I always loved how the French had so many "menus" where for a fixed price, you'd get a 3 course meal, allowing you to make choices for each course. The price was always reasonable and the meal, satisfying. DineLA and others like it, seek to do this once or twice a year, offering diners a set meal for a decent price. It's a great way to try out a new restaurant, as long as you do your homework to ensure the pre-selected menu is appealing, and that they include dishes that the restaurant does well. I checked out Faith & Flower because I thought their dineLA menu fit the bill.
Faith & Flower is in downtown LA at the intersection of Flower and 9th. Faith is thrown into the restaurant name since it was believed to be the original street name in the 20s. The restaurant pays hommage to the 20s with distressed doors from the same area and enormous dangling chandeliers. The space is beautiful, comfortable, and yes, at times, very loud.
The menu is shared as a small leather bound book, placed next to intricate silverware and green goblet water glasses. Of course there's a great cocktail program with a nod to the roaring 20s with several drinks containing absinthe, but my money is always on the sole vodka concoction which most often only takes up 1 line on menus today. The vodka based Vaudeville was refreshing with rosemary and raspberry, as well as interesting with Italian merengue and aromatic bitters.
The dineLA menu was impressive in that it allowed you to received 2 appetizers, as well as 2 entrees, in addition to dessert. Seeing as I was with a group, we got to try most things. The starters came out fast and furious with each better than the next. They're in on the toast fad that I've been talking a lot about, but luckily they do it well and make it their own. Orgeon Bay shrimp is mixed with sweet corn and pickled peppers for a tongue twister and pleaser. Offsetting the seafood was a robust Longanisa sausage, grilled and charred in a pool of a blood and vinegar sauce. I could have eaten more of both.
The deviled jidori eggs could have also gone the way of been-there-done-that, but instead were pretty spectacular with unique tastes of kimchi and Korean chili thrown in for a great punch.
One of my mains was a BLT pizza, and keeping in mind this was just one of two mains after two starters, I was pretty impressed with the size, and the smoky bacon flavor didn't hurt either.
I could have really been about done at this point, and perhaps the kitchen read my mind, because we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We did think the starters came almost too fast, but then it was nearly an hour before we flagged our waitress down, and not of her own accord, to ask the status of everyone's main dishes. This brought the manager over who was apologetic and accepted responsibility and sent a free pizza out and complimentary bottle of wine. Our mains came out shortly after.
The entrees weren't as good as the starters and I'm not sure if it was due to the waiting or the fact that I was nearly full, but the skirt steak with peppercorn jus was good, but not noteworthy. The steelhead trout and caraway bread sauce was nice, but I was already beginning to yawn. I will say that the homemade egg spaghetti perked me up, but it was probably because there was half a pound of miso butter in it, which made it rich and delicious.
Having been there for nearly 3 hours, I barely sampled the desserts, which again were fine, but perhaps all just a little too late.
I had a very similar service experience to this recently where I waited for nearly an hour for entrees when I went to Cast and Plow. I appreciated that Cast and Plow took off our entrees and desserts. The folks at Faith and Flower were also gracious, but just gave us wine and a pizza. I suppose with the already good price for dineLA, it was hard to give more. Would I go back? I would, but probably not tomorrow. The space is beautiful and the starters were excellent. I'm sure they can do better next time.