The Tasting Kitchen, Venice

Ok, what’s with the food scene on Abbot Kinney?  It seems to hover somewhere between casual/creative and uptight/snobbish.  It certainly has a big attitude for such a small street.  You want a reservation when?  That’s laughable.  You don’t like the table you’re sitting at?  Tough.  You want to leave the speck out of the salad?  We don’t do substitutions, the chef is an artist.  Puhlease.  Why do we put up with this?  Because some of those atmosphere-less industrial spaces are actually great.  It was with this in mind that we tried the latest, The Tasting Kitchen.  We were sat in the packed front dining room, a large plain cube with what has to be the worst acoustics since Border Grill.  We found ourselves yelling over the din.  At one point, a screeching patron at the table behind ours drowned out our server.  She stopped talking, turned to look at her, then turned back to us shrugged her shoulders and shouted, “Happy Tuesday!”  The cacophonous crowd were a mixture of suits, flannel, tattoos, dreadlocks, and sundresses.  Once we adjusted, we went over the ‘bill of fare’.  You know those menus that must list every ingredient and its provenance?  This ain’t one of those.  Things like Cluck ‘n frites and halibut. blossoms. creme. abound, which left us confused.  The server soon sorted us out.  I was impressed to see stichelton.cow.uk. under cheeses, so we ordered that with some bread and butter.  The bread was wonderful; warm, crusty, delicious.  Off to a good start.  Then we tried the frittura di verdure.  well-executed tempura vegetables with a delightful aioli.  We moved on to a butter lettuce salad with blue cheese and tarragon.  Good, but I’m a firm believer that butter lettuce requires a delicate dressing or it gets lost.  Here the dressing was too heavy-handed.  Finally, we tried the spaghetti/tomatoes/basil, not exactly revolutionary cuisine.  But I can honestly say, it was one of the best I have ever had.  Tangy, fresh, perfectly cooked large spaghetti.  We were impressed that the chef could inspire us with such a plain dish.  At that point, the noise levels were beginning to grate on our nerves and we had to leave.  I’d definitely go again, only with earplugs.

The Tasting Kitchen

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

(310) 392-6644  www.thetastingkitchen.com/

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