Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lazy Ox Canteen: Downtown gastropub first impressions

Where does Josef Centeno's new Little Tokyo spot The Lazy Ox fall on the gastropub scale? It probably skews a little more gastro than pub, with ambitious entrees in the mid-$20s and an intriguing little wine list. But there's also a "5 for $5" happy hour menu, a roster of serious beers and a list of small plates that can either tide over bar drinkers or kick off a full dinner. Centeno seems to have found a much more convivial spot than either the cavernous, overly formal Opus or the fraught-with-drama Lot 1. Restaurants in brand-new buildings could use a little time to get comfy and frayed around the edges, though the weathered brick wall and funky light bulbs try their best to make the space homey. Come summer, outdoor dining on the patio should liven up San Pedro Ave. Our selection of dishes probably wasn't quite balanced -- from the $5 happy hour menu, whipped ricotta and olive oil was nice on housemade bread, while three small bites of beef skewers were uninspired. Somehow we landed in the meaty camp again with rich and earthy cavatelli with braised oxtail and rutabaga. We finished with a tangerine flan in a cup that was more like a soft pudding, with a the citrusy/creamy flavor was a nice Creamsicle inspiration. I don't think I'd order any of those dishes again, but I'll certainly go back anyway to try the Kennebec fries and roasted mussels with chile, sample some beers (West Coast IPA always pleases) and chat with Doug, formerly of Sgt. Recruiter, certainly one of the more pleasant bartenders around. Plus, taking the Gold Line to the new Little Tokyo station was a breeze -- and I didn't have to worry about how many IPAs I had.

Lazy Ox Canteen on Urbanspoon


Food, she thought. said...

I had roughly the same experience at Lazy Ox. Nice interior that seems promising, tempting looking patio despite the rainy evening we visited, but a menu that was touch and go. Not sure I understand SIV's enthusiastic endorsement at this stage. But I will certainly be giving it as many attempts as I gave Church & State (many) being that they are both in my neighborhood.

FoodMarathon said...

Totally agree regarding the new building- had totally different dishes and found some under seasoned, but the ceviche tacos and wine were highlights.

JO SAUCE said...

i loved Lazy Ox Canteen, i thought it was warm and special.