With the ever-growing popularity of vampires in silly stories like Twilight and edgy television like True Blood, it seems that something important to our very human survival has fallen by the wayside. That is garlic, the fabric of our lives…errr…the thing that vampires hate. For some reason. One place you’ll never see a vampire hanging out at is The Stinking Rose, a restaurant in Beverly Hills. The reason is that apparently “stinking rose” is another term for garlic. I disagree with calling it stinking because I like the smell of garlic, as long as it hasn’t yet been eaten, but perhaps pungent rose was already taken.
So like I said, the place is named for garlic, because virtually everything on the menu has garlic. The one place it seemed lacking was on the drink and dessert end, although there was a garlic wine and garlic ice cream. Now, for some reason, the restaurant looks kind of like a circus, which is actually pretty cool because it gave my date and I a sort of private setting for our meal. Although not so private that the people in the tent next to us couldn’t understand every single word we said. But because they weren’t cracking up after every other thing we said, we assumed they weren’t listening.
On to the food, which starts out with a garlicky bang of bread. Not only is there garlic baked on top of the bread, but each table is equipped with one of those little salsa containers, but instead of salsa there is an intense diced garlic spread. This starts the experience off with a kick of garlic to the face. We devoured the garlic bread and spread like garlic-loving hyenas. To follow that up, we ordered a garlicious appetizer to continue the whetting of our appetite. We settled on the Garlic Filet Mignon Chili. Filet as chili was an interesting concept even without the garlic, but that made it especially intriguing. It arrived quite quickly, and to my disappointment, red onions were displayed across the top of the bowl like some twisted mating ritual of a bird of paradise.
I quickly asked my date to remove the offensive parties so I could dive into the goodness. And it was goodness. The chili was tasty and the filet beef chunks were quite tender. It wasn’t an especially interesting chili though. I thought the garlic would draw out some crazy flavor in it, but instead I could hardly taste the garlic. This may have been an after-effect of the destruction of multiple taste buds following the consumption of multiple heaps of that raw garlic sauce, or because they felt the chili was good enough. Well it was good enough, but I would have liked awesome.
But then the awesome came, my main course. I ordered their Garlic Braised Boneless Short Rib, which came with garlic yukon gold mashed potatoes. It also came with an added bonus, a disgusting pile of creamed spinach that had not been listed on the menu. Shame on you, Stinking Rose, at least your vegetables did not corrupt my meal. After clearing these away, I dove mouth-first into the short rib. This was the perfect kind of short rib, which required no knife whatsoever. In fact, it didn’t need any sort of cutting motion at all by my fork. All I had to do was stab, pull away and voila – a forkful of short rib. It tasted damn good as well, with some extra cloves of garlic in case I hadn’t had enough. The mashed potatoes were also quite delicious. Although the garlic didn’t stand out as much as it would have in any other meal, they were still quite flavorful.
So now that I have had my first Stinking Rose experience, I am ready for more. Although it is now days later and a drop of my sweat would probably melt a vampire, I am completely okay with that. The Stinking Rose makes it worth it.