MY HORRIBLE LUNCH AT THE RESTAURANT AT MR. C IN BEVERLY HILLS!
I recently had the worst meal I’ve had in years, and I hate to admit it, but it was in Beverly Hills! It’s actually not the city’s fault, of course; rather it was at a little hotel named Mr. C. I can’t believe that it’s part of the Cipriani group in New York. If the powers-that-be over there had to eat this food, I have a feeling they’d disown Mr. C!
I have to cut to the chase, and give you the headline: That was the most disgusting chicken I have ever seen or tasted in my whole life! I kept trying to think of “lowbrow” places that were better than this, such as dives, coffee shops, places like that, and then I realized just what to compare this food to–I’ve had better food in soup kitchens! (I was serving the food, not being there myself to eat it.) And then I realized exactly how I can bring home for you just how vomititious it was: I had better food when I was in the circus! (When I showed the pictures of the meal to another restaurant-obsessed friend, she asked if it was the “blue plate special.”)
And it was so overpriced for what it was on the regular menu. But the experience I had was even worse than that. Someone had recommended Mr. C’s lunch to me for “DineLA,” which, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a program that happens twice a year in Los Angeles, and is a way to try new restaurants at a reasonable price. I don’t get to do it very often, but when I have participated, I’ve usually been quite happy with the meals on offer. Since it takes place during my birthday month, I’m occasionally able to rope Mr. X into going to the eateries with me. He’s not really into it, (because he doesn’t like dining out, and he really dislikes getting deals—go figure,) but he has to go with me once a year, because of the aforementioned birthday. Because DineLA takes place only two weeks in the winter and another two in the summer, that makes it sort-of a special event that people are more wont to attend than just a regular meal in a restaurant.
So, here’s how it works, so you can see how it pertains to the awful meal at Mr. C: DineLA lets the restaurants choose their special menu price out of the three choices that are already set by the program. For example, the lunches at every restaurant who participates are either $15, $20, or $25. A lot of the restaurants get around that by charging “an additional $10” for a higher-end entrée, such as steak, which they clearly state on the website. Or they might add a charge for dessert. But the basic outline is to stick to those three price ranges of your menu, and offer either two or three courses.
So, not only was Mr. C’s food pretty bad, but their prices were deceptive, too!!! The lunch on their website was advertised as being $25, the highest price allowed by DineLA, which made sense because it’s a high-end eatery. But when we got there, their DineLA lunch was listed at $29.95! That’s five dollars more than advertised! I’ve never seen that before in all my years of going to not only DineLA, but also the Restaurant Weeks in New York City, Brooklyn, Greenwich, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island!!! Mr. C has been the only cheat out of all of them! And with the most disgusting food, to boot!!!
It was the classic “bait and switch,” which a hotel in Beverly Hills should be above doing! Most people go there thinking they’re going to pay $25 for a meal, and then they’re charged five dollars more! Yes, of course they can leave and go elsewhere, but for people like us, with reservations, who’ve already identified themselves as such, it would be embarrassing to leave. (And, if you show up on the late part of lunch, and are hungry, what choice do you have?) Of course, we’re not going to hassle ourselves to go someplace else to save five dollars a person. Five extra dollars at prices like these is usually no big deal to a patron, but that was five dollars that Mr. C charged everyone for the whole two weeks of the promotion! That money really adds up for them.
So, back to our experience. We stayed and ordered, and expected a really outstanding meal. The salad was okay, but not particularly good, but my chicken was downright disgusting. I cannot even portray with words what the food looked like. And it tasted even worse!!! It was listed as “Organic Chicken Spezzatino with Lemon Sauce,” but was chunks of very fatty and gristly “chicken,” of varying shades of brown! Ugh. And it showed up on a plain white plate, and was swimming in a nauseating yellow sauce. What a low class presentation!
And it tasted even worse. I took a couple of bites, but they were both fatty and chewy, and I couldn’t even swallow them, if you get my drift.
And the menu stated that it was “served with mashed potatoes.” But they came on a separate (white again) plate, and there was enough for an entire Thanksgiving dinner! It was as if they thought that plying us with more mashed potatoes than anyone would ever want to eat in a year would make -up for the less than high school cafeteria quality of the food they were charging an arm and a leg for!
And worst of all is that when it’s not DineLA week, they charge $33. for this prison food!!! (Only they class it up a bit by nixing the hundred pounds of potatoes, and going for rice pilaf instead.)
Mr. X ordered the salmon, and it arrived looking as unappetizing as the chicken, but he choked it down, and said it was not good, but not as dreadful as my chicken. (I don’t see how any other dish could be!)
To give you the whole experience, I do have to say that our waitress was nice, and the guy who brought us the bread was great. But the food, on the whole, was awful. Especially for a restaurant in the Cipriani chain! They should really know better. I really haven’t been this upset about a restaurant in a long time.
And, to be complete here, we may as well also examine the seating, which is mostly uncomfortable. There are a few nice banquettes, but mainly it’s little uncomfortable tables. At least one person is getting the leg of the table up the wazoo at each one. That cannot be avoided, unless you are dining alone.
So, to finish it up, Mr. X hates complaining, especially in a restaurant, and always just wants to pay and get out of there. When they saw my entire meal was left over, they asked if they could bring me something else. To appease Mr. X, I said I’d just take my meal home, hoping that maybe I could doctor it up and make it somewhat palatable. (But, knowing that there was no way to fix that mess, I just gave it to a homeless person.) And there was nothing else I wanted there. And, if this was the quality of food that Mr. C thought was okay to serve, I didn’t have high hopes for any of their other dishes. (I was correct about that—we opted to take our dessert with us, without even trying a bite there, and it was also disappointing. It was listed as some wonderful confection with strawberries, but was just a piece of very powder-sugary white cake, with a tiny bit of chopped strawberry mixed in to the filling. And, by the way, on the website, it stated that the dessert was “Creme Caramel with Organic Citrus,” but here was another bait and switch, to that Jiffy cake mix tasteless cake.)
So, I was fuming by the time we got home, not just for me, but for anybody else who would ever choose to dine at Mr. C. So, I called and talked to the manager. I asked her how they could serve that chicken, (which I really don’t even think was fresh chicken; it tasted like some weird, cheap, processed loaf,) and also why they think it’s okay to charge $5 more than allowed on the program. After a lot of double-talk, (I wasted about twenty minutes of my precious time trying to get her to understand just how wrong they were,) she finally agreed to take off the extra $10 charge, (for the two meals.) But the proper thing for a restaurant to do in that situation would have been to say that they don’t ever want unhappy customers, and either refund us the entire price, or send us a gift certificate, to try them again, to show us that they can do better, (which I doubt they can.) You never want to leave a customer with a bad taste in their mouth, which, in this case, was even more literal than figurative! (By the way–I would have never used that cert, because I don’t want to ever eat there again. But at least I would have appreciated that they know how to conduct business.)
So, there you have it. To sum up, Mr. C provided the absolute most disgusting food I’ve ever had in my entire life. And that’s saying something! Even before I became a restaurant critic many years ago, I ate out with my family at least twice a week, and every single day in the summers. So, I went through a lot of meals before I came upon this one.
So, my message is—stay away from the restaurant at Mr. C!!!