Monday, December 20, 2010

Stray Cat Cafe--No Rush

I'm going to complain about the newly opened Stray Cat Cafe. It will not be the usual track of complaining that comes about by LA bloggers over it. There's a whole controversy involving the wine bar The Must and Weenez (the hot dog joint that used to reside in this space) and shady business dealings. I'm going to complain because my lunch here cost me over $50. Let me tell the story.

I met my friend Marsha for lunch during the week. It is always kind of a hassle to go out for lunch, but it really does perk you up when you get to hang with friends in the middle of a workday. The worst is when you are on a tight schedule and you end having to wait for your friend to arrive. I parked just across the street of Stray Cat, in front of Bolt Barbers and walked in to find Marsha already waiting for me. I was the one holding up the show.

Stray Cat has only been open for a short while, but certainly long enough to not look like it is either still under construction or already going through a remodel. About half of the restaurant looks unfinished. Adorning the finished walls are oodles of cat art.

We looked over the menu and lamented that we had missed breakfast service; almost immediately our waitress came by and let us know that they were still serving breakfast. That was welcome news. We both eyed the Lemon-Scented Cottage Cheese Pancakes. I ended up deciding to go off my normal ordering routine and went with Marie's Frittata.

Our waitress took our orders and disappeared down that dark hallway.

She'd return from time to time, refill our drinks, bring other people's food. Marsha and I just chatted. Eventually, I started to get a little antsy. This was taking a very long time.

Marsha's Lemon-Scented Cottage Cheese Pancakes arrived. They were very good. They didn't even need any syrup. You could really taste how the addition of the cottage cheese had positively affected the batter. I've gotten cottage cheese pancakes before and they were plain and too tart compared to these.

But then we waited some more. In the meantime, Marsha decided she did need some protein and ordered a side of bacon.

After a bit more waiting, my fritatta came out. I didn't know it came with a toasted hoagie roll. I had asked for an English muffin for my choice of toast. The waitress assured me that the muffin was on its way, too. The frittata was also good. I love the Parmesan and egg combination.

At this point, I decided that I should go check the parking meter. I knew we had to be close to an hour by now.

As I was getting up, the bacon arrived. I paused to try some. It was good.

I went outside and sure enough: parking ticket. $50.00.

I went back inside to find my English muffin had finally arrived. My camera was already packed, so forgive the lack of the picture. You know what one looks like, come on.

Stray Cat Cafe's food was good and reasonably priced. They clearly have some issues with food prep. It took over a half an hour to get two relatively simple breakfasts. The fact that the food came out so staggered means their kitchen may be understaffed and/or in a far off location? I recommend holding off on your visit until the construction is complete and they don't have to disappear down dark hallways to get your food.

Food: Good.
Price: $6-$10
Service: Okay.
Pie: No, but a lot of cakes on the menu.

Stray Cat Cafe
500 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 891-1144

They do change the art on the walls and as some of you might know when I'm not stuffng myself with breakfast foods, I am a roller derby referee. I was very pleased to see this new piece of art up on the wall.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blue Star--Downtown LA - Closed

Blue Star is located in a sketchy-ass industrial zone just south of downtown Los Angeles. On this particular day getting from my work to the restaurant--which should have just been a straight shot down Alameda and then left on 15th--took forever due to the insane number of 18- wheelers and scrap metal pick-ups seemingly patrolling the streets.

I knew they closed at 3pm and I arrived at 2:45. After going through the harrowing ordeal of traffic, construction detours and double parked semis, when I saw the "CLOSED" sign in the window, I was livid.

"I'm going in!" I said to myself...out loud. That's how mad I was--I was talking to myself. Have I mentioned how much I hate traffic and driving in general?

I looked at the hours posted next to the door--yep, 3pm. It was not yet 3pm, what was up with the giant closed sign in the window? Did they even know what I went through to get here? I pulled open the door and was ready to tear it up. The two women at the table near the door looked up at me, like they knew I was about to unleash hell. Then a dude told me to sit anywhere I wanted. My ire now taken away, I quietly skulked to a table. At least they were willing to honor the posted hours.

Blue Star has been around for a few years now, but it seems like a design concept never coalesced. It's sparsely decorated; in fact, I think the only thing hanging on the walls that isn't a neon sign or a flatscreen tv, are some hubcaps. It's like a decorator said, "Hey these will look cool here" and called it a day.

They also serve beer and wine, which I found very strange for a place that closes at 3pm. What's the point--unless they are going for a hardcore mid-day drinker base?

I ordered a coffee, which was disgusting and tepid. They were closing and had clearly given up on this product sometime ago. I would have said something, but both employees disappeared into the back and by the time they returned, I was over it.

The menu was sort of torture for me. Some of the breakfasts sounded delicious, but they stop serving them at 11am. The lunch and dinner menu (again, they close at 3pm. "Dinner?") is pretty uninspiring. I asked my waitress which sandwich she recommended between the BBQ Chicken and the Chicken Pesto. She said the BBQ, so I went with that.

I was not expecting much. The coffee had set such an awful precedent that if they had brought me a chicken neck drenched in Heinz 57 on two slices of store-brand bread, I would have not been surprised. Ultimately, this sandwich was really, really good. The BBQ sauce was a good mix of tangy and sweet and the fried onions were a nice touch. My only critique would be that the chicken was a little thin. The french fries were like the best non-greasy fast-food style fries I've had in awhile. Worth $10.50? No.

I finished my meal and left. I was the last person inside who didn't work there. After I walked out, the waiter flipped the sign in the window over to "Open." He just hadn't paid attention to which way the sign was facing.

It all seemed very lackluster and I can see no reason to go back to Blue Star. There was no experience to be had and the price and the hours would definitely keep me away.

Food: Good.
Price: $9-$16.
Service: Okay.
Pie: None.

Blue Star Diner
2200 E 15th St
Los Angeles