Thursday, January 28, 2010

Old school Italian (Dan Tana's) with new school rock (Airborne Toxic Event)

Dinner and a concert is my favorite combo. So when I was going to a concert at the Troubadour, Dan Tana's next door seemed the logical option. I called a couple days prior and they only had 6.30pm and 9pm reservations open. Damn, that's popular for a Wednesday. Makes sense since there are only 20 tables. The restaurant is a celeb hangout. Apparently Clooney loves it and Ryan Phillippe was just there last week. Phil Spector dined there right before he allegedly shot actress Lana Clarkson. We weren't there for the celebs though. And it won't be the most amazing dinner you'll ever have but it's still good and it's convenient. The restaurant closes at 1am so you can valet you car with them until the concert is over.

The place looks exactly the same as when I was last there about five years ago and I'm sure it's been the same for the last 40 years. Interestingly enough, owner Dan Tana isn't an Italian chef. He's a soccer player from Yugoslavia. You wouldn't know this from stepping into the restaurant. The place is old school Italian and looks the part from the red walls, to the red leatherette booths, red checkered table cloth and empty bottles of Chianti hanging from the ceiling. It's homey, casual and filled with regulars who know the staff by name.

The menu includes pastas and meats and it's not that cheap. Pastas are around mid $20s while chicken starts at $25. Don't expect fancy cocktails or for the bartender to whip up that cucumber mojito.

Bread and wine.

Caesar Salad
I really enjoyed the salad. The ingredients in the dressing were fresh and you could taste and see chunks of anchovies. The salad was topped with fresh cracked black pepper, croutons and Parmesan cheese. Simple but delicious.

The salad was prepared old school-style with dressing made table side. Since there wasn't much room for that, the waiter actually prepared it in the corner.

Homemade Lasagna
Delicious. The meat wasn't too oily and you could tell had been simmering for a long time. I loved the crispy burnt cheese edges. The portions were rather generous given that the dish was heavy.

Veal Scaloppine, Karl Malden
Three portions of veal were pounded thin and topped with breaded eggplant. The veal was very tender and the eggplant was well seasoned and a bit mushy in the breading. The sauce was lemon, caper, butter and wine. I liked it because the sauce was rather thin and not heavy. And ohh you could most definitely taste the butter. Cardio doctor will not be happy with me :(

As if three pieces of veal wasn't sufficient, entrees come with a side of pasta with choice of tomato, meat or garlic sauce. This was great as you could also satiate your pasta fix.

I enjoyed the food at Dan Tana's. It's not fancy or unique in any way, but it's comfort food. You don't go there for the best Italian food of your life. You go there for the ambiance, a bit of that Old Hollywood that you never got to experience. You also go there because it's right by the Troubadour. P.S. Reality "star" Kim Kardashian was there last night. Doubt she was headed over to the concert afterwards though.

Hits: veal, Caesar salad, lasagna, ambiance
Misses: gets crowded so make a reservation
Rating: ***

Dan Tana's Restaurant
9071 Santa Monica Blvd.,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 275-9444

We were done with dinner in an hour and the bar was getting really crowded so we walked over to The Palms Restaurant (another "old" joint). It's a classic steak joint that's decorated with caricatures of people (famous and not) on the walls and ceilings. It's a little kitschy. Apparently if you shell out $25K, you too can have a drawing of yourself at the restaurant. We grabbed seats at the bar and yay, they have fancy cocktails!

French Twist and Ruby Slipper
The Ruby Slipper was made with cucumber, gin and grapefruit. Sounds like a good mixture but it had an overbearing tartness from the grapefruit. The french twist was made with champagne, Elderflower, lemon juice and soda. This was the winner. It was refreshing and delicious.

After a couple drinks, we made it back to the Troubadour for more drinks and just in time for the concert. The show was to benefit charity Friendly House which offers a place for women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The purpose was meaningful as the lead singer's brother is recovering from heroin addiction. The Troubadour is one of my favorite LA concert venues because it's intimate (holds about 500 people) and very casual (yay, flip flops). The concert was a success as I've never seen the Troubadour that packed before.

No comments: