Welcome to our latest mini-column on Pepper, called Restaurants Revisited. We once did restaurant reviews pretty regularly on Pepper, and just like the way we approach the rest of our writing, we’re pretty honest and frank about our experiences. Mostly, we got viewers agreeing with our verdicts, and other times, chided for getting our numbers incredibly wrong. We’d approach a place when they were fairly new to see whether the buzz they were getting was warranted, or write a public service announcement to stay away.
People wrote saying that at times, we were being unfair, but we always made sure to visit a place at least twice before writing about it, or gather a staff opinion on the place. With Restaurants Revisted, we want to check up on the places we dished on before, whether we loved them or not, because anything can happen in weeks, months, or years in the restaurant industry. Places can get better or worse, chefs can come and go, menus can go through seasonal changes or even re-hauls. So here we are, going back in the past, revisiting some of the restaurants we’ve reviewed before.
Green Pastures, at the time it opened, became a fast favorite. Lots of people love Robby Goco’s restaurants, because this guy just gets his concepts right. A Greek place at a time when the Filipino diner was ready to expand their horizons, a greasy burger joint operating out of a carwash—this guy was great at predicting trends in the way we ate.
Green Pastures talked organic just as it became hip, and people flocked to his latest venture to take part in the craze. We reviewed him well, talking about his inventiveness and how delicious and well thought-out the menu was. We didn’t have much to gripe about, except wondering which produce exactly was organic, and thought Goco would be better off making sure we knew where our food was coming from, if this was what his concept was really about. But we love everything else, from our homemade pate, to the octopus and bone marrow fusili, to the messy sharing experience his whole pork shoulder gave us. It was fun all around, and never let us down. It was earmarked by many as one of the best openings of 2013.
Fast forward to months later, when our comment inbox started pinging with people making noise on the Green Pastures article, telling us we’d made a huge mistake. People told us that they would never recommend going here, that the service was horrible, and the food even worse. Upon further research, we got mostly the same comments: that Green Pasture was nothing like it used to be. At first, we couldn’t see what people were talking about—our house made ricotta wasn’t too shabby, sweet and creamy, with the gorgeously roasted garlic making the perfect pungent companion. It was a more-than-decent start. But things start to fall apart a little—plates and napkins were undesirably grubby, and waitstaff inattentive. They didn’t have several dishes that day, too.
Uni and crab spaghetti gave a first delightful mouthful, with plenty of uni and crab, and slippery al dente noodles. But there was way too much oil, slicks of it in fact, that you lost all the freshness of the uni. Cauliflower rice with tapa was alright, but there was way way too much cauli-rice in relation to the tapa. A whole giant bowl of the rice came with less than 10 strips of thin tapa, and the rice was way too sour. Accompanying vinegar came in an unnecessary atomizer. The egg however, was cooked well, still wet and yolky but with no raw egg whites.
Generally, we found that Green Pastures just wasn’t as good as before. The staff was much more attentive than our last visit however, so we didn’t have too horrible of an experience. I’d come back and give this place another chance again, just because most of the items on his menu sound pretty enticing. Then again, that pork shoulder was ripped off of David Chang, and the octopus fusilli from Marea, as a helpful reader pointed out. Our restaurant revisit gave us this conclusion; Green Pastures is full of contradictions: not bad but not great either. It won’t take much to get it back to its former glory though.