Tasting Menu or Leftovers: Mediocrity at Morel's
Granted Morel's French Steakhouse and Bistro is in The Grove (positioning it as a place for tourists who don't-know-better to eat), but would they really build a menu around their leftovers and call it a tasting menu? I think they would and did.
Known for their views of the mini Bellagio fountain, megaplex and people watching, Morels has prime real estate. Their steaks and mussels have made the blog rounds. I wasn't averse to trying their tasting menu, as a night of steak, shell fish and pommes frites never hurt anyone. What we got was a mixture of seemingly leftover items, hastily served amongst endless glasses of wine. Now I'm not complaining about the wine, as it was the saving grace of the evening, but I'm pretty sure it was only included to quell any complaints about the food.Upon arriving, it didn't take long to notice the ladies who lunch crowd was at least 20 years older than us. Not a good sign.
The cheese plate featured chunks of muenster (yes, that's chunks- the least appetizing word to describe food) with raspberries, olives and bruschetta. An extremely cheap assortment without a notable component, thus nullifying any reason to mention the paired wine.
The second course was a caprese salad with peaches (not pictured). Again, absolutely nothing worth mentioning.
The third course was a huge slab of seared ahi tuna, it's stringiness and size rendering it gross. They incorrectly assumed we would be happy because there was a lot of food on the plate. The cucumber salad on the side was neither here nor there.
Finally the meal stepped it up a little with the steak, onion rings, fries and flavored salts (regular salt, smoked salt, Fleur de Sel and my favorite the crunchy gray salt- unofficial name)
The meat was cooked well, flavorful and not too fatty.
Dessert was just a milkshake with whipped cream and cookies. Nothing wrong with it, but how hard it is to throw some Dreyers in a blender.
The bathrooms are pretty amusing, pumping in techno and supplying a bathtub-sized trough of mints.
Slower delivery would have helped immensely as the large staff hovered like flies, clearing plates, refilling glasses and offering their assistance to the point of harassment, not efficiency.
Maybe this sort of meal appeals to a different crowd, one who appreciates quantity over subtly, one who has to rush home to watch American Idol or one who doesn't know better than to eat at The Grove.
Overall it felt like the weekend's leftovers were combined into a 'tasting menu', as opposed to a true tasting menu of the market's freshest seasonal ingredients. If they charged $35 per person it would have been fine- you get what you pay for. But at $55 (before tip) it's not worth it, at least not in a city like LA where there are so many food choices. Next up Sunday Supper at Lucques, to see a tasting menu done right.