Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laurentino's

I was told yesterday's entry was rather mushy. So here is some snarky grumpiness.

Lindsay and I had been on a pretty impressive Ted Williams-esque hot streak. Meals had been going very well and we got overconfident. This overconfidence led us to Transcontinental and West Esplanade for a disappointment of historic magnitude.

I had wanted to go to Laurentino's for years. My interest was further piqued by an article describing how the chef/owner Xavier Laurentino spent some time recently at a Ferran Adria boot camp of sorts. Finally last Friday we made it out there. Walking into Laurentino's really feels like stepping into a tiny tapas spot in San Sebastian. The vibe is cave cool and one is immediately amped for a good meal. Then the food arrives.

To be fair the salad was pretty good. Although the olives came straight from a jar of Lindsey's, the sun dried tomatoes and light dressing were refreshing and a good palate cleanser.
The garlic soup was a disaster. The soup lacked body and soul. Although the menu billed it as garlic and egg set inside a vegetable and chicken stock, the only discernible flavor was rotten shellfish.
Next up was a bowl of gruel in the form of an artichoke pesto. The first bite was flavorful, by the second an intense saltiness took hold. Luckily, the San Miguel beers were close at hand.
The some shrimp in garlic sauce. Look at those shrimp. If you look closely you can see what they ate before being caught. This is New Orleans. I can swing a cat and hit a roadside vendor selling fresh shrimp. These frozen poker chips of brine laden chemicals will not do.

The patatas ali i oli were not bad, but could have been a little crispier. Am I quibbling? Sure, but when each dish has flaws you begin noticing them more and more.
Hope sprang eternal for an order of pork loin on toast with Manchego and roasted pepper. It would have been significantly better with a roasted red pepper rather than a green one. But all in all, this was tasty and I would order it again.

Much of the food suffered from a similar fault: it lacked punch and diversity. The flavors, and colors of dishes, began to all blur together. A garlic sauce can only go so far to cover up inferior products. When that sauce is repeated again and again, its does a better job pointing out flaws rather than hiding them.

Service consisted of a waitress who had her back turned on the dining room for 90% of the time as she folded napkins. I will leave it at that.

Peering into the kitchen, I could see the Chef Laurentino was not in the kitchen. Now, I realize at some restaurants the chef is not in the kitchen. But chefs like Emeril have a highly trained squad to execute his ideas and more importantly develop their own ideas. Maybe chef was on vacation, but he needs to come back. An authentic, delicious Spanish restaurant would be most welcome, a destination disappointment is not.

Laurentino's-Bogey. Will revisit though, perhaps.


Peter on vacation. As if two months of studying for the bar weren't taxing enough, he is off to Portugal and Spain with the Pope and Woodpecker. So that means next Thursday, Guest Blogging Thursdays return for one last incarnation. Win prizes, impress your friends.

5 comments:

Rémy said...

Let me get this straight.
Are you trying to say that Lindsey carries around a jar of olives?
That makes me so incredibly happy about the state of the world.

Sorry for a bummer meal. This kind of thing would be one of the few downsides of our job as intrepid food tasters and reporters.

Rene said...

She does but that was not what I was talking about. Was referencing the canned food company which has a selection of olives.

She also carries at all times, a tub of rillettes, three jars of mustard, the nose end of a baguette, and a bamboo steamer.

Shannon said...

The garlic soup has been awesome everytime I've had it. It's like liquid silky garlicy chicken heaven. And what olives don't come in a jar other than those in a can? You wanting fresh picked ones? The kitchen is not as tasty when Laurentino is not there but the soup has always been one of my favorite things. Something was either terribly wrong with your tastebuds or the kitchen that night. Although I've never had beer with it only the sangria.

Anonymous said...

He should sue the shit out of you for taking pictures of his food and posting that.

You take advantage of him being gone from the kitchen and now you portray him on the web poorly with no second chance, etc ...

You are just a dime a dozen wanna be LAWYER asshole and one day, somebody will put their foot up your ass and throw you in the trashcan in the rear of the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Your photography SUCKS and is not representative of the food.

Remove these photographs or I will approach him about suing you and this website.

Sincerely,

A lawyer asshole