Firstly the Duchess recommends the PhotoLA + artLA Projects show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, on now through Monday, January 17. General hours are 11 am through 7 pm (except on Monday when the exhibition will close at 6 pm).
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica
1855 Main Street, Santa Monica 90401
The Duchess thanks Eyestorm, the online contemporary art gallery, for arranging her tickets. Eyestorm will exhibit the works of its artist Rob Carter, a London-based photographer who captures a still image but uses a revolving lens camera. Here is his Travelling Still Tulip Fields Holland XIV, 2006:
Secondly, the Duchess dines, this week at two French restaurants. One is a local institution, a family-owned and -operated restaurant since 1927. The other is the (relatively) brand new honey-child of Hollywood, located within the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine. One is terrific and worthy of its legacy; the other is worthy of its location abutting a subway stop.
1911 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026
For lunch on Thursday, wanting to escape the hustle-bustle of downtown (and its usurious parking spaces), the Senator and Duchess scooted over to Echo Park to Taix for a light and lovely lunch. Taix can be found just south of Alvarado on Sunset, across from the Brite Spot and overlooking Echo Park Lake. Taix has affordable and gracious valet, an expansive and authentically French menu; it is both child-friendly and elegant (in its own, subdued way); and the service strikes just the right balance between professional and casual. The food is comforting and quite well done; nothing exotically prepared or nouvelle, we're talking simple la cousine de grand mere.
And perhaps best of all the total bill was under $30. $30! For two people! With appetizers! With beverages! That kind of value simply cannot be beat unless you'd prefer Loteria Grill. And even if you would, you certainly must visit Taix. It's the kind of family restaurant where one could take one's own family for years to come.
Taix, the interior
Quite unlike the other French restaurant visited this week, Delphine, in Hollywood. The Duchess is not quite sure where to begin (or end) with Delphine. The service was attentive, jovial (but not too intrusive) and thoughtful. The decor is very Pacific Palisades-meets-David Collins-wannabe, sort of confused Riviera. The food is quite marginal: room temperature French bread; undersalted butter; not crispy enough pommes frites; decent white bordeaux. The prices are not so marginal and are rather on the high side (not as pricey as Cut, but then, what is?). Ultimately what makes Delphine a loser is that one pays a good deal of money for a lackluster food experience and overall the restaurant is completely unoriginal. In keeping with its Hollywood pedigree, perhaps. For the price of a carafe of white bordeaux the Duchess had an entire meal -- with another person, mind you -- at Taix. Readers, save your money and your time: skip Delphine (if you must dine in Hollywood, go to Bowery, or Musso's, or even the dreaded Katsu-ya).
Lastly a post-script. The Countess met the Duchess for a late brunch this morning (thank you Countess!) at Bottega Louie. Striding in at around 10:30 am, we were told that the main dining area was closed until 11:00 am, and we were directed (not ushered, not shown a table) to plop ourselves down in the bar area. One supposes this is fine except that no menus were brought to us; the Duchess had to hail down a bartender -- at the bar -- to ask for menus; and it took a good twenty minutes before anyone bothered to take our order. They were "out" of some menu items. Our waitress did not revisit us until she handed us the check; no offers to warm up our coffee; no questions about the quality or enjoyability of our food. And still it was packed.
Yes, there is still a dearth of groovy downtown dining options, even with the additions of First & Hope and Mas Malo. Thus Bottega Louie has been quite popular the last couple of years. That doesn't mean it can go resting on its laurels if it wants to be a contender in the long run.
515 W 7th St. Downtown. 213-985-4332
Photograph by Tatiana Arbogast for GrubStreet