S. Irene Virbila writes Charlie Palmer a long letter of woe for his eponymous restaurant at Bloomingdale’s at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. The place is luxe enough, the service and sommelier are spot on, the giant eWinebooks are pretty cool, and the bartenders know how to make a good Manhattan. The problem is the kitchen:
You've put a young, enthusiastic chef, Amar Santana, in charge of this large, ambitious restaurant and don't seem to be giving him the support and feedback he needs. If you were, the food would be more up to the standard you've set at your restaurants in New York and Las Vegas. I understand the same chef has either opened or worked at several of your other properties. I can only think that you must have been more hands-on there. I feel for him, I really do. It all seems to be on his shoulders. But he needs a mentor to tell him when things work and when they don't.
The house-made charcuterie is just the beginning (one pate, she says, looks like Spam), and it spirals all the way down to overambitious desserts. It gives Miss Irene “no pleasure to have to write this review of an eager young chef's work,” but she did. Charlie Palmer gets a measley half star. Today the “S.” stands for “sour." [LAT]
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