S. Irene Virbila writes in today's L.A. Times that Bastide was "the best restaurant in Los Angeles, an absolute jewel for classic French cuisine and the only restaurant to have garnered four stars from The Times." Not any more. After describing four disappointing meals since chef Ludovic Lefebvre took over, Virbila yanks Bastide down to one star.
In the end, I have to ask, where's the pleasure? Certainly it's there in the serenely beautiful dining rooms, in the heavy custom linens, fine porcelain and glasses. It's in the carefully calibrated service, in choosing a wine from the wide-ranging list with the help of the knowledgeable and passionate sommelier, Christophe Rolland (who left his position last week but will be replaced by Gregory Castells from Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia). It's in the enclosed garden with the scent of lavender and the knotted shadow of the olive trees. It is most definitely not on the plate.
This morning at LA.com, one of the featured write-ups at the top of the home page promotes Bastide, while the lead item on the site's blog calls Virbila's review "shocking." The blog item links to the Bastide write-up, which says "new avant garde chef takes French dining to a new level....The most open-minded diners will agree that on most levels, it works."
* Edited at 11 a.m. to fix my error: the featured item at the top of the LA.com page is editorial content, not a banner ad.