The Other Critics

Virbila Shoots Blanks at Son of a Gun; Gold Gorges on Soondae, Feels Better After Sipping Patxaran

“Beach shack food” on Planet Virbila Photo: KevinEats

One and a half stars for Son of a Gun?! Do we even need to read this thing? Really guys? Aw, okay. Oh god, but S. Irene Virbila starts the whole thing off by saying Third Street is “becoming” a restaurant row. Alright already, we’ll hold our noses and go in. “It’s beach shack food…not meant to be anything more,” she offers, making us wonder what beach in the world comes with Bakesale Betty chicken sandwiches, Benton’s ham, salt cod brandade, and shrimp toast. Anyway, she likes these dishes, but starts to moan when it comes time for the scallops in balsamic soubise, the linguine with clams, peel and eat shrimp, and a hanger steak topped with oysters and too much béarnaise. We suspect its the noise, limited wine list, and communal tables (these being sort of a tri-fecta of Virbila bugaboos), and not the food, that has the stars looking so anemic. “The good thing is that [Son of a Gun] doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: an everyday seafood restaurant at everyday prices,” she concludes. [LAT]

Jonathan Gold, high on Google Translate, discovers “that we were in the middle of a full-blown soondae renaissance.” He finds a great new spot for the Korean specialty at Eighth Street Soondae, “a restaurant where the blood sausage is treated less as a racy snack than as a necessity of civilized life, where the street-level snack is consumed with both aplomb and plenty of napkins.” [LAW]

Patrick Kuh clearly admires Tim and Liza Goodell’s vast history, but finds Public Kitchen and Bar “to be “the restaurant that was waiting for them. After so many reversals, the couple reached a point where they had to restate what they are about.” True true. Though he’s charmed by the terrines, trifles, and sweetbreads, he has some choice words for the menu’s biggest eccentricity: “I wouldn’t go so far as to pile a yolk on the oily bone-in schnitzel, though the menu gives you the option, declaring, “Everything Tastes Better with an Egg on It.” Such cornhusker wisdom comes off like an attempt to keep up with all the other chefs who’ve embraced the fried egg as much for its ability to conjure the farm as for what it actually imparts.” Goodell redeems all through the côte de boeuf that Kuh declares “It’s brilliant enough to make you ease back into your banquette, pleasantly stunned, and say, “Damn.” [Los Angeles]

Are you allowed to enjoy digestifs? Mr. Gold grants you permission by saying, “while it may seem counterintuitive, the shock to the system that comes with a slug of Fernet or a jolt of grappa is a useful one — it’s like pushing a reset button on your system…Is it a coincidence that so many of these digestifs are bottled by monks? It is not. Monks know something about penance.” The scribe likes patxaran himself, and even quotes the great Billy Dee: “Works every time.” [LAW]

Virbila Shoots Blanks at Son of a Gun; Gold Gorges on Soondae, Feels