Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Hour at Cafe Rodeo - No Thrills in Beverly Hills

Walking down Rodeo drive past all the designer clothing stores, one can't help but feel posh.  (Even if one happens to be wearing a T shirt and is feeling smug for having found free street parking.)  So I was excited for my Friday night date with P at Cafe Rodeo in Hotel Luxe.

The outdoor patio was bustling with people when I arrived at 6:45, but I had requested indoor seating (given that I normally freeze whenever I'm outside unless it's 100 degrees.)   So I walked down a perfumed hall curtained in white and arrived at the actual Cafe.  It was smaller then expected and, as there was no hostess, I had to just grab a passing waiter to tell him I had a reservation (wanted to make sure I got credit on my account!).  

The interior can't quite make up it's mind as to the look it's going for.  The large skylight, creamy neutral palette, and aerodynamic silverware suggest something airy and modern, but the uptempo continental music, the servers all in black, and the recessed lighting seemed to suggest they are going for more of a loungey feel.  The crowd was mostly in their late thirties and forties.  If I had to guess...I'd say 80% tourists.  Hmmm...not a good sign.  

We began with what was listed on the menu as $7 Pork Tacos.  However, our server informed us that they were out of pork, so instead they brought us Braised Beef Tacos.  The meat was tender, moist, and full of flavor.  The natural sweetness of braised beef was accented by the bits of pineapple, cut with a fiery chipotle sauce.  Add to this the crisp bite of the iceberg lettuce and you get one textured and complex mouthful!  This was by far the best thing we had all night, it's a shame it's not on their regular menu.   

Next I dived into their $3.60 Fried Chicken Skewers.  For that price, how could you go wrong?  Well, I wouldn't say they went wrong - but they certainly didn't go right.  The chicken itself was moist and tasty, but the coating was bland and lacked the crunch I expect from "fried" chicken.  And forget about the sauces.  We might as well have gone to McDonalds for the BBQ sauce and grabbed some little packets from our Chinese Takeout place for the Duck Sauce.  Nothing exciting there.    
My least favorite of the night was the $9 Filet Mignon Sliders with Blue Cheese and Grilled Onions.  I expect Filet Mignon to be melt in your mouth tender, but these little nubbins were filled with sinew and fat (and not the marbled, tasty kind, more the clumpy, hard to chew kind).  The dusting of blue cheese and three or four strands of onion were barely present enough to give much flavor.  The "buns" were little circles cut out of English Muffins that were not toasted.  They pretty much just served to remind you how small and sad the whole dish was.

We also got the $3.60 Parmesan Fries.  While I do wish they had been dusted with a little more parm, they were piping hot, crunchy on the outside, and soft of the inside.  Plus, they were presented in a sweet little pot.  

Having found the food adequate but not at all special, P and I decided to skip dessert, since we imagined it wouldn't be anything special.  After waiting forever for the over worked waiter to pick up the check, we headed off in search of tastier desserts.  Sadly, we forgot that it's Beverly Hills and most places are closed by eight.  Foiled Again!  Overall, I give this 2 belt notches out of five - not worth your time.    But, should you still wish to go..

Cafe Rodeo has Happy Hour Monday-Saturday from 4-7:30pm.  They are located in Hotel Luxe at:
360 N. Rodeo Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA  90210

Cafe Rodeo on Urbanspoon


  1. Free street parking and credit on your Open Table account- that's my girl!
    Not surprising that it's hard to find a bargain meal in Beverly Hills, but hope you'll keep up the search. BTW, your comment on the tourists - hey!-we have to eat someplace too.
    The sauces on the chicken skewers looked pretty unappetizing. And finally, with all of the $$ that you saved on dinner, I hope you went to Sweet Lady Jane's for dessert!

  2. Mediocre food in a schizophrenic setting? Eek. Way to take one for the team. :)