Tuesday, May 26, 2015

To SUR, with Hate (LA)

I’m not proud to say I have a weakness for most of the Housewife mayhem that spouts from the blowhard mouth of Bravo, sucking me and many of my unassuming friends in for the train-wreck. This included my east coast pal, Taryn, so we agreed that the next time she visited San Diego, we’d road trip to LA and eat at (Beverly Hills Housewife) Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant, SUR.

As the setting of Vamperpump Rules, SUR buzzed like a hive of iniquity where the pretty and privileged, degenerate, worker bees (and self-perceived queens) pollinated all the drama you could stomach.

Vanderpump’s Vibe
But this hive was a heap, and my first thought upon entering was that of a basement/ warehouse turned restaurant. The purple, velvet curtains shuttering the entrance were heavy, but cheap looking, like the kind you’d see in some high school stoner’s bedroom. Light was scarce. We were seated right next to an enormous, concrete planter, which looked more like a lawn ornament from an English estate than indoor décor, especially since it cut into my side like an oversized man spilling from his seat on a plane.

We weren’t given any menus, so I asked the kid filling our water, and he looked at me like I was nuts. He paused then said, “Let me see if we have any.” He came back with only one menu. For us to share? Was this an LA thing? (Menus are soooooo 2014!!)


Apps: Fried goat cheese balls, cucumber salad, mango sauce
But in fact, there was one item which we already knew we wanted - fried goat cheese balls. In one particular episode, the show’s evil queen, Stassi, raved about them. I'd pictured finely sculpted orbs, rolled lightly in breadcrumbs and herbs, but I should have known better than to trust that lying trollop! Three deep-fried, teeny tiny balls, no bigger than a marble, arrived masquerading as mozzarella stick’s ugly step-sisters. The only thing that could cut through their inch-thick breading was the mango slime that drenched the limp bed of grated carrots and cucumbers beneath.

Entrée: Roasted rack of lamb, rosemary red wine sauce, two side orders
SUR’s selections read like a cafeteria menu – pick a side and a veg - was that served on a metal tray? We kept trying to decide on entrees, but between the four chicken dishes, meatloaf, and pasta, it was slim pickings. The only thing that caught my eye was the lamb, and I paired it with a side salad and mashed potatoes (yawn). At this point, Taryn looked over in disappointment and said, “Do you just want to split an entrée?” I mean, it only made sense to order one meal, since we only had one menu, and after the cheese ball blunder and the lackluster list before us, I readily agreed…and we couldn’t have made a better decision.

First of all, the SIDE salad was served on the same plate as the lamb and potatoes, which meant that all of the balsamic vinaigrette and the lamb’s watery, red wine sauce ran together, until there was no separating the two. And could there be anything more unappetizing than warm, wilted lettuce? I think not. I’ve seen Lisa Vanderpump’s house; her closet was bigger than most apartments. She could afford to spring for a few salad bowls.

The lamb was under-seasoned, but decent. The four, petite chops were cooked to the correct temperature and had enough of their natural juices left to wash away the gluey after-paste from SUR’s extra starchy, mashed potatoes.

Dessert: Crepes with dulce de leche and whipped cream
Dessert was the only highlight. Delicate crepes, thinner than the tablecloth, came folded and filled with the caramelized, creamy decadence of dulce de leche, and topped with homemade whipped cream. Tasty, but definitely not worth the trip. 

Boulevard of Broken Dinners
What was worth the trip was our “celebrity” sighting of Katie (the girl next door who finally found her voice). And Peter (the "I want to be Rico Suave” manager, but just a goofy guy [with great abs]), who was nice enough to take a picture with us.

And in reality (TV), that’s what we were there for: the cheap thrill. The fact that dinner was a disaster only made sense because we had ditched our integrity for a quick dance with celebrity, and our palates were punished for such shallow sins.