The Distinguished Gourmand: Lazy Ox Canteen
I tell you, Dinner Club is moving along at a remarkable pace. And by that I mean we have no fucking idea what we’re doing, and might very well be retarded when it comes to making and keeping dinner plans. Meeting #3 was scheduled and rescheduled roughly a dozen different times between June 23rd and last night. We somehow missed the entire month of July and nearly missed the entire month of August as well. Also we couldn’t get a reservation at Mark’s desired restaurant so Louise stepped up and made a clutch reservation last night at the Lazy Ox Canteen downtown.
The Lazy Ox has been on my most-desired eateries list for quite some time now. I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to eat there. The menu is right up my alley (unique preparations of meat, rotating daily specials based on local product availability, a very-highly regarded burger), and the beer list isn’t too shabby either. It’s short, but well-curated.
Speaking of which, is anyone else tired of food reviews using the term “well-curated” to describe shit like artisanal ingredients or meticulously-chosen craft beer selections? I mean, really it’s just one person who is anal retentive about specifics trying to perfect their menu, right? So instead of saying “well-curated” maybe we should start calling it what it is, “well-analed.” I like it. I’m all for it.
We were told when ordering that plates were to be delivered whenever ready, so it’d be a good idea to put in a few orders at once. We did just that, and the rapid-fire succession with which the plates arrived gave our table the feel of a prison cafeteria. For nearly 20 minutes we barely spoke to each other as the servers kept dropping plates off for us to consume. It almost felt like they were rushing us to eat everything before it got cold. For that reason I prefer the pace of the meal at Animal much better than Lazy Ox. Plates came out in good time, but usually no more than one or two at a time. We had time to enjoy, drink, chat and critique at Animal. At the Lazy Ox we were constantly chewing and rushing to try whatever came next.
Mark described it amazingly wen he wrote this morning, “The speed and rapid succession of food made it seem more like an episode of 24 than a dinner club but we still made it out in one piece. I liked the ricotta balls, Louise ordered polenta, Evan ate some prawn heads [in fact Nate ate the heads, he just cut the meat out for me — thanks dad!], Nate liked the birthday girl and we all tried to guess if the awkward couple was on a date. There was heated debate if it was roe or tomatoes stuffed inside the prawns. We were also surrounded by the reddest-faced people I have ever seen.”
The food was decent, not outstanding, and a lot of the preparations and ingredients were unique. The cheese plate (Spanish blue, Spanish goat’s milk, tallegio and one other I forgot) and cured meat plate (speck, chorizo, duck prosciutto) were serviceable. The beef carpaccio with marinated pecorino, pickled shallots and mustard oil was very good. The braised rabbit leg with tomatillo, avocado and chile was alright, and the seared fijian albacore with lentils, pickled apple, oregano and bacon was probably the best dish of the night. Other than that, the ricotta fritters received mixed reviews (everyone except for Louise liked them), the poached egg with pork belly and lime was decent, the prawns were pretty foul, the dish that David ordered (it was like a pork steak with french fries and aioli) was pretty good, and the steak was quite good as well. Louise and Nate didn’t like the polenta with creamed mushrooms and curry but I think Mark and I liked it. For dessert we had a strawberry rhubarb crumble that reminded me how much I like the variation at Gjelina.
Considering how much we ate and drank, the bill wasn’t that bad. Last week I took a girl out in Hollywood and paid the exact same amount for 6 $1 tacos and six margaritas as I did last night for a multiple-course feast and good craft beers. Had we ordered the whole roast chicken our bill probably would’ve been a bit more extravagant than it was, but no one blinked when the check arrived. That said, Lazy Ox could do better to manage the delivery of multiple dishes to a single table. Perhaps embrace the slowness of the service at Animal, which allowed us to really savor each dish and each other’s company. I don’t think anyone left the restaurant last night thinking that the Ox in question was indeed Lazy. Louise loudly proclaimed that there was nothing lazy about the Lazy Ox last night.
I’ll probably go back on my own to try the burger, but who knows if/when I’ll return again to enjoy the rest of the menu.
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