I. Am. Stuffed. Last night at Luna Park I gorged myself on goat cheese fondue with bread and sliced Granny Smith apples ($8.25); grilled salmon with black Beluga lentils topped with blood orange, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil ($16); and for dessert, chocolate gelato sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies ($7.25). Except I didn’t have to pay $31.50 for all that. Nope, got it all for just $18. I know! It’s part of the Starving Artist Mondays at Luna Park where the $18 prix-fixe menu allows you to choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for that insanely low amount.
Starving Artist Menu:
Appetizer: Caesar salad or goat cheese fondue
Entree: Penne Arrabiata with ricotta, crushed tomatoes, basil, rosemary, chili flakes, garlic and white wine; pepperoni pizza; or grilled salmon.
Dessert: Make Your Own Smores; chocolate ice cream sandwich; or angel food cake with strawberries and mascarpone cream
And it’s not like these were special small portions for the night. Rather, they were the full-size amounts. I usually order that goat cheese fondue to split with two or three friends but not to finish all by myself. But I’m not complaining.
Me and four of my girlfriends converged on the restaurant because I was dying to check out this dinner special. I thought for sure it would be a zoo so I made a reservation two weeks in advance. Thing is, when we got there at 7:30 on this Monday night, the place was virtually empty. We really had our pick of anywhere we wanted to sit.
It wasn’t until 8:30 when things started to pick up but even then there were still a lot of free tables.
The odd thing about Starving Artist night is that the staff didn’t really promote it. It was as if they were only slightly aware of it. Our bartender charged us full price for our glass of red wine and a PBR instead of the night special of $6 and $2, respectively. After I asked why we weren’t charged the starving artist price she corrected the bill.
And our waiter started to tell us the specials of the night so I had to tell him, “We’re here for the Starving Artist night.” To which he replied, “Oh.”
And there was no mention of the special raffle artists can enter to win prizes like $100 worth of headshots or a Backstage West subscription. Not that that I could have used headshots but still.
At first I didn’t think I’d be able to finish my salmon entree right after making such a serious dent in that wall of bread and apples from my goat cheese fondue app. But sure enough, that salmon? Gone. Just shoveled that baby into my mouth. Well, it’s not like it would make a good leftover anyway.
The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about, surprisingly enough, was my ice cream sandwich. OK, it might just be because at this point I was stuffed but I didn’t like how hard the cookies were. My friend Ally, who had ordered the same thing, was cutting into the cookie with the butter knife when the cookie piece jettisoned off her plate, pinging me in the arm after her knife made contact with plate.
“It would have been better if they heated the cookies,” Nancy said. At first I disagreed saying that the ice cream would have gotten all melty if they did that. But after gnawing on a piece of the cookie, I had to concur. Soft cookie good. I ended up just eating around it to get to the gelato.
There was also a side of whipped cream drizzled with chocolate syrup and a sprinkle of candied pecans and strawberry slices but who are we kidding?
The other girls ordered the angel food cake with strawberries and mascarpone cream. Nancy said the cake was kinda stale. I had to take her word for it since I had no room in my stomach to even sample it.
In any case, at the end of the night we were still impressed by all that we got for under $20. “How are they able to do this?” we wondered. It’s crazy, especially considering that just down the street Campanile is charging $40 for its three-course prix-fixe dinner. Oh well, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
672 South La Brea
Los Angeles, California 90036 (map)