Cooks & Soldiers is the newest restaurant from the Castellucci Hospitality Group (Iberian Pig, Sugo, Double Zero), and it's creating a buzz in Westside. No restaurant is perfect for everyone, but this Basque-inspired concept, which opened a couple of months ago, is receiving mostly positive reviews from professional and amateur critics alike.
The Great Small Plates News: Critic Christiane Lauterbach says in her three-star Knife & Fork review, "The small plates are even better, including several daring vegetable preparations of the kind that will make you exclaim: ‘Now, that is cuisine!' The "tartare" of cured, pressed tomatoes seasoned with capers and topped with a "yolk" of spherified carrots may be the best dish in the house. [Knife & Fork]
The Still Working Out the Kinks News: An OpenTable reviewer with a reservation sat through a longer-than-expected wait: "We got there 15 min late due to traffic and waited 25 min to be seated even though they said they were running on time. When we finally got to sit down they ran out of a few of their appetizers no big deal. Tarik our waiter did provide good service and comped us a couple of apps due to the inconveniences and the wait times. I will come back again once they work out the burdens of a new restaurant that gets popular really fast because the food alone is worth it." [OpenTable]
The Cereal for Dessert News: Lauren P. says in her Yelp review, "For dessert, to celebrate Laura H.'s birthday, we got the Fruity Pebbles. Like seriously y'all, they soak cereal in milk then form it into a cake, topped with marshmallow fluff and a berry sauce. It was creative, sweet, and a must-try at least once. I mean come on! Gourmet Fruity Pebbles? Fred Flintstone would approve." [Yelp]
The Pack Your Bags News: Brad Kaplan writes in his first look for Creative Loafing, "For a quick and fun tour of Basque cuisine, try Cooks & Soldiers. Plough through the pintxos, have a few glasses of sidre and txakoli. It's a tasty and suitably authentic adventure, enough to inspire you into researching your own trip to San Sebastián, where the full experience awaits." [CL]
The Hard-to-Hear News: Yelper Joanne B. says, "We were seated in a booth and table combo for six. It is a very loud space so difficult to hear one another and very hard to hear the waiter unless he was standing on your side. This made it hard as we all wanted explanations on the many items and speciality drinks." [Yelp]
The Steep Beer Prices News: Harrison Heilman Jr. writes on Facebook, "I am, however, a little disappointed in their beer prices as C&S is trying to establish a late night atmosphere for Fridays and Saturdays. The beer is priced extremely high. A bottle of Bells Two Harted shouldn't cost $7 as most places sell the pint for under $5. The average cost of a pint of beer should be between $5 and $6 and theirs is much higher than that. I feel that they are off a few dollars. [Facebook]
The Swanky Bar News: Kristin B. says on Yelp, "The whole restaurant is gorgeous, but the bar area in particular is incredibly well designed, with both amble seating around the main bar, as well as tall banquette seating with scattered high tops. Purse hooks are ample (yessss), and they even have the perfectly authentic Spanish touch of napkin dispensers built into the bar. This is exactly the spot you want to come to for a swanky but still casual happy hour, or a memorable nightcap." [Yelp]
The Beating Old Standards News: Yelper David F. is rearranging his list of favorite local dishes: "Our group of six must have tried 12 or so dishes and all were excellent. Of note was the octopus (pulpo, $15). For years I declared Kyma had the best; no more. It is required eating! Also consider the 35+ ounce bone-in rib eye (Chuleton, $74). The price is hefty but 2.2 lbs can (should!) feed four. The quality & preparation surpasses Rathbun's."