Friday, September 25, 2009

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 6

I feel like Starbucks. One day, there are three, maybe four Foodie Girls in town. A tiny outpost in France. Not a group that would require, say, reservations or anything. It seemed harmless to recruit a friend or two, here and there, that seemed to have real FG potential. Next thing we know, our little tight-knit brigade was in full expansion mode*. All of a sudden there's practically a Foodie Girl on every corner**.

I have to admit, as the "Yes! I'm definitely in!" responses poured back, it was thrilling to contemplate the number of entrees we could order on our next outing. Then the nagging doubts arrived:
  • Can they eat (or at least make a dent in) multiple plates of food and still have room for a bite or two of dessert?
  • What's their view on passing plates around: Mortally offensive or par for the course?
  • Do they know a great burger from run-of-the-mill patty on a bun?
  • Are they willing to drive east of La Cienega?
  • Could we tolerate**** sitting next to them for over an hour in a tacky vinyl booth?
  • And, perhaps most importantly for you all, would their commentary be blog-worthy?
All questions that could only be answered by taking the plunge. We had to invite lunch.

Episode 6- Trial by Tapas

We initiated the newbies earlier this week at Bokado Brasserie, a rather elegant new tapas place in Studio City****. From the very beginning, signs were good*****. We had a wonderful table outside, with attentive and courteous servers. The restaurant is fairly new, so we practically had the place to ourselves, giving this outing a truly festive feeling.

These new girls were pros** at ordering, effortlessly maximizing dish variety while still ensuring table-wide availability of coveted items. FG9 even ran into the restaurant to chase down the waiter to swap her risotto (already ordered by FG6) for a burger (overlooked by us all, when everyone knows you can only truly judge a restaurant by their burger). Nice move!

The food arrived and it was like some kind of beautifully choreographed ballet, as the plates circulated effortlessly from one end of the table to the other: forks dipped, portions split, conversations riffed. We should have done this weeks ago!

OK, so the Foodies are keepers, what about the food? The biggest winner was the beet salad, gorgeous, brightly dressed and with a generous helping of incredibly luscious Triple Crown soft cheese. Self-confessed beet avoiders were instantly converted. The gazpacho also tasted fabulous, and earned extra points for a truly beautiful presentation. The short rib panini got many thumbs up, and the burger also had fans. The bread was delicious, both in the basket and on the sandwiches, but there also seemed to be a consistent trend toward under seasoning in many dishes. The mussels in particular were bland and boring, as were the flavorless veggie sides. The matchstick fries were delicious, and many FGs enjoyed the Manchego mac & cheese.

Although we didn't save room for dessert, rumor has it that they have a nice chocolate creme brulee. We did take a peek at the selection of cheeses, meats and other goodies for sale inside at their small market, and dubbed it well worth a return trip for picnic takeout.

FG Final Verdict? A keeper
Pricing information: Salads and soups, $5-13, sandwiches $9-16, entrees $16-32
New! FG Value Rating: Fair deal

The above ratings are explained in footnote ******

* Both our waistbands and our numbers have grown substantially. Eight (!) FG's came to lunch at Bokado, and a few more are waiting in the wings.
** Not that kind of girl on a corner. Jeez!
*** Better still, enjoy while making snarky remarks about the idiotic waitstaff.
**** Having tablecloths and bread baskets, it was not necessarily representative of our penchant for cheap eats, but we decided to ease them into it, kind of like how you put lobsters in the nice cool water before you turn on the gas.
***** For example, FG9 and FG8, who had never met before, were sporting remarkably similar silver bracelets.
****** Foodie Girls decide at the end of each outing whether or not we should keep a place on our "list". Bokado is in by one vote. The other FG's could take it or leave it. FG Value Ratings range from "A steal!" to "Fair deal" to "Get real"

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