No culinary high points at Lo Coastal Fusion
It was a decade of experimentation -- like the ‘60s had been with drugs and the ‘70s with sex, the ‘80s were about testing the boundaries of money, power and food. And an argument could be made that it was a necessary period of madness, a kind of pure-science time when cooks and chefs pushed the boundaries to find out exactly where those boundaries lay. But what’s always fascinated me is how many ideas that came out of that time and previously uncharted territory persisted through the ‘90s and on into this decade. How many truly dated and, in some cases, terrible flights of fancy remain central conceits of menus still being cooked today; reanimated like zombies and left to shamble like bad dreams through the waking world.
At Lo Coastal Fusion, which I review in Café this week, all of the culinary meanderings of the ‘80s – the good and the very, very bad -- are given new life in a space with more identities than Sybil and more menus than an Aurora strip mall.
Lo does sushi. It has a raw bar. There are small plates and large plates, and all of the plates come with some kind of jumbled, melting-pot nationality that would drive an anti-miscegenationist up a wall. There are some okay dishes at Lo, but they are few and far between.
But another local restaurant that was born in the ‘80s and still celebrates it – serving such unapologetically San Francisco-style creations as wasabi mashed potatoes and seared ahi tuna – does just fine. I returned to Avenue Grill for Second Helping, and found it a pleasant trip to the past.
The ‘80s aside, Bite Me has a wrap up of a busy week’s worth of news --action on Lincoln Street, in Lafayette, and all over town thanks to the Jet Entertainment Group, which appears to be using the downturn in the economy as an opportunity to take over the world.
Check it all out tomorrow. And until then, take heart from the fact that as rough as things might seem here, there are times when a non-tourist economy can actually be a good thing for the restaurant industry. Sure, we might not get the likes of Batali and Kunz opening restaurants in our fair burg, but neither are we suffering in the way that places like Manhattan, Vegas and Palm Beach are, knowing that the vast sucking sound they hear is the combined effect of thousands of reservations being canceled every moment.
That said, we all still have work to do. Get out there and eat in your neighborhood. Go out and support your favorite locals. And I swear to God, if I catch even one of you eating at an Olive Garden or an Applebee’s in the next three months, I’m going to come into your house while you sleep like Tom Hagen in The Godfather and leave orders of Riblets in your bed. – Jason Sheehan
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