Dinner in Daegu

Friday | June 28th, 2013

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For all the help I’ve been giving to El Cat while BM has been out of town, BM really wanted to buy us dinner. To which I said for a lot of weeks, “Yeah, sure,” thinking she meant bbq somewhere; some cow, some chicken, some pig, some pig innards. But BM really meant “dinner” in the Western sense, even the fancy French restaurant (Gyeongju has!). This morphed into La Luce in Daegu and a much bigger event with PP, GL, and American BM coming along too.

We met at the bus station on Friday and GL and American BM made it, running to the bus exactly as it was to leave. On the bus we wanted to talk and laugh and be ourselves but it had a bunch of Korean fuddy-duddies that either called Meow out on our noise or shushed us outright. This is for a bus that left Gyeongju at 18.20. We quieted down somewhat, but the dirty looks and things prompted Meow to move to a seat far away from us to not get dragging into the middle between the noisy, filthy-ass foreigners and the crabby stuck up Koreans who wanted to have nappy time on a dinner time bus plodding through post-workday traffic on a sunny highway to Daegu.

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La Luce is in a part of downtown that dead ended so many nights (namely going to Asma’s, POD’s, Fenton’s, or a love motel) back in my first leg of Korea that it felt bizarre to be across the street from Kyungbook Hospital not be able to call one of them up. My expectations of fine dining in Korea have been pummeled so low that there were few surprises. The food was okay, not earth shattering. My caesar (above, left) came with fried bacon chunks and no croutons. It was hella salty. To paraphrase my favorite chef (Ramsey), “This isn’t the kind of mistake [you] want to see at this level.” Whoever made the dressing forgot that anchovies are salty and bacon is salty and then put salt in the dressing—rookie stuff. The lettuce was subpar, even for Korea, there wasn’t enough green and the pieces were all awkward and unnatural. I’ve had a much better caesar in Seoul.

I didn’t care for the pastas or the two protein choices (lamb or sirloin). Pasta is something I won’t willing touch in Korea anymore as the tomato sauces are bland, the cream sauces are way too creamy, seafood is overused, and the pasta is almost never fresh. There is always a major pasta fail in the pasta dishes I get here. I ordered a burger mostly because that’s what I’ve been craving. There were three choices: a regular sounding burger; a sweet sounding burger with blueberry compote; and a burger with blue cheese which is what I ordered (above, middle).

The burger was okay, good but featureless. It had blue cheese and little else. And it was much smaller than I expected (above, right) for the 18,000 won it cost. It was also greasy as hell with the grease completely saturating the bottom bun. I haven’t had burgers this greasy since eating at Smokey’s Grill for lunch in the early days of working at the CEC (which is coincidentally, the same time and area of town where I ate a caesar that didn’t suck). The arugula salad that came with the burger was simple and had wilted leaves that should have been thrown out because they bordered on slimy (more rookie stuff). I ate everything on the plate though because I had waited all day for this dinner.

I drank two white russians with my dinner that were perfect. This is another thing that I either don’t see very often in Korea or I do and order it and it comes all fucked up. These two though, they were perfect. For dessert we had brownies with ice cream. Again, the food was simple and the portion incredibly small. It was good, but I can get the same thing at Bennigans and it’s bigger and cheaper. The brownie here reminded me of a Tous le Jours brownie or the brownie mix from the store. I’ve made better brownies than this. It’s okay. Brownies are a 100% fail in Korea for all 11 years that I’ve lived year. No local source has ever gotten them right.

In the end the question is: was I more or less satisfied eating here than at some Korean joint?

Less.

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