Materials and Applications. The sidewalk was packed as people stumbled around the sandy surface, engulfed by huge fabric bubbles. So we adjourned first to other art stops, including Steve Melendrez's Living Room furniture store, where he had snacks from Porto's and an interesting Ed Ruscha-esque display of panoramic photos of Sunset Blvd. But hunger called, so we struck out for Cobras and Matadors at the end of the gallery line. For some reason the Chowhound crowd absolutely hates C & M, and I hadn't been there in a year or so, so I wanted to see if it was worth all the vitriol. It was a bit crowded when we arrived, but we talked to friends eating there while we waited and soon enough a table on the patio was available.
It's true that the service is rather flustered -- the people next to us got the wrong bill; the waiter seemed convinced we had ordered artichoke croquettes, but we hadn't; and our table sat empty for a while before I asked whether we could sit there. But it was friendly enough and no slower than you would expect given the crowds.
Kathy pronounced our Spanish red wine choices "very young." We ordered the ubiquitous lentils, prawns al ajo and grilled asparagus with manchego. The lentils seem to get crispier and greasier each time, and yet even tastier -- at this point, perhaps they should call it lentil candy, like Lou's pig candy. The shrimp and asparagus were just ok, but each could have been really good with a little more attention in the kitchen. The bill was $40 for two glasses of wine and three plates. I don't see any reason to hate this place -- it fills the need for a lively spot in the area, the food is flavorful, if not expertly prepared, and the prices aren't outrageous. Except that the music is way too loud, and the boring Clash-meets-The Who soundtrack certainly doesn't merit the volume. The lackluster music is surprising, since the music at Malo (same owner) is usually excellent.
The waiter told us that owner Steven Arroyo's new South Pasadena wine bar will be called Church and State, but permit delays have delayed the opening past the planned October date.