8811 Santa Monica Bl.
West Hollywood, Ca. 90069
310 855 0800

Cuisine: a little bit of everything
Must Try: Grilled Prime Sirloin Burger at lunch
Star Rating: 2.50
Average Cost: Entrees $12 to $36

The Dining Duo has yet to figure out whether or not this new, hip, and sleek restaurant to the West Hollywood scene is called Eleven because the owners’ aspirations are for a ten-plus, or if the name is sadly because it takes eleven hours from the time you arrive to get your food; probably the latter.

Eleven Restaurant & Night Club’s owners, Sid Kroft (of the Sid & Marty Kroft Pictures fame) and Richard Grossi (owner of LA’s most historic and longest continuously operating, Easton Gym), transformed the historical 1922 venue that was originally the First National Bank of Sherman, the original name of the City of West Hollywood (who knew? West Hollywood was originally named after its founder Moses H. Sherman). The building was the main commercial intersection at Santa Monica and Larrabee and designed by Beverly Hills architect Asa Hudson, embodying the Italian revival style with its vertical appearance, large circular arch windows, medallions, heavy stone, and detailed molding.

In 1969, the building enjoyed a reincarnation as Larrabee Sound Studio, and continued to attract high-profile tenants and recording artists such as Prince, Donna Summer, Patti LaBelle, and Cher, just to name a few. Admittedly, Kroft and Grossi (the latter was also the restaurant designer) brought the original design of the building back to life while continuing to maintain its heritage and rich history. The atmosphere is a “knock your socks off” experience, and the private areas, including event dining, and bathrooms, are sleek, sophisticated, unique, and aesthetically exciting.

The food, too, is also very exciting, but more of that in a moment. Unfortunately, from the moment we arrived, we were greeted by a gaggle of hosts and hostesses, all of who look pretty, but didn’t have a clue about what was going on in the restaurant. One half of The Dining Duo arrived a few minutes after the party was seated, and the five people at the front door couldn’t find the party or the reservation.

That was the good part of the training. The service was absolutely atrocious, and the waiter (albeit very handsome) was inexperienced as to the menu, the wine selection, and anything having to do with service. The wait for our food was intolerably long, and when we brought this up to one of the hosts, his answer was “The chef is very particular with his food.” Interestingly enough, we pointed out that the table next to us that had arrived well after we had, was already served; apparently the chef was not so particular with them. While we still waited for our food, and became increasingly hostile, we approached the general manager, Gary Gotcher (formerly with the Patina Group for fourteen years—and who should know better). He addressed the situation by saying that the restaurant has only been open a few months, and that the owners wanted to hire models and actors, so this “unfortunately is what we got”.

You draw your own conclusions. Now about the food: Executive chef Vincent Manna is first-generation American, with his mother arriving from Cuba and his father from Italy; he grew up in restaurants where his grandfather cooked and where Manna’s Cuban grandfather was a professional chef serving to Fidel Castro, amongst others. Graduating from the Los Angeles Culinary Institute in 1994, Chef Manna worked as a sous-chef at the legendary L’Orangerie under our favorite chef and friend, Ludovic Lefebvre. From there, he threw in his toque at Spago and then came to Eleven to deliver some smashing food selections.

The highlight of the food was actually at lunch where the scene was less crowded and the service fared much better under the tutelage of Sean, formerly the bartender at Numbers for many years. Sean prepared an almost perfect Bloody Mary and apologized for the slow service at lunch (although not nearly as slow as dinner) and Michael feasted on one of the best burgers he has had lately, delivered at the exact medium rare he had requested and laden with scrumptious hand cut fries. The burger, priced at $11.95 was topped with caramelized shallots and aged Gouda, a wonderful combo and was as thick as we have seen (well, almost as thick as we’ve seen).

For dinner, we highly recommend the House Ground Bolognese, reasonably priced at $24, with wonderful tasty fettuccini noodles and sprinkled with chili flakes that add an unusual flavor. Just be hungry, very hungry, because it is a large portion (and with the service the way it is, you will be hungry). For starters, we are huge Buratta fans, and we found Eleven’s Buratta to be smooth and tender, although a bit skimpy on the portion. The Poached Heirloom Melon with Proscuitto, coupled with ice wine and, of course, Buratta is a wise choice at $9.95. Also of exceptional note was the macadamia crusted honey glazed maple leaf duck breast, which was prepared tender and tasty, garnished with fresh pea puree and black trumpet mushrooms, all cooked in its own fat (aren’t we all). The dish is accompanied by Brussel sprouts, caramelized salad, golden raisins, almonds and a natural sage jus, for $29.00. Yum.

The desserts were few and far between, but sensational. Of the four selections featured at $8 each, we found the crème brulée to be the highlight. That said, the warm apple cobbler and banana cream pie were close seconds. If you feel like something not too terribly fattening, they also offer assorted fresh berries and sorbets. Although each of the desserts definitely satisfied our sweet tooth, we definitely missed something fabulously chocolate and found its omission unfortunate.

If you can get past the poor service, intolerably long wait, ineffective management, and high prices for the neighborhood, “Eleven” promises to serve up a tasty meal and visually exciting surroundings. The Dining Duo hopes that they’ll pull their act together as this “spendy” locale shows promise to otherwise slim pickings on the Boulevard.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 7:18 PM | , , , | 0 comments »

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