Le Petit Greek
127 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
My friends, family, and people who know me through this crazy world called The Internets are often frustrated by…my taste. It’s not so much the overall quality of my taste in the sense that what we sometimes refer to as style, or discrimination, or some abstract concept of subjective judgment, can be good or bad. It's not "good taste" vs. "bad taste." No, “taste” in this context is much more basic – it's simply what I like and what I don’t like. It's what tastes good vs. what tastes bad (or at least, not as good) to me.
People just cannot seem to make heads or tails of my taste because there is no obvious common thread amongst my likes, and in some instances, my likes and dislikes are seemingly, one in the same.
It defies all logic.
There is neither rhyme nor reason to my choices.
There is no method to the madness.
Do we really want see how many other cliché ways I can say “confusing?” Of course not. Besides, what it really comes down to is not so much that my tastes are confusing, but rather, that I am an unintentional hypocrite. Besides besides, I can’t think of anymore clichés off the top of my head.
Let’s move in for the overkill with a real-life example from lunch at Le Petit Greek instead!
Le Petit Greek is a small Greek restaurant on Larchmont. Already, it has a strike against it because Larchmont is way too far East for me to go for a restaurant that doesn’t send me home with Colgate-Smile-Reads-New-York-Times in a to-go box. Given that we were already in the area, however, this paragraph has no meaning.
Though there was nothing bad about the rather non-descript interior of the restaurant, we chose a table on Le Petit Greek's sidewalk patio. Who doesn’t opt for outdoor seating? This is LA. See. Be seen. Be scene. Dine in the sunshine so you have an excuse to flaunt your ridiculously over-priced designer sunglasses, not that you need that excuse because I’ve seen you wear sunglasses indoors. At night. Oh wait, that was me. I was looking at myself in my mirror re-applying lipgloss at the table. (I am, of course, totally, uh maybe, kidding.)
The menu, which we examined while tearing through pre-cut wedges of pita bread that was chewier than I like, and sipping on white wine from Greece that was way too cold, is where my unintentional hypocrisy begins. The menu offers no surprises when it comes to the fare, but it delivered a tiny shock to my internal financial system when I noticed the prices. Gyros were almost eleven dollars. Eleven dollars? Given that we were at lunch, and that I've seen gyros in other restaurants for closer to five dollars, I was slightly put off. Eel. Ev. In. I balked. Eleven dollars? I squawked.
Do you know how many people eleven dollars can feed for three days in my country?!?!
Then I noticed that I was drinking wine out of a Riedel glass.
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No.1: I am cheap...but I love luxury!
Relaxing in the sunshine becoming progressively buzzed on wine, laughing over serious nonsense and lingering over small bites of this, that, and the other, is my favorite way of enjoying a meal. Greek cuisine calls it meze. Le Petit Greek offers five as appetizers on the lunch menu. Though I never go without hummus and tzatziki when it's available, what really had my attention rapt was the tarama. The first time I heard about the feta cheese spread whipped with fish eggs, I was intrigued, though I crinkled my nose. Fish eggs. The first time I tasted it, I fell over. I was smitten.
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 2: I focking aych-ay-tee-ee hate caviar...but I adore tarama!
Those three appetizers together - hummus, tzatziki, tarama - are offered as a pre-set "combination," but I also wanted dolmades, which was not an option for the combination, even though it was part of the appetizer section. However, the dolmades, along with keftedes, could all be ordered with the other three as a super meze plate of five things. However, I wasn't at all interested in the deep-fried meatballs. Why don't they have a Four-Item Combo? How about cutting the portions of hummus and tzatziki in half to add on a pair of dolmades? Can we switch out either the hummus or tzatziki entirely for the dolmades since I am willing to give up two of my most favored foods in the world for a little sacrifice on behalf of the kitchen?
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 3: I like simple foods...but I'm a goddamned annoying high maintenance diner!
We ordered the super meze platter as a starter, anyway, because I love dolmades.
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 4: I don't like rice even though I'm Asian (there's an oxymoron right there!)...but I love rice-stuffed dolmades to the point that I reinforce Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 1 and will unnecessarily order something bigger and more expensive even though I know I will waste some of it!
The hummus was creamy, and unless it's made with rancid yogurt and rotting cucumbers, tzatziki is never bad. I was slightly put off by the tarama's swirl-piped presentation, but in the end, its taste won out over the pretension. I could have sat there on the patio and made a meal of the meze, but there were entrees. Farfalle pasta with a gaudy parsley garnish looked a mess when it came to the table, its sauce seeping out from under the lopsided pile into a weepy expose of wateriness. It didn't taste bad. But it didn't taste good, either. I was curious about the Pastitsio, the Greek interpretation of lasagne. It was an enormous brick of penne pasta and meaty tomato sauce, covered with a thick, velvety blanket of Bechamel, and baked so that the top had tanned like it just spent ten days on Mykonos. It was impressive and gorgeous. I tried a bite, and decided it was dry. I took another bite, and it was still dry.
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 5: I would rather not eat pasta...but I eat it anyway, and even after it tastes dry to me!
My dining companions enjoyed the gyro, but I didn't try it. Perhaps I was still reeling from the sting of its price. Granted, the gyro comes on a plate with a green salad and a potato wedge, and you know how a potato wedge can drive up the price of a dish.
Taste Hypocrisy Conclusion No. 6: I adore Greek food like its my mother cuisine and enjoyed my meal at Le Petit Greek...but I don't need to go back!
To Whom Else Was it All Greek?
~ 12 Yelpers give it an average 3½ stars out of 5
~ 11 ratings on Citysearch average at 4½ stars out of 5
~ LA Times CalendarLive calls it a "a well-priced eatery offering quality cuisine"
** a year ago today, if restaurants were on craig's list, noma would be a missed connection **