Don't go to Miceli's on Las Palmas!
*This is old, I just edited it and now it popped up to the top of my posts, so maybe Miceli's has improved since this experience.
I wanted my daughter's birthday dinner to be special. Her only
request? To go out to an Italian dinner in Hollywood. She's a Valley
kid who likes to escape whenever she can. And she also happens to love
the sort of Italian food that's covered in red sauce and mozzarella. So I Googled Chowhound messageboards for an old style Italian place. I wanted the sort of restaurant that would make my daughter feel special, some place festive. That's why I chose Miceli's. Actually, someone on Chowhound recommended it, and they threw in that the Beatles once ate there. Well, I looooove the Beatles! But they were skinny Liverpool lads too involved with their incredible music to know bangers from Bruschetta, so I should have known better.
The problems were... Uh, where do I begin? The food. The food...how shall I put this? Okay. Two words: Canned mushrooms. Yes, this is an old Hollywood establishment; it's been around since 1949, and back then canned food was all the rage. My gawd! People were excited about Spam back in '49. But it's 2006, people! Canned mushrooms on chicken marsala? That's not acceptable. Sorry.
Horrified by the shiny canned mushrooms, my daughter put the marsala aside and ordered a cheese pizza. When it came, it was swimming under an ooze of greasy cheese. My husband said the side dish of pasta in tomato sauce he was given was not even edible. He also ordered the Marsala and - once he scraped off the mushrooms - managed to eat some of it.
But before we ever tasted the practically-inedible main course, there was the appetizer combo: A platter of supposedly different items: calamari, zucchini, mozzarella sticks. But they all tasted the same, like old fried batter. The only way I knew the difference was the texture. The calamari was chewy. The zucchini was mushy.
Honestly, if the other parts of the experience were good enough to compensate for the food, I wouldn't be complaining. But no! The service was also a disaster. I had to wait five minutes at the bar (before we were seated) to order drinks. No one else was ordering drinks. The bartender just felt like walking away and leaving me there. And when he came back to take my drink order... well, I think he was some sort of soul-sucking zombie. First, he just stood in front of me without talking. Scary! "Can I help you?" would have been nice. Then the sad eyes in his somber face passed my gaze and I felt all the joy I've ever felt in my life leave. He was like a vacuum of doom. I shuttered and gave him my order, "Whiskey sour, one coke, two Shirley Temples." He didn't smile. He didn't nod his head or say "Alrighty then" or "I'll be right back with your order." No jaunty little tap on the counter. Nothing! He just sort of slunked away and left me with a chill crawling over my skin. And his soul sucking was only magnified by the creepy 1920's era music from the sad, hunched over woman playing on the piano. I guess when I mentioned on Chowhound I wanted atmosphere, I should've been specific: A fun, festive atmosphere; not "Night of the Living Dead" goes Italian. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
And then there was our waiter. I thought he knew it was my daughter's birthday. They did ask when I made the reservation. Silly me, I thought they asked that for a reason. But then maybe they ask, "Will this be for a birthday?" like AT&T asks me to input every personal identification code I have into the automated system only to get a human on the line who then asks for all the numbers again. Argh! "I just spent fifteen minutes pushing these numbers on my phone key pad!" I tell them, and all they can say is "sorry." My life is being piddled away by people who ask questions and don't care about the answer. Just like at Miceli's tonight. Why did they ask if no one cared anyway? Once our joyless wonder of a waiter, who I will refer to as "Lurch," came to our table, all thoughts of a festive occasion left for good. We'd be on our own, chatting and laughing...which we could have done at home around a table of good food.
While the bartender zapped my joy, the waiter seemed to usurp my energy, leaving me zero energy to tell him it was my daughter's birthday. Plus, I had an absurd image in my head of the completely bored man singing Happy Birthday in monotone. Anyway, I didn't want anyone to sing Happy Birthday. That would've embarrassed her. I just wanted her to feel special. "Hey! It's your birthday today? Well, then I'll take your order first." Anything. Something. But the waiter never smiled. He brought her canned mushroom covered Chicken marsala last, which was actually to her benefit. When we dropped my daughter's friend off at her house, I said, "See you later! Just let us know the next time you want to go out of your way for some less than average Italian Food." She laughed. I laughed. We all laughed. So I guess we have that.