My good friends from San Diego braved the freeway traffic to visit me in Los Angeles and to take me to The Stinking Rose: A Garlic Restaurant. That's right. GARLIC. The restaurant's motto: "We season our garlic with food." (This probably isn't the place to take your date if you want to do any smooching later.)
Everything on the menu is made with cloves and cloves of garlic. In fact, the appetizer we ordered, called the "Bagna Calda," is an iron skillet full of garlic cloves that have been oven-roasted in extra virgin olive oil and butter and some anchovy. Also known as "garlic soaking in a hot tub," the appetizer is the perfect warm dip, and the soft and sweet cloves are just right for smearing on bread (along with the minced raw garlic spread on the table). We smeared it on garlic bread.
We also ordered a garlic pesto and fontina pizza, and because that wasn't enough cheese for us, we added an order of roasted garlic baked brie.
We ate all of this at a small table under a black and white striped tent in the middle of the restaurant. The decor is wacky and walls have murals of garlic characters playing basketball, garlic through history, and because it's in Hollywood there are celebrities portrayed in cartoon garlic form.
At the end of the meal, I expected a tray of mints along with the bill, but instead we got these weird itty-bitty fruit candies that confused me (suck or chew?). But I guess that even an entire tin of Altoids isn't enough to freshen your breath after dinner at The Stinking Rose, so why bother with mints?
It's a funny restaurant, for sure. And if you're a garlic fan, it's a must-visit. All in all, this restaurant stinks. But in a delightfully tacky and tasty way.