Living, as The Muse and I do, here in Babylon by the Bay, food is an all consuming passion. We’re always looking for the ‘latest and greatest’ dining out experience. And so it was that we recently sampled the food at two new restaurants: RN74, a new joint opened by Michael Mina, celebrity chef and owner of the restaurant that bears his name, and Wexler’s located in the same space as two previous restaurants that were themselves favorites of ours.
First RN47… This place tries to be so painfully hip that I felt bad for having worn color. Loud and crowded, it’s staffed by the sort of waiters that treat you with barely concealed contempt. “I’m really an ac-tor!” Except that…this isn’t L.A! Nonetheless, we had high hopes for the food. After all this is a “Mina property”, high (but not screamingly high) prices, imposing wine list and all. So on to the food… Chick peas and braised chard—a side that I ordered in lieu of an appetizer—was yummy; A tasty, though none too imaginative pork loin, was served almost cold. Dessert was good, espresso was lousy, and at the end the waiter almost lost the half of The Muse’s meal that she wanted boxed to take home. Verdict: RN74 ain’t all that. For the same money you could eat at Range and get better food, a more hip neighborhood, less attitude, and a Michelin star.
So why are we comparing RN74 to Wexler’s? Mostly because we ate at both in the same week and they’re both new. So really were talking experience here, not any similarities in the style of food. Wexler’s is all about upscale Southern cooking, ribs, bitter greens, grits all served fine-dining style with imaginative cocktails and less attitude. And WHAT COOKING! I’m at an age were it’s not often that I get to say “this is the best meal I’ve had in a while.”. My pork cheeks were astounding! My mustard greens…delicious. The barbecue squid salad appetizer was worth not getting kissed for the rest of the evening (The Muse has a thing about fish). No espresso, but excellent french press coffee. Verdict: Wexler’s is twice the restaurant that RN74 is—food, atmosphere, cocktails—at half the price!