Thursday, September 30, 2010

Edendale Grill: Eight years in, it's still a work in progress

The Edendale Grill back when it was a fire station

This month's Los Feliz Ledger took me back to the Edendale Grill, which recently changed ownership. There's a new menu and a few tweaks inside, but the same problems remain: there's enough business from the bar that food is an afterthought -- too expensive for a not-very-interesting meal. But even the bar side could use a tuneup -- the beer selection is pitiful, wine service is non-existent and while the classic cocktails are fine, they could be doing a lot more with modern mixology.
The review was trimmed for space (or snarkiness?), so here's the rest of the piece. I'm not trying to take anyone down -- just wishing this was a place that I looked forward to eating at.

Silver Lake's Edendale Grill: Love the space, wish I loved the food.
Whether Edendale is more of a bar or has ambitions to be a real restaurant, it's not particularly good at either. The bartenders always seem to have fans, but the wine and beer list could use serious work. Wine from a middling list is even harder to enjoy served in cheap, heavy glasses. With nearly every bar and restaurant in town seriously stepping up its beer program, the best Edendale can offer is Racer 5 and Stella valiantly holding down a list of bland commercial brews. Special cocktails are on the overwrought side, though the standard ones are fine.
The restaurant recently changed hands, with former bartender Eddie Ebell taking over from longtime owner Melanie Tusquellas. Ebell kept the former chef but changed up the menu a bit, adding more contemporary-sounding dishes like wild blue crab salad, pork confit sopes and quail eggs on toast with proscuitto. The longtime tableside Caesar is gone, replaced by salads like pear, stilton and butter lettuce with a curiously flavorless lemon tarragon dressing. Alas, adding burrata cheese and pea tendrils to a menu isn't always enough, as the food continues to hover between competent and careless. Sea bass with grilled eggplant ($19) is a perfectly fine piece of fish. But a Harris Ranch burger requested medium rare has to be sent back since it's basically raw, and the rare replacement tastes only of blood with no apparent seasoning. It comes with fries that are just ok. Considering the huge number of non-meat eaters in the area, there could be more choices than salad, mac 'n cheese or veggie sopes.
But Ebell hasn't been overseeing the place for long, so maybe there's still hope. In case he's wondering how to get a little more respect in the neighborhood and sell more than just fried calamari at the bar, here's a few suggestions:
1) Locals appreciate the historic character, but they'd like to love the food as much. Bring in some guest chefs to stir things up, and ask patrons what they'd like to eat.
2) If it's really more of a bar, then go gastropub. Craft a killer beer list, add some taps, get some decent wineglasses and enlist a local wine store for advice on the wine list. Add a great burger (for $14, it better be excellent), learn to make irresistible fries, and add fish 'n chips or good pizza or reasonably priced small plates ($15 for tuna tartare?).
3) Continue to transform the inner dining room into a livelier space. Add some art and flowers, let people drink there even if they're not eating and make sure service keeps pace.

Edendale Grill on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Always felt the same way. It just kinda sits there and doesn't do anything.

carter said...

No linens, just butcher paper for the tables.
Silver Lake Wine or Covell could help with the beer & wine issue.
And nearly anyone could improve the food.
Blairs is having a very good year.
Why can't the Edendale?!

Diliana said...

Yep, I feel the same way. It could be so much more. The space is really interesting.

Anonymous said...

Gastropub is best idea. I agree, full stop!

Miles said...

totally agree. as you know, i went back about a month ago and enjoyed the small plates, but still found the service to be deplorable.

went back tonight with the husband and service was excruciatingly slow and they got almost everything wrong.

i never -- NEVER -- ask to be compensated, but tonight i did and they comped our special bacon-wrapped dates appetizer (which came after boyfriend's salad and long before my burger).

sigh. if only they could get this place right.

Miles said...

PS i found the food above average but they really need to focus on the service. another example: i beat my husband by ten minutes, was directed to my table under his name, then he came 2 minutes later, gave his name, and was sat at another table. no connection made.

Charles G Thompson said...

Could not agree with this review more! I used to live right across the street from the place but rarely went because it just wasn't that good in both food and service. Great historic atmosphere isn't enough. Love you suggestions, maybe they'll pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Such a shame. So much potential. But that's what we thought when "chef" Patty left. And then the reopening was catered! (maybe that was just a rumor--who knows). Great bar, great space, mostly consistently inconsistent and mediocre kitchens in the city. Agree on the gastropub concept idea and catering more to different dietary needs (vegetarian). Maybe someday they will get it right.

Kelly said...

I heard they had delicious bloody marys... anyone else have that experience?