Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen - dinner - December 7, 2003
We'd had brunch at the Jazz Kitchen a couple of times and really enjoyed it, and we'd been meaning to try the restaurant for dinner but hadn't gotten around to it yet, so when a friend suggested it for dinner that evening, we definitely agreed.
The restaurant wasn't too crowded that evening (possibly because it had been overcast and a bit drizzly earlier in the day, and also possibly because since this was during the weekend of the Candelight Procession at Disneyland, many of those who might have dined here had already had dinner as part of a dining package for the Procession), so we only had to wait about 5 minutes. We were directed to take the elevator upstairs, where we would be seated. Once we arrived upstairs, we kind of stood there for a minute as there didn't seem any obvious place to go or anyone there to greet us. We saw another restaurant employee a bit of a ways off, so I went over to ask her. Turns out she was the person we were supposed to see, but with no directions and her not having come over to greet us or even look our way (though she was very nice when I approached her), we had no way of knowing. She showed us to a table on the outside balcony, which was very nice. Though it was a bit chilly this evening, they had both overhead heaters and standing heaters on next to the table. We ended up being right under and next to two heaters, and while I normally get cold easily, it was too warm even for my liking, so I asked our server if it would be possible to turn the heater down just a bit, which she said ok to and would tell a manager. We're not sure if the heater ever got turned down during the course of the meal though.
After perusing the menu, we all decided what to order. I decided to start with the Gumbo Ya-Ya, which I'd had at brunch before and which I'd really liked. It's a bit spicy, though, so it wouldn't be for anyone who doesn't like spicy foods, but I rather enjoyed the kick of the soup. I'd looked at the jambalaya on the menu, and I was tempted to order it since I love jambalaya, but since I'd previously ordered it from the outside take-out window and had thought it was absolutely horrible, bad enough that I only had several spoonfuls before throwing the rest away, I decided to have something else. I instead opted for the shrimp topped beef medallions, which sounded quite good. My husband ended up ordering the same thing, and he also split an appetizer of julienned filet mignon with our friend. Our friend picked the chicken skewers for his entree.
When the appetizers arrived, I found my soup to be as good as usual, but my husband and our friend weren't as happy with their appetizer. They described it as being like stir-fry but without any seasonings, OK, but nothing special, and our friend commented that the best thing in the dish to him was the tasty crouton on top.
When our entrees arrived, the meal didn't turn out that much better. Our friend found that his chicken skewers were overcooked and dry, the vegetables were cooked properly but in a sauce he couldn't describe and didn't much care for, and his potatoes were severely undercooked. My husband and I both found our medallions to be cooked more than the "medium" that we'd each requested, so with almost no pink left in the meat, the meat wasn't nearly as tasty as it might have been. From the description in the menu, we'd each been expecting regular shrimp on top of the medallions, so we were disappointed when instead there were a few little previously-frozen shrimp scattered around the plate. The dish came with a little bit of vegetables, which I would have preferred more of, and a sweet potato au gratin. I don't much care for sweet potato, so I only had a little of that. I'd opted not to see if they could substitute something else when I'd ordered.
When it came time for dessert, I considered a few things. I'd already had the New Orleans Bread Pudding at previous brunches, and while I'd like it, I wanted to try something else. I decided on the beignets, which I'd heard from others were really good. My husband loves Bananas Foster, and I'd also heard from others how good it was there, so he decided to have that. Since the order serves two, our friend decided to share it with him. I thought the beignets were ok, but they were harder and not as fluffy as I'd expected. I'd heard them likened to the fritters that are available in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, but I much prefer the fritters. The presentation of the Bananas Foster was wonderful, with the server bringing a grill over to the table to make them in front of us. Once she was done, my husband and our friend enjoyed their dessert. While their opinion of the dessert was that it was OK, it was definitely not the raving that I or our friend had heard others engage in about the dessert. My husband and our friend both commented that they'd had it better elsewhere.
Our server was very good, friendly, and attentive, and that part of the meal was wonderful. Other than the soup that I had, though, the food itself was just OK, which is fine at some places, but in a place with a price point as high as Ralph Brennan's, I definitely expect better than "OK". I don't envision making a return trip to the restaurant for anything other than brunch, nor do I expect to recommend the restaurant to anyone for anything other than brunch. I would rather recommend stopping by the to-go window and getting some gumbo and/or some bread pudding.
To read about the September 29, 2002 brunch, please click here.
To see Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen's official website, please click here. (Note that the menus listed on the site are not currently up-to-date.)
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