Friday, October 24, 2008

Playing Ketchup

If you want fabulous food, don't go to Ketchup. If you want fabulous people-watching, hurry over.
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Ketchup is a restaurant, but you don't really go there to eat. Knowing what you know of me, some of you may be wondering how I ended up here.

My dear friend and former Green Giant co-worker, Kerfuffle, who now lives in Florida, was in town for a few days with her co-worker, whom I will call "Arkansas." Arkansas had never been to L.A., and Kerfuffle planned the perfect itinerary for her L.A.-virgin friend -- it hit all the major tourist spots, but it also included a number of activities off the beaten path.

As part of their Very L.A. Excursion, the two stayed at The Standard in West Hollywood, and, having eaten a good solid meal the night before at Magnolia prior to watching Wicked at The Pantages, Arkansas was ready to experience the ridiculousness that is the L.A. scene.

So I made a reservation at Ketchup, which is within walking distance from The Standard, not to mention it's very close to The Viper Room, which was their next stop after Ketchup. How convenient!

Really, what is more stereotypically L.A. than a restaurant co-owned by a former Big Brother contestant and has Tara Reid and a gaggle of That '70s Show alumni (including Mr. Demi Moore) as investors?

Do you feel the rain on your skin yet? one else can feel it for you. Only you can let it in.

When you walk into Ketchup, you might feel as if you've been transported to the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Well, not really. But there are indeed red lights galore. And lots of girls dressed like high-end hookers.
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The place is filled with all sorts of modern tomato-related decor. It's like a Target commercial mated with Andy Warhol in the fresh produce section of a swanky supermarket. Unrelatedly, I found it difficult to banish my thoughts of "Red rum! Red rum!" when I saw the ketchup splatter motif on the internal window between the dining and bar areas.
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This tomato in a box greeted us when we arrived at our table.
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The breadsticks and pretzel bread paired well with mustard and tomato butter. It took me awhile to figure out the tomato butter. Then I decided I liked it a lot and smeared it all over my chewy and crunchy carbs.
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Ketchup! Five kinds: chipotle, ranch, original, maple, and mango.
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The 3some ($10) consisted of garlic fries, sweet potato fries, and thicker cut fries. I liked the chipotle ketchup the most for the regular fries, and the maple was perfect for the sweet potato. They weren't the most outstanding fries in the world, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. The presentation was very cute.
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Arkansas dined on mini chicken tacos ($12) with fire-grilled chicken, lime aioli, spicy guacamole, melted cheese, and chipotle ketchup. How adorable are these? You can pick them up with two fingers!
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Kerfuffle opted for the BBQ chick ($16), comprised of a barbecued chicken breast, garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted corn-on-the-cob.
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This little piggy went cannibalistic and ordered hickory smoked BBQ baby pork ribs and macaroni 'n' cheese with white truffle and dungeness crab ($24). The ribs were fine -- tender and sweet but lacking smokiness and oomph.
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The mac 'n' cheese was delectable. I really enjoyed the toasted crab-filled top, and, although I couldn't really taste much of the purported truffles, I found the flavor of the gooey white cheddar to be quite delicious. Thumbs up on this one. I would just get a side of this as a meal if I ever came back.
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Dessert was depressingly lackluster. This ice cream sandwich ($8) looked great, but the cookies were bland and limp and neither chewy nor crunchy. You've got to pick a side, cookies. You can't just straddle the line. The saving grace was that the ice cream was quite good.
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The apple pie ($8) came in a ramekin and was the temperature of the sun. I love hot apple pie. In fact, lukewarm apple pie makes me really sad. But even I thought this little scorcher was too hot to handle. The apples were also too crisp for pie.
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Food snobs scoff at Ketchup. Hard. But I didn't think it was really that bad. You just need to know why you're there. If you go and expect gourmet quality, then you're the idiot. The service is decent. The atmosphere is fun. And the patrons are deliciously absurd.


  1. I'm not a food snob and I love people watching. Especially when there are ridiculous ones about. :) That mac n cheese looks delish and I want to stick those tiny tacos in my pocket! Well, not really, but you know what I mean. ;)

  2. Hmph, I think blogger ate my last comment. I was expecting a really bad review, but after reading your blog post it really didn't sound too bad to me. The flavored ketchup sounds yummy.

  3. Is it weird that I wanna meet you so I could possibly get an alias as cool as Kerfuffle? Did I miss the backstory?

  4. I really LOLed at "Do you feel the rain on your skin yet? one else can feel it for you. Only you can let it in."

    I liked your review. I think if Tim and I were to visit LA, we may enjoy Ketchup for the scene. We can always eat good food in MN.

  5. Wow, great presentation!!! Even a food snob like me appreciates tacos that cute. I kinda want to go just because of the Speidi connection....and the chipotle ketchup.

  6. OMG! I think you have discovered El Rey's soon to be favorite restaurant! They will probably run out of ketchup when we go.

  7. Three types of fries?!
    Five types of ketchup?!
    This non food snob will definitely make plans to visit.

  8. I watched The Shining for the first time in July of this year. It took me until just a few weeks ago to get the bloody images out of my mind and for the nightmares to cease. Now, the horribleness that is that movie is back in my head.

    Thanks a lot, monkey.

    I will try and dream of 5 kinds of ketchup instead. Or that mac 'n' cheese...mmmmmmmm.

  9. I don't want to go because of Spencer and Hedi. But I do love ketchup, I'm mexican!

  10. I liked Ketchup. I love your description: "It's like a Target commercial mated with Andy Warhol in the fresh produce section of a swanky supermarket."

  11. that mac and cheese looks divine, man i'm such a sucker for mac and cheese, haha.

  12. looks pretty good to me! and any place that serves sweet potato fries is a-ok in my book.

    ::confession:: I watched that hills ep, of course.

  13. the food is adorable! that alone merits a visit in my book. ;-)

  14. if i ever go there, i'm going to request to be seating in the same chair that lc was sitting in. only kidding, of course. the food looked great to me though.

  15. Kerfuffle here: I can't believe you didn't mention that Arkansas and I each separately almost locked ourselves in the bathroom stalls . . . word of warning, those locks on the full-length doors are tricky!

    It was great to see you!

  16. I'm completely dead at "You've got to pick a side, cookies."

  17. Brilliant. Just Brilliant. Your wit at describing the atmosphere, the way you personify the food, those divine pictures that make me want to lick the screen - all of it - Brilliant! .

  18. the teen wants to hit this place up sometime. and after seeing that mac & cheese with crab, i'm all for it.

  19. i'd like some of that mac n cheese, please!

  20. That mac n' cheese ..... those tacos ..... Is it lunchtime yet? Because I am totally hungry after seeing the pics.

  21. Yup, the food there pretty much stinks. The ambiance is not enough for me to return.

  22. The "Girls Next Door" went to Ketchup on last night's episode!


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