I tried a new restaurant last night: Mosquito Lounge, in Brentwood. First impression was good - yes, it's located in a tacky stripmall (not even a good stripmall, like the one with Barnes & Noble), but the decor was AWESOME. I absolutely love the atmosphere in that place. Unfortunately, the food sucked. First of all, they don't have any hard liquor, so my cosmo was made with sake, which...okay, it wasn't disgusting, but it wasn't great. Second, the actual food: I ordered crab cakes to start with, and then dragon prawns. Big servings, but ewww. The crab cakes were just warm, not hot. And they were all mushy like they'd used 90% bread crumbs and 10% Krab and seasonings, and then fried those lumps. The sauce was yummy, and the salad served with it was fine. But the "crab" cakes themselves were horrendous. Then, the shrimp. Dear God, is everything in this place fried? Because they were thinly covered with some kind of fried tempura batter or something. And they were overcooked (but at least they were hot!). Again, the sauce was yummy, but the main focus of the dish? Not so much.
So...I won't be going back.
It's like there's some kind of mental block here - the restaurants in the area are all either 1) boring and kinda gross chain restaurants or 2) great atmosphere, lousy food or 3) great food, lousy atmosphere. I went to Strings with Babydaddy and Rugrat last week (again, strip mall location), and the food was fantastic, but it felt like I was dining in a cafeteria. Babydaddy said he'd gone another day and sat on the other side of the restaurant, which was much more atmospheric. Whatever. It's not something I'd take someone to for a fancy dinner, but it's a damn sight better than Chili's.