Thursday, April 24, 2008
Father's Office Culver City
Off into the LA dining world I go. I've been to so many places...guess that happens after 18 years here. I'm starting new, though. I want to begin this little journey with a pretty clean slate. I'd like to go to each place like it's my first time, whether it actually is, or not. In this case, though, I will refer to the original location on Montana.
The new FO on Helms was pretty gorgeous. We got there at 6:00 pm Wednesday, right at the opening. We had to sit outside on the patio, as the lengthy bar area was quickly filled. The menu was the same as FO Montana, the huge and delicious variety of beers was there. It was everything the FO Montana was, and was not. The food was the same; the crappy setup of ordering all food and drinks at the bar and taking your drinks back to your table was the same. Having some lame 'waiter' in a tight, black FO tshirt he shouldn't be wearing because of his gut deliver your food to your table was the same. What wasn't the same was what was strange. I disliked the FO Montana because I thought it was too small and crowded. The vibe was funky, too, because everyone was trying to ace each other out of the next available table. Tables were packed so close, I could eat off the next table's plates.
When I heard that a new FO was opening, I was excited. It would be much larger, and newer, and better. Well, FO Helms is larger and newer. Better? Not really. Worse, actually. I found myself missing the intimacy of the crowded FO Montana. The vibe at the gastropub in Montana was young, hip and almost unpretentious, I thought. The FO Helms was not so young, still hip, and definitely pretentious.
Thing is, the food is the same. However, it tasted better in the old location, because expectations were low. In the new location, I expected better. The food, I realized, was nowhere near as good as I had thought. The gorgeous new space essentially exposed the food as not very good. There were some highlights, of course. The FO Burger is still one of the best burgers in LA, and the sweet potato fries were really crispy and delicious. But, quite frankly, everything else was not very good at all. We had the lamb skewers that were too salty. We had a steak salad that left my tastebuds confused. And that steak frittes pictured up top? Looks good, huh? Well, it was really wasn't. My jaw is still sore two days later from chewing on that piece of shoe leather.
So I'm left pondering what went wrong. Is the new location too commercialized? Or did it just expose all of the weaknesses of the original FO? All I know is, I won't be going back to FO Helms. If I ever get the inclination to have that gorgeous burger with a great beer, I'll just go to FO Montana. That's FO sho'.