Three Things To Miss Downtown

When it comes to Downtown , downtownster puts most of its effort into telling people what to do, but recently I’ve come across some what not to do’s. And with so many good choices Downtown I’d hate to see you waste your money on anything less than a great experience. SO BE WARNED!!!

Unhappy Hour At Chaya

About a month ago downtownster Shannon and myself stopped by Chaya Downtown to take a look around. The manager of the swank establishment asked us to come visit as his guest anytime. A couple of nights ago we took him up on his offer or at least what we thought was an offer.

“If you place your order in the next two minutes you’ll still get the Happy Hour price,” said the hostess.

“Classy,” I thought to myself. “And this place is dead,” I thought still further as I looked around at the not happening Happy Hour scene.

Shannon asked if the manager was there. We were informed that he was, but he was upstairs too busy doing paperwork to answer the phone. Apparently he didn’t realize that we were actually in the restaurant when giving this brush-off. Because about fifteen minutes later he was in the restaurant milling around—uncomfortably surprised to see us sitting.

I ordered the Tuna Melt and some Fish ‘n’Chips. The Tuna Melt, which was literally bite-sized, does not compete with Subway on its worst day. The Fish ‘n’ Chips were a soggy mess that seemingly came out of the frozen food section at Costco. Amazingly, our server was completely baffled when I asked for some vinegar—to give this cardboard concoction some taste. A few minutes later I was brought vinegar—not of the Apple Cider / malt variety, but of the clean your window ilk. Shannon had a sushi roll, which was unremarkable, and beer that was thankfully not skunked. This waste of time and calories totaled $25.86 plus tip. Seriously, with every restaurant in town offering Happy Hour, skip this one.


If the Fish ‘n’ Chips served at Chaya for Happy Hour aren’t soggy and tasteless enough to make you never want to go to the UK—Flemings serves up the same Costco style frozen fare as a lunch special. So much oil went into my meal that OPEC had to raise its production for a week to make up for it. Thankfully, and I use this word dripping with sarcasm, the lack of taste one might find at Chaya was replaced by a freezer burned smoky flavor at Fleming’s. I literally felt so sick after this lunch I went home and laid down for a couple of hours. I’ve written two nice pieces in the past about Fleming’s, so maybe this was just an unfortunate foray into fish, but trust me when I tell you that the only thing special about this special is that its worse than Chaya.

Only A Shmuck Should Eat At Puck—Wofgang Puck Bar & Grill, That Is

I’ll start by saying that our waitress Hannah was a doll. The atmosphere, think LA Live, but indoors. And then comes the tuna tartare—it took twenty-five minutes for this appetizer to make it to our table. Long enough to catch the fish in Santa Monica, bring it Downtown, and dice it up, perhaps. Certainly long enough for the people at the table next to us to not be waited on and decide to leave. Fortunately it’s a cold appetizer so it managed to arrive at the right temperature. Bottom line, it wasn’t good, way too spicy, way too much avocado, and way too small a portion for seventeen dollars. To put this in perspective and make this experience more painful, Roy’s, just up the block has the best tuna tartare I’ve ever had.

The main course was a tasteless NOT wild salmon. It was organic, however and it did come with some miniscule vegetables. My dinner partner had a pasta with mushrooms that she didn’t finish and isn’t worth describing further. No doubt Westsiders and tourists will be wowed by the Wolfgang Puck name and the beautiful view of the always nothing going on LA Live Plaza, but I was not wowed by the food, the name, or the view of the concrete.

And for the record I met Wolfgang a long time ago—when he was a chef not a franchise. I had some great meals at the original Spago—Barbara was a hostess back then and Bernard always made sure I got in without waiting. I can’t help but to think that it would be nice if Wolfgang would show some pride, like the old days, and come down to the restaurant that bears his name and do some cooking. Until then, for those of us who remember that incredible garlic chicken, this dining hall is pedestrian and overpriced at best.

5 thoughts on “Three Things To Miss Downtown”

  1. A home cooked meal is way healthier for you not mention fresher and tastier !!!! These day’s I like to go out to nice bars where they serve Tapas and yummy cocktails and the food has to taste way better than what I can create in my kitchen otherwise who need’s the calories food should be mouth watering and sinful at the same time or I would just rather stay home and eat dark chocolate and a decent bottle of red !!!!!

  2. Although I have never been to Fleming’s, I have been to Chaya (wasn’t good)…I agree with you on that. I do disagree however with Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grille. I have been to the B&G (as well as many of his other restaurants) and found it delicious. We went on a night when there was an event at Staples Center so needless to say the restaurant was packed. My friend and I wanted to try to a few different things so we had the macaroni & cheese, tuna tartare (which was my favorite), crab cakes, and one of his famous pizza’s, all of which was wonderful. And in my opinion, fairly priced since we had to take some the food home with us since we couldn’t finish it all.

    The decor was modern and fun, and the music went great with the decor. I think his restaurant is a great addition to the LA Live plaza.

    I have met Wolfgang as well when he was at one of his restaurants, and he was very nice and even chatted with us for a minute. With as many restaurants as this guy has, it would be impossible I would think to be at every single one. So the fact that he wasn’t at the B&G on a night that you were there doesn’t really mean much. And although I was never at the original Spago, I’m sure that place was amazing. But that was what…over 20 years ago??? Times change, and businesses grow.

    Did you have a hard time getting a table in a timely manner at one of his other restaurants and thats why you decided to write a bad review?

  3. Hi Sandy, although the decor didn’t wow me, I didn’t have a problem with it. And as I said in the review the food was pedestrian at best. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed your experience but it sounds like you weren’t dining at Wolfgang’s restaurants when he was actually a great chef. The fact that he has over expanded and can no longer deliver greatness is of no comfort for those of us who remember the good old days. Oh, and I’ve never had a problem getting a table at one of his other restaurants — I didn’t say I’ve met Wolfgang, I said that I know him and I like him. But the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill doesn’t need a visit every now and them from Wolfy, it needs him to come and work the kitchen for a few months and make it special!!!

  4. Wolfgang was at the LA live location the first week. I met him as well, and chatted for a bit. There was a 45 min wait, and he told the waitress to seat us right away, so that was nice. Food was good, but small portions.

  5. Well Vanzant, if you met Wolfgang in the restaurant he wasn’t in the kitchen cooking, which is the problem. Now I’m happy that you had a chance to meet Wolfy, but I would be elated if you had a chance to try his food. And while I have no idea how long Wolfgang spent training his staff before opening, I can tell you being there for only a week subsequent to opening is not acceptable.

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