Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So Not Worth It


Yesterday was a wonderful day. Work went swimmingly. There were no crises. There was no excessive stress. Mr. Monkey and I spent a lovely evening together. We had a very happy second anniversary. I am delighted to report that marriage suits us well.

So why the title of this post?

Because when we pay a pretty penny for a fancy meal, it'd better meet high expectations.

Last night, we celebrated our second anniversary at the Michelin-starred Sona, which has garnered numerous other awards, including a James Beard Rising Star chef nomination.
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Things started off well. We were warmly greeted by the very sweet hostess, who wished us a happy anniversary as she gave us our semi-personalized menus.
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The ambience was modern and sparse, save a large floral arrangement in the center of our room.
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We noshed on really long crostini as we awaited our meal. It was served from a tall square vase.
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Our drinks were awesome -- ginger beer and a blueberry-basil spritzer. Very creative.
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The amuse bouche was a delicate bite of tart salad and sashimi. The curved spoon was more impressive than the actual food on it, so it is sort of fitting that the food is fuzzy, and the spoon is sharply focused. I need to learn how to use my camera for real. Ugh.
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The warm red wine bread and black tea bread were fantastic.
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Hamachi. Very fresh. Very good. Really liked this. Yellowtail rules.
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Kanpachi in gazpacho. Awesome pairing of velvety yellowtail and spicy tomato.
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Seared foie gras and corn ice cream. Amazing. Rich. Smooth. I actually drooled. Sorry, PETA. And the ice cream? To die for. Who knew that corn would be such a good ice cream additive?
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Monkfish and monkfish liver ravioli on Meyer lemon puree with mushrooms and flowers. Tender and luscious fish. Excellent. Ravioli paled in comparison.
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Pink Scottish trout, tiny tomato, fava beans, corn emulsion. Tasted and looked like salmon. Meh. I was loving all the corn. I used a spoon to eat all of the emulsion. That good, yes.
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Pork belly. Fine. Unmemorable.
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Kasuzuke duck, ricotta gnocchi. Also fine and unmemorable. This made me sad because I love duck. I sometimes think of the duck I had at Ortolan. That was really quite something.
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Now the pictures get rather ugly because of nightfall. I promised Mr. Monkey I wouldn't use my flash. He is an angel for putting up with my ridiculousness even without a flash, so there you go.

Beef tenderloin medallions and shortrib. Medallions were forgettable. The shortrib, however, was incredible. Fall-apart-with-a-nudge-of-your-fork incredible.
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Venison and spaetzle. Better than the tenderloin medallions. More flavorful and complex. But still not outstanding. Spaetzle was tasty (it always is), but I've certainly had better.
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And then came the downer of the night. It should've been the highlight. It was a bad sign when I couldn't take a decent picture of the dish, plated on black slate. It stared at me and taunted me on the dark background in the dim lighting.

Evil Wagyu Beef, I shake my fist at you. I don't even have a picture of you to show everybody your vileness.

Wagyu is usually delicious. It is extraordinary marbled meat, full of fabulous fat. It rolls around in your mouth, and you savor every bite of beautiful intramuscular cattle chub. Wagyu is an experience everyone should have.

Just not at Sona.

We were excited about the Wagyu. We wanted to love the Wagyu because, well, we already love Wagyu.

But our Wagyu at Sona was a big WagBOO. This was not the phenomenal marbled meat to which we were accustomed. No. These were just two chunks of almost all fat. Just fat. Fat, fat, fat. We ate a couple of fat blocks. Fat. At one point, I told Mr. Monkey that I just wanted to spit it out back onto my plate. He advised me not to. He's a good and classy Mr. Monkey.

It is now a running joke between us, that awful Wagyu. I won't tell you what we called it this morning when we encountered it again. I'm sure you can guess.

There was more after Evil Wagyu Beef. Thankfully.

Avocado pudding and sorbet. I didn't like this at all. The flavors were muddled. It was not a good combination, but it was useful for washing away the taste of Evil Wagyu Beef.
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Pistachio cake, grilled pineapple, hemp seed ice cream. Adored this. I worship pistachios, so the cake made me super happy. The pineapple offered a nice tang. The ice cream rocked -- nutty, buttery, yummy.
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Chocolate anniversary delights. Unremarkable but very cute. Miso ice cream was blech. Stupid miso, you totally wish you could be corn. Corn kicks your ass.
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Petit fours and mojito foam. I always enjoy mignardise. This was no exception, although the macarons weren't nearly as good as others I've had in the past. I downed both of the mojito foams, as Mr. Monkey is a teetotaler. They were tart and fun and yum. Made me giggly.
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Evil Wagyu Beef notwithstanding, we had a good time. Do I regret going to Sona? Not at all. Would I go back on my own dime? Same answer.

As we walked to our car, we compared our evening to our experience at Ortolan, which also earned a Michelin star. We both agreed that Ortolan impressed us a whole lot more (and -- bonus -- was oddly less expensive than Sona). Nevertheless, we were still glad to have tried Sona.

