There’s nothing wrong with a quick stop at a grocery store hot bar. It’s convenient, filling, and most importantly, cheap. But it goes without saying that your expectations are higher at a restaurant. At a minimum, you expect food that’s fresh, a dining room that doesn’t feel like you’ve taken acid with an antiquities dealer, and a staff that won’t vanish on a whim. We honestly thought this was a given. It’s not - and that’s abundantly clear at V, a massive, garish restaurant in Downtown LA that’s no better than your average Albertsons.
How do we even begin to describe this place? It’s kind of like taking a tour of Hearst Castle, if William Randolph Hearst had the design aesthetic (and sense of humor) of a sixth grader. On one wall, you’ll see a framed, blurred-out banana - because it looks like a penis! - on another, there’s a photo of someone humping a palm tree. Every inch of the wall that’s not covered in phallic art is a mishmash of graffiti on garish, Roman-inspired wallpaper. As you walk around, you’ll also see Mayan-style limestone relics, faux-Grecian vases that have been turned into lamps, and Gothic wrought-iron gates to nowhere. All the while, Tiesto blares from the speakers, making you feel like you’re trapped in an aspiring DJ’s bass-laden fever dream, or, even worse, a club when someone turns the lights on by mistake.
But if you think the atmosphere is chaotic, it’s nothing compared to the service. You find a seat on your own, then, when you order, you’re given a number with an RFID chip in it (“To locate you,” according to the server). Weirdly, that same server usually just ends up wandering around whichever floor you’re on, shouting “Does someone have number 72?” into the void. The food comes out randomly, and often long before your drinks, if at all. Admittedly, that’s an improvement on the old system here, where you’d order off a smudged menu at the front bar, take a number to your table, and then sort of just hope that your food would show up. On one early visit, we asked a server about a missing meatball pizza we ordered. She hurried away, pushed on a secret door in the wall, and disappeared into it, never to be seen again. The pizza didn’t ever come out, but it did still show up on the check.
The food might just be the best part of the place, which isn’t saying much. The crust on the pizza is decent - the sourdough is chewy and springy - but the pies themselves are greasy. The mushroom one is your best bet, although we wish they’d ease up on the herbes de Provence mix, since the dried parsley overpowers the entire pie. The crostini also has mushrooms, though they’re overcooked and flavorless. You’ll have no better luck with the beet salad, involving raw, dirty-tasting beets, or a tuna ponzu with recently unfrozen fish that’s been drowned in sauce and served with either a pile of pita chips or two slices of Texas toast.
And yet, this place is always packed. Do a quick scan of the two-story dining room and you’ll see coworkers getting drinks, poor souls trying to eat dinner before a show or a Lakers game, and people presumably waiting to take selfies in front of faux-inspirational mantras like “You Look F*cking Amazing.” But “packed” does not mean “good.” The experience here is exactly the sum total of its parts: Gaudy decoration, terrible service, and food prepared without thought or regard for the people eating it. Which is to say, V is perhaps the worst restaurant to open in LA in years, and among the most miserable places we’ve ever been, excluding funeral homes. And at least funeral homes let you bring your own food.
We’ve had better poke at chain pizza restaurants.
We’ve had better pizza at chain poke restaurants. OK, that’s not true, but we’re sure it would be if we found a poke place that served pizza. The Honey Buzz was formerly called the “Beesting” - but if they changed the name because they were worried about a lawsuit from Roberta’s, they didn’t have to be. There is no way anyone would confuse this dry, chewy, coagulated cheese-covered mess with an actually good pie.
We couldn’t tell you. It never showed up. By the way, pizzas to-go come in the box you see here, which gives you a sense of the priorities this place has.
It’s fine. Do you know what’s also fine? Going to Trader Joe’s, getting the $4 bag of Caesar salad mix, and eating it in your car while you try to erase your memory of this place. If the too-salty bacon bits in this aren’t literally Bacon Bits™, they’re the best imitation we’ve ever tasted. That’s not a compliment.
We don’t know. It’s burrata. How do you mess that up? By loading it up with enough salt to de-ice a tiny mountain town in Vermont, that’s how.