Some restaurant owners can’t wait for a visit and review from the L.A. Times’ Jonathan Gold. Others may wish that the Pulitizer Prize-winning critic had never shown up. The latter might be the case for the owners of Cortez, the Spanish and Mediterranean-inspired that opened in Echo Park last fall. In Saturday’s Counter Intelligence review, Gold seemed to have nothing but praise for the dishes served up at the restaurant owned by Marta Teegan and Robert Stelzner, who also own Cookbook, the upscale Echo Park grocery. But Gold did not seem to care for much of anything else, taking jabs at the service, the wait and the “self-selecting” clientele – “if you belong here, you know who you are.”
But Gold’s biggest problem with Cortez was the small size of the portions, saying the restaurant may have taken the small plates concept to a pricy extreme.
You are going to cut the two globes of merguez sausage neatly into halves, wrap your bit in a bandage-sized scrap of flatbread and hope that you have not taken more than your allotted half-teaspoonful of yogurt sauce … Tiny portions are great in principle and on tasting menus, but there may be a reason so many of the regulars at Cortez fit nicely into skinny jeans. And by the time you finish ordering, you are going to have spent a shocking amount of money.
But it does not appear that Skinny Jean crowd has a problem with those small portions. Gold described a nearly hour-long wait for a seat to open up.