[Small bonus at Sona -- I saw Tabatha Coffey from Bravo's Shear Genius and Tabatha's Salon Takeover.]

The night was not over, though. When we got home, Mr. Monkey told me to pack an overnight bag. Then he whisked me to a nearby hotel room strewn with rose petals.

Yeah, he's got game, even after two years of marriage and a total of eight years together.


  1. Dinner looks good. Sorry to hear it was a let down.

    Mr. Monkey does have game! Rose petals and hotel room? Very romantic!

    Happy Anniversary!

  2. Ditto Jen on dinner, it looks good. At least you can say you've been there.

    Wow, Mr. Monkey is sooooooooooo suave. Talk about game and romance.

    Tell him to send Mr. Bumblebee some pointers.

  3. give my kudos to mr. monkey for such a nice surprise!

    dinner looked awesome minus the wagyu letdown. i can just taste the corn ice cream...yum yum.

  4. OK, so that is why I didn't guess Wagyu beef. Why? Because I never in a million years would have guessed BAD Wagyu! I was guessing scallops rolled in sesame seeds. I'm glad the rest of the evening was fun! Oh, and corn gelato is popular in Brazil. At least that's what they told me when I tried corn gelato in NYC.

  5. That's too bad. :(

    Why didn't you send the wagyu back if it was so bad?

  6. I don't know. I didn't even think to do that. We should've. :( I kept eating it, thinking, "The next bite will be better." And, before I knew it, I'd eaten it all. Then I turned to Mr. Monkey and said, "That was terrible." And he laughed and said he thought it was terrible, too!

    Bah. We are stupid.

  7. you are the most grown up eater I know! very impressed.. I feel like a 2 year old b/c I still get excited about eggplant parm when I'm at a restaurant!

    and yeah, I really wish Gus got to meet Mr. Monkey when you were in Boston, because he could use a couple of pointers on how to pull off a kick ass anniversary.......

  8. boo to a horibble plate that obviously left a bad taste in your mouth (pun intended). :/

    at least the evening ended well with the nice surprise?

  9. Mr. Monkey is so sweet!

    I'm sorry your dinner wasn't what you thought it would be. That is always disappointing, especially when you throw down a lot of money for it.

    Do you ever adjust your ISO when using your camera? If you crank it up as high as it will go when shooting in dim situations, it will help your pictures come out better.

  10. I love love love Sona. Its my fave restaurant in LA. I haven't been in a while though. And you are right...its way too expensive.

  11. Wow, I was totally expecting a rave for Sona. That's unfortunate you should have sent it back. You'd probably would have gotten 3 extra courses!

    Too bad you and the Monkey aren't winos I think the food and wine pairing makes the Sona experience all that more impressive.

  12. Do you ever adjust your ISO when using your camera? If you crank it up as high as it will go when shooting in dim situations, it will help your pictures come out better.

    I'm making a mental note to hang out with Leslie for some photography lessons...

  13. I'm sorry your meal wasn't all you were hoping. At least you have a good story now!

    Man, Mr. Monkey does have game. I'm a bit jealous, to tell you the truth. Married life really does suit you guys well. Yay for you!

  14. i laughed out loud at "wagBOO." haha sorry to hear sona was not up to expectations. mom & fiance also prefer ortolan. that is sooo sweet that your hub swept you away for the evening. love it. happy anniversary again!

  15. too bad about the wagyu, the rest of it looked amazing! Congrats on your 2 year anniversary! :)

  16. High five for Mr. Romantic Monkey! I'm sorry the entire meal wasn't awesome, but I'm happy that you had some awesomeness as opposed to none. Happy anniversary!! Again. :)

  17. F that wagpoo.

    YAYAYAYAYY! for being whisked away.

    kisses for the two year!

  18. Aw boo, I'm sorry that Sona disappointed. Oh well, at least you tried it.

    And I LOVE Mr. Monkey! How sweet that he surprised you like that. Monkey got game.

    Happy anniversary!

  19. I am intrigued by this corn ice-cream. I must have some. Happy anniversary!! You two complement each other so well :)

  20. Sorry the Wagyu was shitty ;(

    How 5 year old am I that when I read about the hotel with the strewn rose petals I instantly thought: Bow chika booowww wowwww!!!

    ;D I'm BEAMING for you.

    Sounds like it was an amazing anniversary overall!

  21. my favorite part of this post is the rose petal-strewn hotel room. i didn't know mr. monkey had it in him ;)

  22. That's so cute! I can't wait to meet Mr Monkey one day.

    Sorry Sona was a disappointment. It sure looked delicious. Maybe you're supposed to be stoned when you got to Sona? Hemp seed ice cream sounds like something a stoner would dream up.

  23. Happy anniversary :)

    I'm so bummed that your beef was yucky. It's funny how something like that can totally jack up your impression of a restaurant.

    Love the romantical part!

  24. Oh man, Mr. Monkey. So impressive! I can't believe you had a Tabitha sighting. How random.

    P.S. I cry a little whenever Mr. FGD enjoys foie gras.

  25. I just got the pun in the title. I'm SOOO slow. God. It's a wonder I can even tyep right.



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