Restaurant: Pacific Dining Car
Location: 1310 West 6th Street (City West)
Type of restaurant: Steakhouse
We stipulated: When Mike and Maria of Franklin Avenue announced they were hosting a lunch for bloggers and fans at Pacific Dining Car in honor of their 200th Rate-A-Restaurant review, I of course RSVP'd at the opportunity to try the place. I've never eaten here, and had heard some good things about the place but that it was a little upscale, so it wasn't on the top of my list of places to run & check out. This would make the trek worthwhile.
They stipulated: That we order from the set menu and hopefully write a review in the style of Mike's Rate-A-Restaurant blog. Since the restaurant was located in City West,we decided to drive over and find parking. Parking was hard to come by, so we opted for the Valet. As it turns out we got little "half off" stickers which brought the $5.50 parking price down.
What we ordered: The one-time $40 Rate-A-Restaurant prix fixe included:
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Spring Mix Salad & Mango Beet Dressing;
Petit Filet Mignon and Monkfish with Lobster Sauce with Vegetable Medley;
Strawberry and Vanilla Vacherin / Compote of Seasonal Berries.
High Point The high point was the company. I was fortunate to finally get to "officially" meet Mr. Atwater Village Newbie (despite having gone on the Great LA Walk with him on the Pico & Santa Monica walks).. so meeting him & Mrs AVN was very nice.. and downtown neighbors Jim & Celia, and Scott Lowe of "Tropico Station" was very good company (I knew Scott from the previous Great LA Walks as well).
Having lunch at Pacific Dining Car was a great opportunity that I'm not sure when I would have had.
Regarding the food: I knew that since there was to be a prix fixe menu, there was a good chance I would be served fish of some kind. The service and the food presentation (plating) was lovely.
The salad: I 'donated' my jumbo shrimp to SeanYoda and so the salad was excellent without the shrimp. It was a fresh sweet summery salad, that does not lose anything from not having the shrimp.
The entree: You can see pix of the entree elsewhere. I completely forgot to take a photo as when the servers were going around the room, they initially seemed to think that it was a fish or filet mignon option... so when the plate came and had both. I was a little disappointed, but again, I was well aware this might be the case.
Getting over it, I gently moved my piece of monkfish over to SeanYoda's plate, and he in turn passed me his filet mignon. The blue cheese & herb butter was excellent and the steak was served medium rare, so I was able to eat all of it but the very center. Again, SeanYoda had no problem helping me make that disappear. =)
The vegetables had a considerable amoount of lobster sauce drizzled on it and so I ate a little around the edges but left most of my veggies.. I love veggies, so this was probably the saddest part.
Dessert: the Strawberry and Vanilla Vacherin was served with a compote of berries: blackberries and blueberries, etc.. was most excellent. I would gladly order this again given the opportunity.
The Low Point: I'd have to say the low point was the jacked up (and sub-par IMHO) Bloody Marys. SeanYoda seemed to have started a trend with the bloody marys. He ordered one, and I ordered one thinking "hey yeah.. when will I have the opportunity to try this anytime soon??" and a few other folks ordered one as well. I'm not sure if they liked theirs, but at $9 a pop, Sean made a point of pondering aloud to me, "wondering what sort of vodka they are using?" I can't say I'm a Bloody Mary aficionado but I have had much better. I guess the plus of this is that I doubt I'll be going back anytime soon to make the mistake again.
Overall Impression: The waitstaff was amazingly good! Highly efficient and attentive. The atmosphere of the place is high end but not pretentious. I didn't feel like I was at Arnaud's (which I've eaten at along with other New Orleans old line restaurants) and had to worry about which fork to use, or worry about how I was dressed. Putting people at ease is a big part of the dining experience for me, and so having a meal that I couldn't necessarily enjoy 100% was made a lesser issue.
Chance I'll go Back: Honestly, it's very doubtful we'd make it back other than on a rare occasion due to the pricepoint of the place. It seems like it's a special place for special times, which this indeed qualified. Perhaps one day (maybe for a birthday or special anniversary event) I'd like to go and try something off the menu for dinner like the Grilled half chicken.. It's more likely I'd want to try breakfast as I hear they do an excellent breakfast. Better yet, afternoon tea would be more my style.
**Big Thanks** to Mike & Maria for all your great reviews, your time and effort in putting the event together and to the staff & management of the Pacific Dining Car. I do hope I'll get to come & enjoy breakfast there one day.. someday.