Monday, February 9, 2009

DineLA Is Dead? Long Live DineLA!

Dining in L.A.... Everyone Dines in L.A!

Well, almost everyone. It seems that with the current economic situation dining out has become one of those fats that gets trimmed first. It seems that restaurants are having a hard time drawing customers
In a financial climate that has seen some franchises file bankruptcy during the national recession, restaurant patrons have lost a bit of their appetite.

People aren’t dining out as much, and independent restaurants in Cherokee County are suffering and changing to accommodate budget-wise customers.

“We are down 15-20 percent from this time last year,” said Dwayne Sneed, owner of Brother’s Restaurant in Ranger, discussing his seasonal profits.
Winter is known in the industry for being slow in customer turnout; however it’s been un-seasonably slow for Sneed. He’s trying new tactics to bring in business including working with civic groups and local sports teams to draw in crowds.

When you realize how many people are losing their jobs, I guess it does make sense. I mean, McDonalds is actually getting a push in business with all this. McDonalds reported that its 2008 4Q profits were higher than normal I think it's safe to say that people stopped going to the restaurants and started hitting the dollar menu as they started to tighten their wallets.

When I think about it, it's really a tragedy. I dislike fast food. If you're not ordering from the dollar menu you'll be looking to spend around $6-8 on your combo meal and if you're already spending that much, you could at least toss in a few more bucks to get something that wasn't tossed into a microwave and taste like cardboard. I also don't want to eat in the car. If I'm going to spend money I'd at least like the quality of the meal reflect in me being relaxed enough to enjoy it.

Hello stock photo of good food!

Normally during the winter season restaurants are pretty slow in general. Last year was the start of DineLA. For a period of two weeks time many Los Angeles restaurants offered three course meals for the cost of what they normally charge for a main course. It worked out well enough that they did it again this year.

I didn't have much time to write about it as I was out there enjoying it. So while this was originally going to be a wrap up blog about the event, I come to find out that DineLA has been extended till the end of the month. You can find a list of restaurants taking part and extending the offer till the 28th. Well, they're excluding Saturdays. Especially a specific one coming up next weekend.

But that's not even an issue. Personally, I'd avoid going to restaurants on the weekend anyway. The service always suffers. They know that the majority of weekend dining is done by those who seldom ever go out any other time. Waiters care more about turning tables than provide that great service they'd give you when fewer tips are coming their way for the night. Chefs are more concerned about getting that five top's entrees out instead of coming up with something new, fresh and unique. I'm a weekday warrior all the way.

A romantic dining experience under a tree branch...

Since it's extended, this has become a DineLA Half-time report. And may I say that this is a great way to try new places without breaking the bank. So far from the few I've discovered places that I want to go to as soon as possible again.

The Foundry - A delicious assortment of treats from the albacore tartar to a Salmon skin that will make you reconsider how boring Salmon could be. Wine pairings and an atmosphere that is amazing. This describes it best:
Famed chef extraordinaire Eric Greenspan of Patina and Meson G strives to create "fine dining for the everyman" with his trendy Melrose restaurant. Unique tasting menus allow adventurous diners to sample a little bit of everything, with selections from the extensive wine list complementing each course. Live jazz performers add to the lively bar scene
Fucking AMAZING!

Ruth Chris -What can be said about Ruth Chris that hasn't been said a million times before? Amazing steaks served up amazingly hot.

Asia De Cuba - On the Sunset strip this place is surreal. With a cross shaped couch and a view of the city through a glass dining area, this is one amazing place to have a meal. The food's tasty as well with interesting fusions with desert being something amazing.

Gus's bbq - Mmmm Mmmmm.. BBQ! I'd say you should stick with the smaller beer because you'll get stuffed with their ribs.

Ocean and Vine - Meh. Didn't care much for it.

These and many more are still participating and are worth checking out. Lunch will run you around $16-28 and $26-44 for dinner depending on the place. For a starter, entree and desert at these highly rated place (minus bubba gumps....) it's a steal.

Cuban Opera... and it's not over till the fat lady sings...
cause.. you know, her mouth is over.

Considering how Hallmark Valentines day is, I say skip taking them out to dinner on the 14th. The prices will be fixed and rather expensive and your enjoyment wont be nearly as good as any other time. Getting them a great meal on a budget on any of the other days when everyone isn't doing the same thing may be a better token of your affection anyway.

And if you miss out on DineLA you don't have to worry about finding a good meal and a night on the town for a date. You can always follow the ongoing cheap date segment of this blog and if that doesn't do it, many dining establishments have been answering back to a poor economy by using cheaper deals to lure more customers in and creating something that is unique and tasty to keep them coming in.

"The winter, post-holiday, is traditionally a time when diners don't like to spend as much dining out, and this (is) especially true in the current economic climate," says Nick Valenti, CEO of Patina Restaurant Group. "We want to provide our guests with an offer that is in sync with the times."

A "Soup Kitchen Cocktail Hour" at the Edison Lounge in downtown Los Angeles on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. provides customers complimentary grilled cheese melts and tomato soup and 35-cent Depression-era cocktails, such as the 401(k), a gin cocktail served in a half-empty glass. The lounge donates 25% of its net proceeds from the entire evening to local food banks and charities.

The "Blue Tray Special" is a hit at Luna Park San Francisco and Luna Park Los Angeles. Rotating entrees, such as the honey-glazed grilled pork chop with arugula salad and cigar onion rings (regularly $19.50) sell for $10-$12 and are served on blue cafeteria-style trays. Cocktails served in matching blue glassware are $5.

"When the economy slowed down, we did it as an experiment to see if would generate enough incremental business to make it worth it, and it has," says owner A.J. Gilbert. "People weren't spending as much money. They were trying to find deals."

So there's no reason why you shouldn't go out and Dine in L.A. With a hip new Downtown scene, delicious food all around trying to give you the most bang for your buck and the constant need of food you hunger for, there's many reasons why you should go out and have a good meal.

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