It happens to critics too: The Friday night restaurant relay


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What do you do when you’re five minutes away from a restaurant where you’re meeting friends, and they call to report that the valet just told them there’s been a power outage: The restaurant is closed.

It’s Friday night and with Sotto temporarily closed, I scramble for somewhere else to go.


How about Misfit, the restaurant that replaced Anisette in the Clock Tower building in Santa Monica? They don’t take reservations anyway. Let’s just go.

The friends are five minutes ahead, and just when I’m inching toward the address, they call from the restaurant to warn there’s a 45-minute wait. Too long.

Well then, let’s try Villetta, the new Italian in the old Chez Mimi space in Brentwood. We’re so close, let’s just go and see if we can get a table.

Not a chance.

By now we’ve been driving around for almost 45 minutes, and I’m getting desperate.

Let’s try Vincenti, I suggest, and I can hear a smile in Daniela’s voice when she agrees. We call first. Yes, they’ll have a table in 15 minutes or so (it’s an early crowd).

And, so, after what feels like a race across the city, we finally sit down, starving by now, to a fine Italian meal of cacia e pepe, fried soft-shelled crabs and roast duck. It’s been too long. The dining room still looks smart, and the crowd still dresses for the occasion. Service is excellent, as always. Plus — we can hear one another across the table.

In the end, we have a terrific evening, polished off with ice cream sandwiches at Sweet Rose Creamery at Brentwood Country Mart.



Battle of the Burgers

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— S. Irene Virbila