|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.