Tuesday, December 2, 2008
For the OT Dining Stimulus, I went to a bunch of places new and old. Leatherby's Cafe Rouge has been on my list of places to try for a while, so when I saw their menu online I had to come by. Thanks to Ila for organizing all the bloggers, we all ventured to Costa Mesa for a nice dinner outing on a Friday night. This place was very hard for me to find and I circled a couple times trying to figure out where to park. Parking was like $8 everywhere and I just find it ludicrous that CM is charging so much. What do they think they are? LA or SF? I think WAY NOT! So I decided to park far away and walk my way there. Apparently this place is right next to the Orange County Performing Arts Center. I asked the valet people where Leatherby's was and they had no idea... it was right next to them on the corner. Eventually I found it and the bloggers! ^_^
The place was almost completely empty and H.C. was there with a drink already. The decor was nice and elegant so I was expecting a nice evening of food and dining. Little did I know... things would not turn out as wonderful as I planned. Please don't judge me bloggers! It was my first time here. I was ecstatic to meet all of you and had a wonderful time but I apologize for the food. The server seemed pretty nice and attentive as he brought Rumdood's drinks. I noticed there was something wrong when I sat down but didn't want to make a fuss, but... I didn't have a bread plate or knife. This was already a bad sign but I decided to blow past this and try to enjoy the evening. Sadly I did not try the pretty bread basket because then everyone would know that I am missing a plate. I didn't want to make a fuss over something small.
Everyone ordered the Roasted Corn Soup with Dungeness Crab and Sweet Chili Oil, except for Ila. To tell you the truth, the menu online for the DS is what attracted me to this place and I was ready for a soup that is NOT Lobster Bisque. I noticed when they were placing the silverware that they gave Ila a soup spoon when she ordered the House Salad. It's Baby Mixed Green, Granny Smith Apples, Gorgonzola Cheese, and Toasted Pecans. They only brought out soup for the whole table and I knew this would not be good. The server was very nice and came by to correct the mistake but unfortunately... none of us touched our soups because it's common courtesy to wait for everyone to dine. Needless to say that the soup didn't sustain it's heat or was not hot to begin with. Also, I felt that they should have really wiped the sides of the bowl for a better presentation then have oil all over the sides. This place was suppose to be very high class and sophisticated but I felt it was extremely lacking. Having just been to French Laundry and to so many high class restaurants, this was just unacceptable. The soup was a little bland and lacking any content. I couldn't really taste the richness of the crab mixed with corn. It was extremely watered down and made me crave for the Lobster Bisque I had the night before!
For my main course, I chose Tamarind Glazed Bone-In Short Rib. It's made with Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Cipollini Onion, Carrots, and Mustard Greens. As soon as the dish came out, I thought to myself... I should have chosen the Salmon! Still I wanted to give it a try. The portion was very generous but that's about it. The meat was not tender and was lacking in seasoning/flavor. I didn't like the vegetables because they were undercooked and hard to chew. The broth did not go well with the whole dish and threw me off. I only took two bites and packed up the rest. For those of you who know me and the carnivore that I am... this is a horrible sign when I refuse to eat. It was just not worth me digesting so I took it home to the family since they eat anything.
Dessert was Crème Caramel served with Fresh Berries. At this point I was hoping dessert would be good and I could satisfy my growing hunger. After one bite, I asked to pack this up for home as well. I thought the texture was fine but there was no sumptuous flavor that popped. It's sad to say but I would rather have Flan you make at home by Royal. Now that is good flan! They should just use that to make the dessert. I would have been a happy camper! To be fair... my parents did enjoy this dessert.
All in all I was hoping for a glorious night of dining and was let down. I am so glad I got to meet Ila & BF, Rumdood, and H.C.! They made the evening great despite the food! ^_^ I learned many things about alcohol and we all had delightful conversations. This is my honest review of Leatherby's and I hate being so critical because the owner was kind enough to PM me. I will admit that I find it wonderful that he is caring enough to read people's ratings and take time to contact them. If he hadn't, I would immediately say that I would never be back and would avoid other restaurants in the group but if I were ever invited back I'd be willing to give them a try.
Leatherby's Cafe Rouge
Costa Mesa, CA 92626