Ever since moving to LA I have been dying to try The Stinking Rose, a restaurant completely dedicated to (cue Handel's chorus "Haaaaalelujia Halelujia") GARLIC!! Sorry, I'm tearing up; but garlic is quite possibly my favorite food. I would live on garlic if I could - though I'm pretty sure my boyfriend would dump me. Anyway, it's an odd place for a date, but since Chris and I have been together over 4 years I thought I could convince him. And bless his heart he agreed. We made a reservation for 8:15pm on Saturday night.
Upon walking into the restaurant we were greeted by one of the hosts and told to wait in a line to "check in." Ok… 5-10 minute wait and the extremely rude hostess asks for our names. Then she tells us to wait in another line that begins at the entrance to the restaurant and is about 30 people deep. Wait, why did I make a reservation? Am I in a Disney line? What's going on here? And the entire time the rude hostess is yelling at people to move ahead in the line, but not block the entrance to the bar area.. awkwaaarrd. Another 15 minutes of cattle herding and we are at the front of the line. "Table for two?" Duh.
The restaurant is decorated in a very kitschy way and it's worth taking a lap to see all the cute murals and decorations. Basically, the walls are covered in famous scenes but depicted with garlic cloves - like the garlic Eiffel Tower, the Garlic Big Ben, and so on.
What we ordered: garlic soaking in a hot tub appetizer, clams with black linguini pasta, and the surf and turf with crab & prime rib. The garlic appetizer was basically oven roasted garlic with olive oil and a touch of anchovy, meant to be spread on the complimentary rolls. I hated the rolls - they were too doughy and definitely didn't taste house-made (might have been from the day before). The roasted garlic was just ok, too oily, and way too much to share between two people. This wouldn't have bothered me so much if the waiter didn't push us so hard to order a pot full of 50 cloves of garlic. Relax, garçon, I'm running the show here, not you.
You know it's a red flag when your meal comes out about 5 minutes after you order. Literally, we ordered and five minutes later the food was on our table. The linguini was completely dry and the noodles were stuck together as if they'd been sitting in a pile for 45 minutes. At the bottom of the dish was a puddle of olive oil and minced garlic. Really? My prime rib was nice and tender and was definitely the best thing we had. The sides of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes were pathetic. The potatoes most likely came powdered from a box and both had definitely been sitting under the heat lamp for way too long. I couldn't take more than one bite. I got about 2 little nibbles out of the tiny crab legs - sad! They were definitely not fresh. And the "melted garlic butter" that came to dip them in was completely hard. Heat that sh*t up!!
I think the bf hit the nail on the head with this place - it is just a factory restaurant cranking out mediocre food to the swarms of cattle (I mean tourists) who are suckered in by the name and reputation. Since the food is ready five minutes after you order it, the kitchen is probably cranking out the same dish over and over and letting it sit under heat lamps. None of this would be objectionable if the price point was reasonable. But our bill was well over $100 for a substandard meal. Honestly, Applebee's would be much better food. If this place charged Applebee's prices, I would have no complaints, but at fine dining prices my advice… take a pass.