Angie's, at Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington Avenue, has the look and feel of a country club--a little bit of Palm Springs right here in West Los Angeles with its polished terra-cotta floors, its palms, rattan furniture, floral prints, its colors of peach and mauve and its louvered windows letting in a tropical green light cast by the leaves of the banana trees outside. "Angie's exudes an ambiance of casual elegance" is how the restaurant's press material puts it.
A casually elegant crowd inhabits the bar at happy hour; they look at home, like regulars, a sort of upscale version of "Cheers," well groomed, well tanned, fresh from the office, the golf course, the bridge table.
These are people, it would seem, who want the safety and luxury of a chop house, but with a menu affording a wider choice--which Angie's provides. Its menu is a hodgepodge of chop-house fare and ethnic foods gone classy--or at least expensive--a food medley of favorite international hits: smoked salmon with capers and onions, offered right alongside spanakopeta; baklava and profiteroles; hamburgers and omelets; veal chops, linguini with clams, blackened fish, moussaka, to name only a few. (Heavy emphasis on the Greek since Angie Pappas, owner of the 4 1/2-year-old restaurant, is Greek.)
For the most part, the food turns out to be strictly easy-listening, middle-of-the-road fare--Muzak food, if you will, the sort served at a country club: decent, plentiful, offending no one.
To be sure, there are a few high notes: as an appetizer, sliced Greek sausages, fried up with oregano, seasoned with plenty of lemon juice; spaghetti with burnt butter and feta cheese--wonderful.
Angie's uses really good feta cheese--it's in the Fettucini Alfredo that's served as a side dish with some entrees, and it's crumbled on the Greek dinner salad, too, though the salad, at $5, seems overpriced for a handful of romaine, a crumble of feta and one measly Greek olive, though it is a very good olive.
With enough money, patience and luck, you could find some wonderful treasures on that varied menu, no doubt. But luck seems to be the operative word.
The waiters, both times I visited, were no help at all. The first night our waiter seemed too much in a hurry to answer our questions or advise us. Never mind that it took him 15 minutes to bring our cocktails (and this with an army of busboys standing around), he was in fact just this side of rude.
"Is that the only appetizer you're having?" he asked, in a tone that suggested he was really thinking, "Are these two ladies looking for a cheap tab, or what?"
Even if he hadn't been rude, however, even if he'd just been a decent human being, he might have told us not to order Tarama, an appetizer he described, hurriedly, as red caviar with a cream sauce. What arrived at the table was a viscous, pinkish, fish-flavored goop, a dip for the tired vegetables served with it. I doubt that any Angie's regular has ever ordered it twice.
Another night the waiter was sweet as could be, but again, no help. He loved every dish we mentioned. The orange roughy? Delicious! The Angie's special (veal, chicken and Greek sausages with sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms)? Really delicious! The smoked salmon appetizer? You guessed it. But for $9, it had better be delicious.
But somehow he let us order the carpaccio, which was anything but delicious, a deli version of that simple yet difficult dish--this rendition, sliced raw meat with a glob of mustard sauce dumped into the center.
With the tab for two appetizers, two entrees, two coffees and one so-so caramel custard up there at more than $60, the initiation fees for this club seemed a little steep.
Angie's, 11700 Wilshire Blvd., West Los Angeles, (213) 477-1517. Full bar. Valet parking. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays-Fridays; dinner only Saturdays and Sundays. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two (food only), $30-$60.