Ox, gored

huntington chinese garden stone tileLazy Ox Canteen – This is one of the loudest concerts I’ve ever been to.

The food? Small plates, like everywhere else, and really quite good; at a table full of choices running the gamut from vegan to organ, it’s only the latter (in the guise of liver) that disappoints through overcooking. A Robuchon-style purée of butter thickened with a little potato and black truffle is a decadent standout, but shishito peppers, lemon-laced broccolini (a dish that highlights Gjelina’s failure with a similarly sour preparation)…everything else is delicious. The one exception to small platedom is a fabulous, thunderously-sized burger with Cantal and green peppercorn mustard.

Alas, the wine list isn’t so special. Instead, it’s a jumble of largely unappealing yet quirky names without any apparent cohesion or philosophy.

Raventós i Blanc 2010 Penedès “Silencis” (Cataluña) – Very liquid, with white peppercorn and nut spices in an applewood broth. Starts off better than it finishes. (11/11)

Hendry “HRW” 2008 Zinfandel (Napa Valley) – 15.3%. I’m normally a big fan of Hendry, but I kind of hate this. Stenchy dark fruit with a twisted-off finish, like drinking wire one picked up off a dirty floor. (11/11)

But back to the elephant in the room…the one that’s trumpeting directly into my ear. Please, Lazy Ox: turn the music down. Way, way down. I don’t object to deafening music, I just don’t particularly want to dine with it. And it’s not just that I can’t hear my dinner companions, I can’t even see them because the pressure waves have numbed the vision center of my brain and are probably responsible for tectonic activity hundreds of miles away. I have made a certain peace with the modern restaurant fetish for assaultive noise, but this is purely elective, and thus particularly unnecessary. I’d go here again, but I’d wear noise-canceling headphones. I’m not entirely kidding…because yes, it is that bad.

Yuca’s on Hollowood – A micro-chain (of two) counter-service-with-seating restaurants, this one with a tiny patio and very good food executed with just a little bit more swagger than most similarly-operated Mexican joints. I can’t find anything bad to say about this place. The swagger may cover for a bit of non-traditional north-of-the-border exploration, but if not everything is authentic in form, it’s authentic enough in flavor.

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