Friday, January 29, 2010

After having an extremely exhausting week of driving to and from nowhere land and back to civilization for my externship, I needed a pick me up! It's so sad that I don't even get paid for this *beep*, but that is another story. =P So at the end of the week, I had the difficult decision of driving up to LA with Holly for some Dine LA grubbing. Darn my weakness! I caved and we went. O=) Since Ms. Lin is TOTALLY abandoning me next week... you know what you did! >_<### I had planned to go to XIV, Michael Mina's restaurant, next week but I was able to get a last minute reservation at 9:45 PM, 1/29/10. Warning, valet is $10 there and parking super difficult to find on Sunset Blvd on a Friday night. Typical of LA so good luck! lol There are Renaissance-like painting around the building, but as you approach front on it has a total modern feel. The doors were hard to see but there is a guy there to open it for you. At first it almost felt like you were trying to get into a club. From the outer decor it looks sleek and quiet but once the door opens it feels like you stepped into another world. There's an extremely trendy bar on the left as you enter. Then to the right is an old Parisian-like dining area. Either area was EXTREMELY crowded and narrow in space. The bartender was super nice and not bad looking. O=) Holly let me try her drink and it was actually pretty good but pricey. The bar scene is definitely worth a visit. One thing I thought was sweet was that all the employees had a support Haiti sticker on them. You can donate on your bill to the cause as well. Now onto the food... drum roll please... lol For bread, they brought each of us Naan with Yogurt. This was definitely something different. The flavors were light and clean. They tried to make it hummus like with spices on top but the only thing you taste was the yogurt flavor. Holly and I had a difficult time deciding on what to order. Apparently XIV has a set prix fixe of $62 for a 6 course, which is only $20 more than Dine LA. I was tempted because you can choose anything on the menu, but the stuff I wanted had supplemental charges! >_<# So forget about it! >=P Guess I'll have to stick to the Dine LA week menu.
The main reason I chose XIV was because they offer Tataki of American Wagyu Skirt that's served with Moroccan Spiced Vegetables. Holly chose the Parsnip Soup, to my surprise. My steak was actually pretty nicely cooked. The flavor was not bad. There were hints of sweetness mixed within the seasonings. Technically I have yet to have a real Wagyu steak, don't think this one really counts, but getting closer. O=) The meat was tender and they gave a pretty decent portion. I didn't really care for the vegetables because they were really just pickled and super sour. It didn't really compliment the steak. I still tried to eat as much veggies as I could. This was probably the best dish of the night.
For the main course we both chose Jidori Chicken. Apparently this is a really popular dish in LA because I saw it on most Dine LA menus. The only thing that was special about the menu at XIV was that they serve it with Truffle Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli, and Carmelized Onion Jus. Sure this all sounds good on paper, but they fell short in execution. My chicken was super tender but I felt like I can taste chicken blood somewhere. It doesn't help that the place was not very well lit... I took a picture with my phone but I am too lazy to post up. Near the bone you could tell it was undercooked, which reaffirmed my belief. Needless to say, I felt sick after I got home! =***( What is worse was that the chicken wasn't good! I suffered for nothing! It was bland and flavorless. There are no salt and pepper within reach to help make this more edible. I am not sure if the jus work because I tried getting the chicken to soak up any and all sauce on the plate. When they first brought out the dish I could smell the truffles but that went away fast. Normally I am a huge fan of truffled mac & cheese. At first bite the flavor bursts in your mouth but it quickly turned South. It's rare for me to say this but the cheese was way overpowering. Having Bleu Cheese be the main ingredient totally ruined the dish. It was a bit too pungent and tasted more on the rotten side than anything else. =*( This was a very unsatisfying and disappointing dish.
One of Michael Mina's signature dish is his Classic Rootbeer Float with Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have had this before at Stonehill Tavern and I really liked it so I told Holly about it, which convinced her to order it as well. O=) There were other choices that were more unique and different but I opted for my yummy cookies and float. Sadly that was a mistake. Maybe I was looking too forward for this and was let down. The rootbeer was way too strong and tasted more like black licorice. If they added more ice cream in the float then it would still be good. Holly and I discussed whether they made the rootbeer in house. I think she is right that it is because it's stronger than most rootbeers on the market. Since I didn't like this at all, I chugged it down fast so I wouldn't really have to taste it. =*( As for the cookies, it was still good. Of course it isn't something you can't make or get anywhere else, but sometimes the simple things in life are the best.

All in all I wasn't too impressed with the place as you can tell. I am sure my opinion is pretty different with Holly's. Still, the company was good and it was a nice establishment. The biggest thing I had issues with was how small and tight-knit the spaces were! I seriously don't need to have everyone's butt on my table or have their butt wiping my table clean or eat my food and have someone "butt" me. Ewwww! Keep your butt to yourself please. The people aren't really to blame because it is not their fault that the establishment decided to stuff way too many tables into a tiny space. Even the bar is super packed. There's barely any space to stand behind the person who's sitting at the bar and then you have millions of servers or people squeezing through. Sometimes I need breathing room! Still, I do think the decor is nice and it is an experience. If possible, avoid the bathroom. I went and they have a service lady there, which really isn't needed. It was cute that she had a variety of amenities. You can't get yourself a napkin to wipe your hands, she hands it to you. I thanked her and left. She gave me such stink eye for not tipping. It's kind of sad to see how no one tips her but I could definitely do without the attitude when I am just going to the bathroom and washing my hands. She didn't really help me with much else. This put me off a little bit. Not her, but the place for trying to be so pretentious and the attitude of some servers. No thanks. I paid my bill with cash, which I know is rare for me, and they didn't even bother to give me my change. They only gave me solid bills and kept my change. I would have left the change anyway or given more tip but I felt short-changed, literally, so the server will have to take the blame upon herself. Don't know if I would ever really come back to this place, but I am glad I went for the experience. It just reaffirmed my belief that Michael Mina restaurants are overrated and more for show than for the food.

Michael Mina's XIV
8117 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 656-1414
XIV on Urbanspoon


Trekkie said...

Food Dreams are always being dashed... I was going to go this friday but with a larger group, changed my plans for Fogo

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