Sunday, December 28, 2008

Park Avenue -- name does not match experience

Park Avenue

11200 Beach Blvd Stanton, CA 90680 (714) 901-4400

Heard all these good things about Park Avenue, so when a friend decided to have her birthday celebrations there, I was excited and eager to be part of it. Our medium sized group of eight arrived with the exception of one who was lagging behind due to a flight delay, but it didn't matter. We took the time to settle into our seats and perused the menu while we waited.

Bread baskets and water were brought out and whipped butter both plain and with bits of orange cranberry dotted the little plates. I tasted the bread and was immediately impressed by it -- great flavor and I liked how the butter enhanced and complemented the bread.

While waiting we decided to order some appetizers to share. Tenderloin bites and lobster corn fritters were both outstanding. The menu stated that the tenderloin bites were marinated with soy, lime and garlic and it was obvious by the first bite. Not only were these bite sized beef chunks tender and moist, but extremely flavorful. And although I couldn't taste the lobster in the fritters, they were just the right texture -- not too hard or too soft -- and fried perfectly. This made me even more excited about the meal ahead.

Soon, we all placed our main course orders and waited for our meals to arrive. Given that there were this many of us, I wasn't really fazed by the length of time we waited. Our bread baskets had been empty a long time and while our water carafes were refilled over and over again, the bread basket had been sitting there bare for more than 30 mins now. I brought this to the attention of our server who said he would take care of it. A few minutes turned into more than 10, until the birthday girl finally brought it to our server's attention again. He informed her that he was waiting for the baguette to be ready so it could be served alongside the cranberry bread. I guess she told him it wasn't necessary and to bring it out as is because we got our bread pretty soon after that.

When our main courses arrived I noticed that none of us who ordered steaks or chops had steak knives. In fact, there wasn't even a regular knife since we had used it for the appetizers. I quickly pointed this out as I really didn't like eating cold food and it was cooling down each second the knives weren't on the table. Our server murmured apologies regarding the lack of knives and his reasoning was because they were being polished. Just a sorry about that would have sufficed.

The other thing which was rather obvious was the fact that the main courses had that outdated feel about them. Presentation was seriously lacking -- practically non-existent. My NY steak was just sitting there with thin carrot ribbons on one side and scalloped potatoes on the other. The other diners' meals were the same: mixed grill was just the three items alongside mashed potatoes with the same thin ribboned carrots. No imagination in the presentation whatsoever.

I could've overlooked the presentation had the food blown me away. After eating the appetizers I was sorely disappointed by my main course. This being a 'steak and chop' house, the steak was subpar beyond belief. My steak was flavorless. At first I thought, well maybe they forgot to season it. I picked up the salt on the table and I shook my head when I saw it was the regular type of table salt. Luckily, I carry a salt grinder in my purse filled with sea salt. I sprinkled some onto my steak but it really didn't help much. The steak still remained pretty bland. We'd just returned from Vegas and I had a $10 steak which tasted far better than this almost $30 steak at Park Ave. In fact, I didn't finish my meal. My husband ate my scalloped potatoes and my son had some of my steak. I even left a piece unfinished on my plate. I rarely waste food, but I will not hesitate to leave inedible food behind. It was unfortunate that this was one of those times.

My husband's lamb chops were okay, still not the best I've ever had. I've bought lamb chops from Whole Foods which were more tasty. All in all, I think disappointed is too lax a word to use for this experience. Maybe after hearing the hype, I just expected a whole lot more. Maybe, because their prices were above average, I expected more. Maybe because Park Avenue presents itself to be a little more sophisticated, I'd expected service to be on par with that aspect, but again, I was let down. Everything was really mediocre at best -- the food, the service. The only redeeming factor was that the birthday girl enjoyed her main course -- swordfish. That was really the most important thing.

Would I come back again? Probably not for dinner. There's a different menu at lunch time -- perhaps that would be better? I don't know. But what I do know is that Park Avenue does not live up to the hype, nor does the quality of food vs cost ratio go hand in hand. I'm left feeling cheated by a lackluster meal with uninspiring service for a price which really doesn't justify the goods we received.


melissa said...

Luckily, I carry a salt grinder in my purse filled with sea salt.

Ha! Of course you do. Ingenious. I need to do that.

melissa said...

Oh! And I meant to say - that stinks about the steak, particularly at that kind of cost and reputation. Not cool.

Christine said...

I felt like that too. I wasn't too sure how I felt about it afterward. The mashed potatoes were unamazing. Where did you get your salt grinder? It was so cool! :0

siaodofu said...

I got it from Crate and Barrel. I should've bought the pepper one too. I actually wanted one that was smaller, but the one I have is slim enough.

Christine: hope you had a good time even though the food sucked!

Christine said...

Oh, even if we're in the middle of a garbage landfill, as long as I've got my friends, I'm good to go! :)

hosikah said...

OMG we went to Cut last night with some out of town friends and it was just as disappointing as Park Ave but for a lot lot more $$$$