Campanile – Caveat Emptor: Death Rattle

20 Oct

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Like every fooddouche in the area, I made it out to Campanile when I heard it was closing soon.. I had been meaning to go for a while (like probably everybody in LA), but had never made it until now. You don’t even need to wait for the break for me to tell you that it kind of sucked.

I felt bad for Mark Peel. Running one of LA’s most iconic restaurants, one that had spawned dozens of offshoots from alumni. Almost every fine dining place in LA is run by someone who at one time had worked in this kitchen. Now he was being kicked out by his ex-father in law for a French chef. (while his ex-wife is freakin’ blowing up.)

That’s got to hurt.

I suppose you could have known the place wasn’t doing great when Savored had lots of open slots for Campanile at 30% off. Anyways.

The place is still beautiful. In a covered patio that feels like a mini-piazza. The provenance from Charlie Chaplin is not obvious, but (for good and ill) you feel time warped to the height of the 1980s.

Without further belaboring the point, the service was indifferent and the food was kind of bad. Oh and it’s really expensive.

The hostess seemed kind of annoyed when we came in and didn’t even glance at us as we left. The waiter, who didn’t get to us until we had been seated for ten minutes, was brusque and only half-smiled when he handed me the bill. The water filler was the only one who was actually nice to us.

Fine. I don’t really care that much about fine dining service, so whatever. At least the food would be good, right?

It was well-cooked but seasoned poorly. The ravioli dish below, at $6 per raviolo, was extremely salty. It was supposed to have mushrooms, but I couldn’t taste them. Instead I could taste the tomato sauce that reminded me of the last time I was unfortunately subjected to Sbarro.

The scallops above were OK, and the pork chop below was OK. But they were forgettable, except that the scallops were way over-peppered.

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The only thing I thought was actually good was the pan-roasted chicken. It was really moist and seasoned OK. But honestly, every French restaurant in America serves a $15 half chicken fried/roasted in a pan. This was only a little better, cost twice as much, and was only a quarter Of the chicken.

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Peel was around, glumly accepting condolences from longtime guests. I felt sorry for him until we ate. Then I felt sorry for myself. And my poor friends whom I had fooddouched into wasting their money here.

Oh, but at least the bread from La Brea Bakery was world class, right? It was just OK. You can get the same thing at Costco.

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