay tends to have heavy notes of caramel, which isn’t exactly what one would want on a hot Summer’s eve. Should’ve used a Pinot Grigio, Savignon Blanc or Gavi.

Second: All four appetizers where underwhelming. The morels and asparagus were good. But the other three were very blah. And with first impressions being so hard to overcome, Pure was fighting an uphill battle all night. That said, it was a great come from behind performance to reach 3 knives.

And that about sums it up. Great place for a vegetarian date- just skip the apps. And the sangria.

3 teeth

Bar Taco

20 Wilton Rd. Westport, CT 06880 • (203) 222-8226

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I’ve been wanting to try this place for a while, granted the Port Chester location, because I didn’t even know this one existed. So, the hype-factor was dangerously high.

Fortunately Bar Taco rose to the occasion and surpassed it. Everything was on point. Even the service, which seems to get dinged a lot in other reviews. Maybe the managers listened and hired some new staff? Anyways, no complaints. They were even attentive to the kids. The only thing that took an unusual amount of time was the dessert, but the waiter kept checking in with us to tell us it was coming. Seemed like the kitchen had fallen behind with the sudden rush, so hard to blame the waiter.

As for food, it is VERY worthy. For example, starters like the salsa verde were among the best I’ve had. The corn is also something pretty special. The chips however, while adequate, are just chips. As is the guac and the chipotle slaw.

Then there are the tacos, of course. We had many and here is how they fared by stars:
Duck – 5 Stars
Pork Belly – 4 stars
Portabella – 4 stars
Rib-eye – 3 stars
Vercruz fish – 3 stars
Fried Oyster – 3 stars
Baha fish – 2 stars

I feel the need to caveat that the tacos are very small and that we are not a bunch of gluttonous pigs (you need 3 to 5 per person). I also feel the need to caveat that the duck is SO good that when I go back I’m getting three of those and a portabella.

Dessert was also money. The chocolate tamale with vanilla ice cream vanished from the plate like a porterhouse in a pool of piranha.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bar Taco Margarita. Nicely done. A smooth, artful blend with an alcohol kick. If I didn’t have to drive home I would have easily had another.

Oh, the setting didn’t hurt either. Sitting outside overlooking the river- it was the perfect end to a nice day at the beach. Only further solidifying my strong desire to move to Westport one day.

4 teeth