LA Dining Adventures #2: Harold and Belle’s

downloadHarold and Belle’s has been a part of my life since childhood and has been a place that I was guaranteed to have an amazing meal. H&B has been around since 1969, located at 2920 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018.  The restaurant was always busy and brought amazing food to a neighborhood that did not have many options nearby.  I have fond memories of eating there with my family for dinner while live jazz was played, or sitting with family members in the bar area that was always packed, or getting take-out with my dad and enjoying their Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee and fried chicken at home.  After the recent renovation in 2015 and part of 2016, I was excited to finally get to visit the restaurant as a blogger and share one of my favorites.

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One random Friday afternoon, my mother, grandma, and I decided to visit the restaurant for a late lunch, early dinner. The restaurant offers valet parking that is just the same as before the renovation. When I walked into the restaurant, I was shocked by how different the place looked.  The once carpeted establishment now had hardwood throughout and was very bright and open compared to the prior décor.  We were seated in the dining room adjacent to the bar and what I did not like was the lack of privacy at the table.  Other diners could hear your conversation and basically observe your entire dining experience. But the service is where is began to get disappointed.

After waiting nearly 10 minutes, we were finally greeted by the waiter.  He was a nice gentlemen but failed to apologize for the delay.  At this point, we were ready to order our meals.  My mom ordered the Second Line cocktail ($11) that was their version of a Hurricane with passion fruit and sole gin flavors that I think she opted for Vodka.  She did not get her cocktail until well after her entrée was served and several request reminding the waiter of her cocktail.  This was completely unacceptable.  For her starter, she ordered the fried oysters (market price) that was served with tartar sauce. The fried oysters were flavorful and cooked well but were pretty small.  For her entrée, my mom loves a good steak so, she ordered a medium-rare 16-oz Bone-In Ribeye ($35) prepared Cajun style with sautéed spinach and red beans and rice.  She thoroughly enjoyed her meal and found the steak to be seasoned perfectly.  The spinach was also very good and the red beans and rice were wonderful.  I felt some serious meal regret after her meal came to the table because I was utterly disappointed with my meal.

I love a nice bottle of sparking water with my meal and was disappointed to learn that they did not have any in the restaurant.  I found that to be a bit ridiculous so I stuck with ice water with lemon.  For my entrée, I ordered the Fried Jumbo Shrimp ($15) which was butterflied and breaded.  I have never understood the allure of cutting shrimp in half and pounding it to a flat piece of meat.  It is my least favorite way to enjoy shrimp.  I was beyond disappointed when the flat shrimp appetizer arrived to the table.  The shrimp itself was good and seasoned well but the presentation as a bit disappointing. My entrée also came with a house salad that I request their Green Goddess dressing with because it is absolutely amazing. The salad never came and I ended up taking it to go for later after reminding the waiter that my meal came with a salad and him thinking that I was going to let it go. No dude, I want my salad dressing!  That dressing though is the best Green Goddess dressing I’ve ever eaten and I was inspired to recreate it when I got home.  That dressing was seriously the highlight of my visit to the restaurant. I kid you not.

My Dad first introduced me to Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee ($27) at this restaurant, as a chandbs_food1hild, and I fell in love.  After trying Etouffee during my 2016 NOLA trip, I found that Harold and Belle’s did it best. Not sure if the recipe has changed since my childhood, but their Etouffee looked and tasted just like the dishes I did not enjoy in NOLA.  As I child, I remember the Etouffee being more of a liquid dish that had a lot of flavor.  Now the dish is more of the thick soup almost to the point of a paste. I was frustrated because I asked for the rice to be served on the side and it was served with a big scoop of rice in the center. (I was frustrated and took the rice out of the bowl before I remembered to take the picture). The dish was just ok but not nearly as spectacular as it was when I was a child.  The spicy crawfish gravy was a bit too thick for my taste.  I ended up taking most of it to-go for later and was so disappointed, I never got around to finishing the leftovers before my LA trip ended. Needless to say, I will no longer be ordering that. Next time, I will stick to what I know and probably order the Fried Chicken entrée ($24) or the Home-Style Combination ($25) with red beans and Fried Chicken and call it a day. It should also be noted that the fried chicken entrée is priced a bit weird as the half chicken is $24 and the whole chicken is $28.  Might as well just get the additional four pieces for $4 dollars since you already spend $24.

Finally, my grandma decided not to order an appetizer and eat off our plates but ordered the H&B’s Famous Seafood Platter ($32) with jumbo shrimp and catfish with cole slaw and red beans and rice.  She was not all that impressed with her meal thought it seemed a bit expensive.  It was the same shrimp from the appetizer the catfish were more like nuggets than filets which is a cheap quality considering the price. I tasted most of everything and the catfish were good as well as the red beans and rice but the shrimp was just the same quality as before. She was content with her cole slaw, but I am not a fan.

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Overall, the customer service, taste and quality of the food was disappointing.  This breaks my heart because I was so excited to blog about one of my favorite Creole restaurants in LA and share this with you! To be fair, the waiter assigned to my area had a wonderful personality but somehow we ended up with this other guy that just did not do the best job. I am not totally convinced that this restaurant is not great but I know what I won’t be ordering next time.  I encourage you to still give it a try and if this is your favorite hangout spot, keep getting your favorites!   Hopefully they get it together soon! The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:

Harold and Belle’s

Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 10
Customer Service 1-20 10
Cleanliness 1-10 10
Food Presentation 1-10 10
Price Value 1-10 8
Taste of Food 1-30 20
Overall Experience 1-10 7
TOTAL: 75/100

Please look of my next post as I share more dining experiences in and around Baltimore and DC, and my trip to Los Angeles.  Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to finediningdiva@gmail.com.

And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!

http://www.haroldandbellesrestaurant.com/

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