The Bottom Line: The contemporary take on class Southern food falls flat!
We are Southern transplants to Los Angeles. Getting good and authentic southern food is almost impossible. So when we read about "Larkin's Contemporary Soul Food Joint" opening up, we were so excited and made our reservation for supper.
The restaurant is located in a suburb of LA, Glendale which is easily accessible and comfortable. The restaurant is actually a house that has been turned into a restaurant with a charming touch. There is a very small parking lot in the front (with a home made handicap sign) but street parking is plentiful. LA County rated the restaurant an A which is a good thing.
There is a porch and the decor is upscale quaint. It is made to look old timey but with an LA modern twist. For example, all the table had mismatched chairs but they were not authentic mismatched chairs, they were new. They had a nice area out back where guests could smoke.
The restaruant itself is smallish and has only ten tables or so. The art work was confusing as it was all Cuban themed. Cuban men smoking cigars, Cuban kids playing kick the can, and Cuban posters. This struck me as odd as Larkin's is billed as a soul food restaurant and Cuba is definately not Southern.
The menu stated kid friendly so we brought our 3 year old little boy. There was nothing on the menu that was kid friendly at all. That started the chain of events that led downhill.
They brought out ice tea which is staple for any Southern style eatery. It was iced Thai tea. Ouch, so wrong it hurt. We ordered from the dinner menu and we both ordered the fried catfish and collard greens and string beans. We ordered corn on the cob for our little boy and asked the waiter if he could cut the corn off and he frowned and said the chef does not like to deviate from the menu but that he would check.
The Fried Fish was good, a reasonable amount and warm. It was fried with corn meal but had lots of spices on it like pepper and paprika. The collard greens simply were bad. They did not cut off the leaves of the plant, they just chopped the whole leaf with the white strip down the middle which makes the greens very very tough. It was obvious they did not know how to cook them. The green beans were only OK. The waiter did bring the corn cut off the cob but with paprika on it. What kid eats paprika?
We ordered bananna pudding for desert which was just lame. It was in a fancy little bowl but with no merainge. Bananna pudding always comes with meringe! The total for supper for 2 adults and 1 toddler was $63.00. We asked for a take home bag and the waiter never brought it back to the table.
The meal left me frustrated and did not meet my expectations for a good Southern Meal which is what they stress on their web page and menu. They try to be both things, hip and a contemporary twist with classic Southern dishes. They call it fushion cuisine here in LA. Like most restaurants here, I doubt it will last a year.