Los Angeles is nothing if not diverse. Driving back from Long Beach this morning we traveled alongside a convertible Corvette blasting a song in Spanish, a beefy middleaged man with a sunburned scalp showing through his thinning black hair sitting behind the wheel, singing along. His vanity license plate read MSL MSTR and the frame explained: “Muscle Masters, Inc.” Above the plate, the logo of the fraternal order of the Freemasons. Where else but LA would you see this?
After dropping my boss at John Wayne Airport at 4:00 Friday, I met fellow Xangan Kenny at Starbucks and then we continued to Fashion Island in Newport Beach for an early dinner.
Since he doesn’t include an actual picture of himself on his site, I’ll respect that and show only the caricature he uses. Suffice it to say that he closely resembles this cartoon.
We went to Cafe R+D (as in “research and development”) which is part of Hillstone Restaurant Group, the same chain that owns Houston’s restaurant. The concept here is that Cafe R+D creates and tries dishes that will appear at other restaurants in the chain. Based on their menu, I couldn’t identify anything that seemed like a trial dish. Grilled fish, sandwiches, chops… nothing researched or developed.
Nonetheless, the food was tasty and, nicely, the portions weren’t obscenely large.
Appetizer of heirloom tomatoes and roasted golden beets served in a light vinaigrette. A tasty, summery combination, I found the tomatoes a little mushy. When the waiter enquired about the food, I told him this, resulting in a bit of an over-reaction. He apologized profusely and said he would let the kitchen know.
A few minutes later the chef came out. “I understand you were disappointed with the appetizer.” he said. He apologized again and said he had taken the item off the bill. I responded that I wasn’t disappointed but was only providing some feedback about the ingredients. In fact, I said, it was neither expected or necessary to not charge us for the dish. In either case, it was good that the staff takes customer feedback seriously.
My entree was grilled Copper River salmon served on mashed potatoes with a slice of baked tomato. It was tasty enough but was uninspiring.
The dessert: fresh berries with whipped cream. Very simple and very flavorful. The whipped cream was a little too sweet but other than that, a winner.
The best part of the meal was the opportunity to meet Kenny. Lots to talk about and always interesting to learn more about someone you only know virtually. Let’s hope that he and his boyfriend, who do a lot of traveling around the world, will make a stop in Bangkok one of these days soon.
How does golden beet taste compared to normal rouge beet?
tat’s a great catching up! regarding your experience…..here in vancouver, u will encounter the same while dining at the western restaurants, however in some(smaller business) chinese run….they will pour out tons of excuses that you know nothing about their food and if you keep on arguing with them they MIGHT offer to get you another dish….
It’s great that you were able to meeet up with another Xangan! I’ve never had a chef come out to apologize before. The best I could do was the maitre’d.
@ElusiveWords – You’re up late/early, too. Yes, it is nice to meet up with other people I’ve only known virtually. In fact, had dinner with Gary (Curry69Curry) tonight and was recognized on the street by another Xangan I’ve never met. More about that in a future entry. I mentioned to Gary that a trip to Toronto to meet you and Sheldon is definitely going to happen one of these days.
@Wangium – Very similar.
@agmhkg – When I go to a restaurant in YVR, then, I’m bringing you along for protection! LOL
Oh my goodness…you will never want to come to my house for dinner…lol You certainly know how things are supposed to taste!!!Ruth Ann
Well I’m trying to catch up a bit on Xanga. I’ve also just downloaded all my emails from last week and I have a relative in town too.
Meeting a fellow Xangan is always interesting!
We love Houston’s. We have one very, very close to us in Maryland. I had no idea about Cafe R+D. That’s a really cool idea!
Maybe it’s about time for me to try a few eateries down south in Orange County?
hahaha for sure!
@Redlegsix – Oh, I don’t know about that. I just try to give feedback when it is asked for since I assume chefs want to produce the very best food they can.@Dezinerdreams – It is. When are you coming to Bangkok, by the way? =)@TheCheshireGrins – Yes, Houston’s is quite good for a chain, isn’t it?@curry69curry – Maybe… although you don’t seem to be lacking for good food up in LA.
@curry69curry – @agmhkg – Actually, it is looking like there might be a Xanga meet up in Hong Kong this Christmas. Maybe we can coordinate with your travel schedule and you can impress us with your knowledge of Hong Kong restaurants! =)
@ElusiveWords – Matt’s a busy boy these days…
@christao408 – sounds great……actually I will have my short xmas holiday in HKG this year
(for some reason I couldn’t edit my first comment, so I am going to start over.)Whoa, I just realized that I probably got here before Kenny did! Mwahahahaha!Kenny told me that he had a great time meeting you – sorry that I wasn’t able to make it down there this time, but certainly we’ll meet in Thailand soon! It’s been nearly 8 years since I’ve been there last.He also wanted me to tell you that he doesn’t have Internet access yet as he just moved, but he’ll be back shortly 🙂
Yay Kenny!!! 😀
Ah! It’s me! :o) Muahaha, no photo of me is out there as of yet. :o) I’ll start posting real photos of me once the real me is presentable. :o) But indeed…the restaurant is pretty intense when it comes to customer attention. I went back just last weekend with my other friend and I got the same waitor. He was like “didn’t I wait on you before?”. Once they know me by name, it’s time to move on…