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Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Park

1400 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles
, CA 90026
(213) 482-9209

In its quest to become the next Silver Lake, Echo Park's dining scene is evolving and taking a no frills approach to gastronomy. The Park opened in 2008 fetching some surprising, yet needed attention to the area. The L.A. Times reported that it only cost $100K to open, that being on the very low end to start a restaurant with chef Joshua Siegel and manager Ruth Kim doing most of the opening renovations. As I contemplated appetizers and surveying the dining room, I couldn’t help but wonder where the other $80,000 went. The facade had a single coat of paint, the furniture was old, and the interior walls were merely stenciled with trees. They couldn’t even invest in pictures for the frames. At the end of the day, I could care less as long as the food is good, but you can easily see why ‘taco’ trucks are sprouting throughout the country.

$4 Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas (6)
I’ve been eating grilled vegetables at home since screening Food Inc., so I can appreciate a simple sauté with a finish of salt and lemon. Butter was used instead of olive oil; I do find butter tends to mask the flavor of fresh vegatables and I’m still getting accustomed to snap peas. Even cooked; it has a raw taste that I find unappealing.

$8 Fried Green Tomatoes (4)
Sitting on a bed of greens, it comes topped o
ff with cheddar gougères and Creole buttermilk dressing. To my recollection, this is the first time I’ve tried the Southern dish and I’ll wait until I visit the South to try it again. These were made in the traditional fashion with cornmeal sin egg or alternatively a flour coating. The dish was slightly bland and with the fancy ranch dressing, it reminded me of the fried zucchini fries at Carl’s Jr.

$12 Grilled Polenta & Asparagus (3)
tomato sauce, gorgonzola cream, & crispy onion garnish
With a menu that caters to vegans and future heart attack patients alike, we decided to give a veggie option a chance. I’m still having trouble coming to terms that polenta can be the central focus of a dish. Had they switch the amount of polenta with the amount of gorgonzola cream on the plate, this may have hit the spot.

$15 Albacore “Abruzzi” pan-seared Albacore (2)
white wine-rosemary sauce, warm orecchiette salad, with pine nuts, tomato & arugula
I expected more out of this dish; it came lightly seared and the sauce did not have a definitive flavor. I wanted a strong sear on the tuna, this resembled an almost poached preparation and I hate poached meats. The orecchiette salad was ok, slightly better than what you could toss together at home.

Based on the dishes I had, I’m still baffled at how LA Times gave it a 1.5 stars, maybe price was the only consideration given. In defense of the restaurant, the chicken and the hanger steak came recommended, and I made the ill-advised decision to pass on the two.

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