Here we go again...it seems like I get a stick up my ass about a place and that's the motivation I need to write. My last post was weeks ago and life was going along just fine. Not too much controversy, minding my own damn business, keeping my head above water, blah blah blah. Then I had two instances to try out newcomer restaurant, former underground dining, 19th century pirate - Lafitte. First was a dinner and then I mistakenly booked a business lunch later in the week. I decided I'd give them a Bauer treatment and visit multiple times. Man was it ugly.
First, let's get the Butter Face thing out of the way. According to the urban dictionary, a butter face is:
A girl with an exceptionally hot body but an exceptionally ugly face. "Everything but-her-face is attractive"
I don't want to come off misogynistic, but "but-his-face" just doesn't have the same panache. Personally, I always liked the term "Cincinnati Bengal" which boils down to "Nice Uniform, Shitty Helmet".
So you enter Lafitte and realize someone spent some dough to make it look nice. Clean lines, pretty views - very much a part of the Embarcadero Renaissance that is happening right now. Not very underground. One could easily say that the 'uniform' is quite nice. Well done.
Then there is the food. For clarification's sake, if you haven't picked up on where I'm heading with this you should be lobotomized I'll spell it out - the food is the 'face' or 'helmet'. And, fuck me, she's an ugly bitch!
I don't like to cast stones too easily well yes I do, and look how I've discovered this nifty stikethrough button woo hoo not only did I have two experiences to confirm this, but tonight I attended a food event where multiple trusted colleagues confirmed my assessment. Checking the Yelpasphere shows similar discontent. This dog has fleas.
Without getting into much detail, I'll give you my basic impression.
For lunch there were several missteps. Little gems are a treasure to me and I've rarely seen them so beaten and battered and unkempt while dressed in a watered-down mess (served with a flavorless, mushy polenta 'cake'). The pasta dish I ordered was billed as 'Fusilli Pasta: lobster, pea shoots, & spring onions'. In the hands of a competent chef, that sounds rather tasty. One might expect some fresh, silky pasta in a pool of savory sauce and hunks of tender lobster for $18 at lunch. Rather, I received boxed dry fusilli (I ain't kidding, like Barila) served with micro bits of chewy lobster-like substance and some manky greens on top. To their credit, the sauce was ok. But the crown jewel was a 'dagwood' sando that had 4 monster slices of bread, stuffed with rabbit terrine, bacon and black bass. Really? Really? Thank god I wasn't paying.
Dinner was slightly better, but not that much so. A morel and asparagus quiche was served cold and flavorless. The squash blossom pasta was 'meh', as was the chicken with morels. The best thing of the night was Pan Roasted Padrons & Boquerones Vinagrette. But I could make that at home. Mine would be better. Seriously, I'll give you a recipe.
This all leads me to a gripe. I'll likely need to expand on this in another post. But just for argument's sake, how is it possible that a restaurant can be so oblivious to their misgivings when your entire world is in food? It wasn't hard for at dozen or so people with whom I've discussed Lafitte to uniformly identify multiple major problems. What's going on there that makes them so blind? I'm guessing that sometimes a butter face actually doesn't really know she's a butter face. Hmmm.
I suppose the word is out, because on both occasions the place was barren. With lines down the block at La Mar, Slanted Door and The Plant Cafe, it's not like the potential isn't there. It might be time to hoist the sails, matey, and head back to the underground. This butter face needs some reconstructive plastic surgery, stat!