1940 Westlake Ave
I heard a rumor that the happy hour at Barolo was the single most awesome item in the universe. Better than the Cotton Candy Blowjob Mobile. Better than the robot assassin that’s fueled by burning Thomas Kinkade paintings (the robot assassin’s targets are the people who OWN the Kinkade paintings, naturally). Better than love, life, and all of human history itself.
Obviously, the rumors were wild exaggerations since the only thing in the universe that even APPROACHES the awesomeness of the aforementioned awesome items is the time I appeared onstage with Iron Maiden. I didn’t want to go to Barolo. After all, I’m currently suffering from High End Italian Food Fatigue (HEIFF), and it seems that there’s no end in sight. Yet I had to prove to myself that there was at least some legitimate basis for the Barolo happy hour love fest so off I went.
Once again, the marketplace disagrees with my assessment of things because Barolo was PACKED: packed like a rat, or packed the way my bags will be if Sarah Palin becomes president in 2012. There wasn’t room at the bar so the maitre d’, an Ed Begley Jr. looking motherfucker, sat us at a couple of these nerdy mini couches. The couches, which looked like they’d be pretty comfortable for midgets to fuck on, were about 2 feet wide and faced one another with a low coffee table between. I felt like a second class dickwad here because we couldn’t just sit at a human- sized table, nor at the bar, but instead were relegated to the fucking kids’ table.
The other thing I’m going to bitch about re: Barolo is the extremely attractive staff. Everyone looked like a reject from a Days of Our Lives casting call, or one of those reality shows where sexy twentysomethings compete for the affections of some attention- starved douche. I start to get uncomfortable when even the MALE waiters give me a semi, but as long as the waiters stay on their side of the fence, things are usually cool. It’s only when they try shit like sitting down at the table with us, or writing their name upside down on the table, or asking me if I like their nipple rings, that the social contract breaks, resulting in me dining- and- dashing. Needless to say, I’m not welcome at Red Robin anymore.
Everything on Barolo’s bar menu is half price during their happy hour, which is from 3-6:30. The prices I’m listing here are the prices we paid DURING HAPPY HOUR. So the regular prices are twice what I’ve written. With that in mind, we started with the grilled Caesar salad ($4). A half of a romaine lettuce head was served with a ribbon of dressing, big fluffy crunchy croutons, large flakes of parmasean cheese, and a lemon wedge. The romaine head was appealingly charred in places and was obviously grilled, but had no smoke flavor so I doubt it was grilled over a fire. The croutons were light and crumbly and very good, and not at all like the angular gum- shredding nuggets that shitty croutons can sometimes be. The dressing was pretty bland pussy dressing, with very little garlic and no anchovy flavor. The parmasean was obviously NOT reggiano. All in all it was a serviceable Caesar salad.
We continued with a pair of carpaccios: veal ($6.50) and ahi tuna ($6). The veal featured a thin layer of veal on the plate, topped with a loose pile of arugula, dotted with capers, and anointed with white truffle oil and some kind of vinaigrette. This was pretty good. The ahi tuna carpaccio wasn’t as tasty. The ahi was smeared across the bottom of the plate, topped with finely diced celery, capers, and olive oil. It had a light, fresh taste, but I don’t get the appeal of carpaccio. Who decided that squishing something makes it taste better? It works okay for beef, but that’s only because beef holds together. Tuna doesn’t fare as well in carpaccio form. I don’t mind raw tuna, but I DO get aggravated when it’s presented as a limp paste. Does it have to be pounded flat? Couldn’t they just give us a couple whole chunks? I could make the remark the only kind of tuna that I like to pound flat is your mom’s, but I’m not doing “your mom” jokes anymore, so let’s just say instead that Arby’s really sucks.
The prosciutto plate ($6.50) had lots of prosciutto on it, but not enough to justify the price if it hadn’t been happy hour. It tasted like pretty standard prosciutto di parma, but the best thing about this dish was the plate itself: a rustic wooden paddle! You know how much I hate all things rustic, but that rule doesn’t apply to things that I could use to spank your mom, if in fact I was in the business of spanking your mom, which of course I no longer am. You could, however, use this paddle to bludgeon the CEO of Arby’s, until he is so brain damaged that he orders his restaurants to start making delicious food instead of the limp iridescent meat sheets, slick with rat- felching juice, they currently prepare.
Barolo is rather lame. It’s not bad, but certainly not breathtakingly original. That’s not always a bad thing, since sometimes you just want to taste something familiar. Besides, the happy hour prices are pretty cheap. But the NON happy hour prices are TOO EXPENSIVE. Is it because they have to pay Hollywood wages to all the soap opera actors who work there? Dude, I don’t fucking know.
Rating: 5 poorly written restaurant reviews out of 10
PS Congratulations to my peeps at Urban Spoon on their recent acquisition by Citysearch.