Had Dinner plans here on Friday, wasn’t the best experience IMO, but can understand that they’re trying iron out a lot of the operations, more of that in a later section.
Local Tuna - Country Smoked Ham Gnocco Fritto - $28
IMO, tuna was off this day or something. Tuna tasted too fresh, that is not enough time for the tuna to actually age and develop any flavor of its own. I think this dish has potential as it’s fun to rip apart the gnocco fritto and eat with the tuna, however, the tuna itself seems like it didn’t have the time to develop the umami that other places would have. Definitely felt like egregiously bad QPR @ $28.
Warm Cabbage Salad| parmigiano reggiano, crispy anchovies, green goddess dressing - $16
Probably highlight dish of the night, thanks for the guidance FTC! Complex, umami, fresh, creamy, charred, crunchy, I think there’s some dill and fennel in there too for a nice anise note. I’d rather eat 2 of these than 1 of the tuna above.
Mushrooms | Garlic Soy Butter, Baguette – Emulating Escargot - $18
- love the medley of mushrooms, seems like king oyster mushrooms, creminis, and oyster mushrooms.
- Baguette was super soft and fluffy with a paper thin outside. Gave me a lot of vietnamese banh mi vibes [different from French b/c high concentration of rice flour, which eliminates a lot of the gluten]
- garlic soy butter wasn’t as flavorful as I’d wish. Soy sauce + butter is an incredible combination that is usually an intense and borderline overwhelming umami bomb, and this felt a little too restraint in exploring that.
- Similarly, if you’re going to describe something as escargot-like, i do expect that addicting quality of an irresponsible amount of garlic that’s been cooked in butter [in this case, i was also hoping for the garlic to be cooked in a delicious soy sauce + butter combo, but this felt really light in flavor]
The dish has an incredible idea and premise with a lot of potential, however, definitely needs to amp up its flavor, which I think should be a relatively easy adjustment. The server was quick to notice that we had used up all of the baguette and brought over a second one to soak up the sauce, so we appreciated that!
California Rockfish| Sambal, Crispy Shallots - $43
This was tasty! Perfectly cooked rockfish with a really tasty medley of SE asian herbs, and the cherry tomato quality was awesome. Definitely had a Vietnamese quality that I’m familiar with. Not the best QPR, but still tasty and not a terrible choice!
Lamb Sisig | Pickled jicama, soy vinegar - $32
Couldn’t get an isolated photo of it, but it’s served with a side of bib lettuce, shiso, mint, and shredded scallions to enjoy with.
This was fun to eat but definitely doesn’t taste like a sisig to me, idk i’m not a filipino and not an expert. Agreed with @owang that we thought this wouldve been amazing on some rice too.
This gave me a PF Changs chicken lettuce cup vibe in that the protein has this burnt-soy quality to it, and what I thought to be a house ssamjang/chili sauce to give some funk to your lettuce wrap. Pretty and well-executed, but not in love with the concept.
Service & Massive Missteps
Our reservation was 7:30, we got fully seated at 7:40, and probably ordered everything by 8:00 pm. Our main courses, the lamb sisig and the rockfish, didn’t come out until 9:20pm, and the overall pacing of dishes in between was not amazing. The restaurant was definitely not full, I dare even say below 50% of seating capacity, but I obviously don’t have insights into what staffing looks like, so the staff could be short-staffed and operating at full capacity, but the optics don’t look great as a diner.
When we ordered a second round of drinks, there was some miscommunication where our server mentioned that the bar was unable to make a cocktail because they ran out of an ingredient, only for them to tell us a few moments later that they had the ingredient downstairs. A non-issue, but for the price and overall experience the restaurant is trying to communicate, this doesn’t really inspire confidence.
Another dining partner who had the oysters( 6 oysters for $18), says the oysters had shells fragments in them and were incorrectly shucked. At this price point, pretty unacceptable. They also claimed they got food poisoning later, and the only thing they did eat were the oysters.
I think Gunsmoke has a lot of potential, and you see sparks of brilliance with a lot of rough edges that can definitely be cleaned up. I definitely had my expectations going in that this was going to be another trendy-heavy investor-focused restaurant that is going to cater to a WeHo crowd with muted flavors and less-than-stellar QPR, and I don’t think my opinion has changed much after dining there.
I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try.